Aquaponics in earth-sheltered fish-greenhouse.
I'm unsure how to post off-site pics. Help appreciated
My wife and I are trying to decide what to do next with our fish-house.
We're ready for another sack of Skretting trout feed, which costs more to ship than the feed costs. This makes me wonder if getting the trout a little bigger is worth the cost. Last time and the first season of trout for us we kept them for two years and we now believe that was a mistake. This could be the perfect time to harvest if we can figure all the aspects of raising fish for food in our busy lives. On the other hand I could wing it and go with my usual spontaneous notions :think:
One of the issues that will influence our decision is we started way overstocked this time. I wasn't certain how many fish would survive the trip as fingerlings. Turns out we only lost a few, hopefully because of the fish transport tank I built especially for hauling the fish the hundred or so miles over the mountains. That fingerling hauler is anther factor in the decision to do shorter seasons; that fish hauler worked like a charm!
Overstocking caused issues of course. Maybe over-stocking wouldn't be so bad if we plan on shorter fish growing seasons? :think: Most of their lives they aren't plate size. I don't know about that, but we'll certainly not buy a hundred next time. 50 fingerlings would be better suited for the filtration we have.
Because of that overstocking I absolutely need to drain the tank and do a thorough cleaning and now might be as good a time as any.
The next issue is freezer space. Nell and I spent some time yesterday considering kitchen storage for when we do harvest the fish. We believe there are 75 plate size trout in the 2600 gallon indoor fish tank. We don't have a separate freezer.
It dawned on me that we built this water closet in the first section of mobile home we removed as we're building our house because there wasn't anywhere else to put it, so it is in the kitchen.
In case you aren't aware, this is a self-built home and after twenty years we're nearly finished with the interior after demolishing the mobile home and building a permanent structure in its place. In the latest section we now have a powder room with a second toilet.
Of course two bathrooms are great, but we still need to be frugal and practical. I poised the question of removing the first toilet room and getting that space back in our kitchen for a high end refrigerator/freezer?
Making decisions like these can make all the difference in creating a more sustainable lifestyle.
We hope the drought is over and the SW monsoons have begun!
Managing my labor is more important than ever as I'm recovering from an auto-immune disease and heading to 65 years old.
Things now need to be balanced between security, comfort, practicality, sustainability and of course pleasure.
:wave1: Brian's AP
Specs: 2600 gallon (347.56cf) FT. 44cf GBs. 200 gal (26.7cf) ST. 15 gal (2cf) RFF. 50 gal (6.7cf) biofilter.
2017 season 100 Brook trout fingerlings. 5 Comets.
I've been researching aquaponics and a common thread I've found is that the cost of buying fish food typically outweighs the savings from the vegetables grown.
Some folks want to grow the fish food in their aquaponics setup, but that can't work, not if you want to grow food for humans too (the system isn't magic)
For trout, you might be able to cut back on the number of fish, and then raise something like marmorkrebs and feed the young to the trout to cut back on the amount of fish food you have to buy/raise. You'll get less trout out of the system, but your cost for the vegetables will be lower.
Currently I'm looking into maybe growing Talapia and feeding them Moringa leaves, etc. grown outside the greenhouse.
Can you provide more details on raising trout? I prefer trout to talapia, but we live way south in Arizona (i'm can literally see Mexico ) and I figured it would be too warm for trout. Do you have to provide any cooling during the summer?
No freezer? How about trout jerky?
The better solution would be to harvest it over a longer period and eat it fresh.
My sympathies about the auto-immune disease. I have a couple myself, not fun.
My opinions are barely worth the paper they are written on here, but hopefully they can spark some new ideas, or at least a different train of thought
Thank you for your interest Peter VanDerWal
These are Brook trout and they do like it cold. The earth-sheltered greenhouse helps stabilize the water temperature. A chiller can help. Over on backyardaquaponics.com/forum/ where I learned a lot of what I know there is a guy in Australia running a water chiller on an off grid system. Gunagulla Gordan's Crater He has data loggers monitoring many parts of the system having to do with temperatures.
I've seen our 2600 gallon tank go as high a 67F before I put the reed-cloth cover over the greenhouse. Most of the heat comes in through the media beds. It's been hot this Summer, not Arizona hot but, pretty hot for 7500 feet above sea level. We're not used to the 90s, but this system buffers well. In the Winter the unheated (other than being attached to the house via French doors) hasn't frozen even at -20F outside. The water stays cool in this fish tank which is five and a half feet deep and ten foot across. Trout in general need clean water and react very badly to zinc from galvanized tin, which I found out when the roof leaked into the water during a very wet year.
If you can give the trout that cool clear water the meat is outstanding. The fish tastes like it came from a high mountain lake. 55F is about where they grow the fastest and most efficiently from feed. Hopefully when I finish upgrading the filtration this system can effectively convert the greater amount of feed to nitrates for the plants. Some of the fish reached 2 pounds last season. Having overstocked this season I worry that the fish will taste swampy. I won't do that next time, honestly I was surprised so many survived the trip over the 9 and 10 thousand foot mountains around Taos.
I began this for the fish and actually learned about aquaponics as I was building this indoor trout pond. I really don't know anything about growing plants and that has been difficult for me to overcome. I've gardened here in the forests and mountains of northern NM for twenty years and as the old hippie saying goes "I know hundred things that don't work." That being said, we've had fresh tomatoes continually for 3 years from this system and we're supper happy when a meal has more than one item from the greenhouse. Two items is better and this week we've had meals with four items from our aquaponics system.
The cost isn't as important as the quality of the food we get from this system. We do realize our trout dinners cost more than in a fancy restaurant. It would be nice to get the whole project more efficient. For now we're happy when the plants and fish are healthy.
Trout are carnivorous and man oh man they get some big teeth going into their second season. We have a vermiculture farm and feed them earth worms often. It is really exciting around feeding time as many of them come right out of the water to eat. I haven't seen them feed in slow motion , but it appears they come up out of the water and dive down on the food. It's pretty cool.
Besides the great taste of trout they have a good feed rate to meat production ratio. They grow fast with Skretting fish feed, but in a pinch I can go to Tractor Supply and buy Purina Max 500 feed.
I'm also into aquariums and now have my wife quite interested in fish, but I might be pushing it to feed these guys another creature. Like I said "big teeth"!
I'm learning a lot and I thank you all for sharing what you learned too.