Aquaponics

As most of you already know I have gastrointestinal issues, and having Celiac disease and I have to be very careful about the food I eat and preservatives and additives. Any number of things in just regular shelf items and their chemicals can set it off and lets not forget the one thing that is the worse, gluten… Goodbye bread SOBS!   As you know I have been planning my  Tilapia Farm for years. First I started by buying duckweed or bayroot as some call it. Those tests were tedious and a pain in the butt. So i was told that duck weed doubles in size every 2 days, so with a small amount of duckweed should grow and grow. Well… what they don’t say is that it doesn’t exactly do that with tap water lol. So much time wasted, waiting and watching as it barely grew. There was a three fold reason for the use of duckweed. 1 was a easy food for my chickens for good source of protein and calcium. Its already weird enough that you feed the  ground oyster shells and limestone so their shells stay nice and thick. Protein was a just a even creeper, feed your chicken chickpeas scrambled eggs with the shell in it, never raw or else they will eat their eggs and no eggs for me!   Its expensive and just not convenient.  So after much trial and error we decided to go to the canal and get water and bring it back to the house. Boy did that make the difference, the duckweed thrived and just grew and grew.  So now my chickens have a good source of protein and calcium goodbye weird concoctions check!  2. Duckweed feeds the tilapia , transplanting a significant amount of duckweed to the top of the tank will feed the tilapia and will continue to grow. However having a secondary pond growing extra in case something happens is always wise. 3. Wash, dry and grind the duckweed is a great source of protein for me  goodbye expensive protein powders,Hello Duckweed Smoothies! 

 

Tilapia babies  check!  The grand plan is coming together. However there is so much to learn and so much to figure out. Future babies, saving said babies since the fathers will eat the eggs, and mothers will eat their young and all the other weird stuff that can happen. Because remember the grand plan is to use the water from the tilapia pond, send it to my plant area ta da! aquaponics. 

 

The water will be piped to the pants, as we all know fish waste is great fertilizer for plants again another savings.  Then the water runs down, goes thru some filters to clean the water before returning to the tilapia pond, again savings, we are saving water. Living in the desert is the way to get those nice home raised food, plus saving water. Its bad enough my trees eat water, but my trees serve a purpose, they provide me fresh fruit, pomegranates, lemons, oranges, grapefruits and figs. Then we have the mesquite trees which supplies great smoking wood for my fish, as well as mesquite beans for a fun sweet treat and flour that is good for me. While all these parts are great the master plan looks like this. Its great having parts done, but when you don’t have the whole thing it doesn’t work as well. Maybe with more thought on the process I can feed my trees as well. It will consume more water but  I would be consuming that water to keep them alive anyway but providing natural growing food for the trees as well as being all natural. 

 

This is the plan that is being used for the finished product, with more adjustments, bigger growing space and 2 ponds separated by sex. I have researched this for years and still tweaking after reading new ideas and thoughts. But there are some things that I have to share that are important and must be thought about as far as I am concerned its more important than the design.

 

  1. Choose the tank carefully. Fish tanks are a crucial component in every aquaponic unit. Any fish tank will work, but round tanks with flat or conical bottoms are recommended because they are easier to keep clean. Remember: Try using strong inert plastic or fiberglass tanks, because of their durability and long life span.
  2. Ensure adequate aeration and water circulation. This means you should use water and air pumps to make sure that the water has high levels of dissolved oxygen and good water movement so that your animals, bacteria and plants are healthy. Remember: Electricity costs are a significant portion of the system budget so choose the pumps and power source wisely, and consider photovoltaic power, if possible. Panels are cheap and its a good way to stay green.
  3. Maintain good water quality. Water is the life-blood of an aquaponic system. It is the medium through which all essential nutrients are transported to the plants, and it is where the fish live. Five key water quality parameters are important to monitor and control: dissolved oxygen (5 mg/liter), pH (6–7), temperature (18–30 °C), total nitrogen, and water alkalinity.  Remember: The water chemistry may seem complicated, but the actual management is relatively simple with the help of common test kits.
  4. Do not overcrowd the tanks. Your aquaponic system will be easier to manage and will be insulated against shocks and collapse if the stocking density is kept low. The recommended stocking density is 20 kg/1 000 liters, which will still allow for substantial plant growing area. Remember: Higher stocking densities can produce more food in the same space, but will require much more active management.
  5. Avoid overfeeding, and remove any uneaten food. Wastes and uneaten food are very harmful for aquatic animals because they can rot inside the system. Rotting food can cause disease and can use up all of the dissolved oxygen. Remember: Feed the animals every day, but remove any uneaten food after 30 minutes and adjust the next day’s portion accordingly, or use duckweed, bayroot. This is all natural and much better for your fish. Check your duckweed and remove any that have died or have decayed due to the sun, to keep it fresh and healthy.
  6. Choose and space the plants wisely. Plant vegetables with short grow-out periods (salad greens) between plants with longer-term crops (eggplant). Continued replanting of tender vegetables such as lettuce in between large fruiting plants provides naturally shaded conditions.  Remember: In general, leafy green plants do extremely well in aquaponics along with some of the most popular fruiting vegetables, including tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers.
  7. Maintain balance between plants and animals. Using a batch cropping system can help keep a steady harvest of both aquatic animals and vegetables to keep a consistent production level and maintain a constant balance between fish and plants. Remember: A secure source of young plants and young fish is important, so make sure that the supply is considered during the planning phase. 
  8. Fish make sure that you harvest any extra fish stock, freeze or give away so that you keep your numbers under control after a breeding cycle. If you cannot manage a large breeding cycle and keep it under control in one tank, separate your male and female population. You can check online how to determine fish sex. When you are ready to breed your fish, make sure you tag your male fish so you can easily find it in your tank after your breeding is completed. Once your babies are born you can use a breeder net to catch your baby fish and put them in a baby nursery pond. If the mother becomes hungry she will munch on your young.

This is long post and a lot of information but remember, You have to do your homework if you want to make sure that your food and your fish and chickens remain healthy, nothing is worse that growing your own food and they become unhealthy and make you sick. I hope this helps anyone who is thinking about doing something like this. Remember things you can grow on your own, raise yourself to consume has not been processed and better for you. You know the quality of your own food you grow!  If there is any bad grammer or spelling issues, I didnt have a chance to proof so errors are present I am sure lol.