This is an entry in our current non-fiction writing contest By B
A few months ago, I learned of the practice of Aquaponic Gardening. As a homeschooling parent of a bunch of very active kids, I am always looking for multifaceted projects that can enhance my kids’ educational experience while being true to my prepper ideals. Aquaponics fit perfectly. My hope is produce both edible plants and fish to feed my family. It is true that this system, because of our geographic location, will always require a source of power to be successful – but the promise of locally grown food overrides this downfall. When SHTF, I guess I will learn how to make lots of dried fish quickly.
Here is how an aquaponics system works… The fish in the aquarium eat the fish food, duck weed and sometimes even table scraps. They excrete ammonia through their gills and they poop. The fish waste and water are pumped up and floods the grow bed several times an hour. The compost worms in the grow bed munch on the waste and the beneficial bacteria changes the ammonia to nitrites and then to nitrates. The plants use the nitrates and grow. The clean water is dumped back into the fish tank and the system starts all over again. Salad greens can be ready to eat in less than 6 weeks. Tilapia fish can go from fingerling size to plate size in about 9 months.
Living parts of the system:
- Fish, beneficial bacteria, compost worms, duck weed and plants
- Non-living parts of the system: 1/2 and 3/4 inch pvc plumbing pipes and elbows, grow bed, fish tank, platform for grow beds
- Electrical components: Grow light, pond pump, heater, air pump
Below is my experience in setting up a system.
When I began to research Aquaponics on the internet, many blogs recommended the book “Aquaponic Gardening” by Silvia Bernstein. I bought the book and spent many hours reading, thinking and making notes. One thing that I felt was missing from the book was a basic ordered list of things to do. There will be variations in this order depending on how and where you are setting up your system, but you will get the basic idea of what needs to be done when from the list.
1. Read and re-read Aquaponic Gardening, read everything you can find on the internet and try to find someone with a working system that you can visit.
2. Decide where your system will be located (inside, outside, greenhouse, basement). There are advantages and disadvantages to each.
3. Determine the size of your working space and source out your grow beds and fishtanks to fit your space. There are many options to choose from. Be sure to leave space for a tank to grow duckweed for your fish.
4. Build frames if necessary to hold the grow beds.
5. Now you will need to make decisions regarding – a) lighting (artificial or natural)
- b) plumbing (how big or complicated your system will be)
- c) grow media you will be using
- d) type of fish you want to raise
- e) increase the number of electrical outlets if you grow indoors (you will need to plug in the light, pump, heater and aquarium air pump)
6. Make and a bell syphon for your system – these are great fun to make and the kids still think they are magic!
7. Fill the fish tank with water, attach the bell syphon and the rest of the plumbing and watch the waterworks carefully to determine the fill/empty times of the growbed – adjust as necessary.
8. Begin testing water daily for pH, ammonia, nitrites, nitrates
9. Fill the grow beds with the grow media
10. Decide on type of cycling – with fish or without fish -
11. Plant seeds or plants in grow bed,
12. When nitrates appear in system, add fish to the tank and compost worms to the grow bed
It took me from January to the end of March to get my system to the point where I was ready to add the fish. Watching the setting up of systems on youtube makes me feel a bit embarrassed as they complete the whole system in about 20 minutes – BUT, they don’t have a farm, 7 kids, homeschooling, lack of aquaponic experience and hour and half drive to a big city to source out each the different components.
We are proud of what we have done and are looking forward to our first meal of fish and vegetables.
M.D. adds : Here is a great PDF Simplified Aquaponics Manual that is free to download that will provide even more info on this subject…
Prizes for this round (ends May 24 2014) in our non fiction writing contest include…
- First place winner will receive – A $150 gift certificate for Hornady Ammo courtesy of LuckyGunner, a Wonder Junior Deluxe grain millcourtesy of Kitchen Neads, a one year subscription to the Personal VPN service courtesy of unspyable and Three Survival Seed Vaults courtesy of LPC Survival.
- Second place winner will receive – Brand New, Sealed Case of Military MREs (Meal, Ready-To-Eat) a $119 value courtesy ofCampingsurvival.com and a Survival Puck courtesy of Innovation Industries.
- Third place winner will receive – a copy of my book ”31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness“ and “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat” courtesy of TheSurvivalistBlog.net a copy of “The Survival Medicine Handbook” courtesy of www.doomandbloom.net and a copy Herbal Antivirals and Herbal Antibiotics .