Aquaponic Gardening

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Portable Farms just announced a "Salmon Aquaponics System" - (portablefarm dot com slash farm2011 slash salmon-aquaponics).  I'm pretty surprised by this as I thought salmon were salt-water fish.  The entire web page just talks about dealing with temperature differentials.  Anyone have any idea what is going on here?  Why wouldn't you just call that a Trout System?

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Thanks Curt


I was beginning to wonder when someone from the great lakes, surrounding states or chicago area was going to chime in. Salmon in the great lakes are fresh water and never hit saltwater, while spawning and before the smolting process I would imagine this as being the hardest parts of an aquaponics salmon system being they need alot of continually moving oxygenated water.

These monsters can grow to 40 or 50lbs, feeding them would also be an issue being they need a healthy diet, if had time or the property I'd give it a shot just for the challenge alone........that and I love coho and chinook.



 Curt Meilicke said:

And yet an additional two cents from Wisconsin.  The Wisconsin DNR has been rearing and releasing Coho and Chinook salmon into Lake Michigan for years.  I can speak from fishing experience that they can grow quite large out there.  Don't know how long it would take for them to get to a relevant size in an aquaponic system.  But you should be able to raise them without switching to salt water.

And to the point of burying the fish tanks in the ground.  Sweet Water in Milwaukee has a number of tanks set in the ground.  I'm not sure if they've gone a full year yet.  But one of the main reasons was for constant temperature control.  I think they were putting perch in them  You know, the whole Wisconsin Friday Night Fish Fry thing.

The Guru on aquaponic Salmon is Bruce Swift of Swift Aquaculture.

At the bottom are few articles, to give you an idea about him. The fish are raised completely in fresh water, but do not obtain the red colour naturally. He adds something to the feed to give the flesh the red colour. He must be doing something right, he sells his fish, at a premium, to one of the better seafood restaurants in Vancouver, which as you might expect has plenty of wild salmon available to compete with his product. What he offers that wild can't is uniform sized fish, for perfect plate size. He is tight lipped about the custom formulated food, which was probably the work of his wife, she is an animal nutritionist and that probably took them a lot of time to nail down. The one thing he is emphatic about is that Coho is the ideal variety of salmon for this operation.

His operation is mostly centred on generating revenue from raising salmon, not the plants he grows, mostly uses them to purify the water. The only companion production, he produces and sells are crayfish. Sells them to a company that turns them into soup.

Dude, I love your humor...

Japan Aquaponics - アクアポニックス 日本 said:

Wow.. I am doing this in my micro aquaponics system now...

I put stones in the bottom of the tank to replicate a stream and I use a swim-gym style jet (sold separately) to exercise the little fry.  I keep the air conditioning on so that the plants still get heat.  Then when the fry get to a half decent size I turn the jet off and add salt to my system so they think they are in the sea (will this hurt the plants at all?).  

  • I sometimes play whale music to help them acclimatise (CD is available to buy.. but sold separately)
  • I also add my patented "portable mini fishing boat system" (made from zinc) to mimic sea fishermen. (sold separately)

Once they have grown a little more, I completely dump the water and add fresh water again - bring the jet back in and this really successfully allows them to feel like they are swimming back up to their spawning site.  I also sell tank-side fishing rights (this is really the greatest money-making part of the system) to people who want the authentic feel of salmon fishing in the Scottish Highlands (add some cheap whiskey and it is like you are really there!).

If you are interested in visting this amazing set-up, then please do hurry to reserve your place for an introductory fee of just $199, plus for a limited time we will throw in a pooper-scooper.  Please visit one of my extensive network of affiliated sites today.

Thank you... I will now take my tongue back out of my cheek.

Thanks Paul,

Acerbic wit sometimes gets the better of me, and my heavy sarcasm just flows out!  In Japan people don't really use sarcasm, and so every now and then I need to dust off my skills so I can feel like an Englishman! 

An additional comment on the Western front - several varieties of salmon are present in land-locked stream/lake systems all over the Western US. These fish never see a drop of saltwater.

You've possibly heard of Kokanee? These are land-locked Sockeye (Red) Salmon. These are planted all over both the Rockies and the Sierras. There are other varieties of land-locked Pacific, as well as Atlantic Salmon as well. Anyway, these are hatchery raised, then released into the river or often dropped into the lake from the air. They migrate downstream into the lake and spend a few years getting fat. They then return upstream to spawn, where they are both caught by fisherman and fisheries workers to collect eggs and milt to do it over again. Salmon are a significant Aquaculture species. I know nothing of the AP group in question, but raising them in the right climate could be a fairly straight-forward process. Kokanee for instance, seldom exceed 3 lbs, usually a pound or two - much smaller than their saltwater cousins. They are smaller than many of the trout the Aussies raise (they grow some big fish). They also live in some fairly warm reservoirs in the West, as well as the frozen mountain lakes. If the proper species of Salmon were targeted, don't know why it couldn't be done and you probably wouldn't need all of the tricky temp mgmt.

You are right Chip and I think that someone mentioned Kokanee on this thread earlier.  I have also heard of some guy in Canada running an aquaponics system with Kokanee (I think) ... but apparently he is extremely tight-lipped about how he does it all and won't let anyone see the system.... well, if he is making a good living from it then understandable really as I am sure there were some issues that had to be ironed out.

If that guy is making a good living at the salmon farming in aquaponics, he may just be too busy to spend any time online telling others about it.  I've also noticed that most old fashion fish farming operations are not super internet savvy and are hard pressed to keep a web site up let alone blog or wright about their operations, I think they are just too busy and it's hard to work a computer when you are out in the ponds.

I would think it would be a tough market to sell in. People like big, pretty Silvers and Kings, or at least their fillets. I really don't know. I've never bought a Trout or a Pink Salmon in a store, but then I've had great access to both Trout and Salmon outdoors. There are plenty of Salmon lovers living far from the'd really just need to explore the market as you would in any aspect of farming.

The Kokanee I've caught were good quality fish - very desirable to fisherman. As I mentioned previously, they live in some fairly diverse lake conditions. Fingerlings are readily available through hatcheries, though I have no idea what restrictions may be in place. It might be a fun fish for hobbyists living in the right climate, or those who are willing to manage water temps.

Hello all. I'm new to the group so I will try not to make any waves but after reading the literal bludgeoning given to Colle Davis I almost withdrew my request to join. However, that being said there were a few decent posts that really seemed to salvage the thread from mere platitudes and redirect the focus to the task at hand. I would have to give a shout out to Mr Averan in that regard.

Ok,to the point ! Averan has mentioned some interesting things here that have really peaked my personal interest. Point (1) The use of ground coils as heat syncs. This geothermic idea has been around for a good many years and is of course available for the use in homes as we speak. The idea that the earth itself, vis a vis dirt would help to control and stabilize these systems has a very good ring to it and I'd love to hear opinions thrown at it. Point (2) This point was shot down quickly, but the idea of returning  AP raised salmon (should the idea be valid) back to the wild intrigues me. Now before anyone begins to deliver blunt force trauma to the idea, remember that it's an "idea" and one I would argue that has worked numerous times in the past with: Owls, Pandas, Eagles, Orangutans, My Ex-wife and a whole host of other creatures. I realize there are established laws governing these actions and for good reason, but "WE" are the government, should we not play more of an active role in changing what we complain about ? What if the AP community could work with the DWR or the Dept of AG to increase the scope of this symbiotic web we are building by helping to replenish native stocks on geo by geo level ?  Why dont Zoos and living aquariums run AP systems ? When I research AP I see Tilapia everywhere and that has Irish potato famine written all over it. Again, hats off to you Averan and sorry for the rant folks.

Welcome Laine. I had to reread the early pages to see what your fuss was about. I don't think Colle Davis got any more bludgeoning than he asked for, and most of it was in humor. The idea that we can practically and sustainably raise salmon at 54 F while simultaneously raising tomatoes at greenhouse temps (80 F?) is simply unfounded. Heat exchanger or not, heating and cooling would have to be included in the system, and that is where practicality starts to slip. Feed ratio and feed Source is where it continues to slip in the sustainability department. No real proof of concept was offered in the Portable Farms site, and that is where many here in the forum start to get sarcastic. Turning water into wine is a great boast! But unless you are Jesus, or show me the deed, then you are a scammer. Without more data we assume that he is a scammer, or at least is building anticipation before proving the pudding. Many users on this forum use geothermal heating and cooling, including myself. And I agree, hats off to Averan for trying to keep it all on the positive note.

About releasing aquaponic salmon into the wild, we call those hatcheries. It's already being done. If you want to establish a hatchery, simply call your fisheries dept and give them a game plan. There are even grant funds available for your effort. I have a friend doing just that, right now. Hatcheries currently divert a small amount of water from the river or tributary they are trying to repopulate, and run that through the thousands of trays of eggs and fry, and loop it back to the river, whereby the downstream plants, trees and floodplains process the waste, exactly as nature would have intended it without the predation of baby salmon. How is Aquaponics going to improve on that? I enjoy studying and using Aquaponics, but it is not the answer to the world crisis, IMO.

Funny to hear that you released your x-wife back into the wild. Hope she made the transition :)
Well said Jon.
Unfortunately, many people are so pleased and amazed with their AP systems that they begin looking for problems for AP to solve. AP is a really fun and rewarding hobby, but along with that, it's also expensive, restrictive and very limited as a stand-alone farming method.
The interest expressed in pursuing commercial operations by new hobbyists is frightening.
I really enjoy AP and am always looking for ways to improve the system. That said, when I weigh the advantages against the limitations, other methods usually come to mind as better solutions. This salmon exercise has shed light on a few. As to Tilapia and the potato famine, I guess its possible - we've got that Koi Herpes Virus out there and a few other species specific ailments. The reality is that Tilapia didn't stumble into AP by chance. That they tolerate a broad range of water conditions and make lots of waste to drive our systems are just two of many strengths.
Back to the salmon discussion, I really think the proper variety could work in a moderate climate. I'd be really tempted to give Kokanee a go, were I not living in the tropics (really sucks to have to grow veggies year round and never touch a heater) :)
Thanks, Chip, and thanks for rubbing it in that I have to struggle to keep tilapia alive here in the temperate zone. :) I've tried numerous fish species, and tilapia for me have been the fastest growers, and fed the easiest to find local scraps. The Irish potato famine, I believe, is what we call 'late blight', and affects the nightshade family. I know, because it destroyed my outdoor tomatoes last summer. I don't understand the tie between tilapia and the potato famine. We don't depend heavily on tilapia for sustenance, and tilapia are the most disease resistant fish I know of. Seems odd to use tilapia as an example of a bowling ball balanced on a toothpick and in the same breath say salmon in AP is the solution. I don't mean that negatively, just don't understand the parallel.

I would love to have salmon in my AP, and I'm not a nay-sayer. This is the place to hash out ideas and inspire experiments to move in that direction. I met an AP trout grower and restaurant owner last summer who raises trout for his own restaurant. He had developed a 100% vegetable pellet that his trout eat, and gets close to a pound of growth per dry pound of feed. He was in the process then of trying to manufacture it for retail. That is an important step to making salmon sustainable. And raising salmon in buried tanks while using winter crops may be feasible. Maybe evaporative cooling in the warm months. Mmmm. Salmon.

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