Aquaponic Gardening

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Hi Bob and all my new friends. Welcome.

Bob, what I called a bio press is actually called a mill or pellet mill. The one I use is an old model that was salvaged from a defunct commune (made in China), used to make pellets out of biomass back in the eighties but any food extruder would do. The only difference is you can adjust the pressure and the biomass pellet mills have a heat feature so I don’t have to bake any more.

The word to learn today is consistency. The art of making a good batch of feed is being able to eye how much water you add before it goes through the press. Formulas don’t seem to work. They are a good guide to start but the last step is pretty crucial or you fish might not eat it as planned i.e. burned or too hard to eat, crumbles too quickly or turns to dust (yes, education is expensive).

As for the formula and how you arrive at that conclusion depends on how far you are willing to go in order to study and research about what you grow/ raise and what is conveniently available. You’ll first want to know what you fish require (also considering your plants requirements) then you backward engineer from what you have available at a reasonable cost to reach the nutrient composition ratios you desire. So you want to know the crude protein, crude fat, crude fiber content and metabolic energy factor of each ingredient.

I don’t use any animal meal (meat), manure or medicines in my feed. Instead I follow my 2 G rule: Greens & grubs. I try not to use grains either except as a binder in some cases, most often using bran instead.

Years back I use to feed live worms. Its always good to feed live things but the drawback here was that the mud in the worms intestines seemed to “muddy” the flesh also, so I started purging them first, what a slimy mess, not even my dogs wanted to be near me. Anyway, I put two rollers with a handle on one side and wholla, a worm purge machine. That made it easy for production. After lightening those poor lil worms, they got popped into the solar dryer. Sun drying works fine also. Now pop them into your (spare/ deliberate/ not the one your wife uses) blender and grind to powder. Add duckweed powder, veggie powder, blue green algae gel, starch, water and mix well. That was my beginning.

My experience is that any formula that approximates your fish needs would be usable. After that it is a matter of fine-tuning for different needs at different stages of life and species requirements. How many layers of feeders are in your tank? Is the pellet size you make suitable for your fish? How soft or hard do your fish like their food? Does it need to float, sink or sink slowly? What else do you require out of your feed? What does it lack? Amino acids? Attractants? Vitamins & minerals? Other additives? Hormones?

Lastly you need to ask how long and what type of storage would you choose?

I hope this helps. Please feel free to ask any questions.

P.S, Sorry, no pictures at this time. I’m in the process of moving to a bigger, proper farm. I’ll take lots of picture of my new setups.

Cheers

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Replies to This Discussion

Thank you for starting the discussion.  The information you provide will give me a good place to start.  I have a lot of home work to do!

Hum, your comments about purging the worms, wow.  Now I've actually read about where people will actually cook and eat worms themselves and I think they tend to recommend moving the worms to a very clean environment with a feed like cornmeal or something else we would see as food ourselves to help "purge" them so to speak.  I wonder if something akin to this might be helpful for making feed using worms.

 

Also the comments about getting the mixture right.  Yea there are certain things that are hard to formulate and mixing up feed is kinda like a recipe but like with many things where moisture is key to getting the texture right, ya gotta get some hands on experience to see what works and what doesn't, sorta like mixing concrete or any other batter I guess.

Well TC, cornmeal would solve the problem for those that want a good clean worm to eat. However, I am trying to speed up the nutrient breakdown process of vegetable scraps for the soil part of my gardens, as well as produce protein for fish in order to get away from using grains in feed, so would be kind of self defeating on my farms. But then again, that would be a sustainable input source for those with cheep access to corn.

Well doesn't have to be corn meal for what about algae or something else.  It's just for a few days before using them.

Hmm...a worm food experiment...good idea, I guess that goes on the list of things to try.  That might be a whole lot better than what I've been doing. Thanks!

 

PS get a chance to read my latest babble (Make feed part 2)? I hope it make a bit of sense, coz I wrote it under the influence of a semi-bad case of food poisoning in the wee hours.

Carey, if you need to compost veggies you might try using a BioPod.  It takes the process from weeks to days!
Have you thought of "purging the mud" in the worms thru feeding them corn meal?  I had worm cookies once---once,  and the women fed the worms corn meal for a day prior to baking.  This or a grain could add to the nutritional value of your final product.  And maybe the dogs would like you again

Wow, a pellet mill that does the baking for you?  I had never dreamed of such a thing.

I have been cooking for my fish for a long time, but have always frozen flats in the freezer with gelatin as a binder.  This works well for me now with my little fish tanks and my little blender in my little apartment, but when I move on to bigger tanks (in a couple months, hopefully - we're buying a house!) this will obviously be less practical for storing large volumes of food. That's why I've joined your group. :)

@ Ellen

That was my old system.

Pressure and a heating element is part of the binding part of the pelleting process so it doesn't actually bake but heats it enough that natural oils and water act with a binder ( natural starches and/ or algae). I have since given up on that pelleting process for fish because it was originally to convert bio mass into fuel for pellet stoves and makes it too hard to dissolve. I may go back to that in the future when I set up a multi trophic pond but for now, I only use that pellet machine for making rabbit feed and chicken bedding for the winter. 

The company I have been working with however, does bake or more accurately broil the bits on a conveyor, with the main difference being whether the outside is coated or not determining if it sinks or floats. 

I haven't learned how to make soft pellets without using a lot of binder yet.

Coated... interesting.  I might try tossing in egg before baking, then. I imagine a large commercial system has some crazy formulated coating that would not translate to home baking, do you know?

A binder (for softening) doesn't sound so terrible...may I ask if it is an expense problem or a nutritional problem?

Carey Ma said:

I haven't learned how to make soft pellets without using a lot of binder yet.

I wonder how egg yolk and banana (or pawpaw here, we call them prairie bananas) would fare as a softener, with the pellets tossed in egg whites sometime during baking?  Man, now I REALLY want a pellet mill, lol!

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