Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

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Caribbean Aquaponics

To bring anyone in and around the Caribbean that have knowledge and those that want learn about aquaponics together. 

Build up a knowledge base of people and resources to work together and help bring this system of food production into the public eye.

Anyone with a system willing to show others, anyone wanting help, lets start an open group to teach, learn and develop systems suited to our island homes.

Location: Dominican Republic
Members: 17
Latest Activity: Jun 15, 2015

 

Discussion Forum

Taino Farm project.

Started by Stuart Polkinghorne Jun 15, 2015. 0 Replies

A long with the Extreme hotel aquaponics I have been working at the Taino Farm building out a nursery system, tilapia breeding room and 2 x 4000gal RBS systems. We have had our up and downs with…Continue

Aquaponics Symposium in Jamaica

Started by Francesca Laursen Mar 25, 2015. 0 Replies

Just letting everyone know about this upcoming aquaponics Symposium in Jamaica!INMED Partnerships for Children invites you to attend the upcoming …Continue

Extreme hotel aquaponics project.

Started by Stuart Polkinghorne. Last reply by Stuart Polkinghorne Jul 7, 2013. 2 Replies

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Comment by David B on May 13, 2014 at 3:17pm

Hi Maria,

I've been doing my hydroponic vegetable gardens for nearly three years now. And just set the fish system up a little over a year ago. It was really helpful to have learned how to grow the vegetables first as it made it much easier to concentrate on the fish when I set up a recirculating aquaponics system for them.

I am raising Tipalia. Many fresh water fish will work well in an aquaponics system. "Aquaponics" is the art of pumping the fish waste through bio-filters (really easy to make), or straight into grow beds to feed plants... then the cleaned water goes back into the fish tanks. 

Hydroponics is just plain raising plants in water. Which ironically uses only a fraction of the water that conventional dirt farming uses. Which is a good thing on ocean islands where fresh water and large open farmland is often a premium. Plus, hydroponics is way easier.

Look up "organic hydroponics". And, "compost tea" for more info on making your own plant nutrient solution. Its really easy once you get the hang of it. I started my organic compost tea nutrient solution because I couldn't afford the expensive chemical nutrients to raise my plants on. Turns out its works WAAAY better! Besides, I don't care how scientific one tries to be there is just no way to know the "unknowable" and compensate chemically for every little micronutrient the plants might need... so, loading in natural compost, and/or fish waste, supplies the plants with all the good stuff we could never know. And the amazing plant growth proves it.

I am looking to relocate to the Bahamas. And have contacts for St Kitts/Nevis. what island restrict the type of fish you can bring in? A restriction on a fresh water fish on a saltwater island sounds strange. Because fresh water Tilapia, unless of a special variety, won't survive very well, if at all, in salt water oceans. What island are you on that restricts fresh water species?

You can use many types of fish with aquaponics. But it must be a fresh water variety or else the saltwater circulating through your plant roots will kill the plants.Pictured above is a photo of the bottom PVC pipe plumbing I use to get nutrient saturated water out of my compost barrel. There are lots of different ways to go about it. I just happened to have handy these size parts and fittings. You can even use a plastic trashcan and old nylons filled with well decayed compost soaking in a bucket of water like a giant tea bag. Nothing complicated. Just make sure your compost ingredients are many and widely varied.

Cheers...

Comment by Maria Saleme on May 13, 2014 at 10:44am

Hello David B. Thank you so much for your answer. I am really new looking at this system and your anwers were really helpfull. It is more clear to me now, it doesnt make sense to use aquaponics if I am not really interested to raise the fish, because I will have anyway to feed them, and have an experimental phase to know first they life cycle to the point to provide the necessary nutrients and second if I dont know their diet, this will take longer, plus the financial benefits of going through this process wont be too sustainable. 

I am basically trying to look for other options rather than tilapia, because there is a limitation in my island about no native species. We might start still the project on aquaponics. Now I understand depending on the size of the fish but one of the questions I was trying to solve is if depending on the type of fish the characteristics of the waste will change? 

When you say, "when I added the fish to the system", does it mean that always the fish has to be introduced at an early stage of its life cycle? Can I ask you what type of fish did you try?

The compost tea idea sounds really good. How long have you been working on aquaponics?

Comment by David B on May 12, 2014 at 4:28pm

What I discovered with my "COMPOST TEA" brew method : In answering Maria's question...Turns out starting with 'veggies only' really helped me learn how to keep the plants alive. So later, when I added the fish to the system, the plants could help keep the fish alive.

And then I realized how extremely difficult this would all be without having my 'compost tea' brewer going because the fish need maybe a year (at least mine did anyway) to get big enough to produce enough 'waste' to feed the plants. Without my compost tea system I wouldn't have been able to keep the plants alive while the fish grew big enough to feed the system on their own.

Plus I had separate plant pools going to nurse plants along that came in really handy to add to the aquaponics setup to keep big deep roots on call ready to keep the fish water clean. Plus, further down the road as the fish began to eat more and more of my exposed plant roots floating above their heads I had extra plant nurseries going to keep rotating stronger plants into the fish pools as they were needed.

Comment by David B on May 12, 2014 at 4:14pm

DESCRIPTION of my COMPOST TEA METHOD:

1) Install a drain in the bottom of a 55gallon barrel with kind of like a mini ceptic system perforated PVC pipe 'drain field' in the bottom... just some way to fill the barrel and soak for two or three days to brew, then drain off the liquid.

2) fill your barrel, maybe a little at a time, with nice basic composting material. Its best to drain off as much of the liquid as possible after each brewing/soaking period. Composting doesn't work as well if its too wet. Plus, you'll drown any worms you may find to put into it too... I usually don't fill up with water too high each time anyway to leave the worms some place to rise up to as the water is soaking below (for two or three days only).

3) you'll gradually leach out all the nutrients from the compost as I did. But I have successfully kept the same barrel of compost providing me high grade nutrient tea for several months at a time, also layering in fire ash as I go.

The nutrient solution I have drained out of my compost 'tea' brewer is so potent I've needed no more than a gallon every two weeks or so in each of my hundred gallon kiddie pool. And now that I've got fish in the mix now its even better! But the veggies only period at the beginning really helped me get the veggie experience down first. Before adding the fish. I think it was a good way to start.

Attached is a photograph of my veggie only system... all the growth seen was fed entirely from the compost 'tea' barrel:

Comment by David B on May 12, 2014 at 3:58pm

Hi Maria,

A system with no fish isn't aquaponics anymore but I actually started my system and ran it for two years with no fish as an organic hydroponic system. I used a 55gallon barrel filled with compost and a kind of perforated PVC pipe drain valve at the bottom (the pipe with holes drilled in it was wrapped with landscape fabric) to brew up five or ten gallons of compost tea twice per month to feed my plant pools.

It worked FANTASTIC! Worked better in fact than when I had started off the whole thing on just chemicals... mostly just "miracle grow". A gallon of organic compost tea made from fire pit ash, kitchen scraps, some cow manure I happened to have handy, and whatever else I could find added once or twice per month to each 100gallon kiddie pool with the 2" Styrofoam rafts floating on top did really really well.  More photographs of my first pools are below if you scroll down.

Comment by Maria Saleme on May 12, 2014 at 10:40am

Hello

I live in an island in the Caribbean, and I have heard so much about this system.  Although, I have a couple questions before making my final decision to start, I hope from your expertise you could help me with this. Can i focus just in the production of vegetables and forget about the raise of fish? where I live there are restrictions about no native species, and I am mostly interested in the production of vegetables with less use of energy and water plus the growth rate is higher. Is it possible? or do the fishes need specific characteristics?

Comment by Stuart Polkinghorne on October 18, 2013 at 6:17am

4 of 8 breeding tanks up and running with 3 new holding tanks ready.

Comment by Stuart Polkinghorne on October 9, 2013 at 6:08am

My new breeding tanks came in, 6 so far and 3 more next week. all at a bout 115gal.

Comment by Stuart Polkinghorne on October 2, 2013 at 6:17am

Hi guys.

I first seal my tanks and wood raft beds with swimming pool paint (it can take 7 days to dry) and then use liquid rubber. I have used paraffin wax on some of my small wood tanks and it works.. I sealed my big in ground cement tank with wax but I'm having a lot of the wax peal off as moisture comes back and pushes the wax off. I have three 8ftx4ftx1ft beds sealed and ready to plumb in today, one will be a raft and the other two will be gravel with three more built but not yet sealed.

We looked at using above ground pools but know that they would not last long with the heat and would only get about a year out of them. I also just installed three 130gal water tanks for our fish nursery yesterday and have ordered three 115gal glass breeding tanks we hope to get next week. We are making a big push on breeding as we little in the way of chose on where to get (good) Tilapia from here in the DR.

Comment by David B on October 1, 2013 at 9:50pm

PS this will be my first full winter with the Tilapia. I am counting on passive solar pool water heater collectors and 2" Styrofoam insulation all round to keep the fish safe and above 55*. The plants have all faired well two winters now with no outside heat input nor green housing.

 

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