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Aquaponics experience

                  


Joined: Aug 18, 2011
Posts: 12
Has anyone had some experience? What system did you used? Fish yield compared to fish tank sizes??

Thanks a lot Owl
                              


Joined: Aug 02, 2011
Posts: 7
Hello,

I have a few videos of my two systems and my experience with them. Check it out here Youtube.

Let me know if you have any further questions.
aman inavan


Joined: Nov 20, 2011
Posts: 81
Location: Cornwall UK
I am really interested in Aquaponics. The only problem is I am of no fixed abode so it is difficult to set up a system. We have an allotment to grow veg but we are not allowed to keep livestock of any kind and there is no electrics there so it would have to be solar powered. This is not a problem but I think solar panels would attract the wrong kind of attention to my plot and they would be stolen.

I have a few ideas in the pipeline and I am thinking of trying to find someone who is too old or infirm to care for their garden and see if I can takeover the garden and share the produce with the owner.

aman


Hey farmer, farmer, put away your DDT
I don't care about spots on my apples,
Leave me the birds and the bees - please
Brad Davies
volunteer

Joined: Sep 22, 2011
Posts: 212
Location: Clarkston, MI
    
    8
I have a little bit of experience raising tilapia in my 8' above ground inflatable pool. This was mostly aquaculture but I did experiment with growing lettuce on a floating raft on surface of the water. There is a pretty good website http://www.backyardaquaponics.com/ to get your feet wet

From my experience:
Stocking density:
I had (40) 7 month old tilapia in my pool, next year I will have close to 100.
I have read that you can have up to, maybe more than, 1lb of biomass per 1 cubic foot of water. (My 8' pool 2' deep is 100 cubic feet or 750 gallons.)
I have also read that you can have 1 fish per 2-4 gallons. *This was from an aquaculture textbook and assumed you had a bad ass filter and air system.

Yield:
Tilapia grow very fast at first and slow as they get large, I think most fish follow this pattern. It is usually most cost/time effective to raise them to 1lb size (~8-12months depending on feed rate) rather than to full grown 2+lbs.
I harvested mine this year at 7months old. I didn't get live or whole weights but did weigh the boneless fillets afterwards.
60 boneless fillets weighed in at ~4.5lbs or about 0.15lbs per fish. *These were the smallest of the 40, and still a little under sized.

Other lessons:
Tilapia fry will cannibalize the crap out of each other. I started with 100 fry after a few weeks of being in a Rubbermaid with just a filter I moved them to my fish tank. I counted them when I moved them and was a little startled that I had lost ~50% of them. The cannibalizing stopped as soon as they got in the new tank, either because of the size of the tank or the size of the fish, or both. Next time, as in a few weeks from now, I will put a ton of hiding spots in the fry tank to hopefully discourage this.

Hopefully this is helpful.


SE, MI, Zone 5b "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."
~Thomas Edison
Cj Verde


Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 2403
Location: Vermont
    
  44
Brad Davies wrote:
I have read that you can have up to, maybe more than, 1lb of biomass per 1 cubic foot of water. (My 8' pool 2' deep is 100 cubic feet or 750 gallons.)
I have also read that you can have 1 fish per 2-4 gallons. *This was from an aquaculture textbook and assumed you had a bad ass filter and air system.


In aquaponics you don't base stocking density on gallons of water but gallons of growbed (the gravel in the GB). I think it was 25lbs of (grown out) fish to 50-100 gallons of growbed but do a search at backyard aquaponics to be sure.


My project thread
Agriculture collects solar energy two-dimensionally; but silviculture collects it three dimensionally.
Brad Davies
volunteer

Joined: Sep 22, 2011
Posts: 212
Location: Clarkston, MI
    
    8
CJin VT wrote:
Brad Davies wrote:
I have read that you can have up to, maybe more than, 1lb of biomass per 1 cubic foot of water. (My 8' pool 2' deep is 100 cubic feet or 750 gallons.)
I have also read that you can have 1 fish per 2-4 gallons. *This was from an aquaculture textbook and assumed you had a bad ass filter and air system.


In aquaponics you don't base stocking density on gallons of water but gallons of growbed (the gravel in the GB). I think it was 25lbs of (grown out) fish to 50-100 gallons of growbed but do a search at backyard aquaponics to be sure.


You are correct I believe, based on what I've read not experienced, the ratio of growbed to fish is in the ballpark of 4:1. In my setup I had no growbed so it was more aquaculture than aquaponics. I think stocking density is a product of water quality more so than a specific gallon to fish, or growbed to fish ratio. The higher the water quality the more fish you can stock and/or the more food you can feed them without fouling up the water. I think a good guideline is to provide as much filtration as you possibly can, through growbeds, filters, or combinations of both.

One more thing is you need O2, and as much as you can. O2 can be a limiting factor in the fishes metabolism, the more you can give them the faster then can turn fish food into body mass. This obviously has a limit to where adding more O2 isn't going to do anything, but IMHO it's better to error on the side of too much O2 than too little.

I have read that 1lb fish food + 1lb of O2 = 1lb of fish
aman inavan


Joined: Nov 20, 2011
Posts: 81
Location: Cornwall UK
I do not know an awful lot about permaculture to be honest. I came to these forums through listening to Paul on the survival podcast.

I was just interested to know how well Aquaponics fits in with Permaculture

aman
Brad Davies
volunteer

Joined: Sep 22, 2011
Posts: 212
Location: Clarkston, MI
    
    8
aman inavan wrote:I do not know an awful lot about permaculture to be honest. I came to these forums through listening to Paul on the survival podcast.

I was just interested to know how well Aquaponics fits in with Permaculture

aman


Welcome to the forums. I just listened to Paul and Jacks podcast last night probably my 2 favorite "pod people".

To attempt to answer your questions, I think it depends on the application or design of the system.

Is aquaponics/ aquaculture permaculture? Not necessarily.

Can permaculture be applied to aquaponics / aquaculture? I don't see why not.
aman inavan


Joined: Nov 20, 2011
Posts: 81
Location: Cornwall UK
Good answer!

Thanks for the welcome. I have been aware of Permaculture for a long time without really understanding what it was all about. I kinda of imagined without knowing why that Aquaponics would be a no no in Permaculture terms but know I see it is not a set of rules it is a way of looking at the way you do things.
I started getting interested in it whilst listening to Jack Spirko and then when i heard Paul I thought I would look into it further so that is why I'm here. As I mentioned in the other post, I don't really have a permanent home so I am going to have to concentrate on my allotment and some other ingenious ways to get growing including some planting in disused areas of my home town.

Thanks

aman
Cj Verde


Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 2403
Location: Vermont
    
  44
Brad Davies wrote:
I think stocking density is a product of water quality more so than a specific gallon to fish, or growbed to fish ratio. The higher the water quality the more fish you can stock and/or the more food you can feed them without fouling up the water. I think a good guideline is to provide as much filtration as you possibly can, through growbeds, filters, or combinations of both.

One more thing is you need O2, and as much as you can. O2 can be a limiting factor in the fishes metabolism, the more you can give them the faster then can turn fish food into body mass. This obviously has a limit to where adding more O2 isn't going to do anything, but IMHO it's better to error on the side of too much O2 than too little.

I have read that 1lb fish food + 1lb of O2 = 1lb of fish


It's probably best to stick to a discussion of aquaponics in this thread. What makes it "permaculture" is that it takes to systems of food production (aquaculture & hydroponics) which release toxic waste into the environment, and it eliminates the toxic waste.

How it works:
You have a 100 gallon fish tank which have fish that will grow out to 25 lbs. You have growbeds with 200 gallons of gravel or other suitable material. For 15 minutes of every hour, 100 gallons of water from the fish tank is pumped to the grow bed which floods and then drains back into the fish tank. The bacteria in the GBs convert the fish wastes to nitrates which plants growing in the GB use for food. Any solid waste is also trapped by the gravel. Clean water returns to the FT and is oxygenated as it falls in. The airpumps people use mainly provide a current for the fish.

It can get more complex in practice but those are the basics.
Cj Verde


Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 2403
Location: Vermont
    
  44
Cukes & basil growing aquaponically


[Thumbnail for GB 1 July 18.jpg]

Brad Davies
volunteer

Joined: Sep 22, 2011
Posts: 212
Location: Clarkston, MI
    
    8
CJin VT wrote:
It's probably best to stick to a discussion of aquaponics in this thread. What makes it "permaculture" is that it takes to systems of food production (aquaculture & hydroponics) which release toxic waste into the environment, and it eliminates the toxic waste.


What’s the difference between aquaculture and aquaponics?

If I have a floating raft system on the surface of the water and the roots are absorbing the nitrates nutrients is that not aquaponics? If when I do my water changes I direct the water to a garden is this not aquaponics? If I have a pond or chinampa system and plant the edges and banks with water loving plants that absorb nitrates from the water to their roots is this not aquaponics?

Floating raft technique and drain to waste are both hydroponic techniques, along with flood & drain, NFT, wick system and various others.

Essentially we are talking about the same thing, just slightly different techniques. Different flavors, same food group. In my opinion it seems rather limiting to say let’s talk about aquaponics and not aquaculture as they can be so similar and interchangeable.

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

As an aside: The filter that I used was nothing more than a few layers of window screen to catch the solids. From there the water was pumped to a 5 gal bucket full of scrubby sponges. The water trickled through the bucket and back into the tank. The sponges act as a place for beneficial bacteria to live and convert nitrate to nitrite. If I put a plant in the top of that bucket then my “bio filter” just became a “growbed”.

Disclaimer:
If any of this came off as confrontational or dickish I promise that’s not how I meant it. I was just trying to share my experience. If we have different experiences it doesn't mean one's right or one's wrong, just different perspectives.

Best regards
Cj Verde


Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 2403
Location: Vermont
    
  44
Brad Davies wrote:
What’s the difference between aquaculture and aquaponics?

If I have a floating raft system on the surface of the water and the roots are absorbing the nitrates is that not aquaponics?


In this system, what's converting the ammonia to nitrites and nitrites to nitrates? In aquaponics it is the bacteria in the gravel which perform this function.

Brad Davies wrote:
If when I do my water changes I direct the water to a garden is this not aquaponics? If I have a pond or chinampa system and plant the edges and banks with water loving plants that absorb nitrates from the water to their roots is this not aquaponics?



In commercial aquaculture, waste water is drained into the environment. In Hydroponics, waste water is drained into the environment. Aquaponics combines these two to eliminate the waste.

If you use the waste water on your garden that's good but IMO it's not aquaponics. Aquaponics is soilless and therefore eliminates diseases of the soil.

A pond is a natural system and a chinampa is a modified natural system.

It's like if you raised chickens in a chicken tractor. You move the tractor everyday, giving the chickens fresh forage and leaving the chicken waste to fertilize the ground. In the end you get chickens and fertilized ground. If you raise chickens in a stationary coop, then every so often move the manure to your garden that's great, but it's not a chicken tractor. Your end result may be the same but the process was different. The process changes your approach so you might wind up with a complex system like Salatin uses, having chickens following cows and pigs. If you tried to mimic that by bringing cow manure to your chickens, then the chicken manure back to the field, you get the end results (maybe) but with 3x the amount of work.
osker brown


Joined: Jun 28, 2011
Posts: 146
Location: Southern Appalachia
Brad Davies wrote:As an aside: The filter that I used was nothing more than a few layers of window screen to catch the solids. From there the water was pumped to a 5 gal bucket full of scrubby sponges. The water trickled through the bucket and back into the tank. The sponges act as a place for beneficial bacteria to live and convert nitrate to nitrite. If I put a plant in the top of that bucket then my “bio filter” just became a “growbed”.


Just an FYI, the nitrification process goes Ammonia>Nitrites>Nitrates. You might try replacing the sponges with charcoal. If you spend the time culturing your own Lactobacillus you can inoculate the charcoal and have a much more effective filter. It would be a growbed if you put a plant in it, but probably not a very effective one unless your fishtank is somewhere around 1/2 that size.

Just to add to CJ's point about draining to a garden not being aquaponics...I feel that a major perk of aquaponics is the ability to avoid water changes. By incorporating bacteria, worms, and plants you can recycle the water for much longer than standard aquaculture. This is a direct example of the "Catch and Store Energy" principle.

Like you said, all perspectives are great...just trying to increase the clarity.

peace


Glorious Forest Farm
Brad Davies
volunteer

Joined: Sep 22, 2011
Posts: 212
Location: Clarkston, MI
    
    8
I think we are just arguing over semantics at this point, and I don’t want to hijack this thread any further. I just think that it’s important to consider that not all aquaponics systems are the same. Not every aquaponics systems will have a,b,c,d some might have a,g,x,q or some other variation that we haven’t even thought of yet.


osker McCoy wrote: Just an FYI, the nitrification process goes Ammonia>Nitrites>Nitrates. You might try replacing the sponges with charcoal. If you spend the time culturing your own Lactobacillus you can inoculate the charcoal and have a much more effective filter. It would be a growbed if you put a plant in it, but probably not a very effective one unless your fishtank is somewhere around 1/2 that size.


Dang it! I always mix those up, thanks for clarifying that. The charcoal is a great idea, especially if I can make my own.

osker McCoy wrote: Just to add to CJ's point about draining to a garden not being aquaponics...I feel that a major perk of aquaponics is the ability to avoid water changes. By incorporating bacteria, worms, and plants you can recycle the water for much longer than standard aquaculture. This is a direct example of the "Catch and Store Energy" principle.

Like you said, all perspectives are great...just trying to increase the clarity.

peace


I completly agree with this statement.

One final thing and I'm done. Aquaponics is a portmanteau, a blend of two or more words and techniques, so if it incorporates dynamics or practices of both systems it's hard to say that it is not aquaponics, IMO. That would be a kin to saying, "That's not permaculture, cause this is permaculture and they don't look the same." It seems to me that when we get caught up in the details of something the conversation can quickly devolve into a pissing match and we lose sight of the big picture. The TS asked if anyone had experience with this, and I felt that I had so I shared my experience. If it helps anyone, awesome. If not just right me off as bat shit crazy, 'cause I probably am.

Have a good day.
              


Joined: Nov 26, 2011
Posts: 31
question, comment. 1. why charcoal? 2. i have never heard of lactosbacillus being used for filtration.



osker McCoy wrote:
Brad Davies wrote:As an aside: The filter that I used was nothing more than a few layers of window screen to catch the solids. From there the water was pumped to a 5 gal bucket full of scrubby sponges. The water trickled through the bucket and back into the tank. The sponges act as a place for beneficial bacteria to live and convert nitrate to nitrite. If I put a plant in the top of that bucket then my “bio filter” just became a “growbed”.


Just an FYI, the nitrification process goes Ammonia>Nitrites>Nitrates. You might try replacing the sponges with charcoal. If you spend the time culturing your own Lactobacillus you can inoculate the charcoal and have a much more effective filter. It would be a growbed if you put a plant in it, but probably not a very effective one unless your fishtank is somewhere around 1/2 that size.

Just to add to CJ's point about draining to a garden not being aquaponics...I feel that a major perk of aquaponics is the ability to avoid water changes. By incorporating bacteria, worms, and plants you can recycle the water for much longer than standard aquaculture. This is a direct example of the "Catch and Store Energy" principle.

Like you said, all perspectives are great...just trying to increase the clarity.

peace
osker brown


Joined: Jun 28, 2011
Posts: 146
Location: Southern Appalachia
Charcoal because it's an excellent material for housing microbiotic life and it filters solids, and you can make it for free. Lactobacillus is a genus of hardy bacteria that you can easily culture from the air using rice water and milk (I don't have a handy link or time to find one but I'm sure a search would find easy step by step instructions). Lactobacillus are facultative anaerobes, and they break down organic compounds (like those put out by fish) into ionic minerals (like those taken up by plants). So they make a good filter culture because they are everywhere and can be easily concentrated and they will jumpstart the bacterial aspects of an aquaponic setup.
Christian McMahon


Joined: Nov 20, 2011
Posts: 70
Owl McCoy wrote:Has anyone had some experience? What system did you used? Fish yield compared to fish tank sizes??

Thanks a lot Owl


I have had been doing Aquaponics for 6 months. However based on my experience you really need a greenhouse to make it work well. I found permies.com because I was looking up heating solutions and came across the Thermal Mass Heaters. The major problem with aquaponics in an outdoor situation lies in the fish. They cannot take the temperature differences between summer and winter. You need to level it out. A greenhouse with a thermal mass heater is the inexpensive solution.

I built my system based on the DIY Aquponics DVD http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5umxWq9nLs
Cj Verde


Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 2403
Location: Vermont
    
  44
Christian McMahon wrote:However based on my experience you really need a greenhouse to make it work well. I found permies.com because I was looking up heating solutions and came across the Thermal Mass Heaters. The major problem with aquaponics in an outdoor situation lies in the fish. They cannot take the temperature differences between summer and winter. You need to level it out.


It really depends on the fish. I have an aquaponics set up in my hoophouse and the water temp can swing dramatically, esp during spring. Goldfish survived fine but the season seemed too short for trout. I will be trying tilapia this year, but they must be overwintered inside. I think that moving them to the hoophouse from may to september should give me nice sized fish. Catfish could probably tolerated temp swings like goldfish.
Christian McMahon


Joined: Nov 20, 2011
Posts: 70
It really depends on the fish. I have an aquaponics set up in my hoophouse and the water temp can swing dramatically, esp during spring. Goldfish survived fine but the season seemed too short for trout. I will be trying tilapia this year, but they must be overwintered inside. I think that moving them to the hoophouse from may to september should give me nice sized fish. Catfish could probably tolerated temp swings like goldfish.


Yes the fish make a big difference. Tilapia need about 70 degrees F to grow. A hoop house can help a lot I imagine. They also take about 9 months to grow out. I think trout take two years don't they?
If your running a hoop house you should add a thermal mass heater/ water heater to help in the cold months. You should be able to build one for around $100 with the water heating in it. Maybe less.
Cj Verde


Joined: Oct 18, 2011
Posts: 2403
Location: Vermont
    
  44
Christian McMahon wrote:Yes the fish make a big difference. Tilapia need about 70 degrees F to grow. A hoop house can help a lot I imagine. They also take about 9 months to grow out. I think trout take two years don't they?
If your running a hoop house you should add a thermal mass heater/ water heater to help in the cold months. You should be able to build one for around $100 with the water heating in it. Maybe less.


I'm off grid & in Vermont so the water will freeze in the hoop house no matter what. It's been really warm this year but it 18F right now.
Trout will finish in 1 year but it may depend on your starting/finishing size.
 
 
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