Aquaponic Gardening

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A No - Pump System - Aquaponics Using No Electricity

The more I learn about aquaponics, the more I realize that there are many, many "ways" or designs that will construct aquaponic systems that work.  I love the innovation in this field right now--- so many interesting ideas.

This strange system totally fascinated me, so I'm going to post a link to this gentleman's description of how you can build an aquaponic system that uses no electrical pump of any kind.  That's right.. NO ELECTRICITY IS USED.  

His target of course, is very poor parts of the world, or remote locations-- that still do not have electricity--or reliable electricity.

Check out his rather sketchy, step-by-step instructions AT THIS LINK, and let me know what you think.   Seems like it would require a human pump... for at least a couple hours a day, but do you think this is a feasible aquaponic solution for people who do not have electricity?

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Comment by Brian White on December 10, 2013 at 12:09pm

I made a thing back in the 1980's that I call the pulser pump and it ran in a small stream.   It is a tromp driving an airlift pump.  For it I dug a rather deep hole beside a stream and put in 4 inch pipes. So the big deal about it is it has no moving parts and it pumps water. (Or air at about 3.5 psi) .  For aquaponics you only need 1 or 2  psi of air.  In that case, you only need a 4 inch or 6 inch  pipe going 6 ft deep under the exit water from your little dam. Collect the air and pipe it (use ordinary irrigation tubing because it is cheap) to your pond.  Anyway, what I am trying to say is that no pump aquaponics is possible if you have an all season stream nearby. For people with a bigger stream, a thing called gravitational vortex power is pretty simple and could be used to power an air pump at the vortex site (could supply a variety of air pressures due to the properties of gravitational vortex.) (Gravitational vortex power plants were invented by an Austrian engineer but nobody is exploring them small scale) and that is a shame.

Comment by halemart on September 29, 2013 at 12:18pm

I read a book called "How to grow fish in the Mountains"  it was written by a missionary in the Philippines.    It was very much this style.    This is very doable if you have large volume of water to fish ratio.     It may be better to have this planted under shade so as to not use up all the oxygen in the water with the heat of the sun.   

I did an experiment with a 250 gallon tote, had goldfish in, what I did was have the rain spout of the house come down into the tote and had the excess water flow to my garden from the rain.    Worked very well with a low fish density.    I love to see new ideas.

Comment by Stuart Polkinghorne on August 23, 2012 at 5:59pm

Sorry gave the wrong numbers..

As little as a two foot (0.6 meters) fall from the water source to the pump at a flow rate of 3 gallons per minute will drive a small system and provide up to 20 feet of vertical lift to the discharge point.

Comment by Chris Carr on August 23, 2012 at 5:59pm

@Barbara. Internet forums can be a harsh place to lurk around in. This forum in particular is very professional in comparison to the rest of the internet. Please don't feel that any of the comments were directed at you. You simply threw a seed on the ground and nothing grew but weeds! :) Jon did the right thing and started a thread on the subject in question.

Comment by Stuart Polkinghorne on August 23, 2012 at 5:48pm

Has anyone done the maths or a theoretical plan using a Ram pump? 

I have looked into them (not for AP) and with a water body 4ft above the pump you can get about15ft lift.  It may take the right location, but should in theory work.....

It is one project I do intend to try in the not to distant future... 

Just an idea... Carry on..

Comment by Barbara McLain on August 23, 2012 at 4:09pm

Thanks for the interest in the simple blog post that was intended to just help us all look at the ways we power our systems.  Didn't intend to start a war in here.  I wasn't suggesting that aquaponics could solve ANY world food problems.   I just thought it was interesting and wondered if the thing actually worked... ha ha ha.  I'll stick with my super quiet, air pump for now.  I'm certainly not interested in spending hours pouring water by hand into any system!  We definitely need to recruit this guy to our community--I'm sure many of you could help him.  So many experts in here..oh my.

Comment by Jon Parr on August 22, 2012 at 11:23pm

Here's a new thread.

Barbara, thanks for arousing/renewing my interest on the subject. I'll leave your blog in peace now

Comment by Jon Parr on August 22, 2012 at 8:45pm
If the opposite of skeptic is naive, or gullible, then I suppose I'll wear that title. Really more than being skeptical I was disappointed in the approach the good man used to make AP work in a third world application. It was both offensive to claim that AP would help the problem, and that the design was more for animal mentality than human. The pic shows a man that took what was probably a nice plot of grass and turned it into something more like a landfill, and incorporate in the design more man hours of pumping than the plot could nourish.

I think it's a noble cause, and one we should all donate smarts to improve on the concept. Raychel, highest respect for you. But airlift pumps and geyser pumps have been in service for a very long time. Glen Martinez didn't invent it. And anyone with a shred of research in pump design would not have "said it couldn't be done". To be fair, I'll research his use of hydraulic pumping with air, because it is fascinating, and potentially better.

I'll start a thread where we can build on what's started here, without the pretense of saving the world.
Comment by Chris Carr on August 22, 2012 at 5:07pm

The point here is not that of being skeptic, it is that traditional aquaponics (recirculating fish/filter/plant system) is not the answer to all of the worlds food problems by a long shot. Without a reliable means of pumping, human, solar, extraterritorial powered or otherwise isn't practical, efficient or logical in this situation. It is like trying to drive wood screws with a hammer. Sure it'll "work", maybe, sorta, but.... you know.

I had the same reaction Jon did when I saw there was the assumed luxury to pvc pipe access, but they were limited using it as a pipette? A 4 foot pipette to lift water a foot and have to bend over w/ backbreaking labor to do it.

I don't question that this persons heart isn't in the right place but they and others like them need to think bigger picture and outside of the "backyard aquaponics" box.

Comment by Barbara McLain on August 22, 2012 at 3:11pm

Iʻm with Raychel on this issue... We are all spoiled by electricity.  Any one of us could find ourselves without power for an extended period of time.  Lots of scenarios I can think of that could create disasters for all of us.  Always good to have an open mind about how we might eliminate our dependence on electricity.  This is just one idea, but I think the topic is a good one for us to discuss and research.  I for one, am hoping that we get some people to help us all move to solar power soon--that will run our systems 24/7!!

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