Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

Hey y'all 
This would be my first post so I guess I will introduce myself before getting to the point.

 Currently I am a student at College of Southern Idaho getting a degree in aquaculture, but I am seriously looking at aquaponics. I was first introduced to aquaponics under the name of a aquarium plant filter about 10 or 12 years ago and it has intrigued me since then. Nevertheless I have never really built such a system. It has always been on the back burner do to cost, time, plans, and living the life of a student. Right now I am learning all I can through school and working at fish hatcheries. Now that I am definitely pursuing aquaculture and I am looking into aquaponics, I need help with planning and designing a system. I have read Sylvia's aquaponic book and I have done much research and now I would like to start putting that research into a reality. 

At my college I have talked to people in charge of the aquaculture/agriculture department and I have gotten permission to use college resources to design a system as a personal project to further my education. I know I can get tubs and troff's, pumps, media, and equipment used for aquaculture/aeroponics/hydroponics from the college. They also have space in their geothermal heated greenhouse so I have both a heated greenhouse and warm water. I have other students that are interested in recirculation systems that are willing to help. I can get top of the line tilapia and tropical fish from hatcheries here in Idaho so getting fish aren't a problem.

With the different designs out there, I am looking for one that is closest to what a successful large scale commercial system would be. There seems to be an argument on that account. Friendly Aquaponics seems to recommend a raft system because anything else is too costly/failure prone/time intensive, etc. I also need to write a plan and figure out what I would need. Oxygen meters, back ups for power outages, etc. I not too sure on equipment on the plant side though. 

Any pointers, resources, comments would be appreciated. Thanks

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Here is a document of the UVI system - the most proven commercial system out there with decades of research behind it... https://srac.tamu.edu/index.cfm/event/getFactSheet/whichfactsheet/105/ Most commercial systems out there are based on Dr. Rakocy's work. Everything you need for the system is included in this doc and many of the filtration techniques discussed should be well known to you given that you have an aquaculture background.  Of course it does help to get some hands on experience to understand the design. Good luck with your adventure!

What do you mean by "successful large scale commercial system"?

This paper might help understand what it might mean to build a cost effective system,

Cost Benefit Analysis of Aquaponic Systems

It also has references to many papers on how to build and design aquaponic systems.

It is the type of commercial system where an engineer and a wise old aquaponics farmer would shake hands on.

David Palmer said:

What do you mean by "successful large scale commercial system"?

I like that.   

However, lets up the stakes a little. 

Can you design and demonstrate a mobile aquaponics system that is suitable for an inner-city soup kitchen?  I'm sure you can track down a soup kitchen in your local area and ask them what they would need from a garden to supply their kitchen with vegetables and fish.  Maybe there is some open space in the city that isn't being used for a few years and can host the garden.  Everything is moved as needed to locations that can host it, but still near the soup kitchen.

Consider the design successful if the mobile garden can produce more than it takes in. That is compare using the funds for purchasing food or for raising fish and growing vegetables with available non-arable land.

Up to the challenge?  If so, lets be friends and discuss designs.

Dave

Kent Schneider said:

It is the type of commercial system where an engineer and a wise old aquaponics farmer would shake hands on.

    As far as I can tell no system produces more than it takes in.  Well, except trout fry with a conversion ratio of .75:1 :-D  That would be a fun challenge. Yes I could design it and could even use it in my final project in May where I have to do a business plan as a final. Building and demonstrating it is dependent on resources I can get through the college and what is required to build it. 

Considering that your project would go directly to helping a non-profit organization to feed people, you may be able to find other ways to get materials and at better prices than normally can be purchased at a hardware store.  Also, you might find that there are handy people around who would be interested in volunteering.

Look around first and see if you can find a charitable group, like a soup kitchen, that could benefit from your efforts.  There's nothing like interviewing people to get a real-world understanding of the actual challenges that shape a successful solution.   They also would know of resources or contacts that would provide some assistance.

Also, lets see if I can get something started here in Portland Oregon.  I'd like to do a trial run of a small AP system to help collect data.  This information can be used to make a proposal for a larger system that would benefit from economies of scale.

Dave

Kent Schneider said:

    As far as I can tell no system produces more than it takes in.  Well, except trout fry with a conversion ratio of .75:1 :-D  That would be a fun challenge. Yes I could design it and could even use it in my final project in May where I have to do a business plan as a final. Building and demonstrating it is dependent on resources I can get through the college and what is required to build it. 

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