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Ok, I've been reading a ton, but for some reason my brain is having a difficult time wrapping my head around the fish / FT to GB ratio. I think I might have it, so for those in the know, does this sound about right?

I am planning to have a 4' x 28' x 12"deep (112sqft) grow bed growing everything from tomatoes to peppers to cukes/zucs. 

So, I would need 112 fish, therefore a 784gal tank, right?

I would also have some worms in the bed. I would also be babysitting this thing like a newborn infant.

Thanks.

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I pretty much agree with Chris as to the experimental value and/or validity of having 1 system with those components, as opposed to 3 separate systems. That's 3 separate bio-mass'  (amount of fish) to control, 3 separate pH to buffer, 3 separate feedings, 3 separate temperatures all subject to there own ways of fluctuating etc...hehe, not to mention three times the cost for all your testing kits (and time)... But, hey...it's your gig

Also, there's always the possibility of duckweed getting sucked into the plumbing works perhaps gumming things up...

I'm not looking at this from a exact scientific stand point. From a control standpoint, the only real constant would be the fish tank. This has several layers to it. First, I've done so much research that my head is spinning. The more I learn it seems the more I don't know. I want to dive in and understand these different systems from a practical sense, that can really only be done by creating each system separately start to finish. 

As I understand more about permaculture and the world's food story, I see how important it is to have local food. I want to be able to get to the point where I understand these systems so I can teach and help others grow their own food. I need to find out what works best for different types of environments, and much like the BYAP trial, to see what system performs the best. Again, this isn't to be scientific - I'm approaching this from a permaculture pov, to see how each complete system operates. That can't happen if I tie everything together. 

Now as for the DW, I've seen systems that integrate their dw ponds. In my failed experiment with DW, it never pulled all of the nitrates out of the water. Ammonia was zero, but I had high nitrites and nitrates. The high nitrites gave my fish some issues and with all my fiddling I ended up killing the DW. 

I was going to start by setting up the system and do only the DW, and test the water coming out from it to see what it had.. including any solids, and then go from there. It sounds like tho, from what you guys are telling me that I should just have another tank that feeds that (again, I'm looking at this from a sustainable pov, so additives aren't an option for me) and the wife is a bit freaked out by the "peeponics" thing, so that's something we'll have to ease into (although the humonia would really make things easier). 

I'm still in the planning stages, but as usual you guys give me ideas and things to consider. 

Even if you don't consider it a scientific experiment it is just causing 3 times the testing and water management. If you have the time and don't mind triplicating your efforts than that's fine :)

From a permiculture standpoint, you are attempting to max your efficiency from your inputs (waste or waste derivatives like fish meal, bugs, BSF larva from scraps, worms, pee2DW, etc) to produce human food without producing additional waste.

The reason I don't like the idea of growing duckweed in an AP system, assuming you are feeding it to the fish anyway is that it is just a nitrogen short circuit. Their are solar energy factors to play in the growing of the duckweed but to over simply, it would be like running your electric cars engine to turn an alternator to charge your batteries while sitting in the driveway.  Inputs should all be coming from outside the system (or they aren't really an input) and outputs leave the system.

Now if someones goal is just to raise the fish and clean the water, that is a different story. I was assuming your main output is the veggies as that is the most efficient way of converting the inputs to consumable outputs.

Cool...we were just sayin'

Wait, are you saying that you'll have just one fish tank, and one sump? and not three separate fish tanks? If so, then that would really be one AP system...just with 3 hydroponic sub-systems of differing types. One DWC raft, one flood and drain media bed, one constant flood media bed...but still just one AP system...I'm just trying to get on the same page...earlier you used the term "independent systems", yet you wrote... "the only real constant would be the fish tank". I'm not trying to be a dick, or rib you about semantics...Just trying to make sure we're all talking 'apples and apples'... 

For instance I have 8 media beds and 4 DWC rafts, one fish tank and one sump. I can run 4 beds flood/drain 4 beds constant flood (and still have the rafts)...and it's still only ONE AP system...

I would recommend getting started with One system.  At this point you are going to have to choose a favorite for now or do a small integrated or mixed system and get started cycling it up and learning.  When I say small I'm still thinking like 300 gallons of fish tank as being something useful for growing edible fish and being stable and all that.

Anyway, get started with one system of whatever design or integrated but do get started on one before you get too wound up in the complete design of all systems since you will learn things as you build and operate that first system through cycle up and these things my change how you will design the other stuff.  And while I think it would be great to do the tests of multiple types of growing off one fish tank so you can get some more concrete comparisons for yourself without having to guess about what effect too many other variables have, you will still probably need at least two separate systems for some redundancy/quarantine purposes.

I would probably go for the first smaller system.

Then decide if I wanted to add the duckweed system or the bigger system next.  I would probably do duckweed production in a separate system though there may be fish growing in it instead of pee ponics but trying to integrate duckweed production with veggie growing can be tricky.

Duckweed does like some aeration, Not too much but it has never grown well for me in tanks without some aeration (either coming down from towers but not splashing really or some small air stones in the long trough.)  It is currently growing well for me in a long trough with air stones towers and pond plants with only a couple hours of morning sun and the rest of the day pretty well shaded (I am in a hot climate.)

Anyway, duckweed is not really good at removing nitrates.  Duckweed likes ammonia.  So if your water was going through a bio-filter before going to the duckweed, then that might explain why your duckweed didn't thrive.  And if there were solids or leaves or gunk (dieing duckweed or algae) in the system or under the duckweed creating an anoxic area, your high nitrates could have been denitrifying or getting converted back into nitrites and if you don't have adequate degassing (extreme aeration some how) going on after such an environment (the degassing would be releasing the nitrite into the atmosphere as atmospheric nitrogen) you wind up with toxic levels of nitrite and suffering fish.

I'm thinking an AP Duckweed vermiponics sort of hybred might be useful for growing duckweed since the duckweed wants the ammonia but you want to remove some of the solids before it goes to a relatively still duckweed pond or you would need some easy way to remove the solids that settle in the bottom of a duckweed trough and having worms right there for mineralization in some sort of filter is handy.  (I have fish water falling through some filter media where worms have taken up residence very happily and I could send such minimally filtered water to a duckweed bed and probably have a good thing going.  I'll probably try something like that soon too.  If not with my fish systems, I'll do it with Ducks.

I get what you're saying about the inputs, and you are exactly right. There comes a point tho, when everything is so interconnected that it's harmonious and it's hard to distinguish inputs from outputs. 

I have the time to do the 3 systems, so that part isn't a concern. 



Chris said:

Even if you don't consider it a scientific experiment it is just causing 3 times the testing and water management. If you have the time and don't mind triplicating your efforts than that's fine

From a permiculture standpoint, you are attempting to max your efficiency from your inputs (waste or waste derivatives like fish meal, bugs, BSF larva from scraps, worms, pee2DW, etc) to produce human food without producing additional waste.

The reason I don't like the idea of growing duckweed in an AP system, assuming you are feeding it to the fish anyway is that it is just a nitrogen short circuit. Their are solar energy factors to play in the growing of the duckweed but to over simply, it would be like running your electric cars engine to turn an alternator to charge your batteries while sitting in the driveway.  Inputs should all be coming from outside the system (or they aren't really an input) and outputs leave the system.

Now if someones goal is just to raise the fish and clean the water, that is a different story. I was assuming your main output is the veggies as that is the most efficient way of converting the inputs to consumable outputs.

No, I would be having 3 tanks - sorry about the confusion. 



Vlad Jovanovic said:

Cool...we were just sayin'

Wait, are you saying that you'll have just one fish tank, and one sump? and not three separate fish tanks? If so, then that would really be one AP system...just with 3 hydroponic sub-systems of differing types. One DWC raft, one flood and drain media bed, one constant flood media bed...but still just one AP system...I'm just trying to get on the same page...earlier you used the term "independent systems", yet you wrote... "the only real constant would be the fish tank". I'm not trying to be a dick, or rib you about semantics...Just trying to make sure we're all talking 'apples and apples'... 

For instance I have 8 media beds and 4 DWC rafts, one fish tank and one sump. I can run 4 beds flood/drain 4 beds constant flood (and still have the rafts)...and it's still only ONE AP system...

I would actually be tackling each system on it's own, or at least get one up and going then start a new one once I felt comfortable moving on. 

The exception is that I have to do duckweed. There is no feed available that is organic (or one that isn't comprised of corn and soy which fish don't eat). I refuse to allow any GMO's into any system I build, I just don't support that. As Chris mentioned about inputs, that will a struggle initially and will be part of the journey. In addition to the DW, I'll have bugs, worms and greens, ect. to feed the fish. 

I like the idea of your Vermi-DW-AP system. 


TCLynx said:

I would recommend getting started with One system.  At this point you are going to have to choose a favorite for now or do a small integrated or mixed system and get started cycling it up and learning.  When I say small I'm still thinking like 300 gallons of fish tank as being something useful for growing edible fish and being stable and all that.

Anyway, get started with one system of whatever design or integrated but do get started on one before you get too wound up in the complete design of all systems since you will learn things as you build and operate that first system through cycle up and these things my change how you will design the other stuff.  And while I think it would be great to do the tests of multiple types of growing off one fish tank so you can get some more concrete comparisons for yourself without having to guess about what effect too many other variables have, you will still probably need at least two separate systems for some redundancy/quarantine purposes.

I would probably go for the first smaller system.

Then decide if I wanted to add the duckweed system or the bigger system next.  I would probably do duckweed production in a separate system though there may be fish growing in it instead of pee ponics but trying to integrate duckweed production with veggie growing can be tricky.

Duckweed does like some aeration, Not too much but it has never grown well for me in tanks without some aeration (either coming down from towers but not splashing really or some small air stones in the long trough.)  It is currently growing well for me in a long trough with air stones towers and pond plants with only a couple hours of morning sun and the rest of the day pretty well shaded (I am in a hot climate.)

Anyway, duckweed is not really good at removing nitrates.  Duckweed likes ammonia.  So if your water was going through a bio-filter before going to the duckweed, then that might explain why your duckweed didn't thrive.  And if there were solids or leaves or gunk (dieing duckweed or algae) in the system or under the duckweed creating an anoxic area, your high nitrates could have been denitrifying or getting converted back into nitrites and if you don't have adequate degassing (extreme aeration some how) going on after such an environment (the degassing would be releasing the nitrite into the atmosphere as atmospheric nitrogen) you wind up with toxic levels of nitrite and suffering fish.

I'm thinking an AP Duckweed vermiponics sort of hybred might be useful for growing duckweed since the duckweed wants the ammonia but you want to remove some of the solids before it goes to a relatively still duckweed pond or you would need some easy way to remove the solids that settle in the bottom of a duckweed trough and having worms right there for mineralization in some sort of filter is handy.  (I have fish water falling through some filter media where worms have taken up residence very happily and I could send such minimally filtered water to a duckweed bed and probably have a good thing going.  I'll probably try something like that soon too.  If not with my fish systems, I'll do it with Ducks.

I just want to thank you all again for all your help and suggestions. I know some of you think I'm nuts for jumping into the deep end like this (and I probably am) but I have the time, and I don't mind mistakes - it helps me learn. I know nothing is going to be perfect, and am treating this like a journey and am having fun with this. 

I'm going to take it slow, but at the same time jump in and get my feet wet! 

Hmm. I'd say jump in, Phil. I have been designing a commercial system for a year, and it hasn't stayed the same for more than a week. I am always finding a way to build a better mouse trap, or at least convincing myself that it would be better than the last one I didn't build, which was better than the one before it, theoretically. And the funny thing is after over a year of tinkering with AP I find myself returning to the most simplistic styles as being the most appealing. I'd have to say that my most successful system is a wading pool. Nothing else. I have a bunch of duckweed on top, a few bluegill and a couple hundred blackfish, which is a filter feeder. No pumps, no media, no feed, pretty much a pond. The water is dark, full of whatever blows in (mostly oak leaves). It's an ecosystem by itself, decaying leaves feeding DW, algae, and Rotifera, and fish eating those things. It really is something for nothing. It's successful in that I haven't put anything in, and I'll get fish out, and I don't have to worry that a pump will fail or a siphon will fail, or power crashes, or feed spoils, yada yada. Off topic, sorry, but the point is pick a style and run, then pick other styles and compare. I started off convinced that media F&D was supreme, and IF I were to ever try raft, it would be for novelty and variety. Now I am building a 5k sq ft raft commercial system, which may or may not have any media at all. And I'm raising carp, which is the last fish I figured for, and so on.

I kind of feel the same Jon, . I've been designing a system and not only has the design changed, but so has the location (basement to garage and now a greenhouse). 

I'm now reading thru the BYAP trial and getting all sorts of ideas. 

At some point, right or wrong,  you just need to dive in.

Unless you've been designing AP systems for the last 30 years, it's probably important that your design changes(hell even then to an extent)...The greenhouse is definitely a good move...hehe, just don't forget that you need some space in there to put your drink down...to move around and work...Are you able to keep the fish in the garage and the plants in the GH by any chance?

Phil when you're done reading through the trials, pilfer around the rest of the BYAP site...use the 'search'  function there. Might get some ideas and/or answers to some questions that may have been mulling around in your brain. BYAP is a really decent AP forum...And I'd highly recommend downloading their free PDF "The IBC's of Aquaponics"... it was cool to check out all the different systems different folks had built...

I remember someone in India researching (building?) a neolithic AP system...sounded cool, wonder what ever happened with that..? Hope you find some way to make AP 'sustainable' or permi...seems like a pretty tall order.

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