Is aquaponic farming truly viable on a commercial scale?

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by crsublette, Feb 9, 2014.

  1. crsublette

    crsublette coyotes call me Charles

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    To know more about wicking beds and a good explanation on how to properly construct them, then watch the video produced by Mr. Colin Austin called Wicking Bed Video with Katie. Also, Mr. Colin Austin has an excellent website with various other articles to read, calling Wicking Beds with Mr. Colin Austin.

    The video has answered two questions that have been nagging me that is: 1) why and how to properly use ebb/flow in a wicking bed; 2) an excellent demonstration of how to properly conduct vermiculture farming.

    The ebb/flow technique used with a wicking bed and nothing like the conventional way of implementing ebb & flow. So, the best way to explain it is to watch the video, which specifically talks about this at video marker 32:00.

    The video itself is quite long and information so much about wicking beds that it could be an interesting "how they do it" television episode.
     
    crsublette, Apr 7, 2014
    #21
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  2. crsublette

    crsublette coyotes call me Charles

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    Yay! Welp, Earthan Group's You Tube channel has returned... (y)

    Goes to show the potential of an aquaponic system. And the garden beds are quite minimal maintenance...

    Here is a favorite one I always enjoyed watching. It is quite inspirational.



    Here is the above garden one year later...




    Here is the construction video of another garden he built... I know he doesn't call it "aquaponics", but I find it is close enough due to the involvement of the goldfish.




    And here is another fun one... This one uses Crayfish to help out cleaning waste that falls into the raft, or deep water culture (DWC), grow beds, which these DWCs acts exactly like large pond settlement chambers, except without the vortex effect and are more pretty.





    Enjoy! :cool:
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2014
    crsublette, Apr 24, 2014
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  3. crsublette

    crsublette coyotes call me Charles

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    Well, I am very sorry to everyone that the previous videos are no longer available. I think Earthan Group, that is Mr. Van Der Werf, is doing some restructuring and, since this is more of a hobby project for him and he has very little free time due to his current UAE project, it might take a while until they become available again. I hope they are available again since they are quite inspirational and gives the extraordinary picture of the size and performance of flower gardens and even vegetable gardens that just our small goldfish ponds are capable of producing when a proper, very effective, low maintenance system is built.

    To refresh folk's memory, this fella uses a soil based, wicking, open looping, recirculating garden beds that are connected to what we would call a small pond, that is around 500 gallons to a couple thousand gallons or so.

    Truly quite amazing of the doors that open and what just our small goldfish ponds can achieve.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2014
    crsublette, Jul 25, 2014
    #23
  4. crsublette

    Mucky_Waters

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    That's OK, instead maybe tell us, in a few words, what you think about Anoxic Filtration. :whistle:
     
    Mucky_Waters, Jul 25, 2014
    #24
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  5. crsublette

    JohnHuff Friends call me Dr. Sir John Huff

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    How about floating plants into a separate connected pond with a mechanical filter. This would be a bog except that the dirt isn't trapped in the gravel, or you don't have to deal with the pots and setup for anoxic filtration.
     
    JohnHuff, Jul 25, 2014
    #25
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  6. crsublette

    dieselplower

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    I didn't read any of that but I was at Disney world a couple months ago and there was an aquaponics exhibit. The fish were way over crowded and their fins were clamped as tight as I've ever seen. Seemed abusive to me.
     
    dieselplower, Jul 25, 2014
    #26
  7. crsublette

    crsublette coyotes call me Charles

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    Yep, the results of poor management. In contrast, Mr. Van Der Werf videos included his home barramundi aqua-ponic system, with what other folk would suggest too high of a stocking density, and none of the fish showed signs of stress, such as clamped fins.

    There is a debate in the aquaponics industry between what is called "high density" aquaponics and "low density" aquaponics. "High density" aquaponics essentially describes a current aquaculture farm that flushes its effluent into a vegetable "hydroponic"-imitating farm. "Low density" aquaponics refers to growing as much plants as possible with the lowest fish stock density as possible. High density aquaponics have two major revenue streams, that is the fish and vegetables. Low density aquaponics has one major revenue stream, that is the vegetables with only the occasion, if not rare, sell of fish. Often times, in a commercial context, pure hydroponic vegetable farming is much more cost viable when compared to low density aquaponics due to the additional overhead costs involved in aquaponics, as mentioned in post#1.


    Important to keep in mind that general rules of fish per gallon is entirely dependent on feeding volume/regiment and filtration. Sure, there is a point where you do not want the fish crammed in there like sardines, thus causing stressed fish, and hurting each other due to feeding frenzies, but, generally, these general rules of fish per gallon is entirely dependent on feeding volume/regiment and filtration and, generally, pond size is irrelevant until a point.


    The aqua-ponic hobby is notorious for having "bad apple" operators suggesting insane stocking densities and thus the squeaky wheels gets the attention and gives the entire hobby a bad reputation. Articles below written by one of the industry leading, aqua-ponic proponents, that is Mr. Van der Werf with his current project in Dubai, UAE and here's a backyard hobbyist website made for non-commercial systems.

    To help determine stocking densities, then folk should read these two articles: 1) The Magical 100 Fish in 1000 Litres; 2) Bio-filter Sizing Advice and Calculator.


    Soil based, wicking, open looping, recirculating garden beds allow for better plant health with a much lower fish stocking density, as noted in post#19, point#2 and #3.
     
    crsublette, Jul 25, 2014
    #27
  8. crsublette

    crsublette coyotes call me Charles

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    Sad news to share. A group of online pillagers has attacked Mr. Van der Werf's online property presence involving Facebook, YouTube, and the Earthan Group website, except for what he has shared on the Aquaponic Nations forum is still quite available. To obtain updates about his UAE project, then you can read the thread, "Fellow APN member building the world's biggest commeral AP system?".

    To learn how to obtain access to a backup copy of his Earthan Group website, then read post#182 on this same thread.

    Words can not express as to how angry I am with how there are jerks in the world that want to ruin access to this information for others, except you can still find him on the Aquaponic Nation forum; although, keep in mind he is a very busy individual and free time is limited until the UAE project is finished.


    Mr. Van der Werf is very private, as he should be, due to confidentiality concerns and corporate espionage concerns. However, to watch a video of another major operation he built, then check out Blue Smart Farms.


    Mr. Van der Werf had excellent videos of absolutely beautiful backyard hobby systems, which all of them only involving goldfish or koi! The backyard hobby systems truly put to shame the systems of other hobby systems. With the hundreds of square feet of flowers and vegetables and fruits, he truly has created a paradise oasis for several schools where their kids can learn more about horticulture and aquaculture.


    Anyways... I need to get back to updating this thread since there is much more to share in regards to minerlisation, better bell siphons, better grow bed constructions, clever ways to insulate a greenhouse, and much more!
     
    crsublette, Oct 9, 2014
    #28
  9. crsublette

    crsublette coyotes call me Charles

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    I looked for the backup copies at the IWBM of the Earthan Group URL's that I have posted and found them all except for one of them, which was the article about "Earthan Group's plumbing of an open system wicking bed", since this was an article published in 2014 and, unfortunately, it was not crawled by the IWBM.

    For the other articles referenced in this thread that was successfully crawled by the IWBM, here you go...

    Earthan Beds - How They Go Together

    The Magical 100 Fish in 1000 Litres

    Bio-filter Sizing Advice and Calculator
     
    crsublette, Oct 9, 2014
    #29
  10. crsublette

    Dave 54

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    I dont know abpout Aquaphonics but Hydophonics is big business in the UK at this present time mostly for growers in the production of non comercial sized marijuiana plots i'e for personal use though its against the law , we read about it every other week in our local paper when the cops catch them.
    Strangely it is not illegal to order the seeds and the same shops sell the hydrophonic systems some of the growers are getting quite adept at it

    Dave
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2014
    Dave 54, Oct 16, 2014
    #30
  11. crsublette

    crsublette coyotes call me Charles

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    Yeah, unfortunate how folk instantly think of "marijuana" whenever the word "hydroponic" comes up. Although, in the states where it is legal here in US of A, the price tag per pound of marijuana being bought is crazy high! Last I heard something like $1,800 per pound back in 2011. This would definitely make aquaponics much more commercially viable. ;)
     
    crsublette, Nov 2, 2014
    #31
  12. crsublette

    MitchM

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    Looking forward to your updates, Charles.
    I'm having challenges with my system at the moment.
     
    MitchM, Nov 2, 2014
    #32
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  13. crsublette

    crsublette coyotes call me Charles

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    Sure feels like forever since I have been back to this forum... Been very busy with the farm along with all sorts of studying... Any-who... Thought I would do a quick update. :nailbiting:

    Everything is back to normal for Mr. Van der Werf and the Earthan Group... His calculators, website, and articles are back!! (y) AND... His incredibly inspirational videos are back! :happy:

    However, now he has a specific website just for the hobbyist crowd called Earthan Edge. The other website, Earthan Group, is still there, but there are bigger plans for it.

    Funny reading this thread now after I have learned so much since it was first created.... At least... an interesting primer for folk whom want to be interested in increasing their pond's functional and sustainable diversity to include edible garden plants... Just keep in mind to stop using carcinogenic pond products, by paying attention to the label, if desire to grow edible food from the pond...

    One vital aspect to being successful with growing more complex blooming and fruiting edible, such as tomatoes, is to capture as much fish waste as possible from your mechanical filtration and dump it into a mineralization tank... A mineralization tank is simply just a tank with a powerful aerator inside it... This huge influx of oxygen and mincing up of waste actually allows microbrial life to thrive so to mineralize the fish waste. Mineralization is the process of reducing complex organics into more plant soluble products. There is much more to it... can get very complex... but... also mineralization, just like nitrification, happens just fine on its own without tinkering, except at a much slower rate when done directly in the grow bed. I don't want to get too much more into it, but that is the general jest of mineralization and is important to be done...

    Mineralization is basically just liquid composting of fish waste. Here is a facebook post of Mr. Van der Werf showing how easy it is done. Just don't be shy with the aeration and don't worry about the aeration harming the microbes (because it doesn't)... If unsure, always over-do the aeration.

    Here are some articles that might help... Just keep in mind... when he says "fish tank", think "pond".... (y)

    7 Great Tips to Start Your Home Aquaponic System

    Organic Solids - 12 Nuggets You Need to know


    Now... for the more advanced enthusiast... Then look into creating using a "flow through" system for the pond... The pond is the "source of origin", which only receives fresh water (not plant water), and the flow through is what feeds the edible garden. Unbelievable how much water an edible garden consumes and, if the garden is built large enough, then the garden can easily fix all of your phosphate, nitrate, and other nutrient problems that leads to those aggravating pond algae outbreaks.

    To understand this system a bit better... Then study Mr. Van der Werf's UAE project design flow diagram. This design also gives so much more flexibility as to how the garden system can be managed.

    Biological Integration - A Revolutionary Approach to Design

    Simply substitute "pond" for "integrated aqua farm". (y)



    To begin... Simply start growing heavy nitrate feeders (that is annual-type vegetables), such as various leafy greens and particular herbs that do not require significant iron supplementation.... These plants will soak up your Nitrates and Phosphates incredibly well, they grow quite fast, and you get benefit of their nutrition.
     
    crsublette, Mar 20, 2015
    #33
  14. crsublette

    crsublette coyotes call me Charles

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    Definitely will do... Ugh, for one reason or another and then its another, this renovation is taking me forever to do... At first, I thought I had all the free time in the world to do this... and then I am told otherwise... Grrr... But... it will be done!!. :)
     
    crsublette, Mar 20, 2015
    #34
  15. crsublette

    crsublette coyotes call me Charles

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    crsublette, Mar 20, 2015
    #35
  16. crsublette

    crsublette coyotes call me Charles

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    Keep in mind folks... This above garden is essentially making the "ponds" attached to be self sustaining... except for the fish food part of course...
    • No pH adjustments needed for the fish....
    • No algae concerns... even though the "pond" water is very poorly shaded...
    • No water chemistry adjustments nor concerns...
    • Very little fertilizer to the garden if the soil profile is built correctly and these nutrients do not return to the pond water....
    • You can easily fertilize the soil garden portion on top or spray neem oil on top of the soil garden portion without worrying about it getting into the water hurting the fish.

    Now, this garden is being supported by around about 112 fish...

    So... there are applications of when a mineralization tank is not necessary... However, over time, I believe there were comments made hinting that a mineralization tank might have helped.


    For filtration... The design goes like this....
    • Fish tank to...
    • Raft system to...
    • Gravel/hydroton system to...
    • Soil wicking bed to...
    • Moving K1 bio-filter (or could be any other type of bio-filter) to...
    • Sump tank to...
    • Fish tank... to... etc etc. :)

    Raft system is aerated (acts like a crude mineralizer) and acts as a settlement chamber where the heavy fish waste reside...

    Gravel/hydroton system acts as a polisher where the finer, suspended solids are trapped....

    Soil wicking bed removes any remaining nitrates....

    Bio-filter converts any potentially existing ammonia within the water before the water goes to the fish tank...

    Sump tank significantly aerates the water before the water returns to the fish tank....


    Quite simple... Just takes some effort to build... :happy:
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2015
    crsublette, Mar 20, 2015
    #36
  17. crsublette

    crsublette coyotes call me Charles

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    Important to note that there are many asterisks (such as controlled/managed feedings) as to why a system, like the one above, maintains a stable pH without any maintenance nor additional material. This is not the only system that proves such benefits.

    Personally, I would do the design slightly different than above, but it is just an example.
     
    crsublette, Mar 21, 2015
    #37
  18. crsublette

    crsublette coyotes call me Charles

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    For an easy, traditional, no filtration, single loop system that provides most of the same benefits above as Mr. Van der Werf's Basin View system, then checkout the McMurtry's iAVS. ( Integrated Aquaculture-Vegetable System )

    Dr. McMurtry is considered to be the grandfather, or creator, of traditional single loop, "ebb & flow" aquaponics.

    At North Carolina State University, back in the early 1980s, Dr. McMurtry created and began his work with the iAVS as a student to a professor, D.C. Sanders, whom significantly dwelved into hydroponics irrigation of sand grow beds. Dr. McMurtry wanted to adapt the professor's knowledge to incorporate a fish system, which the fish system (rather than hydroponics) provided the nutrients for the plants.

    The iAVS system was actually developed to be a low tech, "off the grid" system for third world countries where there is minimal access to electricity (primarily solar) and summer heat temperatures are quite extreme. The iAVS system has undergone university and doctoral trials over a short period of time. The USDA in the 1990s actually funded a small project to try to prove the commercial feasibility. The references are provided at the very bottom of this post.

    Again... remember, just substitute "aquaculture" and "fish system" with "pond". (y)


    The iAVS is a pump fed, with gravity flow return, system primarily utilizing sand as mechanical filtration, mineralization, biological filtration, and oxygenation. To help explain the design flow....
    • Dirty solid waste water is pump fed to the top on a timer that can be anything such as, 15 minutes pump is on and 1~2 hours pump is off...
    • Solid waste is trapped near the surface where algae grows...
    • Algae acts as the primary decomposing mineralizing actor and nutrient storage until the plants get larger...
    • As water percolates through the sand, then the sand's surface area performs the proper duties of nitrification...
    • As water drains through the sand, then fresh oxygen is pulled into the sand also oxygenating the water.... This is why the pump is only turned on for 15 minutes and turned off for 1~2 hours...

    For a hobbyists implementation of the iAVS, then check out: Ravnis' Sand Bed #1.


    To understand more about the exact specifications to build the iAVS with clarification from Dr. McMurtry, then check out the threads: 1) Sand Bed Details; 2) Raft vs Flood/Drain.


    Here are the references, published articles, and resources involving the iAVS.

    Quick heads up so to avoid confusion... When iAVS is the subject... the word "biofilter" refers to the sand grow bed... Often times, when the iAVS is the subject, the words "biofilter" and "sand grow bed" is used interchangeably.
     
    crsublette, Mar 21, 2015
    #38
  19. crsublette

    crsublette coyotes call me Charles

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    Personally, if my desire was to do a single loop system with my pond and you can obtain the sand, then I would do the iAVS rather than grow medium involving gravel or hydroton.

    For folk that want attach a gravel or hydroton grow bed system to your pond, then check out Dr. Lennard's calculator...

    Backyard/Hobby System Aquaponic Domestic System Design Tool

    Dr. Lennard has become quite involved, alongside with Dr. Rakocy, in helping to improve the hobby of aquaponics... To learn more about these two, then check out the The Aquaponic's Doctors' Story.

    This calculator might also help in other areas when you are trying to decide on how to plan a vegetable grow system to attach to your pond.
     
    crsublette, Mar 21, 2015
    #39
  20. crsublette

    crsublette coyotes call me Charles

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    For folk whom want to use a siphon device to drive the ebb & flow mechanics, then check out the Bernoulli Bell Siphon. This is really the best bell siphon construction I have come across and the involvement of using the Bernoulli effect, which is used in fluid dynamics engineering, is what really makes the device perform quite well


     
    crsublette, Mar 21, 2015
    #40
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