Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

Last year I spent a ton heating my fish tank and built low tunnels around my beds to keep plant temps up. This year I'm thinking about heating the greenhouse to around 50-60 and by doing so cut down on the fish tank heating cost. I don't think this would cost any more than heating the tank in freezing greenhouse. I've taken additional steps to insulate the greenhouse and fish tank and have plenty of wood and a backup thermostatic propane heater when needed for when the fire goes out. Any thoughts on this concept?

Views: 945

Replies to This Discussion


That's a good concept and I did add another barrel of water for thermal mass as well as backup water for the tank. I have put 1" styrofoam over double wall 6 mill plastic for my sidewalls this year and am thinking about just doing the same for winter next year since we get limited sun here in Mich. anyway. That with thermal mass, grow light heat, and my wood burner might be enough to help keep the water warm as well as facilitate winter plant growth. The GH is only 8x22 and 7' tall plus the peak so it's not a large area.


dennis finnegan said:

often people try to heat the Air in a greenhouse. This proves to loose heat fast .I know it is Winter now but if you plan well for next year you can add some thermal mass to your green house. This can be some part of the flooring with poured concrete (a sand mix will do ) with pex tubing in the concrete. and a propane boiler with propylene glycol or an electric high efficient boiler. I know this will have an up front cost but it will last Years if installed properly ,and you will not freeze the boiler (or heater )  due to the Glycol. Or it could be radiant panels along the outside walls. Insulation only works if there is heat in the greenhouse to begin with. The thermal mass will also pick up heat if the Sun hits it during the day and it will give up its heat at night. be sure to install a thermal barrier below the concrete to keep the heat moving up into the greenhouse.......that's all for now....this subject has a lot of matter and cannot be all covered today. If this interests you we can continue later.....Heydens Garden, dennis

 Heat traveles from the hotter object to the colder objects , so if you want 70 degrees in your fish tank then insullation is a very good idea ,but dont forget heat will escape from the surface, so the surronding temp of  50-60 degrees on a 24/7 basis will rob heat from your tanks. water temp must be 70 degs, 75 degs would be better for the benifical bacteria to live and process the fish waste in and aquaponic system .the fish may live  in a wider range but if you kill off the nitrosomos bacteria and the nitrobacter bacteria you will not proceaa the Ammonia and your plants might grow a lot of vegetation but yor system will no dought fail with the passing of time and become toxic.. So no matter how you accomplish the heating is all up to you and your expense budget but  to answer the original question "to heat or not to heat"  THE ANSWER IS HEAT. Heydens Garden,dennis

That is the first time I've head about the bacteria dying off if the water isn't hot enough. Thank you for that piece of useful advice!

Heating a large volume of water can get expensive depending on how you heat it. My water runs between 65 and 70 and I haven't had issues with bacteria failure. System sustainability is not difficult once it's well established. I used to panic about pH, ammonia, and temperature change but realize now that Tilapia are a very hardy fish and will tolerate huge swings in these items.

I totally agree with you reguarding the fish ,they can take a wide temperature swing. 65 to 70 degs is good ,my comments were and are about the title "heat or not to heat" and I was just giving a comment  on why the heat is needed.  It is nice to have a forum such as this to hear what others are doing,.I look forward to reading more .Heydens Garden,dennis

I wish the forum was more active. I enjoy all the exchanges and ideas. I've been at this for 3 years and still feel like a rookie. My reason for starting this thread was I figured if I was going to have X dollars invested in heating water I questioned whether I could just keep the GH heated and not have to heat the water. This mild winter we've had hasn't allowed me to verify that yet.

I look at this a different way, the greenhouse isn't a food bank it's a hedge fund. Wells cost a lot to dig, but no one compares the cost of well water over buying a lifetime of bottled water (when no water is available).  No one compares the cost of a tricked out kitchen to eating out... As mercury kills off our fishing (I'm in Port Townsend, WA where the shell fish are now off limits due to toxins), and water becomes iffy (big drought last year), then being able to produce predictable food at ANY cost becomes the mission. The better we all get at producing predictable food (just like our great grandparents), the more secure we become in our lives. That's why I'm on this thread and want to share/learn from the group. If we (in this group) can make aquaponics a viable family alternative in the north, we can share it with others. It's all good. 

I agree with you Mary but making things work more economically is part of the fun for me. I'm guessing my tomatoes cost about $35 each so it's not totally about economics. I just got off of Amazon ordering $90 in stuff to transfer the heat from my wood stove to my fish tank. If it works and isn't too much trouble to use great. If not no big deal. I'm just learning how to grow in case I need to grow and thank goodness I am. There is more to gardening than throwing out seeds and watering.

I'm on a farm in Northern New Mexico. Our area is considered a food desert by the 'officials'. I'm with you on that point- hedge fund-  at some point food and water are going to be the most valuable things on Earth. Being able to produce food in harsh climates and temperature swings in an economical manner is paramount. I'm interested in this group for those reasons as well as in finding a way to do all of this 'off the grid' as well. I am just developing plans for my system and want all the info I can get to start off with these variables built in. You guys are a great resource.

Mary Hunt said:

I look at this a different way, the greenhouse isn't a food bank it's a hedge fund. Wells cost a lot to dig, but no one compares the cost of well water over buying a lifetime of bottled water (when no water is available).  No one compares the cost of a tricked out kitchen to eating out... As mercury kills off our fishing (I'm in Port Townsend, WA where the shell fish are now off limits due to toxins), and water becomes iffy (big drought last year), then being able to produce predictable food at ANY cost becomes the mission. The better we all get at producing predictable food (just like our great grandparents), the more secure we become in our lives. That's why I'm on this thread and want to share/learn from the group. If we (in this group) can make aquaponics a viable family alternative in the north, we can share it with others. It's all good. 

Hi Ron - the biggest issue that I hadn't been forewarned about was mold. The greenhouse I selected (SunGlo) is excellent on many levels (snow load, good for 80 MPH winds, perfect lighting...) the high humidity of an aquaponics systems is creating all sorts of molds that I'm finding difficult to dismiss with just a

light spraying of vinegar.  Add that research pile as you go forward.

Ron Monsour said:

I'm on a farm in Northern New Mexico. Our area is considered a food desert by the 'officials'. I'm with you on that point- hedge fund-  at some point food and water are going to be the most valuable things on Earth. Being able to produce food in harsh climates and temperature swings in an economical manner is paramount. I'm interested in this group for those reasons as well as in finding a way to do all of this 'off the grid' as well. I am just developing plans for my system and want all the info I can get to start off with these variables built in. You guys are a great resource.

Mary Hunt said:

I look at this a different way, the greenhouse isn't a food bank it's a hedge fund. Wells cost a lot to dig, but no one compares the cost of well water over buying a lifetime of bottled water (when no water is available).  No one compares the cost of a tricked out kitchen to eating out... As mercury kills off our fishing (I'm in Port Townsend, WA where the shell fish are now off limits due to toxins), and water becomes iffy (big drought last year), then being able to produce predictable food at ANY cost becomes the mission. The better we all get at producing predictable food (just like our great grandparents), the more secure we become in our lives. That's why I'm on this thread and want to share/learn from the group. If we (in this group) can make aquaponics a viable family alternative in the north, we can share it with others. It's all good. 

Hi Ron and Mary, like you I am interested in providing food in a reasonably economical way. I am well known in my community for being a strange old fart, That being said however, I do look for ways to stretch my food dollar and have fun (for me) doing it. When I first read about this thing called aquaponics, I thought to myself, I can do this in the summer, but what about when it hits -30? After considerable looking around to see what others were doing, I decided to try the Walapini concept. To make a long story short, I traded some equipment I was not using anymore for some excavator time, and with the help of a 12 yr old grandson had it up two summers ago and running in the last two winters. Is it economical you ask? Well, not exactly. It cost me about $4000 to set everything up, using my existing aquaponics system as the base. Power for the lights, water pump and circulating fans ran on average at $100/mo. All my air pumps, hot water circulating pump, and inflator fan are 12v, running off a small solar system. I burn about two cords of wood in my heater over the winter. And Mary, I have no mold whatsoever, circulating fans are the key. As a matter of fact I have a hard time keeping up the rH due to the wood heat. So, by early last spring I had harvested 80 heads of Buttercrunch lettuce, 20lbs carrots, enough kale to get sick of, radishes by the bundle and 40lbs of tomatoes. All this from a mix of a raised bed and my system. So here's the thing, think about what will work for you, look at it from all points, and don't be afraid to experiment. It does not have to be expensive, it just has to work. Just like my old beater, not easy on the eyes, but well tuned and cheap to run.

With the cost of food, especially produce up here going rise at least 3-5% this coming year, I don't think I will have any problem paying myself for for good food that I grow. Who knows, in three or four years I may have recouped my initial costs. If not, oh well, at least I will be eating good, healthy food and there is a huge benefit to that!

I like the Walapini idea, maybe in my next home/life...  Good to know that you are able to keep it it dry.  I'll give circulating fans a try again.  We are wrapped in 100 ft tall Douglas Fir which block the winter sun, I must run lights. For those reading over our shoulders, know your soil and its ability to drain before making a decision. In my case "the hole" became a permanent swimming pool due to water perking in from the side soil. We needed to install a French drain around the foundational structure to keep the area water-free. I incorporated a portable farm type system into the greenhouse which requires FLAT surfaces for the tray. I could have fudged it, but didn't want to be messing with rebuilds as the earth shifted.

Ian Cameron said:

Hi Ron and Mary, like you I am interested in providing food in a reasonably economical way. I am well known in my community for being a strange old fart, That being said however, I do look for ways to stretch my food dollar and have fun (for me) doing it. When I first read about this thing called aquaponics, I thought to myself, I can do this in the summer, but what about when it hits -30? After considerable looking around to see what others were doing, I decided to try the Walapini concept. To make a long story short, I traded some equipment I was not using anymore for some excavator time, and with the help of a 12 yr old grandson had it up two summers ago and running in the last two winters. Is it economical you ask? Well, not exactly. It cost me about $4000 to set everything up, using my existing aquaponics system as the base. Power for the lights, water pump and circulating fans ran on average at $100/mo. All my air pumps, hot water circulating pump, and inflator fan are 12v, running off a small solar system. I burn about two cords of wood in my heater over the winter. And Mary, I have no mold whatsoever, circulating fans are the key. As a matter of fact I have a hard time keeping up the rH due to the wood heat. So, by early last spring I had harvested 80 heads of Buttercrunch lettuce, 20lbs carrots, enough kale to get sick of, radishes by the bundle and 40lbs of tomatoes. All this from a mix of a raised bed and my system. So here's the thing, think about what will work for you, look at it from all points, and don't be afraid to experiment. It does not have to be expensive, it just has to work. Just like my old beater, not easy on the eyes, but well tuned and cheap to run.

With the cost of food, especially produce up here going rise at least 3-5% this coming year, I don't think I will have any problem paying myself for for good food that I grow. Who knows, in three or four years I may have recouped my initial costs. If not, oh well, at least I will be eating good, healthy food and there is a huge benefit to that!

RSS

© 2022   Created by Sylvia Bernstein.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service