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

@ Ellen: There are many ways to make feed. I use a pellet mill because my original intention was to make pellets from bio mass for winter heat. I trued the pellet mill because I started needing a lot of feed. In cooperation with the feed company and fish pond owners, we use anywhere from six to ten gallons (volume) of feed per day per pond during production season. Feeding is done by machine so has to be able to hold up to vibration and mechanical punishment without disintegrating. The requirement for hobby AP are far less. Even so-called commercial AP operations don't use as much as we use.

For hobby systems I would suggest starting with some sort of food extruder and experiment from there. I'm not sure if I would use banana or pawpaw without drying it out some. Too much moisture would promote spoilage. I use powders for my base and then add additives, then water in a commercial mixer.

Egg is a good coating agent if you plan to bake. If you want it to float try adding some yeast. So you would mix it to the right consistency (dry bread dough), extrude it onto baking trays, let it rise then cut to length. Now paint the surface with a thin coat of egg and bake. 

A bake free way to make feed is to freeze it in blocks like in ice cube trays or use a gelatin or agar base and add ingredients. If you want these to float you can add little yeast and let sit at room temp till you start to get little bubbles. Then place in fridge.

Some kind of kitchen extruder then - okay, I will have to check those out.  I have been making food in the blender with gelatin, and freezing it into flats for some time.  But, as you pointed out with the banana idea, there are some big formulation differences with baking and preservation.  Moisture content is no object with my frozen food.  But as the fish populations grow, I suspect I will find myself trying to reclaim freezer space.

I've experimented with using a meat grinder with the blade removed to extrude something that is like large spaghetti that can be carefully separated and cut into pellets.

what type of worms did you use? Have you tried black soldiers fly?

We raise meal worms, red wigglers and crickets on a constant basis.  We don't raise BSF so to speak but have plenty in our compost pile which we have out for "recovering hens" to go over while effortlessly turning the compost for us. If I have extra time I might even raise fly maggots for both fish and poultry. Sometimes I'd raise a few batches of grasshopper to share.

Ever try fried bugs? Not bad with beer on a hot day, if ya like salted crunchies.

As for BSF in feed; I have been working with a feed company to develop a sustainable, natural food, commercial feed. We have chosen not to include BSF due to the lower turnover rate compared to other grubs vs specific food values. 

Can you teach me how to raise all those bugs? I only know how to raise Black soldiers fly. I am from Venezuela. Never tried fried bugs jejejeje

Carey Ma said:

We raise meal worms, red wigglers and crickets on a constant basis.  We don't raise BSF so to speak but have plenty in our compost pile which we have out for "recovering hens" to go over while effortlessly turning the compost for us. If I have extra time I might even raise fly maggots for both fish and poultry. Sometimes I'd raise a few batches of grasshopper to share.

Ever try fried bugs? Not bad with beer on a hot day, if ya like salted crunchies.

As for BSF in feed; I have been working with a feed company to develop a sustainable, natural food, commercial feed. We have chosen not to include BSF due to the lower turnover rate compared to other grubs vs specific food values. 

It is actually quite easy to raise most insects, esp those I listed. Most can be grown efficiently indoors, say a garage.  I use plastic trays, min 2 inches deep by whatever is convenient to grow meal worms. Mine happen to be deeper as in one foot or so but only the bottom few inches are used. There I place a mixture of bran, mostly wheat. Now place your pet store bought meal worms in your bin. I put new, cut pieces, of (any type of fresh) vegetable on top, mainly for moisture and extra vitamins. Examples of veggies I use are mostly squashes like zucchini, some spinach, kale etc. No tomatoes or anything too wet or the bran will rot/ mold.

An insect screen must be used to cover the grubs or a parasite may fly in and decimate your crop, leaving you with husks as they eat the worms from the inside and contaminate further efforts.

Unfortunately I don't have as much time as I hoped for during this winter break to write, so I'll have to ask you to please Google the rest. You should have decent results on the first page of each search. However if you can wait, I will write something as soon as I can.

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