Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

Indulge me if you will. It is February and another snow storm is on its way this week. The last “winter miracle” was 24” deep and many of the drifts and mounds created during the blizzard have not melted. Snow, ice, and PennDot plow trucks make me think about…. fresh Tilapia and salad???????

This weekend several Tilapias were moved to the purge tank. They will remain until the Friday night fish fry. Sweet potatoes are grown in and for my system and make great fries (chips). I will also prepare some Good King Henry (Blitum bonus-henricus) as a vegetable. Tilapia with seasoned rice wrapped in butter lettuce (like a burrito) will be the main course.

At my home we grow fish and perennial/annual plants to produce vegetables, fruit, flowers, seeds, and biomass. Despite deliberate guild planting to provide diversity and a habitat for beneficial insects, the system design is really about the fish.

I know there is plenty of advice to ignore the fish side. “Use the extra money you make growing leafy greens to buy some fish to eat”. It is hard to argue with such logic. However, I am not looking for a commercial solution. There are many ways to build wealth that do not rely on Aquaponics or Aquaculture and have a better ROI.

The world’s fish supply has been dwindling. Human population is increasing. Many have been researching ways to successfully cultivate various species of fish and crustaceans. Safe and sustainable high density systems are critical. The goal is an easy to replicate system practical for a residential garage/shed/basement. If we can take the burden of fish production from our waterways and aquaculture farms and place it into the hands of everyday homeowners (like the victory gardens of WWII) we should be able to provide for the future protein needs of our planet.

An Aquaponics/Aquaculture system that can be easily separated provides a nearly painless method to overwinter fish (breeding/grow out) with minimal heating. You can provide your family with a perpetual supply of fish protein and a continual supply of fertilizer and worm food. I have been posting blogs about my system and will continue to do so for anyone interested in making their own.

Replicating nature is the quickest path to success. Fish food has been studied and is in production in homes and businesses across the country. Fish eat red worms, silk worms, meal worms, confused flower beetles, BSF, scuds, feeder fish, duckweed, and a whole host of assorted other bugs, larvae and aquarium plants too numerous to list here.

Lately my interest has been in the flightless Fruit Fly (Drosophila Hydei) cultivated in a homemade media of sweet potatoes. Formulas for an easy to make, palatable fish food, devoid of wild fish meal is essential to the long term success of aquaculture and for that matter the future of both aquatic and terrestrial animals. Fruit fly and their larvae have fed my fingerlings and fry for quite some time. I am pushing production to determine if it is viable as a fish food for larger fish. My TON approach (total utter neglect) is to allow a colony to crash, solar oven pasteurize/dry the slurry, and use it as feed. Testing is on-going and I will post results here once I believe they are conclusive.

Next, I will be experimenting with Triops longicaudatus and would appreciate any information or links for converting them to a fish feed in an aquaponics system. I have seen no information on them as a food source. Triops are freshwater, easy to breed, and easy to feed.  They are a tempting fish food option. If you have experience with Triops, please send me an email. Fish readily eat crayfish, lobsters, and shrimp. They are all from the same subphylum “Crustacea”.

Well, I feel my mind (such as it is) wandering again. So, I will close with the thought that stared my rant. One of the many benefits of Aquaponics is realized when you trudge through a couple of feet of snow to the fresh greens, gurgling water, and the welcome sight of healthy fish gracefully moving through the water column. I experience a calming feeling of gratitude, something very special which is worth sharing. Thank you for your posts. I appreciate this community and all it has shared with me in the forums, especially when I am housebound waiting for the next thaw.

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