Aquaponic Gardening

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What a strange sensation I had today.  Scrolling through some of my social media links, I came across a post on aquaponics – “10 rules of” no less.  It was by Dr Rakocy from UVI.  I will state upfront that the papers from this individual initially got me interested in aquaponics and I have used his detailed work a great deal since.  I am therefore comfortable with attributing my entry into aquaponics to a large extent to UVI and Dr Rakocy.  Many people on this forum can say this.  Whether it was a Nelson and Pade rendition or a Friendly aquaponics simplification of its design, we owe a lot to this system.  A lot, but not everything.

 

On the other side of the world the Australians were hard at work developing simple, media based systems.  Some came with ugly acronyms, but all are simple and productive.  We owe a lot to this crowd as well.  A lot, but again, not everything.  I will repeat what I said in one of the threads where credit due to the pioneers were discussed previously: We do not give credit to original coachbuilders such as Mercedes Benz every time we slap four wheels on a car, and in this spirit, I do not think that we need to owe to, or be restricted by, the original concepts.  If we were to do this, our cars would still resemble the first ones that came out over a century ago.

 

Back to my irrational anger this morning.  The post was perfectly logical, but the laws were applied to “aquaponics”.  Not “the UVI system” or “High density Raft style Aquaponics” or anything defining like that.  Just aquaponics.  Sorry, but then I am a rule breaker and what I do no longer can be called aquaponics.  Either that, or the author of the document refuses or neglects to acknowledge that aquaponics has grown beyond his system.  Making sweeping statements about using media and having to remove solids, needing complex multi-stage filtration and all the other management aspects peculiar to the UVI system, and posting these under “rules for aquaponics” does not sit well with me.  If you were in advanced automobile design school, and your lecturer instructs you to take a vehicle fuel tank and drill a hole in the fuel tank at the 50% level and fit an overflow, would you instinctively follow the instruction?  What if you are just starting out and have no experience?

 

I have the same reaction when I go to some of the other aquaponic forums.  Gospel issued with a hand grenade most of the time.  Do this or die.  These are the ten commandments of, wait for it, AQUAPONICS.  

 

I wish sincerely that all these gentle people that believe in or are familiar with only one type of aquaponic system would not make the repeated assumption that theirs are the only way to go and thus also the best (as it appears from the mere fact that they categorize how their unit works as how aquaponics is supposed to function).  As I have said so many times – There are a million ways in which to make aquaponic principles work and it is up to all of us to make sure that all of these get developed and exposed.  Some grow lettuce better. Some use more power than they have to. Some produce more fish than others.  These qualities make them different, not ranked from best to worst.

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Comment by Robert C Beck on August 14, 2011 at 10:32pm

Kobus,

You are right. There are so many ways to skin this cat. Every system is unique and we are all evolving here.  It would be nice if we could all look at the pros and cons of these different techniques before diving into this stuff financially. 

We are very excited to learn from people with working knowledge based experience but one of the most rewarding things (for us) is the experience of learning from others and then applying this to our own specific needs and making decisions for ourselves. 

There is no such thing as the ultimate system outside of the conditions in which it was designed for. After all, many systems, (most systems) at this point are built from parts and pieces available to us from within our community. We are all unique.

Grow baby, GROW!

Comment by Kobus Jooste on August 13, 2011 at 11:11am

Interesting to see that many members have has similar experiences.  The web is full of blogs of people that have been through the same process, and if we want aquaponics to grow, we need to reduce the frustration and prima donna attitudes that exists in parts of the industry.  If only every person that is interested in aquaponics first finds an open forum like this one where all aspects of aquaponics is discussed, not just the type of aquaponics popular with the loudest 10 members of the owner's fan club. 

 

O, and interesting how the 3 early growth centres of aquaponics, Virgin Islands, Hawaii and Australia's sub tropical regions, have very similar climatic conditions.  I think it is high time that the experiences of people doing aquaponics in temperate and colder climates get brought to the forefront too.  Just because NFT gets too hot in Queensland does not mean that it cannot work elsewhere.

 

While many of the statements from "experts" were likely aimed at a regional audience before, they are now being sent around the world without people even considering the climate, building material preferences or even environmental legislation present in the region from which the statement came.

Comment by Vlad Jovanovic on August 12, 2011 at 8:03pm

I have to say that it definitely took me A LOT longer than it should have to figure out that a person CAN build a system that was comprised of something other than either  DWC rafts or media filled beds. (Not to mention you can also have room left over for vertical grows, NFT, wicking beds etc)...

Researching the web, as well as books/literature that is available, one certainly realizes that there is this dichotomy in AP. Most folks probably at some point also feel like they have to choose one or the other in order to make it work. This is not helped by people flat out telling you (and they are usually selling systems) "THIS, is how you HAVE to do it, and it WILL work. Should you do ANYTHING differently you are heading into totally uncharted waters and you are on your own"...

But as you chug along in your research you start to putting all those different things into context yourself, with the help of help of communities such as this.

I myself wont be doing anything all that ground breaking, just 512 square feet of Friendly's style rafts and 128 square feet of worm filled media beds, one 850 gallon fish tank and a sane stocking density (right now I'm thinking about 180 lbs ought to do it) and a 2131 square foot greenhouse. It has been quite a ride getting to this point and the real fun has yet to begin. Thanks for the great post.

Comment by Kobus Jooste on August 10, 2011 at 11:29pm

Having had some time to think some more, I think one aspect of what I was thinking about did not make it into the blog.  That is that many to most people that first investigate something new relies heavily on internet / literature searches at first.  Having biast or confusing "golden rules" or "must do" lists are not useful if they do not come with an explanation of the systems they apply to, and the conditions for using them.  People trying to design a first unit using the Rakocy rules, Dr Lennard's calculator, the Friendly Aquaponic stocking rate recommendations for LD and the component list from a Australian web site is going to be extremely frustrated.  All of these entities, when applied in context, is correct, but the context is not stated properly.  They all apply to "aquaponics" with details given to conditions of use in a greater or lesser degree.

 

I think it is high time the industry tidies up its language and terminology glossary.

Comment by the mad german on August 10, 2011 at 9:11pm
Well said.
Comment by Robert C Beck on August 10, 2011 at 4:05pm
I can't wait to see what my system does best. The best thing so far has been ultimate distraction and hopefully a healthy obsession.
Comment by David Waite on August 10, 2011 at 11:33am
Personally for me what makes aquaponics so inspiring is the ability to change and invent. It is the tinker's dream. If all there was to aquaponics was rafts with elaborate separation systems I wouldnt do it at all. Great post.
Comment by Sahib Punjabi on August 10, 2011 at 7:39am

Well said Kobus...I love the fact that yo are always thinking outside the box...always interested in "what if?".

 

Love it...just keep posting such honest posts.

 

God bless,

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