Aquaponic Gardening

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part of the reason ive been wanting to get into aquaponics is to lessen my footprint. i see the bell siphon autodrains the grow bin. what i really want to do is not have anything plugged in. is there anything along those lines possible?





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you are going to need a pump in a system ... simply by growing your own food you will have such a small foot print it will offset the pump

There is no magic way to move water back UP to your fish tank without a pump or some other mechanical device that I know of
Rich, I am not sure about the two beel siphon but I am also looking at not being plugged in or dependent on the grid to run my pump. I will be tsting a air lift pump that will run off batteries charge by a solar pannel. The air pump only uses 14 watts. In therory it should work. I found a guy in NC doing this as well. I will let you know how it goes.
I think the only problem with the air lift pumps are the amount of water they move, or the lack there of, for larger systems. Some pumps can be run off solar however if that is you goal but the amount of solar needed to power a system will most likely be double the cost if not triple >.br/>
Will be curious to see how they do for you Tom as reducing energy used is always a good thing in my book
Rich look at it from a different angle. Change all your house bulbs to LED or flourescent. This will more than offset the power consumption of your pump. Consider food quality and transportation and storage savings of you going to the store 2 times a week and your footprint is less by a long shot. Not to mention it is funner than hell growing fish and plants. I have installed several solar arrays and honestly they are a joke for the dollars my customers have spent and I live in the sunniest state in the country.
so short of installing a hand pump and physically pumping it out of the fish tank and into the grow bed there isnt any practical way of doing this with out plugging it into the wall? thanks for the tips with the bulbs and such for offsetting the power consumption. hadnt really thought opf it that way.
Rich, these guys are making excellent points, IMO.  Yet another way of looking at it is the small amount of power you are using for that pump is recirculating the water in your system and is the reason why AP systems use so little water compared to typical soil-based gardens.  Water is also going to become very dear in the near future (in some areas it already has) so what you lose in energy consumption you gain in water efficiency.

Very good point Sylvia.


I know many people have struggled over the past several years trying to come up with some means of doing aquaponics without electricity.  There might be some ways to do it, however, so far what I've seen has been rather impractical and since most people trying to do it that way don't want to spend a lot of money up front on windmills, so far I've not seen one get built.


It might be possible to build a system where one could go out and hand pump (pedal pump etc) or bucket water up to a header tank several times a day and let that water trickle through a system but the header tank would need to be huge and the fish load in such a system exceedingly small to the point of not really making sense unless one just really liked to build things and get their daily work out moving water.


Anyway, these things could be possible but generally very impractical for the average back yard.  Some work has to get done some how to lift water and if that work doesn't come from electricity, time to start looking up other means of pumping.  Windmills, rope pumps, ram pumps etc but don't expect a perpetual motion machine as there are always efficiency losses so it isn't like you can start off a bell siphon in one container and expect it to kick off a bell siphon in another container to lift water back to the first container, that isn't going to work well since the water exiting the siphon always needs to be lower that the start point.

Not to stick out like a sore thumb, but if you really really want to limit your footprint go vegan :) or raise your own cattle.

1lb of beef takes 2,500 gallons to grow
Carbon footprint savings for going vegetarian / vegan

While I am bias I am not vegan to reduce my footprint, it is just a side effect, I am vegan to eat healthy based on my years of studying nutrition.


Replacing one incandescent bulb with a LED light bulb prevents the release of 300 pounds of carbon dioxide in just one year.


If your end goal is to be off the grid then I would start looking into batteries because they are what cost the most normally in the system.


You could find a creek in your property and make a water mill to power the movement of water in your system :)


Most of these things are outside the realm of most peoples budgets however (solar, wind, hydro etc)

As far as I know there is no way to move water uphill other than an electric pump. An aeration pump or blower typically uses much more energy than a water pump. To really off set your energy consumption find a way to aerate your water without a blower. For example you could build in a waterfall falling into your fish tank/pond.


Water can be lifted without electrical power.  It takes something mechanical like a manual pump (hand pump, rope pump) or windmill or there are ways to use other moving water like a creek or waterfall near by to lift water by turning a water wheel or tube pump or operating one of the other manual pumps or there is something called a ram pump but I don't know if that would work because it pumps part of the falling water back up higher instead of pumping the system water.


Most of the mechanical means of pumping water are either too labor intensive for out "western society" or require features that most backyards don't have access to (like the natural creek or water fall or good space for a windmill pump.)

Perhaps I was too absolute with my previously statement. I fully agree with you, there are always ways to move water up a grade but for an aquaponic system that needs constant water flow (except at night some argue) there are almost no reliable options other than an electric pump. A creek runs through my property however I live in zone 6 and my mechanism would stop as soon as the creek froze up. Also the flow of the creek is not constant, it changes a great deal depending on precipitation. A windmill and solar energy have similar pitfalls. In my opinion a commercial or for profit system in 2011 requires an electric pump. I'm not saying I agree with this reality or am happy about it. I hope a perpetual motion machine is discovered soon. Keep experimenting!
...I see a very large teeter-totter in your future...

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