Permaculture forum: Aquaponics

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Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Mar 24, 2014 2:26 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

I've had my aquaponics tank up for a couple months now and the growbed is starting to get pretty active! So I wanted to share some pictures of what I'm growing.

Mint in the foreground, lettuce, onions and a couple tomatoes:
Thumb of 2014-03-24/dave/d545ab

I pulled up an onion (because it was crowding the nearby lettuce) and was amazed at all the roots! And look how clean and beautiful they are.

Thumb of 2014-03-24/dave/bdb0d2 Thumb of 2014-03-24/dave/bb03c6

Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Mar 24, 2014 2:27 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

This is the growbed almost exactly a month ago.

Thumb of 2014-03-24/dave/b842d5

Name: Jonna
Mérida, Yucatán, México (Zone 13a)
Garden Procrastinator The WITWIT Badge Region: Mexico I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Ponds Tropicals
Enjoys or suffers hot summers Plumerias Plays in the sandbox Dog Lover Cat Lover
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extranjera
Mar 24, 2014 2:54 PM CST
What kind of fish do you have in the tank? Tilapia? It looks great, good work.
A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Mar 24, 2014 2:56 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

I wanted to do tilapia but they are only available mail order. I ended up buying 25 catfish along with a pound of minnows. I lost most of the catfish and will replace them next month. So right now I have 2 or 3 catfish plus hundreds of minnows. Smiling I guess the minnows are responsible for the bulk of the nitrates at this point.

It's really exciting to see the symbiotic relationship here. The fish produce the nitrates (which is toxic to them). The plants use the nitrates as fertilizer and return the clean water, free of nitrates, back to the tank below. The rapid growth of the plants is a powerful testament to the strength of this idea!
Name: Jonna
Mérida, Yucatán, México (Zone 13a)
Garden Procrastinator The WITWIT Badge Region: Mexico I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Ponds Tropicals
Enjoys or suffers hot summers Plumerias Plays in the sandbox Dog Lover Cat Lover
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extranjera
Mar 24, 2014 8:31 PM CST
Also the clean water and healthy fish is a testament to the cycle. It's the same concept that I use to filter all of my ponds, plants to remove the fish poop and return clean water. I keep small fish in the outside ponds because I don't want birds taking off with larger fish and thus I don't have enough fish poop to feed a lot of plants. Carp are good producers of fertilizer as are koi and large goldfish, but they are also easy, attractive targets for herons and other fishing birds. Perhaps with screening you could keep the carp? I think most aquaponics use tilapia because they are better eating.

In my case, the fish are more like pets and not for food, and I have to give the plants additional fertilizer. I had a pond in Calif that was well balanced and I didn't have to fertilize the plants, but I did have to feed the fish. It was covered though and I had koi and Wakin goldfish in it - large poop producers. In my current largest pond, I don't have to feed the fish, the plants and insects produce enough food for the small guppies and mollies that I have in there and the 5 or 6 angel fish keep the fish from over producing. I do feed the plants though. It's one or the other, there is no absolutely perfect balance.
A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
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beckygardener
Mar 25, 2014 6:57 PM CST
Dave - Do you have an online link somewhere that explains this concept? I'd be interested in reading more.

I have 2 small ponds that are loaded with minnows. I scoop the water out every so often and pour it over my garden beds. The plants really perk up when I do that! And then I add clean well water to the ponds as I don't use a filtering system, just waterlilies to help clean the water. I might be interested in the aquaponics that you are doing.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
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[Last edited by beckygardener - Mar 25, 2014 6:58 PM (+)]
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Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Mar 25, 2014 7:21 PM CST
I saw a similar thing in the recent San Francisco Plant and Garden Show, but in a much smaller scale..like mini-aquarium size. They were growing herb plants.

Thumb of 2014-03-26/tarev/4b1ffe

Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
Always count your blessings in life
Region: California Houseplants Plays in the sandbox Orchids Plant Lover: Loves 'em all! Composter
Cactus and Succulents Dragonflies Hummingbirder Amaryllis Container Gardener Xeriscape
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tarev
Mar 25, 2014 7:22 PM CST
Love your aquaponics tank Dave! Hurray!
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Mar 25, 2014 7:25 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

We've had a number of threads along with a podcast about it. You can see them here:

http://garden.org/search/index.php?q=aquaponics&button=

There's lots to read. It's an exciting concept!
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
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beckygardener
Mar 25, 2014 7:55 PM CST
Thanks! Sounds most interesting! Thumbs up
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
Name: joseph wittenberg
high desert (Zone 8b)
Permaculture Region: California
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grizzlyjoe
Mar 25, 2014 9:42 PM CST
We just picked up an ibc tote and are going to start this next month, really excited. It's awesome seeing how well your plants are doing.
Name: Jay
Nederland, Texas (Zone 9a)
Region: Texas Region: Gulf Coast Charter ATP Member I helped beta test the first seed swap I helped plan and beta test the plant database. I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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Horntoad
Mar 25, 2014 10:43 PM CST
dave said:I wanted to do tilapia but they are only available mail order. I

@dave
All species of genera Tilapia, Oreochromis and Saratherodon are on the prohibited species list in Texas.

http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/huntwild/wild/species/exotic/pro...
wildflowersoftexas.com
texasnatureonline.com


Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Mar 26, 2014 6:57 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Interesting link, Jay.

Austin Aquaponics sells Mozambique Tilapia, as does Overton Fisheries. The link you gave says:

For information about possession of Mozambique tilapia for personal use, call the Permits Coordinator at (512) 389-4444.


There must be something about that specific variety of tilapia. I searched and found http://greenphoenixfarms.com/the-current-tilapia-situation-i... which gives plenty of info on this kind of tilapia. Looks like that's the only tilapia we can use in Texas and it's accepted because it can't over-winter in water below 65 degrees. (Edited to fix typo)
[Last edited by dave - Mar 26, 2014 8:36 AM (+)]
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Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
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beckygardener
Mar 26, 2014 7:59 AM CST
Can someone decipher what the Florida licensing is all about?

http://myfwc.com/license/aquaculture-certificate/aquaponics/

Are "personal use" permits required? I am a bit confused. Is this about the fish or actually using an aquaponics gardening method that may require licensing and permits here in FL?
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Mar 26, 2014 8:35 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Becky, the link says that if you're not going to sell anything you don't need a permit. So unless you're planning on selling fish and/or edible vegetation from an aquaponics system, you don't need any permitting.
Name: Becky
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Daylilies Hummingbirder Butterflies Seed Starter Container Gardener
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Ideas: Master Level Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Birds Ponds
Image
beckygardener
Mar 26, 2014 4:32 PM CST
Thanks, Dave. It was a little confusing to me as to what "personal use" dictated!
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.
Garden Rooms and Becky's Budget Garden
Name: joseph wittenberg
high desert (Zone 8b)
Permaculture Region: California
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grizzlyjoe
Jun 23, 2014 10:20 AM CST
Took this picture of our aquaponics set up this morning. Pretty much did what was in your article. Going great!

Thumb of 2014-06-23/grizzlyjoe/db3d89

In the bottom are about 15 tilapia.

Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Jun 23, 2014 10:48 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Wow, awesome!! Nice job there. Those are healthy looking plants.

Where did you get the tilapia?

Also, what media is that in the grow bed? Is that lava rock?
Name: joseph wittenberg
high desert (Zone 8b)
Permaculture Region: California
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grizzlyjoe
Jun 23, 2014 12:50 PM CST
I got the tilapia from a local charity a friend works for that was ending their aquaponic program. It's a mix of river rock and lava rock. I read the Sylvia Bernstein book and she recommended it and it passed the vinegar test. Pretty cheap way and it has a lot of surface area which I read helps the bacteria.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Image
dave
Jun 23, 2014 1:05 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

Excellent. You're going to love that aquaponics system. We've really enjoyed it this year and are looking forward to many years of enjoyment out of it. What kind of draining siphon are you using?

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