Aquaponic Gardening

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How “natural” should our feed be?


This past year has taught me a lot, some pleasant, and some downright shocking. I continue to weep as I see soulless apes rampage each other for a few numbers in some computer. Here, where Melamine can be fed to babies, the concept of keeping your customers alive just doesn’t float any boats. Cheating is expected in every venue. You think a four star restaurant means they use good oil from the supermarket? Well you take your chance and maybe you are right. Lower classed restaurants; well it is almost guaranteed they will be using the cheaper stuff; only recycled a few times if you are lucky. I mention this because you wouldn’t believe the expressions on their faces when I told them I want to deliberately grow my raw materials instead of simply using their tried and true formulas. They scoffed right in my face until I told them I could open a new market for them in the western worlds…provided 1. I am convinced it is clean and 2. Raw materials are from a sustainable source.


In my operation and those I manage, I strictly ensure to the best of my ability that every creature is fed as natural a diet as possible and substitute as little as possible.


At present, I am working with a feed manufacture in the process of designing a natural feed using sustainable methods to produce the raw materials using hydro-organics or AP.


So far we have tried many formulas and several look promising (from my perspective). Duckweed is the top contender at present with purslane (chickweed) coming in a close second. We have grown Duckweed with black water; Duckweed grown with Aquaculture effluent; Duckweed grown with organic leachet and Duckweed grown with gray water.


Next year we will ad small scale entomologic experiments and monitor them as well as a few 50 gal tanks to raise mosquito fish, guppies and another feeder stock. Any suggestions?


So my questions to you, my prospect customers are:

Do you have any concerns about the way I am producing the raw materials?

What would you like to see in the ingredients list?

What price range can you afford?

What problems can you see on the horizon?

What haven’t I addressed?


Please comment.

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Replies to This Discussion

All sounds pretty good to me.

Sylvia's points are good.

  My only concerns left relate to how well my catfish and bluegill will like it and how the water quality does when using it which will have to wait till you have some samples to sell.

Carey, you need to also consider the following

  • pelletizing into a variety of sizes depending on the growth stage of the fish
  • getting it to float
  • palletability to the fish (one of the primary roles of fish meal is to make the feed yummy to the fish)
  • shelf life - how are you going to get it to stay fresh without compromising the pureness of the ingredients.

If anyone can do it,  you can Carey.  You clearly have a lot of passion and energy behind this, and I really hope you succeed!



I also think we should be very concerned about adding GM Products. Here in Australia We are seeing some very unusual and worrying mutations. About 50% of grain used by Kelloggs breakfast foods are GM. (food fore thought).

I have stopped my children from eating Kelloggs and a few others out there. Perhaps I'm getting a little of subject here sorry.

Keep your feed as free from GM products as possible. Also Beware of grains with the label NATURAL Produce. This also is as fake as they come.



@ Sylvia

Yes, the company I am working with is currently producing commercial feed of all types (all based on corn and/ or soy). They are not the largest by far but is the largest no brand dog food and pig feed supply in my area. They have the ability to make feed that floats as well as different shapes and sizes. We are working on the idea of varying texture without using glutin so hope to add that to my list of experiments in the near future.  My partner farmers raise mostly carp and talapia so those are the feeds we will have first.


As far as shelf life the only way to protect them is to vacuum pack and or nitrogen pack it but that will boost the cost tremendously. An alternative is to ship non volatile components and the the bulk separately. Would you mind spraying and mixing your feed or would you buy/ make a mixer?


Which comes to my next question. How many of you would devote time and energy (channel out of your operation time)  into producing your own feed on site, if I had a kit? How much would you pay? Or I should ask, how much do you currently pay to produce a pound of talapia? (feel free to answer me in private).



We can offer any additive you can think of, maybe even custom formulated to your specifications if you are willing to spray it on the dry raw bulk.

Carey, would you go into more detail about what "spraying and mixing your feed" involves?  Hard to answer your other questions ("would you buy/ make a mixer?" and "would devote time and energy (channel out of your operation time)  into producing your own feed on site, if I had a kit?") without some understanding of the cost and time involved.

As far as GMO free, I believe that, sadly, this is now nearly impossible in the U.S.  GMO soy, corn and wheat is too prevalent and because of anti-labeling laws here you can't identify it here anyway unless you go straight to the farmer.

We grow Our food the Aquaponics way for many reasons 1 is because it is Organic. It is a shame we can't add GM products as Inorganic and unhealthy. But be sure if you produce a fish food as GM FREE you will sell your product in places you never even thought of. It will sell itself to all of us that care what we feed our children our family's and our pets. You only have to look at the super markets and the prices they get for organic foods. Barry.

Hey Carey,


 You might want to review the USDA's Animal Product Guide for imports and exports - Guide. There's a section covering pet food and animal feeds. 



I have been growing algae over the summer for my Tilapia. It has worked out as a great food supplement. I am going to start up duckweed production now that the weather is changing. These types of foods are what the fish want.

@ Sylvia

Hypothetically what I am thinking is this: I think we might look at producing/ using feed in a new way. Traditional feed usually goes rancid before it is used up, especially in smaller operations due to oxidation.

I think it might be possible to produce the bulk of the feed using a combination of dried raw materials leaving out the oils and moisture to be applied before feeding, kind of like Gravy Train Dog food. 

So what I am talking about is simply spraying on a custom mixed formula. It would come in a concentrate and you mix with the appropriate amount of water, emulsify and spray on your feed. This would be easy for the small operator feeding a few pounds of feed. A larger operation feeding fifty pound bags at a time might buy an old cement mixer to "wet down" the feed, say half an hour before feeding time. 

As for the kit: I am expecting it to cost around five to ten thousand US Dollars for the simple, lower volume, floating pellet mills. (I’ll have a more solid price in the next week or so). It took me about two hours ever week to mix and mill a weeks worth of pellets (around a hundred pounds) using powdered ingredients.

@ Barry

At this stage, I plan to grow algae and duckweed from Aquaculture effluent for the bulk with the addition of  dried organic vegetable, grubs and worms plus vitamins and mineral supplements. No grains will be used. All of my seeds are open pollinated and as far as I know, not GM. I would not deliberately grow anything GM so no worries.

On a side note, I am also trying to secure “ old family” grain farms that still save seeds to grow, in other words true “Heirloom” stock; not genetically modified. I currently have one farm that I will work with. I have ordered his entire stock for next harvest. This family has a recorded history of growing the same rice in the same fields for over two hundred years but is on the verge of bankruptcy because he is not big enough to get certified. I am betting on my marketing skills to increase the margin so we can both survive and propagate sustainable farming. Since people here are not that sophisticated yet and don’t know/ care about GM foods, my marketing concept is to sell “ new rice”, fresh from the hull. New (this years) organic rice (not certified), direct from my farm and husked right in front of you as a free service (showmanship).

@ Terri

Thank you! I don’t seem to be able to log on at this time but will try again next weekend. Again. Thanks.

@ Chris

Yes those are my main ingredients as well. My only question is; how much sunlight (jewels) does it require to produce one pound of fish. What comes out, must first go in.


Cheers Folks! I’m off to visit my farm. See you all next weekend.

I'm not sure where to post this but...Be responsible.Tell the FDA and Obama, no more tricks: Label GE foods!

Link here:


      I want to see the showmanship!  I don't think I actually know how one goes about hulling rice.  If you can sometime, I'd love to see a video of it.  I know, in all your abundant spare time right?  But a youtube video or something of the sort can be really great marketing if your market is online at all.  (of course I don't even know if you can get to Youtube easily in China.

Carey, this is quite a fascinating concept you have here...thanks for 'splain'n.  I love the "gravy train" concept.  I am truly looking forward to seeing what you come up with!


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