Discussion in 'Gardening' started by DHinton, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. DHinton

    DHinton Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 25, 2013
    Baton Rouge, LA
    Greets all, I'm Dwayne.

    My cousin has been talking about trying his hand at aquaponics and doing a little research on youtube and such. I was wondering if anyone has tried it, what kind of success you've had, and any tips you might want to pass on? :)

    thanks in advance~!!
  2. DHinton

    DHinton Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 25, 2013
    Baton Rouge, LA
    what our discussion turned into, essentially was the below, for a long term project. the idea is to do it in stages.

    1 - start off with aquaponics, i.e. a tub for breeding/raising fish (tilapia, catfish, whatever), connected to a bin of plants (veggies, herbs, fruit, whatever) - aquaponics. fish waste feeds the plants, the plants help filter the water and keep it clean for the fish.

    2 expand this to include pvc with the occasional plant basket in it.

    3 as you expand the pvc additions - turn the pvc into a chicken/rabbit yard by building it into a rectangular box shape

    4 complete the run by fitting wire "walls" into your pvc frame.

    5 put the chicken coop/rabbit hutch at the opposite end of the run from the fish tub. cover/roof the part of the run that's closest to the coop/hutch. have a compost pile on the fish tub end of the run.

    6 (or whenever feasible) attach solar panels to run your aquaponics pumps. also have it store excess in battery/batteries for use elsewhere?

    random notes - chickens scratch around in the compost, making it decompose quicker. they can also get bugs and worms from it. "save" some of the worms, because apparently you can put them into the grow bin. i'm guessing you can use uneaten parts of fish on the compost pile.

    obviously, everything doesn't have to be laid out exactly like this. the initial aquaponics set up can be to the side of the run, or perhaps the grow bin(s) can double as shade/roofing for part of the run. also, the chickens and rabbits don't have to wait until the pvc yard is ready for them... this is just a rough draft that we were kicking around.

    but in theory, it would be built so as to maximize space, perhaps the fish tub and grow bins are vertical and over parts of the run (for shade/cover in rain/maximize space by going vertical. more than one level of the pvc "box" can be built - perhaps 2nd/3rd levels can be used for raising kits? just make trays to fit inbetween the levels for catching waste?

    the wire would go on the inside of the pvc box, keeping the plants out of the run altogether and allowing easy access to them. perhaps make one side where you can open it? the side either drops or raises, so you can access everything inside that level.

    this would be in steps. once one step is achieved and stabilized and going good, the next would be undertaken. chickens/rabbits would be independent of this set up until the appropriate stage.

    is it do-able? has anyone tried this type of thing, incorporating as much diversity as possible and going vertical for the sake of space? i did a rough draft in paint of how it COULD look. again, the fish tub and grow bin can be on top of the run, and the run can easily go 20-30 feet, possibly more
  3. smilingcat

    smilingcat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 1, 2010
    Pacific Northwest
    Aquaponics isn't pancea by any means. You can get into lots of trouble and problems. Disease for the fish, water temperature for the fish, spiking of ammonia in water causing undue stress for the fish. You can also run into pump trouble, or stuck or non working auto-siphon/bell-siphon or clogged siphon. grow medium can easily clog a siphon if you are using ebb and flow system.

    People tend to use tilapia for a reason. Fast growing, tolerant to warmer water and more tolerant to water condition than lets say trout or yellow perch. Before you start a big setup, suggest you start with a smaller tank around 25 to 50 gallon size. or even smaller. Smaller fish tank has a problem with temperature control so it might be easier with 25 to 50 gallon size instead of 10 gallon tank. Wouldn't go anything smaller. Keeping fish is lot more work than what the video is telling you.

    Also if you are planning with non-pet fish such as trout, yellow perch, catfish or even carp yes they are great eating if raised and prepared properly, but you WILL have to get a special permit from fish and game department. Otherwise you might get a multi thousand dollar fine. Permit will most likely require an on-site inspection from the fish and game... I have more fear of fish and game wardens than a police officer on a traffic patrol. Police, you can reason fish and game warden, not so much!! And fines tend to have extra zeros at the end.

    Just sayin, Started my small system with 10 gallon tank and gold fish. cheap, proof of concept design and to observe and discover the things they don't tell you. And you can learn a lot from experience. Gold fish, no permit required.

    Even thought of raising crawdads but they are invasive species here so a big no no for me. Its native where you are so you might want to mix crawdads with fish.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2013
  4. DHinton

    DHinton Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 25, 2013
    Baton Rouge, LA
    i have crawfish in one of the koi ponds at my house. we were having a crawfish boil when i first moved into the house (couple of years ago), and i put a bunch of them in the pond (didn't have any fish in it). when i was cleaning out the filter today, i found a baby crawfish (put him back into the pond)... so, the herd is alive and well and still propagating.

    maybe i could find some freshwater prawn/shrimp around here and add them to it. then use THAT as my "aquarium" and give aquaponics a go. not sure what my odds are of ever harvesting crawfish or shrimp from the pond; but, it's a start i guess.
  5. erinszoo

    erinszoo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 28, 2011
    North Central Oklahoma
    I'm interested in doing this too but have been putting it off because of the electric bill to run pumps and things. I'd like to have a set up that is gravity run to limit the amount of pumping needed. My biggest question in all of it is WHERE do you get the initial stock of tilapia or shrimp or crawfish? Everywhere I've been able to find that sell them only sell to big lakes and ponds and want you to buy in lots of 1,000 or more. If I want to start small to try out what I'm doing or to do just raise enough fish for my family, where do I get the fish?

    I'm not sure about incorporating the aquaponics with the chickens and rabbits too. We've been raising rabbits and chickens for a while and I wouldn't want them anywhere near my pond system. We do compost and the chickens scratch in the compost pile for us and we use it to fill our garden beds several times a year between crops (we year round garden). Just not sure how it would incorporate with the pond system too. I'll have to think on that for awhile.
  6. Sounds.... Complicated, BUT cool! Would like to try this eventually! : )
  7. Gallo del Cielo

    Gallo del Cielo La Gallina Resort & Spa

    May 6, 2010
    My Coop
    Hi Dwayne! That sounds like a great project. I would point out that you could get started most easily by pumping water up out of one of your koi ponds. There may be plenty of nitrates available from that to drive your system, at least initially; a quick chemistry test will tell you if it does. You could get started as quickly as you could put up a grow-bed. Then you could have a bit more time to work on the edible fish end of things. As smilingcat noted, there are a host of issues associated with the fish. The best thing is check your local laws. If you can't legally have tilapia, then maybe bream (bluegills) or catfish would work. A lot of folks here in Tucson use koi or goldfish instead of tilapia so that they don't have to worry about them dying in the lowest temperatures in the winter; there also seems to be fewer restrictions on them. During the warmer months of the year you could easily grow Malaysian freshwater prawns. Here's a place in TX where you can get them.

    If you haven't read it yet, here is a good book for beginners. I'd recommend you read as much as possible. I learned a lot from the forum section of this site. It's a bit dense with the jargon, but the learning curve is steep.

    I've had my system up for nearly a year now. We've been harvesting tilapia about once a week for a couple months now and it's been fantastic. Here's a thread on aquaponics with some older pics of my system and one from WA.

    I'm envious of your crawfish. I spent ten of the best years of my life in New Orleans and I miss them dearly.
  8. DHinton

    DHinton Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 25, 2013
    Baton Rouge, LA

    in some of the youtube videos i watched, the guys had like 1 foot by 3 foot solar panel? not sure what that, the battery and whatever hookups are needed would cost though.
  9. DHinton

    DHinton Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 25, 2013
    Baton Rouge, LA

    that tank and greenhouse setup are pretty awesome!

    like suggested in your reply and earlier, i might just get some feeder goldfish and buy a couple pounds of crawfish and put them all in one of the koi ponds, and let that be my test ground for the aquaponics. the pond on the side (that is filled with parrot's feather) is in a pretty shaded spot under two large trees

    i guess if i want to be all fancy about it... i could start picking out crawfish from crawfish boils, for an indoor breeding program, and be all mad scientist with it. but for now, i just want a grow bed making crazy good veggies with which to win over neighbors and the local folks. so when the rabbits and chickens and such start being kept... :)
  10. dbaydak

    dbaydak Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 17, 2013
    Findlay, Ohio
    Hi Dwayne,

    We started an aquaponic system this year. We have a 100 gallon fish tank with two grow beds. I use a 400gph pump to run the whole system including extra lines for air bubble stones to add extra oxygen to the water. We use an ebb and flow system with a bell siphon. The siphons aren't hard to build, believe me, I never even used power tools till we set this up. I also have to say, that once the bell siphon was set up, we have never had trouble with it not working. Your system does have to be on stable footing and level. We started with small gold feeder fish, because they were cheap. Our system has been running for about 3 months now and we are harvesting cukes, tomatoes, bell peppers, and strawberries. I was amazed at how easy it really was to set up and run.

    Our main trouble was cycling the system. It is best to start the system with no fish and a couple well rooted plants. Since you already have Koi pond, you can use water from there to start the bacteria process. This is absolutely necessary for the cycle to remain closed and for the fish poop to be changed into plant food.

    I like your concept of utilizing your space for the rabbits and chickens. I think it is a good idea, but you would have to make sure that the chicken/rabbit waste doesn't get into your fish tank or it will upset the balance.

    Right now our system is in our extra bedroom so that I can control the temp due to winter. However, we will be moving it outside as soon as spring gets here. There are many places you can buy fish from that will ship fewer than 1000, you just have to research and find them. There are a couple here in Ohio, one being Fresh Water Farms in Urbana, OH. About a month ago, we added 6 catfish to our fish tank that were about 1 to 2 inches long. All of them have grown very fast and are now close to 5 to 6 inches long. Our goal this spring is to raise some rainbow trout in a second tank with more grow beds. One thing Iearned is that most river fish will not eat commercial feed, they want live feed, so minnow or shiners are a must for them. Also, they require cooler water, so only cooler crops can be grown in their growbeds, like lettuce, radishes, carrots, etc.

    As for fish diseases, we haven't had any. We bought our fish from reputable places. Also, remember the system is closed...only what you add so if you are using sterile techniques, washing the potting soil of the roots of plants, etc... you shouldn't have problems with diseases. Keeping the fish are not that difficult either. Once the cycling process is complete, you only need to test the water about once a week to make sure the pH, amon, nitrites and nitrates are where they should be. Feed the fish other wise leave them alone until harvest.

    A good resource on aquaponics is "Backhyard Aquaponics", they have a lot of resources and lots of good information. They also have a forum that answers basic questions and more advanced questions. I also suggest reading the book "Aquaponic Gardening" by Sylvia Bernstein. Her book is awesome and details everything you need to know about setting up a system. You can find it on for a reasonable price.

    If you have any questions, let me know, I will try to answer from our knowledge or lead you to where you can find the answers.

    Good Luck, Dana and Neco

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