Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

Are you interested in growing commercially?  Do you already grow commercially?  This is the place for exchanging ideas and experiences, and making new contacts in commercial aquaponic agriculture

 

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Hi Michelle,

Can I suggest that you start a whole separate topic thread for green water systems? You might get more people responding rather than being buried in here in the Commercial Systems discussion.

I don't know anything about greenwater systems, and I'm a media based gardener vs. a raft based, but I can tell you that my experience is that I have never had algae in my tanks (I grow tilapia) and, in fact, I was getting an algae bloom in an ornamental pond on our property so I just pulled that out and dropped it in the tilapia tanks and it was gone the next day.

Raychel is absolutely right - your ability to watch the fish is the best defense you have against problems. Be sure that whatever system you set up you always have easy viewing of the fish.

While your experiment sounds interesting I would recommend doing it with a very small subset of your fairly extensive setup first. My understanding of raft based systems says that you need some sort of solids removal (i.e. net tanks and clarifiers) or the plant roots will get coated and your plants won't thrive. But I've also heard that Friendly is doing something with an insect that is performing this task somehow. I guess what I'm saying is while you still consider yourself a newbie you might want to start small, and if your experiment fails it's no big deal.

Michelle Silva said:
HI Raychel,

I am happy to hear you say that you don't have those on your system and that it is clear. How often do you feed the fish and what? I liked the idea of the fish getting more of what they would eat naturally and didn't like the idea of mostly feeding commercial food for so many reasons. What is your system size and stocking ratio? I just assumed it would be a green water system if I didn't have those, but I am still pretty much a newbie.. I was planning on insulating of the tanks and covering them too. I have been told by most people(w/ rare exception) that I needed the clarifiers, net tanks,tons of ari stones, ari pump etc. I was also thinking that the oxygen will be coming in from the free fall stair step of the four IBC tote fish tanks (4" PVC piece) and . I was not sure if would be getting these air stones. I was figuring I can keep it as simple at first, keep testing the water and add whatever after if needed. ~Michelle

Raychel A Watkins said:
Hi Michelle
aquaculture people live with the algae in their tanks with little or no problem. I don't want it because I want to observe my fish. I get a great enjoyment out of watching them. I am also enough of a scientest to know that observation is the best way to tell what is going on. A case in point, this evening I was working in the fish area when I noticed that this tank of fish were all at the top gulping for air. I was shocked because a few moments ago this was not true. I went over to the tank and pulled up one of the airstones and it was not blowing bubbles. One of the pipes had gotten knocked off and the air was just blowing into the air. As I went to fix it I looked at each tank of fish and every tank without fail the fish were gulping for air. I put the pipe back together and the fish resumed normal activity. You could not obseve this if the algae covered the tank. You can't see which fish are sick and could lose the whole tank before you knew. I put shade cloths over my tanks and the styrofoam over the troughs. The water gets minimal algae and the fish eat that. I also wrap the tank in shade cloth if it is transparent. I see the fish eating the algae off the sides all the time. I do Not I repeat I do not have all those net tanks and clarifiers on my systems and my water is clear.

Michelle Silva said:
Is anyone familiar with green water systems? I saw the article from the Friendly Aquaponics newsletter (thanks Cosmo) on the whole algae in the system thing being a nightmare.. but I think this is what some have done in third world aquaponics set ups. I'm not real familiar with it and haven't been able to get a whole lot of info, but supposedly, the tilapia are happy eating algae,(would decreases addtional input of commercial food), and as long as oxygen levels are high is supposed to be fine. I have heard that there are easier/simplier ways then the UVI set ups. . I have three (4'x40') raft tanks ready and have most everything prepared for 60 verticals to be put up soon. I wanted to try this without the net tanks and clarifiers, but I just thought I would check in and see if you all thought this was totally crazy. I figured I could always add them after and make it a clear water system if it became a problem.
Aloha, I currently have three raft systems operating. On two of then I use a simple clarifier/net tank system. These are commercial systems that have a high density of fish. In large tanks of well fed fish that are growing, it is very hard to estimate the pounds of fish. With the higher density of fish I found it is better to remove the solids before they get to the first plant roots. I flush my clarifier once a day on my morning fish feeding and feed the waste to my bananas, papayas, and coffee trees. They love it! The small particles that are caught in the net tank are consumed by a water flees called gammarus, midge fly larvae and I even have some composting worms in it. There is no cleaning of the net tank required.

My small system does not use any filtration at all because I am careful to keep the density of fish low. With a small tank I can monitor the pounds of fish much more easily than in the big tanks. Low density is considered .3 pounds/square foot of raft space. On my micro system of 64 sqft I have 20 lbs of fish. The bacteria is able to consume all the fish waste. I do use a much smaller screen mesh on the piping leaving the tank and a blubber directly below it. The small mesh screen only allows small particles through. The bubbles below the screen keeps bigger particles from accumulating rapidly and helps break big chunks down to smaller ones.
Chris
Does anyone know what licenses (other than occupational and aquaculture certification), you need in Florida to operate a small commercial aquaponic business?
Michelle
I have 2 big systems, at least what I call big. One 45 ft trough 4 ft wide and 12 in deep. I have 2, 250 gal tanks of fish attached to this. I have a 23rd tank same size I use as a filter.. In the bottom I put bird netting, on top of that a 2, 2 inch plastic type woven mats used in koi filters. I hold them down with a rock. The water from the fish filters up through this . I have cleaned this twice in 7 months. It really didn't need it. I let out some water from the bottom once a month just to see if there is a build up. I get a gallon or so of dark water. I have the midge fly larvae and the Gammarus or scuds in my system. If one continually cleans they break up a balanced ecological system. If a system is in balance it will stay pretty clean. My second system is a 25ft trough with one 250 gallon tank. There is absolutlely no filter or anything on that system. The plants grow wonderful. I never have a problem with root rot. The creatures in the tanks take care of the waste.
I have what I call a high density of fish in there . I figure but don'tknow for sure there is greater than 150 fish and they are approaching 1 pound at this point. Some are over 1 pound. I know that people into it for a bunch of money may have a much higher density. I know the aquaculture people I know do. I want happy fish. I want to look into my tanks and see happy fish. I personally believe happy fish grow better and taste better. It is bad enough I am going to eat them, I could at least give them a happy life. Call me nuts, it's how I am.
I just set up a 2, 250 gal system with about 200 small fish in the tanks. So far I only have 2, 2ft by 24 ft troughs hitched up to the tanks. I have no filter on this either. The less work I have to do the better. I have also raised my troughs off the ground and have them 32in high. Absolutly perfect to plant things, clean, or even lean on. I put the small fountain pump 250 - 300 gal per hour in the trough and run a 1/2 in pipe from it (overhead so I don't have to climb over or duck underneath) dto the first fish tank. I have found a simple fountain pump in the trough is where I am at.
One thing I have discovered since getting into this about 8 months ago is that there is no right way to do it. There are many, many ways all of them right. Do like Sylvia said and set up a small system and see how it goes or in your big system leave a space to stick a filter in. I have used 55 gallon drums, the same tank as fish , again there are many ways. Just enjoy, don't get uptight, set back and ponder a bit and it will come to you. Stick around this site and you will find a myriad of ideas on every aspect of aquaponics. They can tell you what never to do, I tell you never to let others feed your fish unless you know they know what they are doing and are responsible people. Noone cares about your fish like you do
ENJOY LIFE IS SHORT

Michelle Silva said:
Is anyone familiar with green water systems? I saw the article from the Friendly Aquaponics newsletter (thanks Cosmo) on the whole algae in the system thing being a nightmare.. but I think this is what some have done in third world aquaponics set ups. I'm not real familiar with it and haven't been able to get a whole lot of info, but supposedly, the tilapia are happy eating algae,(would decreases addtional input of commercial food), and as long as oxygen levels are high is supposed to be fine. I have heard that there are easier/simplier ways then the UVI set ups. . I have three (4'x40') raft tanks ready and have most everything prepared for 60 verticals to be put up soon. I wanted to try this without the net tanks and clarifiers, but I just thought I would check in and see if you all thought this was totally crazy. I figured I could always add them after and make it a clear water system if it became a problem.
Hello Nate,
Thank you for your post re cooling. I have located an 18ft+ high A/C warehouse (1,600 sq ft or so), and am considering testing a small commercial aquaponic setup. I will be using stacked DWC growbeds but also want to make use of vertical grow towers. Your photos and system just blew me away. They are great and I would like to use them in this small set up. Any support that you could provide me would really be helpful.

I believe that I can build something similar but would be willing to consider purchase from you if you are willing to sell (I believe that I read in one of your posts that you may be starting to market such..whether the towers or just the grow media). Please let me know what would be an economic price and quantity for you if this is the case.

Thanking you in advance for help :-)

Nate Storey said:
Well, cooling isn't really in my area of expertise. Where I live cooling is easy/cheap and heating is hard/expensive. I have thought a bit about geothermal cooling (buried coils or piping with a heat exchanger or fans to circulate air). I know folks have done it, and there's absolutely nothing that indicates that a well designed buried cooling system wouldn't work. But then again the average temperature of the ground (5 feet beneath the surface where temps are pretty constant) where I live is 50F.
Hi Raychel,
Thanks so much for your reply..very exciting and very inspiring! I very much appreciate the tips and info on what you have done that is working. I had recently been thinking, that if I need more filtration, I could do it simply by using the fourth fish tank by adding some filter media in there, either using some sort of baffle or bucket or could always add on with a separate 55 gal.

RE: midge fly larvae and the Gammarus or scuds -I'm not too familiar with this. I'll have to google it.
Re: wanting happy fish and feeling bad eating them..this is really funny, I said something similiar to my husband ,that I was going to have to get over the fact that I'l be killing them. I much rather eat fish from a healthy aquaponics system,then elsewhere.. Someone once told me they can't kill their own chickens to eat, so they trade with a friend, makes it easier to kill,either way, think that would be even more difficult then killing fish. If more people had to raise and kill their own food, maybe would be less meat consumption in this country,lol.
Re: size of system in starting out- I'm just going to go for it the way it's designed..since I already have the three raft tanks.. plan to get the plumbing done and verticals up when we get back in a couple of weeks.. I met a local aquaculturist yesterday that is willing to help and is also interested in seeing this work out. I'll try to monitor carefully so hopefully I won't kill too many fish!

PS. I read one of your posts that you'll be 70 in Nov. My Mom is turning 70 soon and is working and active, I think that is fantastic! I wish you weren't so far, I would love to meet you. ~Michelle

Raychel A Watkins said:
Michelle
I have 2 big systems, at least what I call big. One 45 ft trough 4 ft wide and 12 in deep. I have 2, 250 gal tanks of fish attached to this. I have a 23rd tank same size I use as a filter.. In the bottom I put bird netting, on top of that a 2, 2 inch plastic type woven mats used in koi filters. I hold them down with a rock. The water from the fish filters up through this . I have cleaned this twice in 7 months. It really didn't need it. I let out some water from the bottom once a month just to see if there is a build up. I get a gallon or so of dark water. I have the midge fly larvae and the Gammarus or scuds in my system. If one continually cleans they break up a balanced ecological system. If a system is in balance it will stay pretty clean. My second system is a 25ft trough with one 250 gallon tank. There is absolutlely no filter or anything on that system. The plants grow wonderful. I never have a problem with root rot. The creatures in the tanks take care of the waste.
I have what I call a high density of fish in there . I figure but don'tknow for sure there is greater than 150 fish and they are approaching 1 pound at this point. Some are over 1 pound. I know that people into it for a bunch of money may have a much higher density. I know the aquaculture people I know do. I want happy fish. I want to look into my tanks and see happy fish. I personally believe happy fish grow better and taste better. It is bad enough I am going to eat them, I could at least give them a happy life. Call me nuts, it's how I am.
I just set up a 2, 250 gal system with about 200 small fish in the tanks. So far I only have 2, 2ft by 24 ft troughs hitched up to the tanks. I have no filter on this either. The less work I have to do the better. I have also raised my troughs off the ground and have them 32in high. Absolutly perfect to plant things, clean, or even lean on. I put the small fountain pump 250 - 300 gal per hour in the trough and run a 1/2 in pipe from it (overhead so I don't have to climb over or duck underneath) dto the first fish tank. I have found a simple fountain pump in the trough is where I am at.
One thing I have discovered since getting into this about 8 months ago is that there is no right way to do it. There are many, many ways all of them right. Do like Sylvia said and set up a small system and see how it goes or in your big system leave a space to stick a filter in. I have used 55 gallon drums, the same tank as fish , again there are many ways. Just enjoy, don't get uptight, set back and ponder a bit and it will come to you. Stick around this site and you will find a myriad of ideas on every aspect of aquaponics. They can tell you what never to do, I tell you never to let others feed your fish unless you know they know what they are doing and are responsible people. Noone cares about your fish like you do
ENJOY LIFE IS SHORT

Michelle Silva said:
Is anyone familiar with green water systems? I saw the article from the Friendly Aquaponics newsletter (thanks Cosmo) on the whole algae in the system thing being a nightmare.. but I think this is what some have done in third world aquaponics set ups. I'm not real familiar with it and haven't been able to get a whole lot of info, but supposedly, the tilapia are happy eating algae,(would decreases addtional input of commercial food), and as long as oxygen levels are high is supposed to be fine. I have heard that there are easier/simplier ways then the UVI set ups. . I have three (4'x40') raft tanks ready and have most everything prepared for 60 verticals to be put up soon. I wanted to try this without the net tanks and clarifiers, but I just thought I would check in and see if you all thought this was totally crazy. I figured I could always add them after and make it a clear water system if it became a problem.
Hi Sahib,
What sort of licensing you need will depend a bit on your specific business and your county. If you are going to be raising the fish to sell or if you want to raise any "exotic" fish, you will probably need the state aquaculture permit and a county business tax recipt as well as zoning to sign off on your use of the location (at least that would be the case in Orange County where I am.) You may also run into some excess red tape when it comes to water use and waist water and they may have you paying extra fees and stuff there even through once you are all set up and cycled, the water use many not be so high, the initial set up or any time you have to dump and re-fill is going to exceed nor water usage for a "warehouse." This would be for simply running the system and selling the produce off site like perhaps at one of the weekend markets. I don't know the specific legality for selling the fish. I think the aquaculture permit might allow you to sell live and perhaps even whole on ice fish but if you are going to be doing any processing of the fish it becomes a whole new kettle of fish as they say since the health department will get involved even more.

Sahib Punjabi said:
Does anyone know what licenses (other than occupational and aquaculture certification), you need in Florida to operate a small commercial aquaponic business?
Thank you :-)
Will let you know how it works out.

TCLynx said:
Hi Sahib,
What sort of licensing you need will depend a bit on your specific business and your county. If you are going to be raising the fish to sell or if you want to raise any "exotic" fish, you will probably need the state aquaculture permit and a county business tax recipt as well as zoning to sign off on your use of the location (at least that would be the case in Orange County where I am.) You may also run into some excess red tape when it comes to water use and waist water and they may have you paying extra fees and stuff there even through once you are all set up and cycled, the water use many not be so high, the initial set up or any time you have to dump and re-fill is going to exceed nor water usage for a "warehouse." This would be for simply running the system and selling the produce off site like perhaps at one of the weekend markets. I don't know the specific legality for selling the fish. I think the aquaculture permit might allow you to sell live and perhaps even whole on ice fish but if you are going to be doing any processing of the fish it becomes a whole new kettle of fish as they say since the health department will get involved even more. Sahib Punjabi said:
Does anyone know what licenses (other than occupational and aquaculture certification), you need in Florida to operate a small commercial aquaponic business?
Anyone interested in understanding how Floating Raft or DWC commercial aquaponics systems work and how all the filters like swirl and particulate filters are arranged should check out the animation that shows the schematic of how and why these systems are built here: http://www.ecofilms.com.au/2010/07/13/how-floating-raft-aquaponics-...
Wow! Thanks for the fantastic link!

Frank Gapinski said:
Anyone interested in understanding how Floating Raft or DWC commercial aquaponics systems work and how all the filters like swirl and particulate filters are arranged should check out the animation that shows the schematic of how and why these systems are built here: http://www.ecofilms.com.au/2010/07/13/how-floating-raft-aquaponics-...
I would really like to see some of the empty poultry barns here in weld county used for commercial aquaponics. Most of these buildings have been empty for 6 to 8 years. They already have feeders built in that would work well. If started up in the spring you could keep costs down by not needing heat or lights until winter. I just think these structures would be perfect.
I have no idea where I'll find the funding but I do plan on trying, this is why I started in my basement.
Aloha from Kauai!
I'm going commercial as soon as I get get some land here in the Paradise Island
at the moment I'm doing semi-commercial I guess...I started with 2 GBs from friendly's and then I added 2 more and now I will double everything, 8 x GBs and 4 x FT;s I only have a very small back yard but I'm maximizing everything even the walls I'm growing vertical and using the bucket system.
I found this pretty cool site with tons of stuff and a Business plan for hydroponics which can be used for aquaponics as well.

http://www.cropking.com/busplan.shtml

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