This has come up as kind of a side topic in a couple of other threads but I don't see anything specifically for it so I thought I would make one. I'm curious if anyone out there is doing this and what your experiences are.
I have very a small completely artificial garden pond where I grow various water loving plants, and a few fish. I'v found that koi fish and blue gills are both easy to grow and both reproduce on their own. Every single (non-water) plant I have potted in gravel and set in the stream part grows wonderfully on the fish poo.
Is anyone doing this to use the fish for food? If so how do you keep it aerated? I haven't expanded on the idea because of the dependence on electricity to run the pump. Is there an alternative, an inexpensive solar pump, a home made wind mill pump? I don't think it would matter if the pump only runs part time, as long as it runs at least some each day I think it might work.
Nothing ruins a neighborhood like paved roads and water lines.
reed, a few folks on an aussie forum I'm on have substantial aquaponic systems. I think the backyard_aquaponics_forum, although australian based, has lots of info on systems. There are lots of formulae for fish/water/plant densities. Too many fish=dead fish, too much water= not enough nutrients for good plant growth, not enough plants = fish-toxic water. need to find the goldilocks ratios. The commercial systems require energy to run pumps,fish pellets for food, purchase of containers and fish fry. I've thought it should be possible to run a wormfarm for the fish food, solar pump for water, and cheap IBCs for ponds. I need another hobby like this like i need a hole in the head But soooo tempted... T
I don't do it, but I'm certainly a believer in the concept; I think it offers great possibilities for urban areas, small farms, closed systems like green-houses, and even space colonies (the ultimate closed systems). I've no doubt that in time, given stamina and resources, I'll have some such (a hydroponic system, not a space colony, although if I were in charge...). I think solar systems are currently capable of readily powering such systems, which is the only way I'd go, having little interest in other than production for personal consumption. Don't know that I'd raise koi (if for food), there being plenty of other carp that seem to me less delicate, although koi are certainly beautiful; I've seen many naturalized in Cali's Central Valley rivers, so they're certainly tough enough in temperate conditions.
I think I'd deal with aeration by pumping water to drain down some sort of (porous?) wall, to maximize the water's exposure to air; of course, this would also tend to maximize its exposure to evaporation, so perhaps requiring water input; there is no free lunch.
Part-time power to your system would limit its biological-support capacity, as would any power input, but not its utility; in short: the pounds of fish and/or plants it could support, not that it could function, the only question being whether it could satisfy your needs/desire.
... I've no doubt that in time, given stamina and resources, I'll have some such (a hydroponic system, not a space colony, although if I were in charge...). I think solar systems are currently capable of readily powering such systems, which is the only way I'd go, having little interest in other than production for personal consumption. ...
I don't know much about your personal consumption, but I doubt you need a dyson sphere to power it.
Post by prairiegarden on Aug 26, 2016 14:41:55 GMT -5
I keep thinking about it, the water would help act as a heat sink in the winter, but can't quite figure out how to manage the distances. I thought koi would be a great idea because if you get some well coloured ones they're worth way more than a tilapia is. Killing and cleaning fish not a favorite pastime.
I had koi in my little pond but they grew way too fast and I ended up giving them away, there is no market here for baby koi. I like blue gills, they breed on their own and it is ok to just turn the big ones loose in the neighbors pond. I was thinking just yesterday about building a much bigger one where I can actually raise the fish to eat and cool off in it on very hot days. I priced some 40 mil liner at around $500 bucks for a 25' by 50' piece. Since my ash trees died the front yard is much sunnier and would be a decent place to put it. I figure it would be roughly 10' x 12', 3' deep with the plant / filter area roughly 10' x 20' varying in depth from 6" to a couple of feet. It would be big enough to maybe have some pet turtles and snakes instead of just fish and frogs.
I'v had my little one for several years and got a pretty good idea how to take care of it. Well, if it's balanced good with fish and plants you don't really have to do much. Just clean out the bottom once a year and top it off once in awhile to compensate for evaporation. Still haven't settled on how to address powering the pump. Gonna look more into solar for that.
Fall will be here soon and digging and moving all that dirt sounds like a fun cool weather project. As if I didn't have enough cool weather projects already.
My plan is to have a stock-tank in the green-house for heat storage/amelioration, depending on the season; I see this only as that. Aquaponics? Not a bad idea, but I'm not sure how it works for me, at this time; do I endorse the technology? Absolutely!
On down the road, I see a pond for fish as a food source (not that I much like fish, but other people, you know), including an island for ducks and geese, keeping them from predators, except me (a food source which I totally enjoy); I think that pond will be a fertile stepping-off point for many interesting projects.
Cool weather projects? It's getting so my "cool weather" projects eat me up worse than the heat, there's so many.
"Yesterday is history; tomorrow is mystery; today is a gift, that's why it's called the present." E. Roosevelt "If the world is to end tomorrow, I would plant an apple tree today" Martin Luther
Post by prairiegarden on Aug 27, 2016 8:28:38 GMT -5
THe other advantages to having a system like that in the greenhouse are that the plants are of necessity raised, and that it isn't necessary to figure out how to get enough "soil" to fill any other sort of raised bed, especially if the bed is to be more than a couple of inches higher than the ground. I'm looking at at least a foot, preferably more and the prospect of trying to source enough "clean" dirt or other material to fill such beds is not filling me with joy and anticipation. OTOH, the clay balls that are the recommended medium are pretty pricey in my neck of the woods. They seem to be usable indefinitely though, and don't mess with the ph, which is helpful.
An outside pond is a nice dream up here but it's way down on the list of priorities at the moment, our winters are too long and too cold for an outside pond unless it's at least 14 feet deep or you take out all the fish every fall, which I'm not interested in doing. Read about a place in Ontario which has stocked small lakes and sells a limited number of day passes to fish there, apparently it's been a very viable business for about 20 years and is still going strong. So many possibilities...
I'm currently diving in to aquaponics. I built a small greenhouse this summer (16ft x 16ft) and I am in a cold climate (Michigan) so I designed the greenhouse with the concept of being a winter greenhouse to be able to hopefully grow year round. I'm still in the finishing stages of the greenhouse... I have house wrap and 1" thick insulation board on the outside of it, but I don't have the money to put siding on it right now, will finish that in the spring with tax money... inside I have almost everything insulated, I need to put a second layer of 1" thick insulation board on half of the ceiling and I'll be done insulating... then I need to finish putting plywood up on that same half of the ceiling and still have the east and west walls to put plywood on, paint it all and then I'll move on to the really fun part (getting the grow beds up and running). For the time being I have a 330 gal IBC fish tank (not in use yet) and a 275 gal IBC that the guy I got it from had already cut the top off to flip upside down and use as a grow bed. I have 26 rainbow trout and 3 yellow perch in the bottom fish tank portion, and I filled the grow bed portion with pea stone gravel and have been harvesting lettuce and swiss chard regularly from it. I have tomato plants that I started from seed that the plants are 4ft+ tall now and just started flowering, have one little tomato on it right now. I transplanted a jalapeno plant from the dirt garden before it got frosted and it has several good sized jalapenos on it since it has been in the aquaponic system. I have snow peas, broccoli, radishes, beets, carrots all growing in the system right now too.
My plan is to raise trout in the winter time (cold water) and tilapia in the summer time (warm water). I have 12 blue tilapia that I am currently growing in an aquarium inside my house to get them up to breeding size over the winter that way I can raise their fry in the greenhouse aquaponic system in the summer.
The greenhouse is still a bit of a construction zone so not much room to move around right now, as such the temperature is not quite as high as I'd like it to be... I need to finish insulating and filling cracks, then I need to pick up several more 55 gallon barrels to add to my north wall which is currently half covered with barrels full of water to act as a heat sink. At that point hopefully it will help stabilize the temperature a bit... I don't know if I'll be able to continue growing this winter or not since it's not finished, but I will see how long I can keep it going before it gets too cold.
Other heating methods, I dug a trench in the ground and buried a few lengths of 3" PVC pipe then filled the trench in with pea stone to act as a heat sink, eventually the PVC will be ran up to the ceiling and I will have fans in the PVC to suck the warm air out of the peak and blow it underground to be stored in the ground/gravel then radiate back up to heat the greenhouse. My third heating attempt will be to build a solar heater that will mount on the south wall below my glazing. Air will travel through downspouts back and forth through a box, all painted black to heat up from the sun then once it goes through all of the downspouts it will blow back in to the greenhouse. I have a professional built system on my house, it works quite well in spring and fall to heat our house with only a little bit of electricity to reduce our fuel oil consumption.
I purchased a bunch of PV cells that I will eventually finish assembling once I run out of other projects. Then I will cover the remaining portion of the southern roof of the greenhouse with solar panels to hopefully offset the electricity usage in the greenhouse (and it will be grid tied so it will hopefully have enough extra power to offset some of the electric use from our house as well... eventually I'd like to completely cover the south roof of my barn with solar panels to greatly reduce our electricity usage (another project...)
Our goal is to become mostly self sufficient for food supplies. Not that I'm a prepper or anything, I just don't like spending money on food at the grocery store if I can raise or grow my own (it's so expensive to try and eat healthy when buying it at the store). Between the greenhouse and summer garden we should hopefully be able to raise most of our fruits/veggies, and between hunting/fishing, the aquaculturing fish in the aquaponics system, raising our own chickens for eggs as well as meat birds, raising hogs, and my father-in-law's dairy farm providing some beef we pretty much should have all of our food needs covered.
Post by keen101 (Biolumo / Andrew B.) on Dec 1, 2016 19:47:09 GMT -5
Yes, this sounds interesting! I too have wanted to build one ever since i heard about the FarmPOD Aquaponics.
I too would want to use trout as my fish as the Greenback trout is native fish that they are working to restore here in the Rocky Mountains. In a fantastical world it would be cool to have a rare fish i could farm but also periodically reintroduce to the wild. I look forward to watching your trout experiences to see if that turns out to be a good or bad species to use.
I hope to start experimenting with Aeroponics soon too. That just doesn't have fish and uses mist instead of standing water.
I'll start a thread with some of the build details when I get a chance.
The trout so far are doing great. I bought them on 10/21, so had them a little over a month now. I've only lost one trout that decided to jump out of the tank before I put netting over the top of it. Here is a little video of the trout on 10/31, they were not real comfortable with me yet, they liked to hang out near the back of the tank and would only zip to the front for food... now they all come to the front surface to see me when I feed them and I can reach my hand in the tank and pretty much grab a fish before they try to get away, but then come right back again. I should shoot another video update soon to show the progress. I have not removed any from the tank to check their growth rate yet, but from looking at them at feeding time they appear to be growing nicely already.
Trout work fine in AP, there are a number of people on BYAP forum that have grown trout in their systems before me... I will probably need to spread them out as they get bigger, so I have a second IBC that I will split them in half as they grow to give them more room.
Last Edit: Dec 2, 2016 7:02:46 GMT -5 by rininger85
If I ever get serious about it I will probably grow bluegills or other sunfish. I'v always had interest and have had aquariums for decades. I have a little artificial outdoor pond now that is about 190 gallons. it is deep enough that it doesn't freeze to the bottom and I run a pump in it year round. It has a little stream about seven or eight feet with a waterfall at the top about a foot high.
I've had it probably 10 years or so. Wild mint, miniature cattails live on the edges of the stream and their roots clean the water. Bluegills that I brought home from the lake unexpectedly had babies and I have to catch and release some each year. I suspect most get killed by being caught in the pump and stream, something that would have to be addressed for actual production. I don't feed them at all so I guess they find enough bugs, they seem healthy.
Pretty much anything from sweet potato vines to marigolds will grow if planted in pots in clean gravel and set in the stream part. I drew up plans for a much much larger version, big enough to actually raise both fish and vegetables and swim. Cost of it though is prohibitive for me right now.
Nothing ruins a neighborhood like paved roads and water lines.
reed, that sounds like an interesting setup you have there. Sounds like you are already running an aquaponic system =)
As for the fry getting sucked in to pumps... the solution for my system is that the pump will be located in a sump tank. It will pump water from the sump tank to the 330 gallon IBC fish tank which will then overflow to the 200 gallon (275 IBC with top cut off) fish tank, which will then overflow to the grow beds, which then overflow back to the sump tank. I don't plan on having fry in the greenhouse though, I will keep my breeders in my house and move the fish to the greenhouse once they reach the fingerling stage... there might be accidental fry in the greenhouse as the fish get close to maturity, but they will end up being additional fertilizer in the system if they make their way to the grow beds... they would never make it all the way to the sump tank to get sucked in to the pump though.
Here is a picture of one of the trout in my system yesterday.
plants in my system... this picture was 11/30, I just added the light to see if it helps the tomatoes grow because the plants got big and have flowered but the one tomato that is growing is going really slow.
this picture was 10/20 for size of the tomato growth in a bit over a month... went from 20" to 48"+ in a month, before adding the light...