Aquaponic Gardening

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I am still determining my setup for the coming spring and wondered about utilizing bait fish for an aquaponics setup.  I haven't seen any literature out there. 

I know that raising fish for consumption has been well established.  I just wonder if anyone has experience using bait fish and were able to profit off such a set up.  The regulations for food fishes in Indiana are more complex, but getting a bait fish license here is only $10 and its a single form! 

With bait fish being much smaller sizes, I wonder what stocking density would be needed?  Would it be the same rule thumb, using the lbs of fish to determine size?  There is a strong market for bait fish in this area (I live in lake country) and a smaller tank would work better with bait fish.  I know that Sylvia has talked about a minimum of 50 gallons to raise a fish to plate size, whereas bait fish could be kept in fairly high densities in a smaller container (50 gallons).

Shiners are a great species and easy to care for.  They are also prolific "fertilizers," yet I wonder if they would be able to provide appropriate nutrients to grow tomatoes and other fruiting plants?

Any tips would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks

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Robert, I see no reason why baitfish wouldn't be an excellent fish to use. People are using little aquarium fish in indoor setups and producing well. My basement system tomato plant that is nine months old just put on a bunch more little cherry tomatoes. Just a couple little fish in that tank now.
Might not be much literature out there on bait fish in aquaponics but I expect you can figure it out with a little bit of trial and error.

However, I don't think you will be making a commercial venture out of bait fish out of a single 50 gallon tank. Keep in mind that just because the fish are smaller, doesn't mean you can really but any more total mass of fish into a given volume of water without the same problem of running out of dissolved oxygen for the fish.

What would be your primary goal? Sell bait fish or grow plants or ?
Basically my idea is this; two 50 gallon totes (90 gallons of total water) and a 1:1 ratio fish:growbed. I have bluegill and have them in one tote. I hope to add a second tote with bait fish. I hope to plumb them together so that the water is shared and have a single pump to the growbed, but no sump. The totes have a fairly large volume:surface area, so I don't feel the water height is an issue during pumping. The growbed will be 6'x2'x1' (LxWxH) to match about 90 of the gallons, since I won't use the whole tote. The growbed will siphon directly below back to the fish totes.

For this trial system, I hope to use the bait fish for myself and keep the bluegill for dinner. Eventually, I hope to raise my own greens, tomatoes, green onion, cucumbers and peppers with bait fish in the bottom. I'm testing bluegill in an aquaponics system for flavor more than anything. If I can get a clean flavor consistently in this type of system, I think there will be a market. I've heard many around here complain about 'dirty' flavor of bluegill recently, likely caused by the nutrient pollution to the lakes.

I would really like to build a system large enough to supply a couple local bait dealers and provide myself produce as well. I have a postage stamp size lawn and aquaponics seemed a very good fit. The larger system will be constructed if these next 4 months go well :)
Raising bait aquaponically is a great idea. You've got nothing to lose. Do you know which sub species of bluegill you have and how are they doing? I'm planning to try coppernose (copperhead).
I'm not sure which it is, but I got them from an aquaculture facility here in Indiana that sells them to stock ponds. I'll have to check on that.
Just keep in mind that with only 12 cubic feet of grow bed, you won't be supporting a huge population of fish.


Robert B Winebrinner said:
I'm not sure which it is, but I got them from an aquaculture facility here in Indiana that sells them to stock ponds. I'll have to check on that.
Yes, very true. Which will make seining the bait fish tomorrow morning a much more enjoyable experience! Its down to the lower 30s in the morning and I don't want to spend any more time in the water than necessary. :)
I think we are going to be getting pretty chilly way down here, I can imagine that you could see snow with this blast.

Robert B Winebrinner said:
Yes, very true. Which will make seining the bait fish tomorrow morning a much more enjoyable experience! Its down to the lower 30s in the morning and I don't want to spend any more time in the water than necessary.
We had flurries and the cold finally killed my chili peppers :(

The weather this week has been great though!

TCLynx said:
I think we are going to be getting pretty chilly way down here, I can imagine that you could see snow with this blast.
Robert B Winebrinner said:
Yes, very true. Which will make seining the bait fish tomorrow morning a much more enjoyable experience! Its down to the lower 30s in the morning and I don't want to spend any more time in the water than necessary.

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