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Our new Aquaponics Greenhouse!  RSS feed

 
                          
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Good evening all!

Just wanted to share my new passion project with everyone. We decided with the way prices are moving that we wanted to learn more about growing food and that's when I discovered aquaponics. I love the idea of growing great, healthy fruits and creating a little balanced ecosystem with the tilapia feeding my plants and my plants cleaning the water for the tilapia.

Here is a video on the progress so far on the greenhouse:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-g_rBZ4Fi3k

You can see the progress we've made on the youtube channel. This will be our 3rd and biggest system yet!
 
Emerson White
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You just linked to the youtube control panel, you need to link to the specific video or your own channel, there is also a code to embed on this forum [embed]v=code from youtube[/embed] swap the "["s for "{"s etc. however this forum is generally pretty down on both aquaponics and greenhouses, so you might not win many fans. Also please don
t use URL shorteners, they are scary, it's easy for an unknown quantity to direct you to a virus that way; and you are an unknown quantity (I had to get on a linux computer to check the link).
 
                    
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I understand this site is based on 'permaculture' and seems to frown on anything that does not follow nature to a T. But i find it interesting wherever lines are drawn...

There is the masanobu perspective which leads to things like 'the greenhouse suck factor'

and then there is hinayana farming, containing organics and scientific farming.

I have spoken about this in the masanobu thread, and I wonder how and where people draw their lines.

It seems easy to distinguish between a greenhouse and an orchard on the surface. But it is pretty likely that neither and orchard, or greenhouse occur in nature. Just like sepp holzer raising his beds with a hugelkultur. Wood falls on top of the earth, and rice is not harvested or sown. We all need to draw lines places.

Aquaponics goes a step further because it tries to recreate reality inside a greenhouse. im not sure how practical this really is and am currently battling with the idea in my own life. On the one hand there are basic technologies that can make greenhouses very efficient, using passive solar and wood stoves, wind, geothermal heating, and even solar (although im sure permies are down on everything except the first three or maybe just first one).

The dividing line for me i think is the economics of it all. I think that if you develop an aquaponics system that it should be less for profit than it is for growing food. In fact rather than testing the upper limits of how many fish can be housed, the lower limits should be used to provide the fish a better quality of life.

In the end though I'm just not sure that in such an abstract system reality can be recreated. Nature has a way of playing mother to a thousand different things at once, and im not so sure a human can come close.  Add to that the high start up cost and continual need for electricity and maybe it becomes an albatross.

the only reading on the subject outside the internet that i actually found encouraging was the new alchemy, solar algae ponds. it seems possible to move that into a greenhouse, although i think their experiments were largely outdoors.
 
Emerson White
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Well aquaponics can be economically feasible on a personal level, if your time is very valuable, but so is growing your own food. I think most permies want time to be less valuable as measured in manufactured resources and see more of it spent looking at plants. (this is not an endorsement)
 
Tyler Ludens
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boddah wrote:
I wonder how and where people draw their lines.


Personally I like greenhouses and aquaponics, even though I don't live in a good climate for a greenhouse and I'm not yet practicing aquaponics.    I think these technologies have a place and can probably be practiced in a least-harm fashion.



 
                    
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part of my point i never really got around to defining is that guys like fukuoka and holzer make microclimates and it is not really at all different from a stripped down version of a passive solar greenhouse. the line is so indefinite its nearly not there. especially if say a backhoe is used to dig for the hugel. i'm not too sure about how glass is made but glass has been around longer than backhoes.
 
Tyler Ludens
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boddah wrote:
the line is so indefinite its nearly not there.


I'm pretty sure everyone has their own line, but I have to wonder if the hard-core "anti-technology" types drive cars, use grid electricity, or computers.    Personally I think technology is part of being human, that is, we wouldn't be human without technology.  I do think some technologies are more appropriate than others and certain technologies might just be a bad idea. 
 
                    
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:
I'm pretty sure everyone has their own line, but I have to wonder if the hard-core "anti-technology" types drive cars, use grid electricity, or computers.     Personally I think technology is part of being human, that is, we wouldn't be human without technology.  I do think some technologies are more appropriate than others and certain technologies might just be a bad idea. 


well i agree, but i also don't think its really a fair comparison or w/e. It is not only part of our culture to use these technologies, it is downright required for the most part.

alex supertramp tried walking that line. it can be done but it is wholly impractical. i would love to ditch cars and computers and send the world back a couple hundred years. but for me to do it in my life is hard for a number of reasons, one being my addiction to them.

going back to the old ways only presents the old problems anyway. you are right maybe it isnt all bad, but while things for humanity have gotten slightly better, things for the earth have gotten slightly worse. and soon they might be gaining rapidly on the path to destruction. i dont know about all that but i do know techonology helps me lose touch with what i consider reality...
 
Mekka Pakanohida
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:
Personally I like greenhouses and aquaponics, even though I don't live in a good climate for a greenhouse and I'm not yet practicing aquaponics.    I think these technologies have a place and can probably be practiced in a least-harm fashion.







I completely agree, luckily I can do a greenhouse for aquaponics, but I have other projects I am working on.  Gotta have priorities when building...  ..Zone 0 outwards.

There is no reason to need chemicals with aquaponics, and I look forward to more of it in the future.



 
                                              
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  I see our current lifestyles as rather impractical. I know sustainable is a buzz word, but it fits.... much of what we do just isnt sustainable. so for my perspective, technology is GREAT, we just often use it all wrong. If we ever get wise enough to have perpetual systems system wide.... which i believe we can do well, then I think it would be hard to fault it. In fact we arent to far from being able to somewhat protect the planet (a few generations perhaps) from things like asteroids and such. Which will be good for all life here. In the end I think we will get it right eventually, I just hope I live to see it.
 
                                              
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Mekka Pakanohida wrote:

I completely agree, luckily I can do a greenhouse for aquaponics, but I have other projects I am working on.  Gotta have priorities when building...  ..Zone 0 outwards.

There is no reason to need chemicals with aquaponics, and I look forward to more of it in the future.




well technically it is all chemicals, I guess you mean synthetics? 

    For land based plants you DO need outside inputs though. a constant source of key elements. theres really no advantage to land based plants in such a system....
 
                    
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so silverseeds you appear to be saying what i read. that aquaponics is useless because it is based on land based plants. since land based plants can not be provided for in a closed loop system we would be better off with some water based plants and perhaps using the water changes as a sort of outdoor fertilizer for land based plants?
 
Mekka Pakanohida
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boddah wrote:
so silverseeds you appear to be saying what i read. that aquaponics is useless because it is based on land based plants. since land based plants can not be provided for in a closed loop system we would be better off with some water based plants and perhaps using the water changes as a sort of outdoor fertilizer for land based plants?


I disagree.  Have water flow into a hydroponic bed system that has lettuce, tomatoes, cukes.. omg its endless.. and then have it go back into the tank as a closed loop system.  You can even have a 2nd filter system with all the perks a pet store has to offer if you really want.

The problem is the tank size and what is used to generate dissolved organic waste that gets utilized by the plants.  More fish you have, the more waste, the more food can be raised, but there is a tipping point that can make it all go south very quickly.
 
                                              
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boddah wrote:
so silverseeds you appear to be saying what i read. that aquaponics is useless because it is based on land based plants. since land based plants can not be provided for in a closed loop system we would be better off with some water based plants and perhaps using the water changes as a sort of outdoor fertilizer for land based plants?


Well its true is all. you CAN add those things, but no it will never be closed loop with land based plants.

but you can feed your fish and other animals like that, build up lots of biomass for composting and lots of other things. You can create a closed loop system that is very productive, its just land based plants need additional things.

and yeah the water from water changes is great for the garden. very good actually.
 
                                              
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Mekka Pakanohida wrote:
I disagree.  Have water flow into a hydroponic bed system that has lettuce, tomatoes, cukes.. omg its endless.. and then have it go back into the tank as a closed loop system.  You can even have a 2nd filter system with all the perks a pet store has to offer if you really want.

The problem is the tank size and what is used to generate dissolved organic waste that gets utilized by the plants.  More fish you have, the more waste, the more food can be raised, but there is a tipping point that can make it all go south very quickly.


Its not a closed loop system though. so what do you disagree on? you need to add outside elements for those plants to live. every few days actually, or the plants wont do well, besides greens which build up nitrates. if you add those things its as productive or more then hydroponics. 

unless you know of some system that incorporates those things into it? Ive found no such designs. Id love to see one.
 
Emerson White
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A lot of people find that they have to add things like seaweed powder to get their plants looking their best, it all depends on the water chemistry and what substrate you use though. In some situations you have to add supplemental minerals to keep water based plants alive too. Again it all depends on specifics.

Lots of people end up buying this stuff just because they don't get enough of it in their fish food.
 
Mekka Pakanohida
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SILVERSEEDS wrote:
Its not a closed loop system though. so what do you disagree on? you need to add outside elements for those plants to live. every few days actually, or the plants wont do well, besides greens which build up nitrates. if you add those things its as productive or more then hydroponics. 

unless you know of some system that incorporates those things into it? Ive found no such designs. Id love to see one.


Check out the work being done at Epcot center.  If you write them, they will send you a LARGE packet in the mail about it.  I found out about it when they were designing the aquariums that house the sharks (I love them so.) and for housing the talapia tanks. Epcot center grows all its own fish (or did) for human consumption on the premises.
 
                                              
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Mekka Pakanohida wrote:
Check out the work being done at Epcot center.  If you write them, they will send you a LARGE packet in the mail about it.  I found out about it when they were designing the aquariums that house the sharks (I love them so.) and for housing the talapia tanks. Epcot center grows all its own fish (or did) for human consumption on the premises.


cant you tell me about it? I read about it for years, and found no one growing land based plants well that didnt need outside inputs regularly. Potassium being a common one and magnesium, and iron, there are others though..... I also encountered many small studies showing nutrient deficiencies of the fruits of various things grown this way, and build up of nitrates in the greens. things that wouldnt be easy to test in your back yard set up, so i didnt want to mess with it.... I also came across many failed projects who ran into these issues and found no answers, and even was in contact with some, who i met right at the beginning of their search.....

 
Tyler Ludens
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boddah wrote:
  i would love to ditch cars and computers and send the world back a couple hundred years.


Personally I'm not in favor of returning to prior ways of life that were very hard and not very healthy.  Not saying our present way of life is necessarily easy or good for people.  I think something permaculture can help us do is to take the best from the past, present, and work toward a better future. 
 
                                              
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:
Personally I'm not in favor of returning to prior ways of life that were very hard and not very healthy.  Not saying our present way of life is necessarily easy or good for people.  I think something permaculture can help us do is to take the best from the past, present, and work toward a better future.   


evolution.... 
 
                    
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for clarification when i say return to the past or whatever i said. i would like to bring along certain of our current knowledges. my big problem is the industrial revolution which stole our sense of time and stripped the earth. i want a slower paced world. and obviously as always i want people to focus on themselves and their lives rather than others. not sure that was ever accomplished in the history of man but it the theme of the republic by plato. justice as leaving others alone. if you think about it, it fixes most of our problems. bring modern knowledge to that formula and it dont matter if it takes me three days by horse to visit my parents, the government won't be knocking on my door looking for money and taking a portion of my crops for protection. etc etc
 
                    
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btw i always find it funny when someone comes to a forum, posts once, (in this case advertising his video?) and then doesnt come back... am i wrong?
 
                                              
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boddah wrote:
for clarification when i say return to the past or whatever i said. i would like to bring along certain of our current knowledges. my big problem is the industrial revolution which stole our sense of time and stripped the earth. i want a slower paced world. and obviously as always i want people to focus on themselves and their lives rather than others. not sure that was ever accomplished in the history of man but it the theme of the republic by plato. justice as leaving others alone. if you think about it, it fixes most of our problems. bring modern knowledge to that formula and it dont matter if it takes me three days by horse to visit my parents, the government won't be knocking on my door looking for money and taking a portion of my crops for protection. etc etc


Im with you on all points.... dang not to get political... but i see liberty with foundational protected rights to individuality etc. to not only be ideal, but perhaps the only for of government that wont eat itself eventually. ( though fully getting to such a place where we dont expect to force our views on others seems hard for humans) even democracy, amounts to mob rule, the minority buried by the will of the others. and unless its a case of hurting others, that is not right. within that context people could form communes, or communities and run them as they wish. with basic rights for all...

imagine if we had fought the cold war offering THAT!!!  to most of those countries we looked no different then russia, so most made their decision not on who had a better government for their people but which one they thought was likely to come out on top. Or whoever bought off the leader first....

If we actually did enact such a system, there would be much much less justification for war, for despising those with different views, after all they arent making you agree.... no more trying to out vote eachother and make other live as We see the world..... Im not sure justice can exist for all any other way... because presumably different communes and communities would from, each highlighting the ideals of its members.... didnt mean to offend anyone if i did.....
 
Emerson White
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boddah wrote:
btw i always find it funny when someone comes to a forum, posts once, (in this case advertising his video?) and then doesnt come back... am i wrong?
He did come back and edit his post.
 
Tyler Ludens
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boddah wrote:
obviously as always i want people to focus on themselves and their lives rather than others.


I dunno, I kind of think we'd be better off if we didn't focus on ourselves so darn much but were willing to put ourselves in other  people's shoes and willing to help them learn to care for themselves.  Give support= get support.  Mutual interdependence.  But that's just me! Or rather, my ideal.  (In reality I'm kind of a hermit though  )
 
                                              
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:
I dunno, I kind of think we'd be better off if we didn't focus on ourselves so darn much but were willing to put ourselves in other  people's shoes and willing to help them learn to care for themselves.  Give support= get support.  Mutual interdependence.  But that's just me! Or rather, my ideal.  (In reality I'm kind of a hermit though  )


well i do agree with boddah, but i agree with you also. i take them each in different contexts. I try to help others empower themselves anytime i can. in general though, I want to live my life my way, and feel I should be fully free to do so.... presuming Im not hurting others which i dont.... honestly part of me empowering people when i can isnt just because its right, or interdependence, part of it is also the fact if others are cared for then they are less likely to take from me, and the like.
 
Tyler Ludens
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SILVERSEEDS wrote:
in general though, I want to live my life my way, and feel I should be fully free to do so.... presuming Im not hurting others which i dont.... honestly part of me empowering people when i can isnt just because its right, or interdependence, part of it is also the fact if others are cared for then they are less likely to take from me, and the like.


I agree. 

 
                    
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SILVERSEEDS wrote:
well i do agree with boddah, but i agree with you also. i take them each in different contexts. I try to help others empower themselves anytime i can. in general though, I want to live my life my way, and feel I should be fully free to do so.... presuming Im not hurting others which i dont.... honestly part of me empowering people when i can isnt just because its right, or interdependence, part of it is also the fact if others are cared for then they are less likely to take from me, and the like.


yea they are different contexts. what i was talking about is imposing your will on other people.

you must grow these crops

you must not do these drugs

you must join our economic system

helping people is not a bad thing. i dont intend for my point to sound like that. and the 'provided im not hurting people' is bound up in the idea. minding your own business bars all the sorts of violence we see in society. it means dont hurt, don't steal etc. thats why i like the principle so much. of course it can turn political, and there all sorts of religious and political systems which want to impose their will on you. but that IMO is a violence of the most extreme kind
 
                                              
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HD Aquaponics wrote:
Where I live, the soil is a little dirt and a lot of clay. Aquaponics, besides being awesome, is a great solution for our soil issues. We are only sitting on about 2 acres and we live in a community so we have to take into account what will and wont get use nasty letter in the mail. We can't have "farm" animals on the lot so trucking in new soil would be our only quick alternative. Besides aquaponics works. Why would I not want to extend the growing season until mid fall? People who bash the system, I'm sorry, don't know anything about it. Yes, I have to use a pump to get the water from one place to another for the system but who cares?

We use raised beds and do a lot of soil gardening too. This is just a hobby that turned into "oh wow, bell peppers $1 dollar each!?! I'll just grow 'em"

But totally, if people here have a problem with tech or using evil greenhouses I'll just end it here.


No one was bashing the system at all, atleast not that i saw. And I was certainly questioning the real issue of land based plants in such set ups. I certainly do know about it. Ive been studying it for months, and even was in contact with groups who had deep pockets working on establishing commercial set ups. Not sure about the third but two of them never pulled it off with land based plants. most ignore this issue. which if the studies Ive read were right, is at the cost of your own health.

We were merely talking out the issues. Im working on an aqua culture set up myself. just not with land based plants...

did you find ways around the issues of raising land based plants? do you add the missing things they need? Are you aware that they can be deficient in nutrients grown this way?

this is a place of learning and sharing. Lots of views represented here, so i wouldnt be to offended by the few who are actually against greenhouses. lots of folks here have them or want them. Im not even sure anyone here thinks they are evil, just some dont see the need, or think its a waste of materials. Im going to have one for my breeding of plants eventually myself....

i watched a few of your videos, certainly love your enthusiasm. and dont take this the wrong way but most plants i saw from the system, showed signs that could be these deficiencies. lots of yellow leaves especially, which is likely lack of magnesium or iron. a few in one the video linked to this thread, had brown leaves which could be potassium. its one of the things people have to add to such systems. those are all the issues others faced with these systems. Its just not a closed loop with land plants. nutritionally there will be issues you cant see according to many things Ive read on this as well. although a member here offered a good solution for the build up of nitrates in the greens. the other issues you need to add things, which is perfectly fine, but still not closed loop......

I looked and looked and looked and couldnt find a way to get it to work right, because no one has pulled it off without outside inputs that im aware of. (if someone has info that people have pulled this off Id love to see it, especially if they tested the nutritional quality of the produce) water plants have none of these issues, and with less infrastructure can have closed loop systems...



 
                    
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HD Aquaponics wrote:
Yes, I have to use a pump to get the water from one place to another for the system but who cares?

But totally, if people here have a problem with tech or using evil greenhouses I'll just end it here.


Maybe no one has a problem it or maybe everyone will have a problem with it. it depends on the economy and the reserves of fossil fuels. maybe you will care very much if the electricity becomes not so easy to come by.

maybe the materials for a greenhouse or fiberglass fish tanks or whatever harm a great deal of people in their construction. maybe they don't. maybe the problems are visible now or maybe they aren't. all im saying is there are loads of possibilities. no need to get testy.

what about aeration? thats electricity also.

i am a fan of aquaculture. i want to talk about how to make it work. i think i agree with silverseeds, all my research seems to say that water based plants are the real efficiency
 
Emerson White
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Electricity will probably be available in some form for a very long time, even if only intermittently
 
                    
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Emerson White wrote:
Electricity will probably be available in some form for a very long time, even if only intermittently


shucks :p
 
duane hennon
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aquaponics got a bad rep back in the 90's. it was the way to "save" closed loop aquaculture systems. these systems of raising fish, using all sorts of mechanical filters, oxygen or ozone generation, UV lights, etc,  all under computer controls were tried. these systems would raise fish, but not enough to justify the capitol costs. Hence, the  "pounds of fish/gallon" frenzy. talk was of 1 lb/gal/year. ie, a 1,000 gallon system could produce 1000 lb of fish/year. this was possible if you discharged 50% of your water (to where?)
hardly a "closed loop", so people asked "if we have to get rid of the water, why do we need all this expensive equipment for recirculating water?" Enter aquaponics.

the problem isn't building a system to raise water creatures and plants. that's easy. the problem is the "number of pounds of fish/gallon of water" mentality. this is the same as asking "how little room does a chicken need in a brood house before it stops laying and dies, or how many cows can we fit into this corral and still get them to grow big enough to butcher before they die"

let fish be fish
free range chickens, cows, and fish
 
                          
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We started this little venture to see if we could even do it. So far though we're having a great time playing with the systems. We starting to see some of our plants beginning to produce fruit and that's making us around here very happy. We are not sure how many fish we can fit between our 250gal tank and our 500gal greenhouse. So far we have about 110 tilapia fingerling growing by the day.

As far as the plants lacking some minerals, yes that is an issue. I have a couple of solutions I'm working on to add iron to the water without the need of commercial products. As far as other nutrients lacking in the beds, we need to let the systems mature. I heard that a system wont even start to perform as well as it can for about a year after cycling has begun. Our systems are weeks old so we'll have to wait and see I guess

I'll be posting more updates as the systems mature.
 
            
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I don't think there is any permaculture principle that would disallow something like greenhouses or aquaponics.  Permaculture is not just a "totally natural only" solution, is it?
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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I'm very interested in aquaponics, not to replace gardening outdoors in the soil, but to supplement it.  We need a greenhouse in this climate and I'd really like to be able to raise some more of our meat (fish -- to me, any flesh food is meat) on the property.  We are building a small greenhouse against the south side of the house (I have a nephew living with me, with his small son), and there is space for a fish tank in it -- smaller than I had intended to make, but big enough to get started.  The greenhouse is about 34' long, and only about 6 1/2' deep through most of the length of it -- at the end, there's a section about seven by ten feet.  Room for a fish tank about 4' X 7' by 30" deep.  There will be a 2' wide bed down each side of the greenhouse, and at least the back one, against the wall of the house, will be raised up eighteen inches so I can put chicken cages underneath.  The chickens will not be living there full-time, but it will give me a safe place to raise young birds, and to winter-over some hens where I can supply light so they'll keep laying. 

If there are good water plants to raise in an aquaponics system, I'd like to hear about it.  I'd be looking for food plants for human use as well as anything I could feed back to the fish or supplement the goats, chickens, and rabbits with.  I've done enough reading to see the issues with some (not all) land-based plants in an aquaponics system.

Kathleen
 
Tyler Ludens
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:


If there are good water plants to raise in an aquaponics system, I'd like to hear about it.  I'd be looking for food plants for human use as well as anything I could feed back to the fish or supplement the goats, chickens, and rabbits with. 


The human-edible plants I plan to raise in my aquaponics system:

Cattail
Duck potato - Sagitarria latifolia
Water chestnut
Taro
Canna

The cattail may be the only one of these with foliage suitable as an animal feed.
 
                    
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i love cattail!

what part do most animals eat? ive seen the chickadees all over mine the past few days, i think they are taking pieces for their nests. I know what humans eat wondering if goats would be able to eat even more of it or something

what do you have the cattails in? soil, water, inert media?
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I don't have them yet - the ones in my yard died because we're in a severe drought.  I do have Duck Potato in soil in submerged pots in my little garden pond.  I plan to get more cattails and put them in there in pots too. 
 
                    
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i wonder if cattail might be a great option for a hugelkultur if you are in a dry place
 
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