Struggling with Aquaponics?

Struggling with aquaponics

I was talking with a friend the other day and he described some of the struggles he has been having getting his aquaponic system built and working right…

Seriously, after paying an experts and getting nowhere, it has taken an enormous amount of effort and time to get the aquaponics rolling for him… but he is starting the charge now!

Are you Struggling with Aquaponics?

It occurred to me, from that conversation and from reading endless pleas for help on online forums and facebook pages, it is really difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff and get great advice you can act on that does not have strings attached or motivated by a sales pitch.

That is the reason why this site exists, to help people get their aquaponic systems up and running without fuss and with any luck without too many mistakes.

It must be a huge waste of time sorting through all the site full of inane and inaccurate diatribe.

I feel your pain…

So the solution is simple,  why not leave me a reply below and tell me what you are struggling with in your aquaponic system, be it large or small.  If that is not your scene, drop me an email paul@earthangroup.com.au and let’s get it sorted.

Do you have a friend who needs to get their system smashing out great food? Send them a link to this article. I’ll appreciate (as will they).

P.S. I am getting ready to release the nuts and bolts when getting started with aquaponics.  More details soon.

Sign up on the email and you will be the first to know.  Bang the mouse on here and you are good to go!

Talk soon
Paul

I was talking with a friend the other day and he described some of the struggles he has been having getting his aquaponic system built and working right…

Seriously, after paying an experts and getting nowhere, it has taken an enormous amount of effort and time to get the aquaponics rolling for him… but he is starting the charge now!

Are you Struggling with Aquaponics?

It occurred to me, from that conversation and from reading endless pleas for help on online forums and facebook pages, it is really difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff and get great advice you can act on that does not have strings attached or motivated by a sales pitch.

That is the reason why this site exists, to help people get their aquaponic systems up and running without fuss and with any luck without too many mistakes.

It must be a huge waste of time sorting through all the site full of inane and inaccurate diatribe.

I feel your pain…

So the solution is simple,  why not leave me a reply below and tell me what you are struggling with in your aquaponic system, be it large or small.  If that is not your scene, drop me an email paul@earthangroup.com.au and let’s get it sorted.

Do you have a friend who needs to get their system smashing out great food? Send them a link to this article. I’ll appreciate (as will they).

P.S. I am getting ready to release the nuts and bolts when getting started with aquaponics.  More details soon.

Sign up on the email and you will be the first to know.  Bang the mouse on here and you are good to go!

Talk soon
Paul

About the author

Paul Van der Werf

Paul is the Operations Manager for a 4400m2 integrated aquaculture pilot project in the United Arab Emirates desert he designed and built. This is a commercial aquaponics pilot to evaluate integrated farming in arid climates.

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16 Comments on “Struggling with Aquaponics?

  1. Brett Pritchard

    Hi Paul,
    My problem is with developing a sustainable small scale urban aquaponic system that is suitable for ‘time poor’ people with limited space. Many people doing urban aquaponics purchase commercial fishfeed, which contains ocean caught fish. As most of the oceans fish stocks are depleted or in decline this is not sustainable, especially as it can take many kilograms of ocean fish to grow one kilo aquaponically. I know there are species that will eat almost anything (carp, tilapia, etc.) but it is illegal to grow these species in Australia. I also know it is possible to grow fish food such as algae, duckweed, black soldier fly larvae, etc. but this all takes space, time and knowledge. It is much easier for people to cut an IBC in half, plug their pump into mains power, and feed their fish commercial feed. To make backyard aquaponics in small urban spaces successful, and part of the solution and not part of the problem, an easy and sustainable way to feed harvestable quantities of fish needs to be developed. Any ideas?

    Reply
    1. Paul Smith

      Hi Brett,
      What kind of fish are You allowed to use in Autsrailia? I have a pond here in the U.S. using Gold Fish and KOI, which are a species of carp. I began feeding them rabbit pellets after I purchased some to start a new worm colony. I found out they loved them, they come in a swarm to the edge of the pond whenever anyone walks by, hoping to get a handout.
      Rabbit pellets are nothing but pelletized alfalpha.

      Reply
      1. Shaun Mavronicolas

        Hi Brett,
        I looked into rabbit pellets but after getting the ingredients list from the manufacturer I found it had really high levels of copper, for fish, obviously not the rabbits as we raise rabbits too. What brand of feed do you use?
        Thanks.

        Reply
        1. Shaun Mavronicolas

          Hi Bret, message was for Paul Smith ;-)

          Reply
    2. Freddie

      Hi Paul!

      Se! I live in Spain and her it is so difficult to find all the useful things for Aquaponic, They don’t know what it what I am talking about.

      I can bye other countries, but it so expensive actually the price of countries out of EU, comes to be the double at the end.

      Thats why I ask you about this product can I use this as buffer, in the fish tank?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potassium_hydrogen_phthalate

      Reply
    3. You might consider black soldier fly (BSF) pupae as a free food source. I have seen simple systems that self-harvest them and collect them in a small tub that you can stick in the freezer until you feed them to your fish (directly from the freezer). I have seen several YouTube videos about this method. Also, I recently visited a small commercial operation about 2 hours drive from my home, and they are growing BSF pupae as well as worms, and some other bugs to feed their fish. They do appear to be running a successful business, although I do not know them real well – since we only just met.

      Reply
      1. Some might consider the use of BSFL as a feed source for their backyard systems, however I would not consider it for a commercial venture. The volumes required are huge. For example we would need to produce 60,000kg of the larvae for our small system and that would come at a cost. (nothing is free…)

        Reply
  2. Well put Brett. Species and food are my two big issues. I’ve found the best f the limited species is the silver perch due to their lower protein requirements and wide temperature tolerances. But they’re not particularly fast growing when compared with barra and trout.

    Reply
  3. I am still yet to get full control of nutrient profiles – have had potassium and I think even phosphorous deficiency over the last 6 months and maybe magnesium. I’d like to grow more fruiting plants so need to work out ways of controlling PK as these seem to become deficient easily with heavily planted fruiting systems.

    Reply
    1. Shaun Mavronicolas

      I’m with you on this Matt, nutrients are my biggest challenge. What is there that we can do to have a sound balanced nutrient base that we can then supplement with other organics, based on what we are growing and at what stages they are at, if for example fruiting plants. It is way to costly for backyard growers to get regular water tests or plant leaf analysis tests. Soil tests are so much cheaper, we need something like this for AP and then a table/regime of things to include in our AP maintenance.

      Reply
  4. Will Ferguson

    I’ll bite, I am struggling with the idea of the separate mineralization tank. I have built a “Concept” and have been running it, but no idea if it is correct. Maybe you could enlighten me.

    I have the bottom of my Radial plumbed over to a standing PVC pipe (6in.). The top of the pipe is above the height of the Radial, and then I have a 3/4 inch pipe exiting below the radial flows water height. I put a center our of a floor scrubber pad and mounted that to the 3/4 PVC. So once the pad get’s “plugged” water leaves very slowly. (IE a drop a minute on the high side) The solids stay in the large PVC tower. The large PVC tower has a funnel in the bottom and a air stone. So as solids get pulled in from the radial they enter the bubble stream, once are no longer suspended in the bubbles they drift to the side and back down where the funnel walls pull them back into the bubble stream. Thereby exposing and re-exposing them to the oxygen. I do have a valve at the radial I can shut off to cut the flow to the mineralization tower, and I have a spigot I can drain off the “Sludge”. Although I haven’t drained it in a couple of months.

    I know this isn’t the way you described it in your article and I would like to get your opinion. The plants seem healthy enough. This is a little more “Automated” for me. Do you think this is valid way to mineralize the waste or am I wasting my time? (No pun intended)

    Thanks
    Will

    Reply
  5. Paul Smith

    I left Brett a comment above and it got me to thinking about another source of protein for Your fish and nutrients for the plants; worms and vermaponics. I have been raising worms for a number of years for the worm castings and compost I use in my wicking beds.
    The worm boxes are a great place to dispose of the left over plant material from my wicking beds.
    This spring, in fact right now, I am in the process of connecting my wicking beds to my fish pond, completing the aquaponic system I envisioned 3 years ago. (Hey, when You are retired, there are other things to do, take naps for instance.)
    Because I am using a fish pond instead of a fish tank, with low light, I have to contend with an algae explosion. I have looked into some of the solids filters I have seen on Paul’s site and elsewhere but I don’t think they are good for filtering algae. I have also seen people use ultraviolet light filters, using a separate pump for a filter/fountain. Any suggestions?

    Reply
  6. Paul Smith

    Hi Paul,
    More questions: I read Your article on Your Great web site on Your wicking beds.
    Question?? Have You thought of using charcoal in Your soil mix? I have read several articles
    on Biochar and it’s great properties for holding nutrients and moisture.

    Question?? I noticed in article 2, describing Your wicking beds, a picture of Your fish. They look like gold fish. Are Gold fish an allowable specie to grow in Australia?

    Reply
  7. Brett Pritchard

    @Paul Smith, some of the other posters mentioned the species mainly grown in Australia – silver lerch, barramundi, etc. It is legal to grow goldfish and koi and some people do and only harvest the vegetables from theit aquaponics system. I would like to set up an aquaponics system that produced harvestable quantities of fish that could fit in a standard backyard and is sustainable and low maintenance. My real interest is in closing the energy cycle between urban green waste and food production and developing carbon neutral or carbon negative systems. I have been trialing redesigned soil-only wicking beds and using microbes to both compost food anaerobically (without methane) and to replace methane producing bacteria in the anaerobic zone with nitrogen and carbon fixing bacteria. These beds can be constructed deep enough to grow fruit trees as the beds stay moist due to attraction and repulsion as well as capillary action (wicking), and also as a by-product of some of the microbial processes is water. I am still looking to set up a sustainanble aquaponics system though, as it has potential to provide sustainable protein in an urban setting.

    Reply
  8. Mike in Oklahoma

    Hi Paul,

    How can I preorder your book, “Aquaponics by the Numbers”? (Before I inadvertently start a stampede to the bookstore….I am just suggesting you write a book)
    I learn more about the science and the practical implementation of all aspects of aquaculture from your posts.

    I am in the process of building an energy efficient greenhouse and plan on DWR, Earthan beds AND plenty of filtration (yes, we hear you and agree)

    What am I struggling with..? I love all your plan views of system layouts, like the http://www.earthangroup.com.au/evolution-of-aquaponic-designs/

    What would really help me is a basic elevation view detailing how to optimize flow…

    Thanks…..mh

    Reply

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