A few questions about aquaponics.

vipvenomMarch 14, 2008

I just found out about aquaponics and think it is interesting. I have been into marine aquariums for several years now and I understand the cycle that fish waste goes through to be converted to a usable nitrate and ultimatly in my aquarium that is then converted into nitrogen gas but not very desireable in aquaponics :).

I understand how it works but don't see why it works. More specifically it seems to me that there needs to be a good fish load to supply the plants with the nitrogen. Also, I know that any uneaten food in my aquarium will turn into ammonia and ultimately nitrates.

What are the fish doing differently when consuming food as opposed to letting the food just sit in the water and give off ammonia?

How many fish are required per plant? What other additives are added for other nutrients?

I have a decent sized pond in my back yard with fish in it. Would a floating garden work in my pond assuming the roots got enough oxygen?

I think aquaponics is very cool. I like the fact that fish farms could now recycle the water while helping to grow crops or in third world places they could raise fish and plants together. So any more info you can give me is much appreciated.



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Here's a thread in a great little forum I used to frequent a lot and plan to spend more time in now that I'm back in the groove. Lots of discussion about aquaponics, pictures of working systems and drawings of prototypes. Type "aquaponics" into the search function after you join and tell em CrawChuck sent ya!

Crayfish Mates

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 11:25PM
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It seems over-hyped to me as well, vipvenom. If you can get a hold of the Maximum Yield magazine, they have a pretty good article on aquaponics. It's supportive of the idea, but it doesn't make a good case for using it as a cost-efficient method of producing either fish or flora. It appears that the benefit is some kind of hippie 'save the planet from chemicals' sort of thing. I learned to tune that stuff out long ago.

Still, if you are going to have a pond with fish that you are willing to feed... You are going to have to filter the water, so why not use the ammonia and nitrates the fish make as fertilizer.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2008 at 1:24AM
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It is way over-hyped by some and my opinion of that is the hype comes mostly from those who stand to profit from poor souls who get addicted to it. Yes it can be addictive just like "Ooooo I need this and this for my hydroponic setup" when something else free for the asking or finding or another less expensivemethod would work just as well.

If you wanted to go aquaponics in your pond with the floating raft system, it would work. You would need to build a de-gassing tower which would also serve to oxygenate and keep the pond water circulating. The rafts would serve well to keep algae at a minimum if you cover enough of the pond surface. Algae bloom will suck all the oxygen out of your pond overnight, killing all your fish and plants.

How much loading you would need to provide enough nutrients for the plants is a mystery that can maybe be determined by studying commercial operations, the size of their tanks and their loading as compared to the volume of your pond.

You might also consider building a bio filter out of 55 gallon barrels to carry out conversions while plants are young, being harvested and such and there being nothing to suck up the nutrients.

Feeding...a good source of protein for your fish as well as additional pond surface cover is duckweed. It can be purchased online, is a fast grower but is illegal in some areas as it is considered a very invasive plant. Some aquaponic operations use duckweed exclusively as fish feed depending on the fish. Talapia is probably the most widely used, while bullhead minnows are also a good choice as they will love your rafts for reproduction and fishermen pay out the hind end for a couple dozen!

Then there's RedClaw Crayfish from Australia, AKA Freshwater Lobster. They are a prime candidate for aquaponics in your area as a tropical species but you have to figure a way to keep them contained as they are non-native and considered invasive to the natural ecosystem. People are paying big money for the buggars everywhere! Yum...

    Bookmark   March 15, 2008 at 8:42AM
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Last couple of weeks I've been diving head first in to re-learning Aquaponics. A few years ago when I first took a look at it there was but a few systems and little information. Little did I realize the strides that have been made in just the last couple of years!

The Australians at Backyard Aquaponics have got it down. I would recommend anybody to go check out at the very least these couple of threads...

Joel's System


Faye's System

I'm thoroughly amazed by their progress and system simplicity. Will be converting all my hydro systems over to Aquaponics over the coming months as resources present themselves. Already have secured a couple of very large fish tanks, all the grow media I will ever need and permission from the ultimate critic to set up in the backyard!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2008 at 9:55PM
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