About three or four years ago I came across an idea of growing food as I was researching on how to grow my own food for just many reasons. One of the reasons is economic. The other is health.
The concept is hydroponics, growing of vegetables in a soil-less environment using water and water-soluble nutrients for the plants. The concept was new to me so I got excited and tried to learn more about hydroponics. I watched YouTube videos here and there and spent significant hours researching what hydroponics is all about. The results I have seen are amazing and setting up is relatively easy for both indoor and outdoor configuration.
The concept of hydroponics caught my attention because of its promise to grow organic produce in the comfort of your home. Moreover, the idea of maximizing a small space to grow food is another plus with hydroponics. The idea is virtually perfect!
Until I stumbled upon "aquaponics" and practically planted my face on it.
My first try on aquaponics 4 years ago.
Why I Love Aquaponics?
Hydroponics is a really good concept in growing your food like green leafy vegetables and salads. However, there is a recurring expense in hydroponics: the nutrients for the plants. You will need to periodically purchase these nutrients that usually come in two formulations, that is, A and B. Really catchy names, huh? If you are planning to be sustainable and off-grid, hydroponic may not be your best solution.
A very familiar setup in hydroponics. But this one is my aquaponics setup with fish in the aquarium below.
In aquaponics, the concept of hydroponics is carried out, except for the formulated nutrients. In lieu of the nutrients which you need to purchase, you have the fish. Yes, swimming, live fish.
Another thing that I love with aquaponics is that the possibilities of learning is endless. Science is the heart of aquaponics: physics, chemistry, botany, zoology, entomology. There is agriculture, gardening, plumbing, carpentry, and many other skills you can develop through aquaponics. Mathematics is also present.
A More Established Setup
I have further drilled down the path of aquaponics with the following setup:
I spent time, effort, and money on this project and really enjoyed doing it. The work was therapeutic and I have learned so much about aquarium fish and how to take care of them. As I went on exploring more ways to improve my aquaponics, I started moving outdoor and setup a larger scale.
See this link for the video: https://photos.app.goo.gl/DLwT8uNLJEnmffcw9
The video showed some small tilapia fish when I started. After 2 months or so, these guys have grown beautifully.
I fed them with fish food and supplemented with duckweeds. Tilapia loves duckweed which is a high-protein food source.
Building a New System
I have been tasked to build a new aquaponic system and this time it's larger than the last time I made. The materials are ready and are just waiting for me to lay my hands on.
I purchased 4 pieces of 55 gallon barrels cutting two of them to come up with 4 half-barrel cut-out. These will serve as my grow beds.
I have one barrel that will house the fish. Using a flat drill at first, I tried cutting the top as an opening for the fish tank. It proved to be laborious and time-consuming so I borrowed a jigsaw. I was able to cut and made the hole or opening in less than 5 minutes. See photo that follows.
A sump tank is part of an aquaponics system which serves as a reservoir for the water from the fish tank and grow beds. The sump tank will contain the water pump which will distribute the water into the grow bed and back to the fish tank. This design is called CHIFT-PIST (constant height in fish tank, pump in sump tank). The design prevents shortage of water in the fish tank which may result in dead fish.
The sump tank is the lowest component in aquaponics in terms of location. It's the barrel that lies down horizontally on the ground. Fish tank, on the other hand is the highest component in aquaponics. This allows gravity to feed the water from the fish tank to other parts of the system. See photo that follows.
Plumbing, Pipes, and Fittings
Unlike hydroponics, plumbing in aquaponics is more elaborate due to the addition of the fish. But once plumbing has been done, all systems go and little maintenance is needed for the system to function properly. Here I have 1 1/2" PVC pipes for the fish tank and 3/4" pipe for the grow beds. The sizes of the pipes depends on your future expansions, if needed.
Here are the fittings and connectors for the plumbing, as well.
And, of course, the pump. It's a 2800 liters/hour pump with a jet height of 2.8 meters. This is enough for my setup. Ideally, the water in the fish tank should recirculate at least 10 times in a day. With my pump, that should not be a problem.
I am going to use red tilapia, called "tubtim" in Thai. Right now, I don't have them yet. I need to go to Bangkok to get them. I live north of Bangkok which requires me to travel at least 2 hours. It's going to take a day for me to acquire the fish. Hopefully, I can get them when they are available. Optionally, I can also use the regular tilapia called "pla nin", which are black and gray in color.
Join me in my journey to building this new aquaponics system and in the process let's learn together. I know some of our Steemians are doing this same thing. I would like us to share information and experiences to better build a functional and efficient system.
Upvote and Resteem, pretty please...
FOLLOW @cjclaro if you are into growing your own food, aquaponics, or homesteading.