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New Aquaponics - 2009 Study

Submitted by Teo Graca and Stephen Adler | RSS Feed | Add Comment | Bookmark Me! print

Although aquaponics systems and technologies have been around for a relatively long time, it is only recently getting the attention it deserves. The "New Aquaponics" represent the "Best Practices" - a tried and true set of methodologies - that gets the most out of any Aquapoinics system in the most efficient manner. It is also a more efficient way to create a fish farm or fish hatchery than traditional breeding approaches.

Aquaponics is a self-contained nature based system for growing fruits, vegetables and edible fish. The plants and fish give and receive what the other needs. Aquaponics plant production is 3-9 times greater, requires less work and uses 80-95% less water than traditional dirt farming. Both the plants and fish are pesticide and mercury free, the way nature intended. Used successfully all over the world in small backyard gardens and large scale farms, many people see Aquaponics as the future of the sustainable natural food movement!

The new "Best Practices" include gravity approaches that require no energy to execute for specific pieces of Aquaponics systems. Many of these are documented on the Internet, but very hard to find. We will cover some of them here. Our systems require a single water pump per system and optional lighting systems to extend daily grow time or to supply the light necessary in areas where there is no sunlight, such as areas with no windows. They also require some way to heat your fish tank (very important) and grow beds (important to a lesser extent).

The following video for a student project at Vancouver Island University shows many of the New Aquaponics described, with the exception of the flushing system.

Some of the New Aquaponics:

  • With a single water pump per Aquaponics system, oxygenation of the fish tank and fertilization of the grow beds is facilitated through simple gravity.
  • Blue Talapia have proven to be the most resilient and fastest growing fish for harvesting.
  • Multiple small systems offer a better chance of continuity of operations in that the single biggest point of failure is the water pump, which affects fish health.
  • High output grow lights are more efficient than fluorescent and LED lighting for any sized system.
  • Using an additional grow bed within the water-feed for growing Duckweed is the most efficient approach to creating food for the fish and nutrients for the water that the fish need.
    • It is the smallest of flowering plants and can double in size within a single day. It floats on the surface of the water and is not rooted to the bottom.
  • Adding oyster shells to the water flow helps maintain proper PH level in the water.
  • Using flushing systems instead of a steady water flow makes the plants grow faster.
  • A siphon flushing system has no moving parts and is gravity driven, saving significantly on electricity (compared to timer systems) and maintenance (compared timer and any other systems using moving parts).
There are many other considerations, but these are the newer developments that we have found to make systems operate more efficiently, grow food faster and use less electricity.

Another factor we considered is backup energy systems. Once a system is in place, it is imperative that the water flow is continuous. Although plants can last several days to a couple weeks, fish will die quickly without water oxygenation. We have developed several back up energy systems that can fit a system of any size.

Although Aquaponics systems can be set up inside or outside and use natural lighting, we have researched the best practices for indoor growing with no outside lighting. There are several successful operations that operate in the slums of the inner city and refurbish old buildings to facilitate Aquaponics.

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