Aquaponic Gardening

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I couldn't find this anywhere on the forum, but correct me if I am wrong...I am building the Friendly Aquaponics Micro-System 64 with 2 - 4'x8' beds in my basement with no natural sunlight access.

 

What indoor lighting system will be the most effective, yet easy on the wallet and monthly wallet electric bill.

 

Any advise would be great.

 

Thanks guys,

 

PS - I just joined, and the positive energy on this forum is awesome, so I hope not to ruin it with an elementary question here...

 

Josh

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I can see if you are growing chronic using HIDs. But for greens I don't see the need for a crazy electricity bill and extra heat. 

 

Anything you grow indoors is gonna take more electricity than the value of vegetables. Even if you use the old T12 flourescents.  It has to be about more than the cash, or indoor gardening doesn't make sense.

Chi Ma said:

I can see if you are growing chronic using HIDs. But for greens I don't see the need for a crazy electricity bill and extra heat. 

 

My kit says to install 4, 4' double flourescents of 6500 Kelvin for each raft...

water cress might do OK with that.  Worst comes to worst you may find that you are only able to grow some low light varieties of stuff and they may take a long time.

Put the lights on chains so you can raise and lower them to keep them an inch or two from the leaves.

 

I harvest cherry tomato's from my small indoor system with a 400 watt MH.  Franklin Ford, another member here, and my neighbor, uses 4tube T5 flourescents. His lettuce does very well, he also grows tomato, mint and has tried alot of other things. The lettuce does great. Very tasty and tender grown under these lights. His tomato on the other hand just makes green parts. It never buds, so no tomato's. We run our systems the same way, they were designed the same way. Lighting is the difference.

 

Lettuces and Basil will be the main veggies grown...

Well if u r growing those plants it will narrow down some of your options.   First of all If you use T5 florescents you will need 8 8-bulb systems to cover 2 4'x8' beds which equals 3456W, which is a crapload.  So i would stay away from that option for your situation.  I love 8 bulb T5, but they only cover a 2'x4' area.  Honestly some people may not think this is enough, but i have just set up 4'x8' bed (in which i will grow leafy greens too) with 1 400W Galaxy electonic ballast, super sun original reflector, with a digilux MH bulb on a light rail. This should be around $600-700.  But that is the top of the line equipment, if your on a budget you could lower that price by a few hundred.  A 1000W or a 600W would ensure enough light, but i think that the 400W will do, so much so that i set up my future system up like this already.  I also set up a 4'x8' with a 1000W and a rail, so i will be able to tell the difference within the next few months. Also, to me one of the beauty of AP is that any piece of equipment that doesn't end up working out for your system, is still a great product to use. Examples are, growing hydroponically, growing seedlings to sell at your local farmers markets in spring (there is big $ to be had there), etc.  Lighting from hydroponic stores is a big investment, but it is incredible that we can replace the sun through technology (obviously its not as good as the sun, but still incredible none-the-less)

 

Now as to the rubbutals of using indoor lighting to make indoor growing profitable i completey disagree.  I have done a business plan with my set up which is only a little larger than yours, and i see that if i take basil to farmers markets i could make around $6,000 profit a year. Im still working on getting this info down, but i want to test drive it first before i make to many claims.  One 400W light on for 16 hrs a day would cost $20.00 a month if you are at 10cents per KWH. (your rate for cents per KWH is on your electricity bills. 10cents is average, thats what i get)  A light rail only uses 5W.  So with pumps and stuff your looking at a max of $50-60 month. I dont know about anyone else, but u have to be really bad at growing if you cant grow more than $60 worth of food a month in a 64 square foot area.  There is the price of fingerlings, and fish feed, which varies from system to system.  Josh, how many fish are you going to be growing?  We can do the math right here to show you how it is profitable to grow using indoor lighting.  I mean cmon, basil sells WHOLESALE for $15 plus a pound and at a minimun u can get 1 pound per square foot. You have 64 square feet. 64 x 15 = $1024  Now you have to divide that into 2 because basil takes about 8 weeks to harvest and your electic bills are monthly, so $512 a month in basil.  Even if you are spending $200 a month on fingerlings and fish feed (which is an over-estimate) You would be doubling your money. Now thats a good business.

 

Not to mention the priceless factor to growing your own food, and knowing what the hell is in it.  Also the priceless effect of you reducing what people call these days a "carbon footprint".  Dont listen to what others say, try it for yourself, the anti-depression effects of growing your food could be worth all the money in the world, (that is how it is for me).  Many people pay hundreds of dollars to take pills to feel better, when you could kill 2 birds w/ 1 stone by growing your own food and having an anti-depressant physical activity. Any time someone says something isn't profitable or wont work, I take that as a challenge, because we are solely limited by our creativity and imagination.

 

Albert Einstein, "Imagination is more important than knowledge."

That point is a BIG ONE!  I agree big time!!!!!

AJ Grottke said:

Not to mention the priceless factor to growing your own food, and knowing what the hell is in it.  Also the priceless effect of you reducing what people call these days a "carbon footprint".  Dont listen to what others say, try it for yourself, the anti-depression effects of growing your food could be worth all the money in the world, (that is how it is for me).  Many people pay hundreds of dollars to take pills to feel better, when you could kill 2 birds w/ 1 stone by growing your own food and having an anti-depressant physical activity. Any time someone says something isn't profitable or wont work, I take that as a challenge, because we are solely limited by our creativity and imagination.

 

Albert Einstein, "Imagination is more important than knowledge."

That is just awesome...I was beginning  to think I was the only one who felt this way - I need to come to Madison and have a beer at Great Danes with you guys.

So I assume the digilux bulb coincides with the power of the balast...400-->400

When I go from the 1000 to the 400, am I just trading off the size for the lights for the cost of the rail? Is that the idea?

 

Oh - and my system calls for 20 lbs of fish in a 150 gallon tank...does this sound right to you guys?

I am thinking of doing perch so I don't have to heat the water.

 

Josh Fagan said:

That is just awesome...I was beginning  to think I was the only one who felt this way - I need to come to Madison and have a beer at Great Danes with you guys.

So I assume the digilux bulb coincides with the power of the balast...400-->400

When I go from the 1000 to the 400, am I just trading off the size for the lights for the cost of the rail? Is that the idea?

 

I wouldn't put a full 20 pounds of fish in it.  I would start with like 20 small fish.  The system is really probably only able to support about 20 pounds of fish MAX and that has probably only been tested with tilapia.

Josh Fagan said:

Oh - and my system calls for 20 lbs of fish in a 150 gallon tank...does this sound right to you guys?

I am thinking of doing perch so I don't have to heat the water.

 

Josh Fagan said:

That is just awesome...I was beginning  to think I was the only one who felt this way - I need to come to Madison and have a beer at Great Danes with you guys.

So I assume the digilux bulb coincides with the power of the balast...400-->400

When I go from the 1000 to the 400, am I just trading off the size for the lights for the cost of the rail? Is that the idea?

 

True...that was my plan - just put 20-25 perch in there and see how many plant units I could grow and let my system evolve as my fish grew.

By the way - any hookups for local, non-hormone fingerlings??? Perch or Tilapia...I am open to both, although I am not excited about heating my tank for the Tilapia(I am assuming I would have to heat the tank).

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