Aquaponic Gardening

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scared by the lady at "the backyard pond" about ecoli and aquaponics/test kit

I've had my system up and running a mth or so.  In looking for a flashlight that will be bright enough I thought I could kill 2 birds with one stone by using a submersible light to see in the IBC tote while increasing the heat in the tank a bit.  I also inquired about seeing their ponds as I heard they were impressive; to gather more info about perhaps building a natural pool on day. 

After a generous 20 minute convo I left with now 4 issues.

1.  said there doesn't exist a fluorescent submersible lamp as I was seeking since it would grow algae on it.

2.  told me that if I eat the fish in my aquarium I could be faced with a $10k fine per fish as it is illegal to eat fish raised at home.

3.  insisted that there is no such thing as a "natural pool" and that if someone tried they would have to use large filters that would cost the same as a regular pool or more and that it would not be possible to do with fish. 

4.  people are dying and getting sick all over the place due to ecoli in the body of the plants grown in aquaponics because fish and people have similar bacteria and disease can be easily transmitted from the fish to people and visa versa. 

She said it took her 10 yrs to get licensed (to make/sell ponds?) and that I shouldn't listen to those trying to make a buck off aquaponics without a license nor would she eat veggies that came from her pond since she knows of the dangers of ecoli.  she told me that even the smallest of ponds would cost me $4k and seemingly deterred me from visiting or being interested in ponds. 

In doing a bit of research in dangers of ecoli contamination, I feel a little better but still a bit unsettled.  I wonder, though, does anyone use an ecoli (and other bacteria) test-kit or have thoughts on that?  or any other thoughts are appreciated!  thx, Kim

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Wow, she seems quite misinformed, or is trying to misinform you. Here are my thoughts:

1. Fluorescent lights don't give significant heat. Better to get a strong LED to see into your tank, and a heater to warm it. The fish don't need much light, and while algae can grow with light, it also needs warmth, so algae growth is based on multiple factors.

2. I'd ask her to site the regulation that says we can't eat our own fish. I do it all the time, just as I eat my own chickens and beef.

3. A natural pool is created in nature, so in a sense she's right, all man-made pools are imitations. :)  Are you wanting to build a pond or a swimming pool? There are "natural" versions of each.

4. e-coli come from mammals, and fish aren't mammals. The e-coli getting people sick is, from what I understand, ON the plants, not IN the plants, and it usually comes from improperly managed animal manure. 

As for the cost, it depends on what you want. I know some people in this forum build ponds to support their veggies, and they could speak on the cost.

I have to wonder where she got her certificate, why it took her 10 years, and what she learned?

Sheri, thankyou for your info!  That helps my mind more at ease.  I did try to google about raising fish and specifically tilapia and couldn't find anything with a quick google search.  nothing that I saw on the city of phx website either. 

Jim Troyer helped me with my solar heater so I think I'm all set there.  I'll probably just get a higher powered flashlight to see into the pool, although for those extra cold nights, I thought the submersible light was a good idea-the fish could at least go close to it and every few degrees helps for the cold nights. 

What kind of beef do u raise?  We're planning on raising chickens.  Phx suburb and even for chickens you need letters from neighbors.  We have chickens and the only other logical animal I can think of to raise in a neighborhood that doesn't allow other farm animals is quail.  U must have a nice plot of land?! 

Natural pool-this is something I might never feel comfortable with, or at least until the kids are younger.  The youngest is 5, now, but AZ has put the fear of water safety into me really good!  :)  We could fence it, ofcourse, though.  If things go well with aquaponics for us I was thinking of expanding into a natural pool where it would expand our availability to raise more fish and veggies along with having a place to swim.

I guess a pond society used to have pond tours.  that'd be cool.  I haven't seen any local home ponds, yet. 

The lady had to go and so I didnt' get the chance to ask more about her license...  She suggested to contact the ASU school of agriculture to learn more about safety.  Doesn't sound like there are any kits or anything we need to be testing for?  I wonder why she's testing for ecoli if she isn't growing veggies to eat out of her ponds.  Was very strange and I still can't figure out why she'd deter me, even from ponds and visiting knowing that's her livelihood (I'm assuming she's the owner, but could be wrong). 

thx so much for your thoughts and info!!  Kim

Interesting that she referred you to ASU's ag dept instead of U of A's Aquaponic program.  Guess she doesn't know about that either.  U of A is developing the Lunar AP project which will provide an abundant food source, recycle the station's water supply and scrub the atmosphere inside the lunar station.


Bruce Dern in the 1972 sci-fi movie cared for an AP system in outer space



BTW: Trader Joe's is having an e-coli outbreak right now, check their website to see if it affects you...



We have an acre and a Jersey milk cow. She calved a bull last winter, so we're raising "Sir Loin" for meat now. She's pregnant again, and hopefully will produce a heifer, but if it's another bull calf, we'll have more meat. :)  Before getting a dairy cow we raised a variety of cattle for meat. Sir Loin won't give the quantity of meat a beef cow will give, but I hear it's very sweet meat.

We have 1.25 acres, so we have permission to do things a regular subdivision home can't do. But we're supporting the grass-roots effort to allow food production animals in neighborhoods. I don't call them farm animals because dogs and children are both raised on farms, too. :) What distinguishes a dog from a goat?

Tilapia are commonly used for AP here in the desert because they handle the environment well, grow fast, etc. The only place that would mention them is AZ Fish and Game. There are regulations, but basically their fine if you keep them out of flood zones, don't release them to the wild, etc. Because they're not native and considered intrusive, many states have very strict rules about them; some even prohibit them. But AZ is easier. AZ AP people need to stay responsible so that we can continue with our good fortune!

Amen Sheri!

AZ AP people need to stay responsible so that we can continue with our good fortune!

thx Jim!  Sheri, that's really cool about the beef!  I couldn't find anything on the AZ Fish and Game website about raising tilapia, but it sound like you've done your homework, so I will go with that.  :)  I'm glad to like my aquaponics, again.  The woman I spoke with sure burst my bubble for a bit.  thx so much for the direction!

Kim, my setup uses a back yard pond. If you're interested in something like that I'd be more than happy to show it off. 

Yes, Stephanie's is an excellent example of using a pond to feed growbeds!

The fish & game doesn't talk about raising them, per se. But it talks about releasing non-native fish & has rules about transporting fish. Sometimes we have to read what it doesn't say instead of what it does say.  :) I'm so glad you came to the forums after being taken on that ride. A/P rules, and you're only confined by your own imagination!

Stephanie, I'd love to see your pond!  I invited u to be a friend so we could talk through the details.  thx.

Sheri, I'm really glad, too.  I wish I had more time as I'm very eager to add on.  First want to see a couple of other people's set-ups before adding on.  It seems there are many ways to do AP!  Trying to figure out the pluses and minuses of the different options (towers verses totes verses media verses floating beds)...  (excuse me if I don't have the lingo down.)  and maybe introducing wicking beds, microgreens... into the system.  2 totes is feeling pretty small.  I want lettuce and chard and lots of it.  :)


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