25 Apr 2012, 10:18pm
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Aquaponics

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This week, I will be making my first equipment purchase for an aquaponic setup for my garage. I’m picking up a 275 gallon IBC tote from outside of Santa Rosa.

The plan

Fish waste is ammonia and solid waste with trace elements. Two types of bacteria are at work: one to convert the ammonia to nitrities (Nitrosomonas) and the second to convert the nitrite into nitrate (Nitrospira). Worms eat the solid waste and poop castings, which are nutrients appropriate for root uptake. If water is held at the right temperature and pH and the bacteria and worms are converting the waste into usable elements the fish and plants can survive.

My design calls for some interesting plumbing design, exploded clay grow bed media, a constantly running water pump with a siphoned return, two grow beds and grow lights. I wish I didn’t have to add the grow lights, but it’s in my garage. There isn’t enough room in my back yard for this set up, so it’s all I can do for now.

Why?

There’s something special about this concept from the beginning. It’s really a culmination of many things that humans have done: intensive agriculture, hydroponics, aquaculture/animal husbandry, biodome experiments, etc. By starting with a near complete system, one can add growing fish food, automatic fish population control, seed saving and seedling propagation operations to their setup to make things even more complete. The few inputs to the system: 5-10 gallons of water per week, light (could be sunlight), pump power (could be solar or more sustainable) and fish food. All of this sounds like doing aquaponics may be possible in countries with agricultural problems. I think so, too. My hope is that this personal experiment will lead me somewhere I don’t know exists yet. I’ll be looking for it and ready when it shows up.

References

  1. Aquaponics Community Forum
  2. Aquaponic Gardening Book