Aquaponic Gardening

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Ok, I know there have been at lease several Duck-A-Ponics systems, a few of them Discussed over on BYAP.  Anyway, I'm going to pose a kinda complex challenge for a duck system.

My birds are practically free range.  I do try to contain them to my yard and it is more of a movable paddock arrangement to they get fresh ground and garden to work on through the year rather than the same section and coop year round (if I kept them in just one section it would be completely denuded of plants and bugs quickly and then they would depend on me to bring them everything or more likely, take to escaping into the parts of the garden I'm not ready to let them dig yet.

Now it would be fairly easy to create a duck system where there is a duck pond that I pump the water from to gravel beds where I could grow ornamentals, trees, and duck/chicken feed.  I just have to sort out a pump that can handle sand, mud and feathers.

However, I also want to make this set up somewhat portable.  See it gets hard to move the birds around the yard if their pond is only in one place.  I'm not sure I want to set up 4 separate systems or even 2 systems for them, so I want to see if I can figure out a way to make it light enough to move when the water is drained.  (yea, this would mean a complete water dump when I want to move it, but it is far better than the complete water dump every few days we have now with no duck system, though many of the plants around have enjoyed the extra water through the dry spring period.  But now we are getting into the rainy season.

So, how would you design a somewhat portable system?  Biggest challenge I see is making the filtration/plant space reasonably portable or movable.  The actual duck pond container can be as easy as a kiddie pool or a liner in a hole in the ground.

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I would leave the plants in one place, use a kiddie pool and run a garden hose in place of PVC from the pumps to the plants. The hose will give the best flexibility. It comes in long lengths, is durable and can be expanded, divided or spliced.

As for the pump, put a sponge filter on it, then put it in a screen box. The screen will hold out the large items (twigs, feathers, etc), the sponge will take care of the sand & mud.
I've never had much luck getting a pump to work nicely through a garden hose, always seems to make the pumps work way too hard. I like to be energy efficient on pumps. I suppose I could use the flexible sump discharge pipe in place of garden hose to make it a little more efficient (being much bigger than garden hose.)
In thinking about it.. the hose could be an issue with heat buildup, essentially acting as a solar heating line. The water would be about 180 degrees coming out of it. To hot for direct feeding imho.

To get around that I would put in two large garbage cans (or plastic 55 gallon drums) as a holding tank. Pump the hot water into one let it spill over into the second. Pump from the second into the plants. That allows the water to cool and sediment to settle out as well.
Thanks Ron
I just read your reply about running water from pump through the garden hose. Then you talked about it getting to hot. I just had a realization that I have been running my water from the trough to the fish through a garden hose. I had never thought about the temp of the water. I was always just happy that the pump was running we.. I had so much trouble keeping it pumping before. I thought I was a genius running it through the hose. I need to check the temp tommorrow in the heat of the sun. It could be that as long as it is running it doesn't heat up so much. I do have the hose inside a white pvc pipe the last 8 feet or so. Mahalo for making me think
Hi Raychel,

If you have constantly running water then you likely won't have heating issues. It is when the water sits in the hose for awhile that the heat builds up. This is essentially how a solar pool heater operates.

I've laid my hose out for 20-30 minutes to let the water get warm before washing the dog.
Here are some pictures of the current Duck System. I will need to fence off an area of the grow bed so that plants will be able to get established before the birds totally eat them up. So far they have eaten everything fairly quickly.
Duck a ponics

I do not know your lay-out around your property.

I would put the ducky pool in the center, where all sections meet.

Put your fence/barrier around the ducky pool with a 3-4 feet space or more between your ducky pool and fence.

Now you could have 4 gates that lead to the 4 sections from the pool which could be opend for the section you want to be used.

This way you could have one  set up with your pump and filter system without having to move things around.

Johann, would love to set up a paddock situation like that or something similar. 


I'm a bit restricted on space though as I'm operating on a small residential lot of only 1/3rd of an acre and the house happens to be sitting smack in the middle of it.  The "chicken coop" happens to be an old dog kennel that was already on the corner of the property and the duck pond and duck river are between that coop and the house along one edge of the property.  I re-arrange my electric net fencing to give the birds access to different areas of the property at different times of the year depending on where I have my gardens and what I need to leave open for different reasons.  Seems to work well enough when all I have is about 10 adult birds total (chickens and adult ducks) however when the population is up for one reason or another it gets a bit noisy and they tend to take down all the extra vegetation.

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