Aquaponic Gardening

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After 1 year of mulling it over with my wife, she finally consented to let me build an AP system outside in northern california. 

I'm just starting the planning phase, but the rough plan would be to have a fish tank (a large feed bin) that is 400-600 gallons and I would build grow beds on top (wood with pond liner).  probably some for of hydroton or gravel in the bed with worms.  separate tank to grow duckweed w/ mosquito fish to feed the the fish, and black soldier fly composting primarily my chicken poo that dumps to feed the fish tank.

I don't want to heat the system, so will add hoop houses on the grow bed in the winter. I will also use the new catfish this site offers that can survive 0-100 degrees so can hack it year round

I was  wondering if:

1) digging the fish tank into the ground will help keep the water in the fish tank warm, or sap the heat.  Perhaps digging it into the group and insulating with straw?

2) whether red claw crayfish (i'd need to find a way of physically separateing them from the catfish (any ideas appreciated) could survive the winter, albeit grow slower.

Any advice would be very much appreciated.  Very excited about this!

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in CA you may not be allowed to grow redclaw  I'm not sure.

Where in Northern CA are you?  What climate are we talking mountains or extreme North inland with true blizzard winters with weeks of freezing on end?  Or are you a lowlander  or on the coast where the cold snaps are something where you simply go out and cover certain plants when freezes are forecast?  California has such an extreme of different climates.

What are your year round average ground temps?  digging a tank into the ground only helps if the ground temperature is very near the optimum temperature for your fish water otherwise it will be sapping the heat most of the year and not helping enough during the cold time of the year.  In my location the ground temperatures are like between 70-74 F so they are great for all the warm water fish.  Just low enough to help combat the extreme heat in summer and warm enough to help keep tanks a little warmer in winter.
  However remember that most of the heat transfer happens on the surfaces.  So the surface of the fish tank and the air around a flood and drain media bed are where most of the heat loss/gain are going to take place.  If you can make your hoop house a bit bigger than "just to cover the grow bed" you will have a larger air mass that will loose heat slower.

Hi thanks for your note.  I'm in Silicon Valley which gets up to high 80's some times nineties in the summer and has frost a couple weeks a year in the winter.

 

Sounds like digging doesn't provide much insulation;  would lining w/ straw help in any way?

 

on the red claws, i've known of webiste who deliver red claws to california.  i wonder if they can handle the temps

TCLynx said:

in CA you may not be allowed to grow redclaw  I'm not sure.

Where in Northern CA are you?  What climate are we talking mountains or extreme North inland with true blizzard winters with weeks of freezing on end?  Or are you a lowlander  or on the coast where the cold snaps are something where you simply go out and cover certain plants when freezes are forecast?  California has such an extreme of different climates.

What are your year round average ground temps?  digging a tank into the ground only helps if the ground temperature is very near the optimum temperature for your fish water otherwise it will be sapping the heat most of the year and not helping enough during the cold time of the year.  In my location the ground temperatures are like between 70-74 F so they are great for all the warm water fish.  Just low enough to help combat the extreme heat in summer and warm enough to help keep tanks a little warmer in winter.
  However remember that most of the heat transfer happens on the surfaces.  So the surface of the fish tank and the air around a flood and drain media bed are where most of the heat loss/gain are going to take place.  If you can make your hoop house a bit bigger than "just to cover the grow bed" you will have a larger air mass that will loose heat slower.

I'm over in San Jose and had the aquarium in the basement and had the aquarium heater kick on during our 100 degree day a couple of weeks back. That might reflect on somewhat cooler temps in the ground or maybe not. The aquarium got moved outside but it gets to the mid-50s at night here so it still has a heater in it to keep it in the 70s. The next step is a little greenhouse. 

As for red-claw I know Jon Parr has some and he's down in Soquel so it isn't illegal. Might be a good source too. One of these days I have to try it to see if I like the taste.

thanks mario! good thoughts!

mario cole said:

I'm over in San Jose and had the aquarium in the basement and had the aquarium heater kick on during our 100 degree day a couple of weeks back. That might reflect on somewhat cooler temps in the ground or maybe not. The aquarium got moved outside but it gets to the mid-50s at night here so it still has a heater in it to keep it in the 70s. The next step is a little greenhouse. 

As for red-claw I know Jon Parr has some and he's down in Soquel so it isn't illegal. Might be a good source too. One of these days I have to try it to see if I like the taste.

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