Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

This topic was started due to the prompting of Kobus and TC Lynx. Aquaponics as it is, relies on high quality fish feed as the main nutrient source for fish and plant production. As we all know fish feed was developed mostly for farmed fish(aquaculture), and while we use it out of necessity today, we are becoming increasingly aware of its limit for the long term. Fish feed production, utilizing aquatic animals is simply not sustainable, and i believe it is a science like AP which will create overwhelming demand for a land produced equivalent to this, in the likes of Duckweed, BSLF, Red worms, Amino Acid producing algae. In the near future AP operations will call on the operator, be it backyard or commercial, to learn to produce his own feed and develop his own self sustaining AP. This information gives the operator the freedom to feed his AP with the inputs of his choosing, toward growing healthy fish and vegetables.

Apart from AP, the growing of duckweed, algae, worms etc. are disciplines within themselves and warrant separate discussion on the formulas, techniques and skills needed to successfully produce them. So how does each of us do it?.............................

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Here arre some jumbled thoughts for everyone:

Carey - let us learn from the evil markerting empire () how to change people's thoughts by infiltrating the minds of the next generation.  You cannot make an adult change his thought or consumption patterns as easily as influencing the next group of consumers can be.  Having urban agriculture in schools, in community centres, nurseries, EVERYWHERE, will make people used to them.  Seeing these all over the place will help people accept that they work, and in the next generation, they will be expecting to see them everywhere because they have become used to them.  We need to take the novelty out of it fast.


In terms of space use, I think we can push home space as far as possible, especially if you live in an area with little by-laws or body corporates to get up your nose.  I own 1300 square meters of Uitenhage and I plan to expand sustainable living as far as possible.  I am also looking for some farmland nearby - hoping to rent a piece on the cheap from a man I hear is interested in getting more sustainable growers to use his land.  For larger areas, I believe that we should go after old industrial land.  Even in a place such as Uitenhage, which is small, the town grows away from its centre, leaving decaying buildings with power and water connections and desperate owners.  I see possibilities to have the Growing
Power type of urban renewal through agriculture in disused industrial land expand rapidly here.  Imagine all our towns and cities in the future with a green heart.

I'm not religious but Amen brother!


That's exactly my concept with my Farm School and why I teach kids English on the weekends. I want to influence as many young minds as possible replacing Mickey D's as their food supplier.

Hi All,

You guys, Kobus and Carey are to be commended for taking the initiative introducing the ideas to the public! And don't forget the 2,200 members here reading this thread! I'm sure these are among the reasons for some of the altered attitudes you've been noticing lately Carey. In your case Kobus, when(not if) you take on the project of outfitting one building however small with whatever growing model, in a short space of time you'll become extremely busy and in great demand!


For now I'm turning my attention on ways to close "the poop loop". It is complete madness and wasteful(pun intended) of a modern day society to consume all the resources of the planet, only in the end to dump all this nutrient and fresh water into the sea, of course we have to find the methods of returning it to the natural as well as man made loop(AP etc). All this started out of necessity, from a question that has been plaguing me for sometime, which is how do we manufacture sustainable fish feed for AP.


So I'm looking at Spirulina. Its easy enough to grow and its a 99.9% complete food. The methods and inputs aren't costly or complicated and it runs on Urine(welcome news for TC I'm sure), sunlight, oxygen, and at 10.3 and over PH, it is germ free. This is the last key, freeing AP to finally become self sustaining. As hobbyist we can supplement with worms, larvae, food scraps etc, but to answer the question of human sustainability we really need to get more serious, don't you agree?


Kobus I know you have been experimenting with this for some time now, if you'd like, design a simple model, I sure we can persuade Sylvia to market it for AP use. We have to start somewhere, how about here?

 Hi TC,

I am always in Awe when I look at what both you and Sahib have accomplished with the space you have. These have show many(especially me) how much production and the methods to employ, to get maximum from the space of an average house plot. These models are to me the most important ones as they can be utilized by almost anyone on this site wanting to explore wider AP.

TCLynx said:

Oh believe me, Sahib has not let the lack of acreage stop him.  His Urban Research Aquaponic system is squeezed into what people usually think of as wasted space and he is replacing the "ornamental" landscaping with food production.  But many of us still dream of having more space to do more however, that doesn't stop us from making the most of what space we have.
Rabbits are my pellet mills. Rabbits eat everything from grass, hay, brush, tree leaves, thistles and branches, to all veggie kitchen and GH scraps. They convert it to bite-size tilapia food from a diverse nutrient source, and evenly distribute it to the fish throughout the day, better than a timed fish feeder. If you need supplemental feed, rabbit food is cheap, and fairly benign, made from Timothy hay, alfalfa, and such. If rabbits don't eat it, then chickens and BSFL do. We silly humans dump more nutrient down the toilet and the landfill than our AP sysemts could ever demand. Like TC said in the opener, 'close the loop'. Find something suitable for your location and clime that will benefit from the wastes of our existence, until it makes it's way back to fish tacos and pico de gallo. 


     How do you avoid issues with e. coli when mixing fresh warm blooded manure into a food growing system?  While I'm ok with feeding the fish that way there in no separation between the fish water and the veggie growing area that will stop pathogens if they are introduced.  This might be safe enough if all the veggies grown are ones that get cooked well before eating but many of the primary crops grown in Aquaponics are usually eaten raw.


I'm still a firm believer in composting before using manure in the garden.  There are ways to safely use urine too but I don't like warm blooded animal cages over fish fish tanks in aquaponics.

Hi TC. I've had no problem, perhaps ignorance is bliss (until it kills me)! So in my ignorance, perhaps the threat is very minute, or I have been lucky. I use ebb and flow in my grow beds, so the surface gravel is always dry, and the plants and the water never meet, except by way of the roots. Also, rabbit (and llama) poo have widely been touted as a 'safe to use fresh' manure, being taken directly from pens to mulch. I'll research ecoli, and see if I should change my ways. Has anyone on the forum had an ecoli incident? What about wild bunnies in the garden?

Well I know bunny berries are touted as fine to use in the garden without composting but I believe that is more to do with the fact that they won't cause fertilizer burn to the plants by being too strong.


Now I don't know how truly dangerous it really is but the line is generally drawn for the warm blooded animal manure needing to be composted or at least have a specific amount of time between application of manure to harvest of any food crops.  On that note, I know there are definite possible issues between chicken manure to food but some people do place chickens over their aquaponic fish tanks.  I definitely wouldn't do it over a system where I eat the lettuce and I'm definitely not poo-phobic.  (Being a humanure composter)


Now I do know that the bunny berries are perfect food for a worm bin, especially if you set up the screen to allow the urine to drop straight down into a high carbon material for compost additive and let the bunny berries roll off to the side into a worm bin.

Alas, my bliss is replaced by vague concern. Thanks for the insight, TC. After some research, I agree that there is some risk, and probably not worth it.  However, for the time being, I'm not convinced there isn't an equal risk introducing ecoli through commercial feed, or market spinach for that matter.  I'm assuming that the heat of composting is what kills the ecoli, then the heat of a BSFL been would do the same. Perhaps it would be safe then to divert all rabbit berries to the bin first, and rely soley on the larva as feed. Anyone ever try BSFL as a sole food source? 

The heat and/or time take care of e. coli, heat can also take care of salmonella and in really hot composting you can take care of pin worms and round worms that not even the sewage treatment plant takes care of.


I don't believe BSFL are a balanced or complete feed for any fish, neither are worms.  They are definitely a good supplement but I believe both are too high in fat to be a good sole food source.


I do believe worm meal or bsfl meal with some of the fat removed could probably be substituted for the fish meal in commercial fish feeds.

Hi Jon, TC,

Processing waste even human waste is a valuable source of nutrient that would otherwise be lost to us without composting or some similar. Heat and dehydration can be done by some simple means. A simple box with a plexiglass or plain glass cover, exposed to sufficient sunlight can produce safe to use nutrient in as little as 30 days, in good conditions. The quantity of fresh drinking water and high quantity of protein wasted every time we excrete, to me shows there is something very wrong with our social education/perception. Common sense tells me that these nutrient should be entering the food chain not exiting it!

This is an example of closing the loop, as Harold just mentioned..

Growing Spirulina Algae in a Village in West Africa


Spirulina from human manure, but solar heated to kill pathogens.


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