Jul 20

Aquaculture-Finding A Supplier For Fish Fingerlings In Aquaponics.

To start an aquaponics system going, once it is built and filled up with dechlorinated chloramine-free water, you need to gradually add some fish.  This means that you have to find a reputable commercial fish fingerling aquaculture supplier in your area, or one  who can supply you live fish fingerlings by post or courier.

Properly packed in the new ‘breather bags’ which allow oxygen and carbon dioxide to pass in the appropriate directions through their walls without letting water molecules out, fish these days can be up to 48 hours in the bags before they begin to suffer, as long as adequate temperature and ventilation is maintained in the fish transportation packaging that surrounds the bags.

You will already have designed your aquaponics system to fit the needs of the species of fish you intend  to raise. Each species of fish will have different aquaculture requirements that have to be addressed. For instance, see my article on raising trout in a temperate climate in aquaponics.

Most people start their aquaponics systems by adding a little straight ammonia, about a dessertspoonful, which can be got from your local pharmacy, or from any store that sells ammonia for cleaning purposes. Make sure this is pure ammonia, without any soaps, detergents, etc.

trout

Trout

Then you let the system bubble with air from the air blowers and flow round and round with the pumps for around four weeks, adding a dessertspoonful of ammonia every week, and test it using a testing kit or sensor to see whether the ammonia is being turned into nitrate or not. After a couple of weeks, start adding plants until the nitrate starts disappearing from the tests results for your aquaponics system.

Now you need to gradually add fish, so as not to overload the new system with too much ammonia for the still settling in nitrifying bacteria in it to handle. Don’t overload the aquaculture part of the aquaponics system or you will have a disaster on your hands! Make sure you have enough plants in the hydroponic system part of your aquaponics system to soak up the nitrates in the water that the fish are producing.

Finding reliable fish fingerlings suppliers in your vicinity, county, state or country is usually something you should do at the planning stage of your aquaponics system. It would really be silly to have built and filled up your aquaponics system and then found that it was impossible to supply it with fish fingerlings (baby fish).  However, breeding fish for aquaculture is actually a booming industry and so it is not as hard as you might think to eventually find a good trout breeder or tilapia breeder who can reliably supply you with your fish fingerlings.

Commercial trout farms, for instance, usually also supply trout fingerlings  to trout sport fisheries such as estates with trout streams and trout lakes.  But you will need a guarantee that the trout fingerlings you are buying are healthy and free of disease!  Finding trout for your aquaponics system is not an easy task, it requires painstaking research on your part.  The trout you use should also be made incapable of breeding in the tanks. On a fish farm, breeding should be carried out in a special section under strict biological controls. If you do not want to do this, you have to depend on a reputable supplier of fish fingerlings for aquaculture.

The same applies to suppliers of tilapia fingerlings for aquaculture.  In the case of tilapia fingerlings, you should also make sure they are all guaranteed to be male, or your product at the other end of the cycle will be undersized, it will be impossible to work out feed ratio, and you will have all sorts of different sizes of fish in the pipeline, due to breeding in the tanks.

The best way to check your aquaculture suppliers are reputable is to ring around a few other trout fingerling buyers such as sports trout fisheries and find out who they used or have used in the past, and what results they achieved with the fingerlings they received.

As with any other business, an aquaculture supplier’s reputation is only as good as their product. Your aquaponics system product’s reputation is also founded on the fish fingerlings breeder you choose to use. Whether you are raising trout or tilapia, the quality of your fish fingerlings will to a large extent determine the quality of your adult fish product.  Aquaponics is an intensive fish farm married to an intensive hydroponic farm, and you need top quality fish fingerlings and top quality seeds to make a profit.  This means a reliable aquaculture fish fingerlings supplier is vital.

The rules for getting hold of fish fingerlings for an aquaponics system are really no different from those applying to a straightforward fish farm.

If you liked this necessarily rather general article and would like to have similar or more how-to articles to hand, I have edited the first six months of posts on this website into an over 30 chapter ‘Aquaponics Global Anthology.’ This saves you having to navigate all over this site for information and is printable, since it is a .pdf format file.  This is immediately available from here to download now:

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Jul 18

Occupy Your Flat Rooftop With Aquaponics.

DVD How To Build Aquaponics. Click here!


Do you have a flat rooftop on your high rise apartment building, community center, high rise car park or school?

Do you have basic construction skills, know how to use a saw and a hammer?

Does your roof have at least 600 kilos per square metre weight loading tolerance? (This is important, water is HEAVY, although not nearly as heavy as wet soil, which contains rocks as well).

OCCUPY YOUR FLAT ROOFTOP WITH AQUAPONICS and start your aquaponic farm up there in the city where the demand for food is.

You can adapt your roof with fish tanks and hydroponic raceways that hold only water and grow far more food than any soil farm can grow on an equivalent limited space.

Do your homework properly and get permission and a community of growers together BEFORE you occupy your flat rooftop. Your flat rooftop is either the property of the person who lives beneath it or the property of the building’s owner.  You don’t want your aquaponic farm thrown off your flat rooftop into the street or a court order forcing you to demolish it. Make sure your flat rooftop is really able to support the total weight of your aquaponics systems before you occupy it.

Once you have got permission, there is a lot of planning and thought that has to go into designing and costing your aquaponics systems before you occupy your flat rooftop. A lot of the information about how aquaponics works and how costing works out is here to download for free:

AQUAPONICS LIBRARY.

I have also put together an over 30 chapter collection of posts from this site about many aspects of aquaponics as  ‘Aquaponics Global Anthology 1‘ which you can download instantly to print out from here:

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DVD How To Build Aquaponics. Click here!

There is also a very good DVD with clear diagrams of how to plumb in the pipework of your rooftop aquaponics system:

Jul 17

Use Aquaponics To Save Water When Growing Food

A good book about the water crisis.


You can use aquaponics to save water by up to 90% when growing food. In these times of global climate change and frequent drought, it is very important for farmers to save water!

First and foremost, food is grown in the hydroponics section of an aquaponics system. It usually consists of vegetables and soft fruit such as tomatoes, melons, squash and cucumbers. In the usual sort of farming, you irrigate them once and then throw away the water. In aquaponics, you save water because this water is sent for cleaning to the plants and re-used, for growing food.

Fish are intensively farmed in the fish rearing tanks of an aquaponics system. However, unlike usual fish farming, you save water because the water used by the fish is cleaned by the plants and re-used, since it is miracle gro for growing food, and is not thrown away.

The fish are the source of the nitrates for the plants, and the plants clean the nitrates out of the water, so it can be recirculated clean back to the fish.  The water goes round and round like that. Growing food all the time at a tremendous rate!

The water is in tanks and hydroponic tanks made out of solid walls and lined with pond liner so they do not leak. You save water because the water you are using does not sink straight into the ground and flow away on the first use. It is used again and again for growing food.

None of the water in an aquaponics system soaks directly into the ground. It is kept and constantly re-used.

The water is also covered over and shaded by a shed over the fish tanks, and floating polystyrene rafts full of plants or at least two inches of growing medium such as expanded clay balls (hydroleca or hydroton brand clay rocks) which prevent the water surface heating up to evaporation temperatures.

Less than 10% of the water volume in the system is lost to the outside daily. Some, however, has to be used in a Deep Water system with floating rafts in it in order to flush out the fish poo from the filter into a settling pond for composting and subsequent dewatering.

Meanwhile, you can get five metric tons of basil and five metric tons of fish a year, just as an example yield (from the University of the Virgin Islands’s data on their commercial aquaponics system), off 0.05 of a hectare of growing space with aquaponics. By using aquaponics you save water, at 90% of the water you would otherwise had to have used to get the above results.

If you would like to download more articles from this site about aquaponics to read at your leisure, I have edited together the first six months’ worth of posts from this site into the ‘Aquaponics Global Anthology 1‘.  It is immediately available for download and printing out here: [paiddownloads id="1"]

Jul 17

Aquaponics And Water Quality

Water quality is extremely important in aquaponics.  Water quality maintenance is the main chore in aquaponics systems apart from propagation, harvesting and fish care.

Water quality in aquaponics involves careful daily water testing for pH, ammonia, KH, nitrite, nitrate, and oxygen levels, just to name the most basic tests that need to be done. For more details about this, see my articles about oxygen and air pumps and the importance of nitrifying bacteria. This can be done using chemical tests, but it is far quicker and more convenient to invest in hand-held battery-operated water testing sensors which are sold for this purpose, and can be bought directly from this page if immediately needed.

If the quality of your water is not up to standard, immediate action is required.  You cannot expect your fish to remain healthy swimming around in their own waste, and your plants also cannot directly digest the fish waste water, without the intervention of healthy nitrifying bacteria to turn the fish waste products into digested and available nitrate fertilizer.

pH and temperature meter.


The most basic factor is the water pH. This should be maintained using tiny quantities of buffering base materials at a level of 7.0 or neutral at all times. Otherwise things may well start to go badly wrong quite rapidly. Adequate levels of water oxygenation are also vital. You should also know the amount of dissolved solids in your water.

Overfeeding your fish can also badly damage water quality because of uneaten fish food rotting in the tanks. You should carefully calculate fish feeding rates to make sure that just enough feed is being given to make the fish put on weight, without damaging water quality, or also starving your plants in the hydroponic part of your aquaponics system. Aquaponics is an ecology!

Total dissolved solids meter.


Water quality maintenance requires at least a high school level understanding of biology and chemistry. Aquaponics is agricultural science, and as such requires a basic level of education and training in at least the main responsible staff on the aquaponics system.

 

However, using color coding, which is a common way to design chemical testing materials, even illiterate staff can eventually be trained to use a color coded water quality testing kit to determine if emergency measures have to be taken.  But this should be only a backup measure, to ensure that someone can look after the aquaponics system in the absence or incapacity of the main aquaponics technicians.

If you liked this article, I have edited the first six months worth of articles on this website into the ‘Aquaponics Global Anthology 1′ in printable .pdf format. This can be downloaded immediately here: [paiddownloads id="1"]

Jul 16

Water Gardening With Aquaponics.

Aquaponics is growing fish and plants in the same integrated recirculating water aquaponics system.  This is usually used commercially to grow up to twice as much food in up to half the time normally needed in conventional agriculture.  That is up to four times as much food as on the same space used by conventional agriculture.

Also, a lot of edible fish are needed to be farmed in the system, as well as the crops, in order to nourish the plants.

koi carp

Koi carp.

But you can also grow a lot of ORNAMENTALfish, such as koi carp, quite intensively in your aquaponics system.  Not as intensively as tilapia, which are more robust, but at quite a high fish stocking ratio, as long as you have enough plants growing in your system to eat up the nitrates produced in the filtration media. Some varieties of tilapia and trout are also very pretty to look at. Blue Australian marron crayfish are fascinating and bright blue! Water gardening is also for the aquarist. Gardening here also means looking after commercially farmed fish if you like.

water garden

water garden

You can of course grow ornamental plants in an aquaponics system. But did you know that there are a lot of vegetable plants that are also ornamental and that grow fast in an aquaponics system? They make water gardening with aquaponics very easy.

Okra, for instance, is a form of hibiscus.  It has a spectacular flower. It goes crazy in a floating raft aquaponics system.

okra flower

Flowering okra

There are lots of varieties of green vegetables which are also ornamental, such as fancy lettuces which come in all sorts of colours from green through to purple and almost black, and with different forms of frilly leaf shapes. Artichokes, if left to flower, are a giant thistle.

Lots of culinary herbs such as basil also come in different leaf colours and/or have attractive flowers. They also have fascinating scents.

And a lot of other plants which are not generally eaten such as marigolds and many varieties of plants used for cut flowers will also grow in an aquaponic system.

By constructing hydroponic beds to resemble the many different levels of a flowing stream, with waterfalls which also help to maintain water aeration, you can put together a very attractive aquaponic water garden with recirculating water going back to the ornamental tanks full of fish.

This recycling of the water with your water gardening means you will safely only use around 10% or less of the water used by conventional gardeners, as long as the tanks remain mostly covered with floating rafts or floating vegetation. You can even water garden in a hose ban or drought with aquaponics!

lettuce colors

Some colors of lettuce

If you liked this article, I have collected similar articles about aquaponics in the more than 30 chapters of ‘Aquaponics Global Anthology 1′ printable ebook, available for download here: [paiddownloads id="1"]

Jul 16

Drought, The Polar Ice Caps, And Aquaponics.

lettuce seedlings in the UVI aquaponics system

Lettuce seedlings in the UVI aquaponics floating raft system. 29 days from seedling to market size.

All over the world, weather patterns are being affected by record melting of the polar ice caps this summer.  This is causing drought in the United States and South America, while record rainfall in places like the UK is causing serious flooding. This is because the icy water released is altering the course of the Gulf Stream and other ocean currents that drive the weather globally.

Meanwhile, farmers are suffering from crops being lost due to this melting of the polar ice caps.  This means the price of food will go up sharply worldwide by next year or earlier without a doubt, as food supplies from last year are exhausted and not replaced from harvests that failed this year.

In conventional farming, it takes a whole season in most cases, 180 days at least, to replace a crop that has failed, and if the crop is grown in a place with a harsh winter climate, it will take a year for that crop to be replaced. So in many parts of the mid-western United States, for instance, where the winters include snow and ice, the grain crop that is currently failing will not be replaced for a year.

In aquaponics, a water-saving farming method using a mechanical aquaponics system (see image, left) which requires less than 10% of the water used by conventional farming methods, crops grow up to twice as fast at up to half the plant spacing in the rows.  This means that if a crop fails for any reason, up to twice as much food as grown in conventional farming can be grown in up to half the time. Leafy green spin

Also, droughts cannot affect an aquaponics system very badly, since it constantly recycles the water it uses, and only loses less than 10% of the water used a day to the outside, where this water is reharvested and can be used for normal soil crop irrigation.  Crops in an aquaponics system are grown in this recycled water from intensive fish farming, and the water is then returned clean to the fish to be re-used again and again.  A well designed aquaponics system actually loses only around 1.5% of the water in the system daily to the outside for re-use elsewhere.

Conventional farming loses 90% or more of water used daily to the environment.  This is why it is so vulnerable to drought. This is the same using a drip irrigation system or overhead irrigation. The water used in a drip irrigation system is only used once.  It is not recycled for re-use over and over again. Although a drip irrigation system is a good way to save water during a drought, it is not nearly as drought-proof as an aquaponic system, which, although it grows crops in a large volume of water, is specifically designed not to lose any significant amount of that water to the environment through evaporation and venting to the outside. A great many different crops including corn and pseudograins such as amaranth and quinoa can be grown very successfully in a properly managed and designed aquaponics system.  Amaranth is related to ‘Chinese spinach,’ a stir-fry vegetable.  Both the leaves and the seed heads, which require little further processing, can be eaten.

With this year on year continued massive meltdown of the polar ice caps and subsequent disturbance of weather patterns, drought and flood conditions look set to continue.  This does not bode well for the world’s food supply and all farmers need to save water and be in better control of water use generally. Also where floods are concerned they should be able to protect their crops from those, too.

With aquaponics, they do not just get crops but also useful protein, in the form of sustainably farmed fish.

By growing a much larger proportion of our food in aquaponics system tanks along with fish, which supply the nutrients for the plants free of charge, crops can be grown in controlled off-the-ground aquaponics systems. Aquaponics systems are intensive fish farms tied into intensive hydroponics systems, where the fish waste water is pumped around hydroponics systems and then back to the fish rearing tanks. No expensive fertilizers are needed. The fish make the fertilizer. It’s organic!

A short on-site training session is all that is required to turn a conventional farmer into a skilled aquaponics system farmer. Such a farmer is prepared to farm without being anything like so vulnerable financially to the weather in the form of drought and flooding.  If the funds are available, an aquaponics system can even be built inside a climate-controlled greenhouse!

Jul 14

Arduino-Based Aquaponics In a Food Desert.

[YoutubeFancyZoom=3IryIOyPfTE]

This is food being grown in an aquaponics system in the middle of a concrete food desert in Oakland, California, USA.  Food and fish are growing well due to a lot of dedication and attention.

This is a clear explanation of a small aquaponics system that is almost completely automated and off-the-grid. It uses solar power. This aquaponics system talks to the farmer on his mobile phone, telling him what is going on with his fish and if his food is growing well.

However, if any of the automated sensors break, for any reason, disaster could happen to an aquaponics system, with no-one actually there to fix it.  A lot of aquaponic systems have a 30-minute time margin before massive fish deaths begin due to aeration and pumping not happening or being substantially reduced. This will happen even in an automated system. This means that if you get stuck in a traffic jam trying to get to your automated aquaponics system to fix the pump, many if not all of your fish could be dead by the time you get there. Automated systems for aquaponics are certainly attractive, but you have to realize they also have automated limitations!

If the sensors are out of action, you may arrive the next day to find a lot of dead fish and your plants wilting.

Growing media based aquaponics systems like the one in the video do not retain water in the growing media.  Inert growing media such as pea gravel and expanded clay balls, also called “clay rocks”, “hydroton”, and “hydroleca”, do not retain or store water like earth and compost do.  If the pump is out of action, in a flood and drain system, or even some constant flow systems without standpipes in the growing media filled growing beds, all the water will return to the fish tanks. Then the growing media will rapidly start to dry out.  If this is happening in hot weather, you had better get there extremely quickly!

If you like this article, the aquaponics article-packed Aquaponics Global Anthology 1 is now available to download here:

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Jul 13

A Crop for Aquaponics: Edible Morning Glory or ‘Water Spinach’.

edible morning glory plant

Edible morning glory plant, ipomoaea aquatica.

An interesting reserve crop for aquaponics, which rapidly fills in for missing plants in plant positions in your grow beds or floating raft system, is the edible morning glory or “water spinach”.  This is a very popular food in the Far East.  Edible morning glory or “water spinach” will grow just by slipping cuttings of it into your aquaponic system. Its botanical  name  is  Ipomoea aquatica, (eep-oh-MEE-uh a-KWA-ti-ka, water loving Morning Glory.) It’s a native of China called “water spinach.” DON’T CONFUSE IT WITH NORMAL GARDEN MORNING GLORY, WHICH IS POISONOUS.  If you do find it in the USA, depending where you live, you’re expected to report it because it can be invasive. Where fresh water doesn’t freeze, such as Florida, it is colonizing the waterways. In northern areas, winter keeps it from spreading. If you are growing it in an aquaponic system, it is difficult for it to spread, since it is contained by the tanks.

There are two versions of I. aquatica, narrow leaf and wide leaf, both are edible. And actually they come in two colors. The “green” version has green stems and white flowers with red throats. The “red” version has purple-tinged stems with pink or lilac flowers with red throats. They both grow only in water, or very damp soil, when not growing in aquaponics systems. The vines, with milky sap, can reach up to 70-feet long (the state of Florida says only nine feet.) Shoots and leaves are the edible parts of your crop. You will not find this plant growing in dry areas.

However, you will be growing this crop to eat as a stir-fry vegetable in an aquaponics system, and will not be likely to see the flowers.  The shoots make up a cut and come again crop, however, as long as you leave an inch or so of stalk and leaf on the plant. They grow very rapidly in aquaponics and can cover your grow bed or floating raft system with a crop of edible shoots in as little as three weeks.  Edible morning glory or ‘water spinach’ is a very popular vegetable in Thai and Chinese restaurants, where you would find a market for your crop, no doubt.

Edible morning glory or “water spinach” is raised as a vegetable in Florida under strict conditions and only for out-of-state sale. It is also grown commercially in Texas, Hawaii and California. In the United States it is found in the wild in (mostly central west) Florida, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. I first came across it growing luxuriantly in the aquaponics system at the University of the Virgin Islands, though I had eaten it innumerable times when living in China and Thailand.

It can be eaten raw when found in wholesome water. The water in your aquaponics system should be wholesome, if you have paid attention to water quality and hygiene around the system.  Fish are cold-blooded, so fish farm waste water does not carry bugs that are harmful to humans (who are warm-blooded), unless humans have introduced them from elsewhere.  Otherwise, edible morning glory or “water spinach”  should be cooked. The leaves are 48% carbohydrates, 24% proteins, 13% ash.  They are rich in minerals and a good source of  vitamins A, C and E. That is a better nutritional profile than a lot of other green leafy vegetables. It is a major food crop and vegetable in its native lands. The roots are sometimes eaten. Like other members of this family of plants, these edible morning glory roots are toxic to horses.

If you like this article, the Aquaponics Global Anthology 1 is available for instant download here: [paiddownloads id="1"]

Jul 12

Build A Backyard Aquaponics System From An IBC Tote.

This is how to build the backyard aquaponics system from an IBC water tote.

MAKE SURE IT IS CLEAN AND HAS NOT BEEN USED FOR CORROSIVE CHEMICALS.

[YoutubeFancyZoom=l8bEOfw6rdU]

How to build a bell siphon which auto-times the flooding and draining of your backyard aquaponics system:

[YoutubeFancyZoom=CN30TOayO7U]

Some rules of thumb for building your backyard aquaponics system:

  • Always wear protective gloves and goggles when using an angle grinder to cut metal
  • Make sure the hydroton or hydroleca brand expanded clay balls are well and truly rinsed clean before putting them in your backyard aquaponics system.
  • Don’t use water straight from the tap in your aquaponics system, and then put in the fish.  Allow it to rest (age) and circulate WITHOUT FISH IN IT for at least 48 hours to allow any chlorine to gas out of it.  If your local water company puts chloramine in the water, you will have to buy aquarium water conditioner and use it as per the instructions on the bottle to get rid of all the chloramine before putting fish in your backyard aquaponics system.
  • MAKE SURE ANY WIRING IS NOT ABLE TO TRANSFER DRIPS TO YOUR POWER POINT (PLUGHOLE).  Make a kink (a ‘drip kink’) in flex that is below the level of the power point before the plug goes in.
  • Generally make sure all outdoor electric equipment is secured against damp and uses suitable exterior power points manufactured for out of doors use.  You don’t want your backyard aquaponics system to fry you or your fish or any children who touch it!
  • Make sure the expanded clay balls in your grow bed are filled in there to a couple of inches above water level to prevent the growth of algae.
  • Make sure your immersible pump, if you have one, is always a couple of inches below the water surface of your fish tank, or it may well burn out.

Why a bell siphon is a good idea:

Many plants don’t like to have their roots constantly in water, only damp.

By having the bell siphon constantly emptying the water out and refilling the grow bed, air is introduced into the bed. The bell siphon ensures there is always oxygen present in the grow bed.  This encourages strong root growth, and helps to prevent plant root diseases from getting hold of your crops. But the roots of the plants are not constantly sitting in water, or stale water, all that oxygen prevents the grow bed from going stagnant.

A bell siphon also uses no electricity, and is easy to maintain.

IBC TOTES: These are available all over the world, and are reasonably cheap to buy second hand. Many factories use them for supplies, then discard them. Always make sure to wash out an IBC tote and rinse it thoroughly so no traces of soap or detergent are present to harm your fish. Fish are really very sensitive to chemicals. Make sure your IBC tote is thoroughly clean before use!

The IBC tote water tank is used to build BOTH your fish tank and your grow bed, you don’t need to buy any more fish tank and grow bed material.

If you like this article, but don’t have time to browse the rest of this rather large website, I have edited the last six months of posts here  into the Aquaponics Global Anthology 1: [paiddownloads id="1"]

Jul 11

Constructing And Operating A Commercial Aquaponics System.

aquaponicsclarifierinteriorconstructionIf you are reading this, I’m assuming you are rearing to go and construct a commercial-sized aquaponic system.  You have already built and run your backyard-sized system, and have done what I always advise, start small and get some experience with constructing a small home system and see if you like it.

You see, having an aquaponic system is just like having your own child.  Unless you can afford to hire a qualified nurse, you can’t leave it. Yes, it’s automatic, but not THAT automatic.

Aquaponics systems are not just machines.  They are full of living things.  Automatic feeders break and overfeed.  Just recently, a famous commercial aquaponic farmer had one of his most trusty automatic fish feeders break.  When constructing his aquaponics system, he thought he would save time and money by installing this automatic feeder.  It overfed 2000 fish, the water in their tank went toxic, and they all died. All of them.

When construction a commercial aquaponics system, consider carefully all the logistical time-and-money aspects at the planning stage, so you will not have these experiences of stock and plant die-offs when operating it.

The advice of Dr James Rakocy, the ‘Father of Aquaponics’, on his famous course at the University of the Virgin Islands, in the United States, was that humans are always going to be better than automatic feeders.  This is because they have eyes and, surprisingly, brains.

Human feeding crews can be trained to observe the behaviour of your fish. If the fish in your aquaponics system stop eating, the trained human feeding crew will stop feeding them. An automatic feeder will not do this.  If fish are refusing to eat at all, it is time to test the water for excessive nitrite and ammonia, fast. An automatic feeder will not do this. If you have excessive nitrite and ammonia in your aquaponics system, you need to change out the water 50% in a hurry. An automatic feeder will not do this, and if broken, will continue to dump food into the water until it is empty.  The uneaten food rots, spoiling your water quality, and the fish sicken and die.  Investment of time and money in rearing thousands of fish has been wasted, by having an automatic feeder.

Operating an aquaponics system is a complex business.  An aquaponics system is not a just add water and switch it on affair.

Get a properly trained human to show you the ropes, as many times as necessary.

Once you have been operating your small system for at least some months, and run it successfully, which takes time, patience and daily attention to detail, you and your happy fish will be about ready for something larger and more businesslike.

But this is a business.  Have you ever helped in operating a business?  Have you ever worked in a factory like this? If not, get some training. Of course, we have an M.B.A. on the staff…that’s someone with a Masters in Business Administration, and decades of teaching experience.

And this is large-scale construction.    I’m very familiar with the business ends of a tape measure, a spirit level, a hammer and a shovel.  Are you?

If I start going on about silicone sealant brands and guns, are you the sort of person who immediately falls asleep?  Allergic to glue, vinyl or the smell of setting concrete?  Don’t like to wear protective equipment such as hard hats and work gloves? Bad at maths?

Did you know that a lot of commonly used construction materials such as plastics and metals are very toxic to fish? No? You need to know the right ones to use.  This is a complex matter best left to someone who already knows about aquaponics systems.  Get professional advice when constructing your aquaponics system or you may end up with something that looks right, works mechanically, but is  totally lethal to plants and fish!

Do you actually own the land you are going to go constructing this large system on?  You’ll need at least 0.05 of a hectare, around an eighth of an acre, and half an acre is really the right size for getting a fast enough return on your investment (0.20 of a hectare roughly).

Most importantly, have you ever worked on a commercial aquaponics system of any size for any time?  I have.  It’s not all plain sailing, especially if some of the people on the job have no training and no experience.  Mistakes get made and plants and fish suffer.

Have you ever watched a fish suffer?  They feel pain, just like us.  Watching them suffocate because something someone did or didn’t do affected the water quality, and you arrived too late to do anything about it, is heartbreaking.  Doubly heartbreaking because the fish in question are still too small for marketing. Money and effort down the drain.

I even get upset about suffering plants.  They go yellow and droop, and don’t grow as fast as they should.  Again, you are running a business.  Your crops should be on a conveyor-belt schedule when operating an aquaponics system.  As soon as crops are harvested, new seedlings go into those plant locations to start soaking up the fish waste products in the water and grow, grow, grow!

If, three weeks before, someone forgot to plant those seeds in the plant propagation section, you are going to be in trouble, not only because your crops will fall off schedule, but because nitrates will start to build up in the fish water if your hydroponic tanks are not full to bursting with growing plants.

“What’s a plant propagation section?” you may ask.  It’s a separate greenhouse or part of your greenhouse where you are constantly planting new seeds in new soiless sterile media plant plugs in batches, to coincide with the plant input requirements of your hydroponic tanks.

Without the plants in your hydroponic tanks eating up the liquid fertilizer your fish and filtration section are producing, your fish will all die, poisoned by their own waste as the water in the whole aquaponics system recirculates back from the hydroponics section to the fish rearing tanks.

Did I talk about repairing and replacing pumps and regenerating air blowers?  Your electric bill? Alternative energy solutions? No?

Go and read the rest of this website (and others online about aquaponics).  This is not a just-add-water technology.

If you don’t have the time to do that, I have edited the last six months’ worth of how-to articles, explanatory reports, and general essays on aquaponics systems and aquaponic farming in general into the Aquaponics Global Anthology 1.  This is available right here to download in .pdf format, so you can print it out and read it at your leisure, for only $10. [paiddownloads id="1"]

Proceeds of the sale of this e-book go towards the cost of site maintenance as do those of the rest of the books on sale on this site.

You need help if you have no experience of running aquaponics systems on a large scale.

I am running an aquaponics consultancy here.  We are professionally trained aquaponics, aquaculture and business professionals with university qualifications and real experience. We are ready and willing to consult over Skype 
Call me! - Charlotte Appleton: Offline

» Get Skype, call free! or VCita (see Bookings, above) for a fee, or to come and visit you on a residency contract.   Aquaponics Global Ltd’s business is to make sure your new aquaponics system and farming business are set up and operating correctly!

Or else, well, you are almost certainly going to kill a lot of fish!