Aquaponic Gardening

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I  am a volunteer for a US nonprofit called Amigos for Christ  www.amigosforChrist.org and we are dedicated to helping the poor in Nicaragua.  We have a full time staff at our facility in Chinandega, Nicaragua.  Besides drilling over 30 water wells per year, we feed over 600 school children per day,  We have a farm where we have built a concrete tank 4'x4'x40' and have had it stocked with tilapia for  about 9 mos.  We have a solar powered  well that is  also attached to the grid.  We are wanting to take this set- up to the next level which would include aquaponics tanks in a screened growing area.  I am trying to come up with a set of plans and specs. that would allow  me to obtain all of  the materials that we need  to accomplish this.  Does anyone have any suggestions?  All of the proceeds from this operation will be used to feed the poor, ie this is not a for profit commercial operation.  Thanks,  Tim Sewell- Volunteer project manager, Amigos for  Christ

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Kobus, Thanks for your kind help. I have lumber, concrete blocks, concrete, rebar, sand and gravel at my disposalin Nicaragua. I am trying to figure out how to size my vegetable troughs and figure out the plumbing for water circulation and air pumping. I want to have a drawing and specs. so I can procure the materials here in the US that are unavailable or expensive in Nicaragua and then ship them down to Nicaragua.
Hi, Timothy. First let me say how thankful I am for your committment to helping the poor in Nicaragua. I'm from Nicaragua originally and a Christian and truly appreciate what you are doing. I pray for the utmost blessings for you and your endeavor. I wish I could be there to give you a hand. My thoughts usually run along the lines of what provides the most for the least money. Of course, we know that everything is a tradeoff of time and resources. So it may be wise to consider the simplest possibility and then depending on time, money, and human and material resources, start with what is effective and possibly build from there.
For example, if you have good, fertile land available to start with, you may want to consider a simple biofilter with subsequent irrigation or even fertigation to in-ground field crops. I bought a tilapia growing system manual many years ago that showed how to do this exactly, except that fertigation was direct with no breakdown of fish waste. The system had several concrete pools for staged growing of the fish. It wasn't inexpensive ($225,000 in 1999), but the return on investment at that time was around two years. This would also allow you to use fish and fish waste to their second highest use, aquaponics being the highest use. I would see nothing wrong were you to sell produce with the intent of re-investing in a closed, recirculating system such as aquaponics.
If you are more intent on going fully aquaponics initially, may I suggest Friendly Aquaponics (www.friendlyaquaponics.com) who have free manuals for organizations such as yours. The commercial system usually costs $900.00. They also have week-long seminars in Hawaii and I'm sure it would be worth it to attend. The micro system is rather simple, but I imagine the commercial system, which yours would be, is much more complex. Friendly states that a system for growing 4,000 square feet costs around $15,000.00 in Hawaii. I may be off on this, but you can check it out yourself. Their system does not use a greenhouse and depending where in Chinandega you are located, climate could be similar. In any event, you would have a fairly long growing season and don't forget that one of the strengths of AP is low water usage.
God bless you and your work and please keep us posted on your progress. I plan on making a trip to Nicaragua in January of 2011, possibly February. Maybe I'll have a chance to come visit you all.
Timothy: Here is the direct link to the free manual I mentioned in my previous post. I think it could be of great value to you all.
http://www.friendlyaquaponics.com/free-diy-stuff/free-diy-systems/
Kobus, You are not the first person to recommend Friendly. I plan to contact them today. Thanks for you help. Tim

Gus, Thanks for your info. We have already constructed a 4'x4'x40' concrete tank, and I want to install a screened in aquaponics growing area. I am familiar with Friendly, and I will write them shortly. Thanks for your help. Let me know when you are going to Nic. and maybe we can meet. Regards, Tim Sewell

Gus Cabrera said:
Timothy: Here is the direct link to the free manual I mentioned in my previous post. I think it could be of great value to you all.
http://www.friendlyaquaponics.com/free-diy-stuff/free-diy-systems/

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