Aquaponic Gardening

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OK. I had a decent article written but my stupid computer has problems and blue-screened me before I saved it and didn’t auto save. I’m running Windows 2k on a HP 305 and having problems with my SM bus controller. Any computer experts care to help me out?


I don’t think I can rewrite that article at this time but will surely babble more at a later date. This article will deal mainly with my efforts at making fish feed at home. I am not a nutrition expert by any means but I do have six years experience attempting different methods and recipes. I have learned a lot this past year working with a local fish feed manufacture.


I have put together a kit; unfortunately there is not enough demand for me or anyone to realize this opportunity. You are welcome to use this information to contact US manufactures and try to get them to send single orders but I need much more volume before I can justify export. Anyone stateside want to collaborate with me to produce fish feed for our fellow eco/ health conscious aquapons?


Basically what you want for smaller commercial AP operation is to buy a low volume, floating pellet, fish feed machine. For smaller and home/ hobby aquapons, I will provide you with some basic information, methods and recipes that I have used in the past. Some are from somewhere on the internet, others are what I deduced and tried with varying results. It is not my intention for you to use these formulas but for you to continue to study, research and try for yourselves. To use what is available to you locally, at your own moral comfort level. My goal is to develop fish feed that most closely resembles natural, wholesome food so I can eat healthy.


As mentioned before; to be as sustainable as possible, I do not use fish scraps or grains. Grains and other “bad” fats that may cause serious heath issues to our fish, which in turn harm us that consume them instead of sustaining us. I believe, we as aquapons are mostly concerned with providing wholesome foods for ourselves vs. making a buck. Fish scraps, fishmeal and fish oils deplete natural fish stock and are considered non renewable, thus non sustainable. A good alternative would be to raise and/ or grow sustainable organic plant and animal proteins. What we want to do is find a relevant amino acid profile. I talk more on this later.


Grains and other “bad” fats that may cause serious heath issues to our fish, which in turn harm us that consume them instead of sustaining us. I believe, we as aquapons are mostly concerned with providing wholesome foods for ourselves vs. making a buck. These “bad” fats are very hard on a fish’s liver, which in turn causes another host of ailments and dieses. A good example is the movie “ Supersize me!” Where a healthy man eats exclusively at Mc Donald’s and soon looses his health to the point of near fatality. The whole reason we eat fish is to increase our intake of Omega3 fatty acids, just to balance our enormous intake of Omega 6s.

I have been making my own feed since I was a child. I was first interested in raising crickets after watching a cricket fight. I paid good money for my first cricket and the darn thing lost. I can’t stand loosing so I learned all I could and reared thousands. I am lucky that my parents were very lax. My mom being Wicca and a farm girl from Indiana, encouraged me to understand nature. I had a secret stable of warriors I trained and bet with, just like a stable of gladiators and soon got a reputation of having the strong opponents. Making decent money I later decided to try to raise another species of gladiator, the Siamese fighting fish or Beta. In my hay day I had over three hundred one gallon glass jars. Later I tried my hand at selective breeding, my own color of guppies called Emerald Greens as my tribute to Seattle. Since I had so many basically unwanted fish, I raised some bigger, higher priced fish and used them as part of their live food regiment. These bigger fish included Oscars and Arowana. I tell y’all: this is much more profitable than raising stupid tilapia, esp if you have a decent Chinese/ Asian population around. I’m talking hundreds to thousands of US dollars for one fish. Besides, they are GOOOOD eatin! We bought a used above ground swimming pool and converted it into my super tank.


So here is my formulas for different aquarium fish

Betta: Live blood worms, krill and *homemade flake.

Goldfish: *Homemade flake with treats of live blood worms, krill and mosquito larva.

Guppies: ditto

Mollies: ditto

Swordtails: ditto


* Homemade flake was made of whatever I could snip off of moms plans for dinner without her complaining. Most of the time I raised mosquito larva, crickets and batches of brine shrimp so those went in along with some boiled egg, veggie scraps, carrot, a bit of salt and  a bit of meat. This could be shrimp, chicken, fish; whatever was for dinner that day. I’d steam it in a bowl then add rice before it was put into a mortar to be ground into a mush adding milk or fruit juice to correct the consistency. I’d paint this mixture onto trays of wax paper and let sit in the semi shaded area of our roof. I’d use this formula in paste form to feed fry. Later I added dried shrimp shell powder and seaweed.

*Live foods are good but homebred feeders are best. Feeders bought at stores have a much higher chance of developing diseases due to stress from being transported long distances. Homebred feeders can also have higher/ better nutrient content because you are the one feeding them and can choose their feed ingredient. I always fed my feeders before I feed them to my prized fish so they have extra digestible nutrients. Some call this gut loading. Live feeds are also very good at triggering a fish’s feeding habit especially if they have been scared for some reason and stop feeding.

Since the time I raised Betta, I learned that some fish do recognize different people and you, as their caretaker, can train them to not only eat from your hand but also train them to jump out of the water to get their food. To me, this is quite exciting. In the wild, Arowana not only jump out but also can spit a stream of water a foot or more to knock insects off branches, which they readily gobble up. *A note of caution: always use chopsticks when “hand feeding”. Some fish can really hurt and even draw blood. *If you are like me and like to see your fish jump, please build a net around the top of your tank so they don’t land on the floor. *Another point I’d like to make is to try to wear the same (type) clothes, especially subdued colors when you first get new fish. After they recognize you, you can start wearing different clothes. I like to wear a grey lab coat and a brown cap. Bright colors may scare fish, esp. when you first get them. This may turn them off to feeding.


*Things not to feed your fish! Do not be tempted to feed your fish cat food or dog food, bacon, steak etc. They may love it but it contains too much fat. Please refer to above about fat. Also please do not feed you fish live vertebrates such as lizards or rodents. This can harm your fish and is considered cruelty to animals. You could be taken to court!


Additives: I always add liquid vitamins in gel form, especially in an AP setup. This is so your fish get to use the vitamins before the plants get to recycle them so you get vitamin loaded veggies.


* = Note of caution.

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Replies to This Discussion

Carey, Great article. Can you raise the Oscars and Arowana in an AP system easily or do they require solitary tanks due to aggressive territory behavior?

*Assuming climate conditions and knowledge of/ experience with specific fish are appropriate.

Oscars can be reared together but need much more spacing than most fish, which is OK due to their selling price but of course need separate tanks if one is thinking about husbandry, but I'd suggest just buying fry and raise them up.

Arowana are not usually aggressive to other fish their size, mostly to smaller fish which is seen as food and when well fed can be as pleasant as Koi. Do not mix the two unless the Oscar is smaller (but too big to eat).

Though I have not tried it. I am sure their high protein poop would be as good as any other esp if you are raising a school at a time. Again think kiddy pool per 50 adult Arowana or a hundred adult Oscars or five Arowana and ten Oscars (adult) in an IBC Tote. So you can start with fifty Arowana fry and thin them out (sell/ rent) as they get bigger.

For any of you who might consider doing this. You can raise them and instead of selling them, you might cooperate with an aquarium to rent your fish out and sell them your homemade gourmet fish food. Residue income is the way to go! In the short term you get less than lump sum sale but over a longer period you can actually make much more.



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