Aquaponic Gardening

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Is it possible to have a completely internal system, where all the fish food is generated by the aquaponic system itself?  I know that sounds like a "perpetual energy machine", but the sun is ultimately the engine for everything.  Could algae be grown in the tilapia pond, and duckweed in one of the grow beds, and then all vegetable waste (stems, leaves, etc) could be fodder for the BSF?  Would that be enough, or is some external fish food necessary?  Thanks for your help on this.

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Yes, after reading the BYAP thread that TC provided for us, I've been reading up on studies I've pirated (while you still can) on how exactly ferric iron Fe3+ (mostly plant un-usable, say rusty nails) is converted to ferrous iron Fe2+ (plant usable). To make a long story short...anaerobic bacteria do the 'chelating'...unfortunately (or fortunately for some) a good deal of nitrate is used up (removed) in the process. This can be accomplished in the anaerobic micro environments of a given system (like the bottom of a grow bed where a layer sand and other things have settled, or in a dedicated contraption, like the RSG (Real Smart Guy) filter TC turned us on to. Or any number of "similar" contraptions providing anaerobic conditions, carbon fuel source like AP solids, or molasses etc, and rusty iron. These can be either attached and part of a system, or even (my personal preference) separated from the (AP) system. (The only reason I'd prefer this is that I'm looking to go with the lowest possible stocking density to run my system, so I'm not real keen on anything other than my plants removing nitrates).

To answer your question though...IDK, probably as with most things in life, if done properly and in the correct setting, I think that it could work. Remember that even in hydroponics, those people had to use something for iron before chelated product existed.

Just as AP sets up a scenerio to take advantage of the nitrogen cycle, it is not far fetched at all for a person to set up a scenerio to take advantage of the iron cycle.

I meant for a fully closed ecosystem. In a strictly scientific way of putting it, conservation of mass, and energy bars a self-sustaining system. The ecosystem uses N from the sub-soil. Over millions of years this will be depleted. So to be clear, right now you can make a slightly closed system using minerals from the sub-soil. 

Eric, in a fully closed ecosystem, the Nitrogen from the subsoil gets re-replenished by the decay of organic matter and waste from creatures living in the ecosystem (conservation of mass and energy and all.)  It isn't a "closed" ecosystem if you are removing things from it and not replacing them.

Imagine you're living in this terrarium/bio-sphere...Feeding the worms rabbit poo and vegetable scraps...eating vegies from the AP or Bio-ponic system, drinking water from the condensers, using and re-using everything you can, one species waste is an others food and all that other good stuff...But then when it comes to your own waste you decide to piss and shit in a 3000 gallon drum and have the Disney guys truck it out to "somewhere" to have it 'disposed' of every time it starts to get full ? You would in essence be robbing the bio-sphere of very valuable inputs.

My mom came to visit this past summer and was like "What the??? Here you are talking about healthy organic food, and yet your pouring smelly old pee in your grow systems"!?! - This is a typical response. Even from farmers who spend lots of money every year on Urea fertilizers.

Here in the E.U (technically we are not part of the E.U...but are scrambling to appease and join the new Comintern...) urine is NOT classified as an Organic fertilizer. Even from tested healthy, non medicated persons, it is not allowed. But dried blood from industrially slaughtered animals is perfectly OK. But only if pre-packaged, driven to the shelves in big diesel trucks and taxed up the wazoo of course...  

I hear ya Vlad, this crazy system we are in.  Even muck farms have to get special permits to be allowed to apply bio solids (the stuff from the sewage plants) to fields to grow sod and many places don't want to let them do it, instead most of those bio-solids have to go to landfills.

To waste those nutrients and essentially turn them into "toxic waste" by letting them be mixed with everything else that goes down the drains so that we have to pay money and waste fossil fuels to keep plants growing in our soils.  Sad.  And the fact that using a nice clean bowl of drinking water to "flush" those wastes away is a terrible waste of water too.

The ions get leached away. Anyways I think I hijacked this thread. My comment deserves to be here, rather than the aquaponicscommunity.

TCLynx said:

Eric, in a fully closed ecosystem, the Nitrogen from the subsoil gets re-replenished by the decay of organic matter and waste from creatures living in the ecosystem (conservation of mass and energy and all.)  It isn't a "closed" ecosystem if you are removing things from it and not replacing them.

Welcome to the hijacking club, Eric. Vlad and I are frequent visitors.

So, on topic sort of, I was at a clients house this week (I fabricate granite slab counters and whatnot), and I asked the homeowner about a strange old pint jar that looked like a kid's science project placed on an otherwise contemporary kitchen top. Turns out it was her kid's science project, go figure. Her son scooped up a jar of muddy pondwater in 1976, sealed it up with a lid and parafin, and it is still a living ecosystem. She explained that at first it looked like settled muddy water. Then algae started to grow, and snails and worms showed up, apparently too small to be seen when first scooped. The creatures got bigger to a point, then replace by more smaller ones, and so on. When the temperature cools it condenses like rain inside. And during the years when it was stored in a dark closet, everything died, only to bloom to life again when brought into the sun. Sealed since 1976. When I saw it, it had odd convolutions of green algae over murky silt, like some sort of eco lava lamp.

So yes, I think an AP system can exist on nothing more than it's own produce, so long as enough nutrients were present to start with, and everything removed was returned. Not sure why you'd actually want to try it, but if the minerals don't leave, then they stay there. If water and air is freely given, then the mineral content would go up by some margin. Lightening provides plant soluble nitrogen as well. My sister used to live in Missouri, and she said after a lightening storm everything in the garden would turn darker green and go through a surge of growth. Tilapia have been grown to full size on algae alone.

Visitors? We are more like the Abu Nidal-PLO tag team of the 70's and 80's. We should start asking for ransom...or at least set up a protection racket...

Fascinating about that jar...

Hehe. Eric T. We hereby demand one million dollars to leave this thread alone. Failure to do so will result in an explosion of opinions, with numerous innocent casualties.
Sounds like you got it all! Except for one detail in the guppy tank. You describe "adventurous" humans as eating guppies. I think the correct term is "starving". :)

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