Aquaponic Gardening

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Hello. I am currently looking into the feasibility of setting up an AP system in climate like that of southern Vietnam (aka freakin hot) and was wondering if anyone had some good information/tips or pointers to other threads regarding the gotchas of maintaining a AP system in tropical SE Asian climates.

I have seen a couple threads by users from Thailand on the Backyard AP forums but havent found much info otherwise. There is also this guy in Thailand but was more concerned with smaller "family" sized setups.

Although I am sure fish can survive the climate just fine as they do in open ponds, the goal would be to keep a system running at optimal temperature as much as possible with the simplest design.

I assume the major points of concern are as follows:

-Reliable clean water source and reliable electricity/backup (not an issue for me specifically)

-Sourcing materials (video above uses broken clay brick for growbeds, pretty cleaver)

-Adequate shading (likely complete) shading of tanks and sumps is required.

-Partial shading of some grow beds may be needed at times, rain protection at others.

-Does burring a tank/sump in constant temp climates provide much of a benefit?

-Tons more points I am missing

Thanks for your time.

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Hello. I have an AP system here in Brunei, I think our climates are nearly the same but Brunei maybe a bit hotter since it  is right on top of the equator. With my AP system, i keep the pump running 24/7, since electricity cost here is cheaper, compared to developed countries. Therefore keeping my growbed moist and just right for the plants.

I also provided the Grow bed with a partial shade, to protect the plants from the heat especially during the afternoon, where it can get bit hot causing them to be a bit withered. but my fish tank, i don't bother to cover them, hence there is algae growth on the sides of the tank which the tilapia feed on. I keep my system open to the rain, but i provide an overflow system for my fish tank just in case that the fish tank might overflow.

Previously i have grown tomatoes on my system and it was a success, but now i expanded it to a bigger system than before. so hoping that more plants will be grown. i just started this, few weeks ago, so my system has not cycle yet. leading to a slower growth than before. The picture is my system previously where i only plant tomatoes. 

Thanks a lot for the reply. The plants in your picture confirms my biggest concern which was the above ground tank is direct sunlight still being OK for the fish (and or course the system as a whole). I was most concerned with water close to 30C not being able to maintain suitable oxygen levels for them to thrive and be happy. Bonus if you can still allow it to grow algae for the fish.

Just curious. What exactly is the tank in the picture from and where were you able to get it? Looks about the same size as an IBC tote but isn't one.

the tank is not an IBC, I would love to get my hands on an IBC. This one is an aquarium tank, usually can be found in an aquarium shop, or pet shop. Im not sure of the material that it is made up off though. I found it hard to get IBC here in Brunei, im not sure why. but building an aquaponic system with an IBC should be much more cost efficient. 

Regarding the oxygen, the water from the grow bed will flow down directly to the fish tank, hence creating oxygen. you can also purchase a big pump, and then connect it two places.1st to the grow bed and 2nd connection is back to the fish tank. This will create aeration for the fish.

I have been doing my AP system since July last year, with my system i haven't find any problems with aeration but i think it would depend on your fish, mine is Tilapia. The picture is from an old system i have, i am making a new one which is open to direct sunlight.

Hi Chris, The warm climate allows everything to grow 24 7 365 days per year. Some plants better than others, I'm trying to grow things that are not really grown here much, that is educational also. So as your Jurassic park grows so will the bugs and maybe mold and fungus. I think it is a good idea to bury the tank in ground. My water temp stays quite stable between 26.5C and 28.5C. I have a large shaded tank, probably too large but consistent cooler temps was my goal. Partial shading plants is a must as even the native hardy plants get fried by the sun. Also rain protection is a must for me, otherwise the torrential rain would wash all my nutrients away. How nice it would be to plug my credit card number into a supplier and have a pump at my doorstep in a couple days. Now sometimes it takes a year to find a supply only to learn its not quite right. Best Wishes!!

Hi Chris,

I'm currently based in Bangkok, so have similar challenges (and benefits as Steve pointed out). I run two systems above ground (under green shade cloth because I can't bury them in my location) and currently my water temps are in the 33-34C range. I keep both Tilapia and Koi in my systems. Both tolerate the heat well and are robust enough to deal with the water chemistry challenges the heat can bring. I find the fish are actually the easy part of managing an AP system in this region.

Plants are a bit more challenging, in that though we can grow year-round, some start better at different times of the year and some will just stop on you when the season changes. It's funny, I don't feel it as much but the plants sure do - the seasons impact the plants just as they would back home. Pests are probably my biggest challenge. In an AP system we just can't battle the bugs as we can in the dirt or even a hydro system. Finding good quality (not outdated) seeds is crucial. Starting them properly inside and out of the system is something you will have to experiment with and master. I have experimented with a number of seeds from various parts of the world here. As a rule, local seeds do much better (as would be expected). That said, I've got some amazing heirloom tomato seeds from the US that kick butt over here and the Thais have never tasted tomatoes so sweet! My most successful crops here are tomatoes, cucumbers (pickling size), Thai chilis, the small Asian eggplants, all the leafy greens (if you use local seed, they will grow in the warm weather under shade).

A guy from Brunei just started a "Tropical" thread on Murray's site - it's pretty new, but it should be great for us as it develops.

Thanks a lot for the replies. I found the answers I was hoping for anyway. Sounds like I should be fine with the fish and don't need to bury anything although full shade would be a good idea and confirming it is a must the shade plants as expected. We are not moving until January 2013 but want to tinker this summer and at the very least educate myself from others experiences to avoid any n00b mistakes I can.

@syazwan That is too bad you cant find an IBC locally. Have you tried contacting any local food processors if there are any?  Good point on the aeration. More is best. I was mostly concerned with the oxygen saturation point and the stock density. If the saturation point was too low, all the aeration in the world isn't going to help you and makes the system more vulnerable even to a partial failures. Sounds like not an issue though.

@steve What are you using for rain protection? I would love to be able to find a heavy white poly I could use as both rain protection and partial shade. I am likely dreaming thinking that I can actually find some though that can hold up to the UV and the forces of the rain. Wont know until we are there I guess.

@Chip I haven't been over at Murray's forum in a couple weeks but Ill go back and watch the thread. Ill report back any of the interesting bits should they come up and try and cross post the interesting bits for everyone. Tomatoes and cucumber was the initial goal for growing with some space set aside for experimentation. Excellent point on using local seeds for the leafy greens.

In warm water it would be more and more important to make sure you have some redundant aeration in case of some sort of failure and a battery backup for the aeration is probably a good idea.  When the water is so warm that it can't hold much more than an hour of oxygen for your fish load and the power goes out, you could have a tank full of dead fish very quickly. 

Yes great point and I agree. A backup pump and anything else mechanical I would consider a must as well. Especially if you cant just run down to a local pond supply store in this case. A game plan for making emergency repairs to the plumbing wouldn't hurt either. It would really suck to spend that time building up the system, raising your fish and plants to have it wiped out because you didn't plan for failures and have to start all over again.

Chris, About all I can tell you is that I found a yellowish plastic that is supposed to be uv resistant. Is used locally for greenhouse cover. Actually the project for today is replacing the first clear plastic sheeting that lasted an entire 2 months even with shade cloth above. Live and learn and hopefully get a break from the learning to enjoy!

Chris said:

Thanks a lot for the replies. I found the answers I was hoping for anyway. Sounds like I should be fine with the fish and don't need to bury anything although full shade would be a good idea and confirming it is a must the shade plants as expected. We are not moving until January 2013 but want to tinker this summer and at the very least educate myself from others experiences to avoid any n00b mistakes I can.

@syazwan That is too bad you cant find an IBC locally. Have you tried contacting any local food processors if there are any?  Good point on the aeration. More is best. I was mostly concerned with the oxygen saturation point and the stock density. If the saturation point was too low, all the aeration in the world isn't going to help you and makes the system more vulnerable even to a partial failures. Sounds like not an issue though.

@steve What are you using for rain protection? I would love to be able to find a heavy white poly I could use as both rain protection and partial shade. I am likely dreaming thinking that I can actually find some though that can hold up to the UV and the forces of the rain. Wont know until we are there I guess.

@Chip I haven't been over at Murray's forum in a couple weeks but Ill go back and watch the thread. Ill report back any of the interesting bits should they come up and try and cross post the interesting bits for everyone. Tomatoes and cucumber was the initial goal for growing with some space set aside for experimentation. Excellent point on using local seeds for the leafy greens.

Well at least we now know the regular stuff doesn't last long. I will keep it in mind when I am about to buy it out of frustration looking for uv resistant and think "Well, it'll at least last a little while...". I really appreciate the info. Can't wait to move (not just because of the aquaponics... but i am excited about that too )

steve said:

Chris, About all I can tell you is that I found a yellowish plastic that is supposed to be uv resistant. Is used locally for greenhouse cover. Actually the project for today is replacing the first clear plastic sheeting that lasted an entire 2 months even with shade cloth above. Live and learn and hopefully get a break from the learning to enjoy!



syazwan said:

the tank is not an IBC, I would love to get my hands on an IBC. This one is an aquarium tank, usually can be found in an aquarium shop, or pet shop. Im not sure of the material that it is made up off though. I found it hard to get IBC here in Brunei, im not sure why. but building an aquaponic system with an IBC should be much more cost efficient. 

Regarding the oxygen, the water from the grow bed will flow down directly to the fish tank, hence creating oxygen. you can also purchase a big pump, and then connect it two places.1st to the grow bed and 2nd connection is back to the fish tank. This will create aeration for the fish.

I have been doing my AP system since July last year, with my system i haven't find any problems with aeration but i think it would depend on your fish, mine is Tilapia. The picture is from an old system i have, i am making a new one which is open to direct sunlight.

@syazwan Just wanted to check with you if you are still growing with AP system and hows your new system open to direct sunlight working.....

Hey Chris!!!

I am a newbie planning to setup an AP system in Mumbai, India. The mean maximum average temperatures in about 32 °C (90 °F) in summer and 30 °C (86 °F) in winter.

Do you recommend to grow plants and vegetables under shade house or one must have a green house to do so ?

Also if the burring and shading the Aquarium | water tank will help in controlling the temperature?

What should be the size of a basic AP system and growing beds one should start with ?

How to get rain protection because it rains very heavily in Mumbai during the rainy season?

Hope to hear from you soon!!

Cheers

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