Aquaponic Gardening

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It doesn’t really matter what or who I’m feeding, just watching them gobble up whatever I serve, somehow makes me feel good and often puts a smile on my face erasing all the tears of toil. Yes sometimes it will remind you that life is not all pleasure but most of the time, a farm manager’s life is A-OK in my book. My mornings are spent on feeding. From before sun up to mid morning break, you’ll find me out there feeding.


There are basically four types of material we can use as living food. Everyone automatically thinks of kitchen/ garden scraps and that is a good source but hardly enough and lacking in protein. Another source talked about here are grubs and insects. Good protein but too high in some fats (and can go rancid very quickly). The third type of material we could use is to grow plants of different types. Some plants talked about are duckweed, algae and sprouts. The last method to produce live feed is to raise fish and crusteations.


One of the reasons we want to make our own feed is to reduce the cost but more importantly because we want to produce the best food possible white being sustainable. This is where I think the line between home/hobby systems and true production systems differ (small systems don’t count). Other than in China, most people have enough room (even in city) to support a decent self-sustaining IBS (integrated bio system).


I believe that each one of us, big or small should locate at least one source of agro-industrial waste that we can process into feed whether feeding ducks spent grain from the local brewery, raising worms from the scraps at local farmers market, or using corn husks/ stalks to feed rabbits to raise worms, to using gray and black water as a main input source, or a bit of everything.


I believe we can each find a niche where we can recycle clean waste. What do you have around your neighborhood? Restaurants, Hotels, farms of any size or sort? Got a coffee shop? What can you raise/ use spent coffee grinds?


I’m sure you are getting the picture because you are still reading. The idea here is to use agro-waste to feed our feed.


Next year I plan to use “pee pee ponics” (coined by our very own TC Lynx) and gray water to raise shrimp. How? I’ll tell you when I’m done…Ha ha… I know. I’m such a tease. Shame on me…OK OK I give. I’ll tell y’all. But I don’t have no time to do no drawings, ya hear? So don’t even ask. Actually it’s quite simple. Ya piss in a pot, cover it for a few days then add it to a recirculating system. I’m in negotiations with several fishpond owners to let me work with them, (one pond for each experiment). This could be kind of risky and relatively expensive (if I misplay), but if successful could give us other options. Anyway, I won’t have any pipes running all over the place with this one, just a simple return and the flow doesn’t even need to be that great.


This shrimp tank will have (imagine loosened, almost unbraided small diameter, nylon string, woven into a loose sheet) lines of this loose netting that will be anchored top and bottom of the pool so that these nets “catch” the flow without impeding it. These nets are shorter than the sides of the pool and staggered so that the flow is never blocked and act like a bow river even if all the nets are “full”.


The idea here of course is to grow algae on the mega surface area of each nylon fiber of these nets or “algae-sails”, using nutrient from pee pee ponics. Shrimp graze and grow on the algae and we can all enjoy them as live feed and/ or food. I plan on introducing baby shrimp into fully loaded sails at an attempt to dissuade cannibalism. I’m hoping the netting effect will be enough to allow the smaller ones to escape to the other side for safety.


Can anyone suggest what type of shrimp I might want to raise? I want quick growing (fast maturing) shrimp of any size that can tolerate temperature extremes (natural in zone 6).


I addition, I’m also hoping to get funding for the rest of this line of sustainable IBS experiments using a much larger recirculating flow cycle with more bio diversity yet a minimal footprint. In this plan I will not use bugs or larva, only fish algae and duckweed. This is about as small as I can get a system and still be ecologically sustainable using live feed.


I call this my Duck & Fish jig. Rabbits and even sheep can be substituted in this process.


The beginning of the cycle starts with a Trout pond. Trout water flows into the Bass pond which flows into guppy/ mosquito fish pond and finally into the Tilapia pond which cycles into the duck pond. Raw nutrients are concentrated and allowed to process for the next stage of plants, followed by another set of concentration, processing and use.


Ducks poo into shallow troughs of running water, suspended below the duck runs. This water flows into a solids filter (Diagram A), where worms break down the waste into nutrients. This nutrient rich liquid flows into the Carp pond below where it blooms into algae for feed. Oxygen is added for the fish. From the Carp pond solids are again filtered then channeled into the first multi-level duckweed tower. A series of shallow trays stacked on top of each other, flowing from the top down. Harvesting is automatic, as the duckweed overflows via ducts in the lips of the trays onto a catch net suspended on the surface of the catchment pond with a 10-20% reduction in nutrients, especially in the form of nitrates. From here, the nutrient flow is divided into three types of growing apparatus. These systems include deep water culture, flood & drain and thin film culture. From the grow beds, nutrient are collected and again diverted to another three sets of growing apparatus. Algae is grown between two sheets of glass and strained through an algae scrubber, which is collected daily to make feed. Algae are also grown in another tank to feed shrimp fry, (also for feed). This weak nutrient is also used to grow sprouts as feed. Finally, this almost pure water can be solar distilled before returning the beginning of the IBS cycle.


IBS process  X- DF, 12-1                                   


Ducks>                                          >Carp           Incoming "fresh" water aloud to “breath” in Cistern>Trout>


          >Duck swamp> solids filter> Catfish>Bio-reactor>Duckweed>Growbeds>Algae>Shrimp>Trout> Guppies>Duck swamp

                                                        >Tilapia                       > Human Urine                >Sprouts



Still here? I’m about done for now so I hope you enjoyed this and hope you have question or suggestions. As usual, I'll be out of reach till Friday so I'' get back to y'all next weekend and Happy Mid-Autumn Festival everybody.


May your god guide and comfort you.



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Replies to This Discussion

As you can, would love to see you pick some of the details from this and expand on them in a bit more detail.
Wondering what equip. needed for floating pellets? Recipes or any info on feed production?  A pellet machine is spendy but probably worth it in the long haul. maybe 1st experiment with a pasta machine or some other food processor? Also info on commercial feed contents is somewhat vague and confusing for me. Input on feed production would be appreciated. Feed the Key to success! Feed the soil, feed the plants, feed the animals (feed the people?) and they will feed us.
Great article Carey. Good luck in your new experiments

Well Carey is largely experimenting himself and I don't think his aim is to give you an exact recipe to follow but trying to get us all to experiment a bit ourselves and research what our own available inputs might be and work on our own recipes seeing as the materials he has there are not going to be the same as some one half way around the world.


I've done some experiments squishing batter through a meat grinder with the blades removed to squeeze out something like fat spaghetti that I could lay out to dry but this was very tedious.  Probably easier to roll out a thin layer and slice into appropriate size pieces to bake or dry or perhaps even vacuume dry to cause them to puff and float?


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