Thursday, May 16, 2013

We have fish!

As you can see in the cooler there, 12 little goldfish swimming about. I'll get more later, but this is what I have to start. Should kick off the system cycling nicely.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Cooler water for the fish

I've been informed that I'll be receiving fish shortly. About a dozen little goldfish. I knew I wouldn't have the tanks up and running in time, but I could have the sump filled and ready. I'm using that large white cooler as a sump tank. I got the sump/cooler into position, filled it up, and added a large air stone to off gas the chlorine. The fish will live in the cooler until I get more of the system setup and the plumbing worked out.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

More shelves and aquariums

Second shelf has been cut and installed. You can see the 4x4's added in between the shelves here for extra support. You can also see here that the bottom shelf is slightly larger than the second shelf, and you'll see why in the second picture here.

Aquariums in position on the shelves. The two aquariums at the bottom are both 10 gallon. You can now see why the bottom shelf is larger, to accommodate the orientation of those two aquariums. The aquarium on the second shelf is a 15 gallon and is where the fish will eventually be located. None of the aquariums or the gravel have been cleaned yet.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Start with shelves

Starting on the shelf build. As you can see I'm using this wire shelving, but due to the weight that it will be holding I'm reinforcing it with 3/4" plywood and 4x4's. I had to buy a 4x4 for this, but I got all the plywood free from somebody who was just going to throw it out. You can't see them in this picture but there's a couple lengths of 4x4 under the shelf. The wood for the bottom shelf has been cut a little larger than the wire shelf to accommodate two ten gallon aquariums side by side.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The project begins!

So, here's the start of the project. My goal is to build an aquaponics system in my basement to grow some veggies, hopefully year round veggies, probably mostly greens. Let's get started then, shall we?

The first picture here is the spot in my basement where I plan to setup the system. As you can see there's a bunch of stuff in the a gazebo shelter thing, and a large cooler. That cooler is actually going to be part of the system as the sump tank.

 The second picture here is the result of my cleanup. It's hard to tell but I spent a lot of time sweeping this area, it was very dirty. The shelves below are to be part of the system ,which is why they're now in this area. That 2x4 is actually nailed to the concrete floor. Somebody at some point was framing down here and never completed the job, so this is what I've got to work with.

All in all this cleanup was about 45 minutes work. There are things that got moved around that you can't see in the picture.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

What is aquaponics?

Most visitors to this site will already know at least the basics of what aquaponics is and what it can do. For those of you who aren't sure what aquaponics is, here's a quick run down. (Information taken from The Aquaponic Source)

Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (growing plants without soil) that grows fish and plants together in one integrated system. The fish waste provides an organic food source for the growing plants, and the plants provide a natural filter for the water the fish live in. The third participants are the microbes (nitrifying bacteria) and composting red worms that thrive in the growing media. The bacteria do the job of converting the ammonia from the fish waste first into nitrites, then into nitrates, and the worms convert the solid fish waste into vermicompost, that are food for the plants.

By combining both systems aquaponics capitalizes on the benefits and eliminates the drawbacks of each.

Problems with traditional gardening:
  • The weeds
  • The amount of water required
  • The soil-borne insects
  • The heavy digging, the bending, the back strain
  • The deer, the rabbits, the raccoons
  • Knowledge required to know when to water, when and how to fertilize, and what is the composition of the soil
Problems with hydroponic gardening:
  • Traditional hydroponic systems rely on the careful application of expensive, man-made nutrients made from mixing together a concoction of chemicals, salts and trace elements.
  • The strength of this mixture needs to be carefully monitored, along with pH, using expensive meters.
  • Water in hydroponic systems needs to be discharged periodically, as the salts and chemicals build up in the water which becomes toxic to the plants. This is both inconvenient and problematic as the disposal location of this waste water needs to be carefully considered.
  • Hydroponic systems are prone to a disease called “pythium” or root rot.
Problems with aquaculture:
  • The tank water becomes polluted with fish effluent (waste) which gives off high concentrations of ammonia. Water has to be discharged at a rate of 10-20% of the total volume in the tank daily. This uses a tremendous amount of water.
  • This water is often pumped into open streams where it pollutes and destroys waterways.
  • Because of this unhealthy environment fish are prone to disease and are often treated with medicines, including antibiotics.
 The aquaponics solution:
  • Waist-high aquaponics gardening eliminates weeds, back strain, and animal access to your garden.
  • Reuse resources currently considered “waste”. In aquaponics there is no more toxic run-off from either hydroponics or aquaculture.
  • Aquaponics uses only 1/10th of the water of soil-based gardening, and even less water than hydroponics or recirculating aquaculture.
  • Watering is integral to an aquaponics system. You can’t under-water or over-water.
  • Fertilizing is also integral to an aquaponics system. You can’t over-fertilize or under-fertilize.
  • Gardening chores are cut down dramatically or eliminated. The aquaponics grower only does the enjoyable tasks of feeding the fish and tending and harvesting the plants.
Instead of using dirt or toxic chemical solutions to grow plants, aquaponics uses highly nutritious fish effluent (waste) that contains all the required nutrients for optimum plant growth. Instead of discharging water, aquaponics uses the plants and the media in which they grow to clean and purify the water, after which it is returned to the fish tank. This water can be reused indefinitely and will only need to be replaced when it is lost through transpiration and evaporation.

I think that sums it up nicely. If you have any further questions about how aquaponics works please feel free to leave a comment, tweet, or email. The project awaits, onward!