132: Aquaponics Interview on Changing Earth Podcast

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Is Aquaponics a Viable system?

Aquaponics is an extremely valid system.

What is an aquaponics system?

Aquaponics is the marriage of hydroponics and Aquaculture.

Hydroponics is cultivating plant life in a bath of nutrient rich water solution, instead of soil, for large scale production in a smaller area.

Aquaculture is a design to grow fish or aquatic life like shellfish, crawfish, snails, or ……….. to help meet the popular fish demand with little impact on the overall aquatic population.

Introducing Aquaponics

  1. Aquaponics is a marriage of aquaculture and hydroponics.
  2. Uses fish to provide the nutrient content for plant life.
  3. It gets rid of agrochemicals from typical farming:
    1. Problems like the delta of the Mississippi where a wetland is turning into an uninhabitable area

What materials are required for building an aquaponics system?

Typical Aquaponic system components:

  1. Rearing tank:
    1. Tanks for raising and feeding fish.
    2. Large barrel or a stock tank, glass fish tank
  2. Settling basin
    1. Catches uneaten food and detached biofilms, settles out particles
  3. Biofilter
    1. Where nitrification bacteria can grow and convert ammonia into nitrates
    2. Bucket of pebbles or other high surface area media
    3. Not absolutely necessary though with a good grow bed
  4. Hydroponics subsystem
    1. Where plants grow
    2. Grow bed
      1. Flood table
      2. Frame it above the fish tank
      3. Half barrels
      4. Bath tubs even!
  5. Sump
    1. Lowest basin where water gravity flows. It is then pumped back up to the rearing tanks
  6. Water Pump
    1. Mag Drive Pump
    2. Submersible fountain pump
    3. Pump from fish tank to grow bed
  7. Air Pump
    1. Get an aquarium air pump to oxygenate the water
  8. Bell Siphon
    1. 30 bucks on amazon, or you can make one from pvc components.
    2. Raised pipe in a bigger pipe
    3. Bigger pipe has holes drilled in it
    4. Medium pipe in top with an air lock on top making it float
    5. Drain from grow bed to fish tank

Different applications to grow plant life (this could be considered as the Hydroponics Tank):

  1. Deep-Water Raft Aquaponics
    1. Plants float in Styrofoam rafts in a deep basin
  2. Recirculating Aquaponics or Closed-Loop Aquaponics
  3. Solid media: (Gravel or clay) in a container.  Container is flooded with the aquaculture water.
    1. Best for beginners because:
    2. Easier to learn
    3. Less parts, so it is cheaper
    4. Media bed mechanically filters (solids), performs mineralization (breaks down solids), and biofiltration (attachment of bacteria).
  4. Reciprocating Aquaponics, Flood-and-Drain Aquaponics, Ebb-and-Flow Aquaponics
    1. Flood and Drain is simplest
    2. Easy to build
    3. Small
    4. Best for a 1:1 ratio (grow bed to fish tank)
    5. Easier maintenance
    6. Same media but it is flooded and drained using siphon drains.
  5. Vertical Tower Aquaponics
    1. Uses vertical towers that are trickle fed from the top
  6. Nutrient Film Aquaponics
    1. Sloped bed of 1.1 to 1.4
    2. Flow around 1L per minute
    3. Plenty of root oxygen, water, and nutrients

Typical Animals (Rearing Tank: similar to Aquaculture tank):

  1. Usually Freshwater Fish and Life
  2. Tilapia is most common
  3. Barramundi
  4. Silver Perch
  5. Eel-tailed Catfish or Tandanus Catfish
  6. Jade Perch
  7. Murray Cod
  8. Gold Fish (Edible, but many don’t do it)
  9. Koi
  10. Temperate Climates and you don’t want to maintain water temp:
    1. Bluegill
    2. Catfish

Bacterial Cycle (Biofilter)

  1. Fish release ammonia through crap and gills
    1. Toxic above .5 to 1 ppm so it needs filtered
    2. Plant absorb it, but not  efficiently or at high levels (nitrates are easier)
    3. You will not add fish the first day, so you may want to add just a small amount of dead fish to give ammonia off
    4. if you don’t take lots of medication, you can use pee
      1. direct or aged
    5. you can just use your fish.
      1. Keep feed to a tbsp/day
      2. if you see algae bloom, cut back a bit until it clears
      3. this could take up to two months
  2. We convert it:
    1. Nitrosomonas convert ammonia into nitrites
    2. Nitrobacter converts nitrites into nitrates
    3. They create a biofilm on all surfaces in contact with water including roots
    4. Using a bio filter essentially raises surface area
  3. Seed your system with the right bacteria
    1. aquarium or pond filters
    2. aquarium or pond water
    3. existing aquaponics system water or media
    4. A test kit which tests pH, ammonia, nitrite and nitrate is best
    5. Let system run a day or two prior to fish

How Practical is an aquaponics system for Long term survival?

In survival situations, you may have issues achieving recirculation and water temperatures

  1. You may lose energy input for pumps
  2. A single failure point could lose all of your fish stock

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Ken is addicted to fitness and mountain biking. He is such a thrill seeker, people are starting to be concerned!He enjoys MTBing, Hiking, Climbing, Geocaching, Orienteering, Weight Lifting, and Wilderness Survival.

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