Aquaponic Gardening

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Hi midwesterners! 

 

 I'm in Wisconsin looking for ideas to develop a system in our small barn.  I'm afraid the cold and dark of winter will keep us from proceeding year-round.  I noticed that some cold water systems are using bluegills.  I'm also interested in yellow perch, or other species of cold water fish or shellfish and wonder what your experience has been.  I just don't think I can keep our outbuilding warmer than 55 degrees without breaking the energy bank. 

 

Does artificial lighting provide some heat to help warm things up?  Other than lettuces and greens, any other cold weather crops work out for you?  Will be doing media beds with purhaps  DWC if we expand to commercial.

 

Has anyone made use of geo-thermal?  I've seen it at Growing Power with sunking fish troughs.  Also, solar water heating , which I've heard could be fairly efficient even up here in the cold.

 

Would appreciate any comments.

Dianne 

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Diane,

Inside my 2131 square foot greenhouse, I am heating 96 cubic feet of space (a space for sprouting seeds) with a 250Watt Metal Halide light. Right now the ambient temperature inside the otherwise unheated greenhouse is 2 degrees Celsius, the temp inside the seeding station is 21 degrees Celsius(70 Fahrenheit). So, yes you can use artificial lighting as an additional heat source. Weeks ago when it was warmer (and sunnier during the day) and the ambient greenhouse temp was 9 or 10 degrees Celsius (48-50 Fahrenheit) that same space was 25 to 30 degrees Celsius (or 77 to 86 Fahrenheit). There are about 250 seedlings that have sprouted there this week and are doing well (thus far) and 3 full grown spanish pepper plants that are churning out peppers and new growth. The light is on a timer and is not constantly on. Here is a description with pics of the set up...http://aquaponicscommunity.com/profiles/blogs/greenhouse-heating-us...

Oh yeah, insulate, insulate, insulate everything you can! Grow beds, pipes, fish tank, the barn itself...If you can create "a space within a space" even with sheets of cheapo bubble wrap, it will help greatly, rather than trying to heat the entire barn... 

Vlad--brilliant!  Thanks for your suggestions.  I'm encouraged. Looks like we will need to make a larger upfront capital investment to get started.  

Which fish are you considering?  Around here perch are popular for Friday night fish fries.


Vlad Jovanovic said:

Hi Diane,

Inside my 2131 square foot greenhouse, I am heating 96 cubic feet of space (a space for sprouting seeds) with a 250Watt Metal Halide light. Right now the ambient temperature inside the otherwise unheated greenhouse is 2 degrees Celsius, the temp inside the seeding station is 21 degrees Celsius(70 Fahrenheit). So, yes you can use artificial lighting as an additional heat source. Weeks ago when it was warmer (and sunnier during the day) and the ambient greenhouse temp was 9 or 10 degrees Celsius (48-50 Fahrenheit) that same space was 25 to 30 degrees Celsius (or 77 to 86 Fahrenheit). There are about 250 seedlings that have sprouted there this week and are doing well (thus far) and 3 full grown spanish pepper plants that are churning out peppers and new growth. The light is on a timer and is not constantly on. Here is a description with pics of the set up...http://aquaponicscommunity.com/profiles/blogs/greenhouse-heating-us...

Oh yeah, insulate, insulate, insulate everything you can! Grow beds, pipes, fish tank, the barn itself...If you can create "a space within a space" even with sheets of cheapo bubble wrap, it will help greatly, rather than trying to heat the entire barn... 

Dianne,

Here's a couple of youtube videos that give instructions on how to build a very basic, but effective, solar heater that you might want to consider incorporating into your plans. Of course, you can always take the design concepts they use and tweak them for your particular needs. There are also many videos about DIY solar water heaters, too.

http://youtu.be/C2Xe_glVoqc

or

http://youtu.be/uPwU4f0REgM

I grew up in Cleveland (which has a similar climate to where I live now) so Yellow Perch was was of the first species I researched for AP. Perch seemed real promising, only here it is illegal (invasive species), so I settled on Common Carp. (Kind of ironic huh)? Carp is the single most bought and consumed fish in this part of Europe and is a native species here. Also, it is a real great fish to work with in temperate climates. In addition to being able to withstand ultra-low temps, they are real forgiving in regards to DO and water quality as well. I don't eat much fish, and rarely eat meat so I have little interest in them other than being a poop machine for the plants.

But, I would think that you are on to a good thing with Great Lakes Perch. They will thrive between 69F and 74F with 91.4F being the generally accepted upper limit for survival, while at or near freezing being the lower... Tastes mighty fine too from what I can recall...Keep in mind though that the laws in most US states for selling/processing fish (and most animals) have become ludicrous, and might not be worth the hassle (not to mention fees, licenses, health inspections etc)...

How big is your barn? How large of a system are you planning o building? There are many ways to insulate on the cheap, (straw bales, plastic, air etc...) and you will forever save on electricity, propane etc... 

My barn is 50 by 14 feet and has a nice high ceiling.  It was originally a chicken coop which we cleaned up, insulated and had 30amps of power brought into it. Because it was a coop, it has a shed roof, with lots of windows facing south.  We thought  we could expand it quite easily, to almost double the size if out little enterprise got off the ground, with a complete green house on the south-facing wall.  For now, will stay inside our foot print.  It's good to know that perch will tolerate warmer water.  I saw some interesting solar hot water systems on Youtube but am a bit skeptical because we have a lot of overcast days up here.  I suppose if we get enough water--maybe 1000 gal or so, the mass would provide some buffer to the cold fluctuations.  I can acquire IBCs quite easily here (a lot used in the dairy industry) for good price.  

Electric bills will stop us if we don't keep everything very efficient.

We hope to create a little retirement income... have a lot of interest in our community for fresh food-especially in winter.

Also, by putting those grow lights under the beds for seedling/sprout production, the water would warm, and of course, keep our plant's feet warm so we can diversify to fruit bearing crops.

Any use of fresno lenses in hot water production?

Vlad Jovanovic said:

I grew up in Cleveland (which has a similar climate to where I live now) so Yellow Perch was was of the first species I researched for AP. Perch seemed real promising, only here it is illegal (invasive species), so I settled on Common Carp. (Kind of ironic huh)? Carp is the single most bought and consumed fish in this part of Europe and is a native species here. Also, it is a real great fish to work with in temperate climates. In addition to being able to withstand ultra-low temps, they are real forgiving in regards to DO and water quality as well. I don't eat much fish, and rarely eat meat so I have little interest in them other than being a poop machine for the plants.

But, I would think that you are on to a good thing with Great Lakes Perch. They will thrive between 69F and 74F with 91.4F being the generally accepted upper limit for survival, while at or near freezing being the lower... Tastes mighty fine too from what I can recall...Keep in mind though that the laws in most US states for selling/processing fish (and most animals) have become ludicrous, and might not be worth the hassle (not to mention fees, licenses, health inspections etc)...

How big is your barn? How large of a system are you planning o building? There are many ways to insulate on the cheap, (straw bales, plastic, air etc...) and you will forever save on electricity, propane etc... 

Thanks Steve!  We have a lot of cold and overcast days up here.  do you think these systems would work?  Looks like a warmer climate than we have.  Of course, we could rig a valve to only exchange water if it is warmed, but, how do I keep from the system from freezing if were are multiple days at 20F or colder?  



Steve Vaitl said:

Dianne,

Here's a couple of youtube videos that give instructions on how to build a very basic, but effective, solar heater that you might want to consider incorporating into your plans. Of course, you can always take the design concepts they use and tweak them for your particular needs. There are also many videos about DIY solar water heaters, too.

http://youtu.be/C2Xe_glVoqc

or

http://youtu.be/uPwU4f0REgM

Hi Diane,

If you're ever in Madison you're welcome to stop by my place.  I've put a lot of effort and thought into how to insulate and heat.  Vlad's right.  That's the key in cold climate.  Also choosing fish that don't require you to heat/cool much.

Currently I'm growing trout and channel catfish.  Done Tilapia in the past.  You can get both at Keystone Hatchery south of Lake Geneva.  There's a tilapia breeder up by Green Bay called SRD Aquafarms.  They ship.

I'm about at the end of year one of my operation, so I've got a lot to learn still.  I'm coming to the conclusion that it's easier to raise cold water fish in the winter and warm water fish in the summer.  I'm finding that buying 8" fish and growing them out for 6 months is much cheaper than buying fry and heating/cooling.

Have fun!

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