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Thread: My Science Project (Aquaponics)

  1. #1
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    Default My Science Project (Aquaponics)

    My Science Project (Aquaponics)

    This is a proof of concept experiment that I have been working on since March. Hopefully once I understand all of the nuances I will be able to expand this is into a fully sustainable food producing system on which I can rely upon for foodstuffs. My wife and I are doing the normal plot and container gardening but this type of system has fascinated me for a while.

    Basically this is a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics that is the raising of fish, and the raising of plants without dirt. Fish are raised in a tank and the water from the tank is circulated thru grow beds that filter the water which is then returned to the fish tank. The science here is that the ammonia produced by the fish is converted into nitrates which the plants utilize by bacteria in the growbeds. According to research I have done plant growth can be accelerated up to 18 times quicker using this process. Also water use is 1/10 that of a conventional garden. My current power consumption is only 67 watts! (This will go up of course once I finish the ventilation and heating systems). I am trying to create a system that will produce vegetables and fish year round.



    Here is where I am at currently with this project. I have constructed a 10x12 Harbor freight greenhouse that with some modifications, has already withstood 50+ mph winds and hail. If you plan on getting one of these, check out this link. This guy has done some seriously beneficial modifications to this greenhouse. http://hfgh10x12.blogspot.com/2007/0...-strength.html I have installed pex radiant heat tubing in the floor and covered this with concrete. I plan on modifying some existing solar heat panels I have to provide hot water to circulate thru the floor in the winter. I also plan on supplementing this with a hot water heater powered by homemade methane. http://www.whenshtf.com/showthread.php?t=6179 I have also installed shade cloth and am currently working on a thermostatically controlled ventilation system to help control the summer temps inside the greenhouse.







    My fish tank consists of a 325 gallon IBC (intermediate bulk container) which has been insulated with astro-foil. My grow beds are Steralite totes filled with washed pea gravel (1.4 tons).



    I also have what is known as a riverbed system, which flows water along a series of 3 PVC pipes with holes drilled in them that hold plastic cups with small pea gravel in these I have planted various herbs.







    Water is circulated from the fish tank to the grow beds by gravity thru a 1-1/2 PVC line which siphons off of the bottom of the fish tank and flows into a distribution manifold also made of PVC pipe. Each grow bed has what is known as a loop siphon, which automatically drains the bed when the water reaches a certain height. This water flows into a sump which is then pumped back into the fish tank. I am growing peppers, leaf lettuce, onions, tomatoes, bok choy, red cabbage, beans, spinach, celery and cucumbers.




    My original crop of catfish died rather quickly because of chloramines poisoning (my ignorance), so after flushing and refilling the system with well water, I have temporarily placed 24 large goldfish from a bait shop in the tank while I wait on the fish farm to catch some more catfish fingerlings.



    Here are some links to aquaponics forums and information sites if you are interested.

    http://diyaquaponics.com/forum/portal.php
    http://www.backyardaquaponics.com/forum/index.php
    http://www.aquaponicshq.com/forums/
    Preparing so that I may live better today and post shtf.

  2. #2
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    looks like you put ALOT of work into it! i cant wait to hear how the veggies taste

    this is a completely new concept to me, and im going to have to look into those links thanks for posting

  3. #3
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    damn i was going to come in here and share some knowledge but very impressive set up.

  4. #4
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    Yeah, impressive. It looks like a long term function. Not to get off subject, what is the large dish antenna in front of the travel trailer?
    Approach with a calm resolve, attack with reckless indifference. Gladius Republicae!
    "...use Gold like it's gunpowder..."

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the replies! I have put a lot of work into this. I firmly believe that this system can produce enogh for survival if correctly applied (much larger growbed volume). The fish tank I have can support up to 50 channel cat and 4 times the growbed volume.
    Also hydroponic lends itself real well to rice production. Right now this is pretty much an experiment and I hoping to expand it in the future!

    by the way voortrekker that is an old analog satelite dish. I am planning to use the tracking system to build a sun tracking solar setup.
    Preparing so that I may live better today and post shtf.

  6. #6
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    nice setup, rather than looking at channel cats, see if you can find flatheads, they are a bit more forgiving of the environment they will breed in and are rapid growers as well, I have 6 in a 55 gallon aquaruim (CROWDED) that are 8 months old and are all over 12 inches... in better water conditions than they are in (such as what you would be supplying) their grownt rate would have been between 50 to 100% greater. These guys started life in a local pond right off a spawn bed and were under an inch when my kids netted them last fall.

    EDIT: Also try playing with vermiculite (rinse it in cheesecloth bags first) for your herbs and other fine rooted plants, it allows for quicker root spread and penetration than the pea gravel does and is organically inert. Pearlite, a larger equivalent is a good choice for larger plants, and both of these are commonly used in commercial hydroponic operations as well as for conditioning soil as they hold moisture ( they are both expanded rock products, similar to volcanic, and some is even mined volcanic rock), again just remeber to rinse the dust out of it or use a mechanical filter to keep the dust out of the fish tank.
    Last edited by Paladin; 05-18-2009 at 02:15 AM.

  7. #7
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    Any plans to introduce vermiposting as at least a supplement to fish food? That could potentially add some additional sustainability to the loop. Definitely looking forward to seeing the results of your project.

  8. #8
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    Very impressive. Whole lot of work there.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by d1337 View Post
    Any plans to introduce vermiposting as at least a supplement to fish food? That could potentially add some additional sustainability to the loop. Definitely looking forward to seeing the results of your project.
    Interesting that you should mention that, " vermiposting" I am currrently constructing worm bins for just that reason. I am also looking cultivating some duckweed in my sump barrels for supplemental feed also. If your interested I can post some pics of that when I'm done.
    Preparing so that I may live better today and post shtf.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by wolfracer View Post
    Interesting that you should mention that, " vermiposting" I am currrently constructing worm bins for just that reason. I am also looking cultivating some duckweed in my sump barrels for supplemental feed also. If your interested I can post some pics of that when I'm done.
    Absolutely on the pics. This is your second project that has really caught my interest...the first being your methane project. I read into raising fish in a barrel after reading a story on here from Jerry Young. I searched the net and found some old articles but the one that caught my eye the most was a woman who did fish in a barrel that she fed her worms from vermiposting her kitchen scraps. I don't think it was completely self sufficient, but it was definitely a supplement.

    A short read you may or may not find helpful...or may have already read
    http://www.kurtsaxon.com/foods007.htm

    d1337

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