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Aquaponics Explained

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#21 andy

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Posted 02 February 2016 - 10:13 PM

I find the subject confusing and difficult at times Kenny! I am certainly no chemist, and to think about it, my school chemistry lessons were many years ago!!!

Some of the problems I have accounted with my systems in the past (I think not major problems).

I had developed green water (build up of algae). (This proceeded to starve the water and growing system from oxygen). Not a big problem to sort out, I used a proportion of shell grit and air stones, the probable cause, was sun and heat, with the system in the greenhouse. This is why I have concerns of growing in hot countries like Cambodia.

I have talked about system cooling before, possibly by radiator cooling, or it could be acceptable by the use of simple shading.

To add to the problem the plants (I stress only the Lettuce starting to wither) again this could have been a sunlight problem. Different plants thrive on higher or lower pH levels. Good to try, to achieve and maintain a pH level of 6.8.

My fish large Ghost Carp at the time, where jumping out of the tank (lack of oxygen or too hot). Remedy for this was to put the tank outside the greenhouse and give the fish shade, also reducing the algae. (and putting a lid on the tank). Fish will also feed on the algae.

I think over time most Aquaponic Systems tend to settle down and find their own Eco balance, (without the aid of chemicals). So the farmer can intervene, and adjust slow measures for good vegetable growing and livestock care, or when he or she is concerned that there are major problems with the system.                


Edited by andy, 02 February 2016 - 10:30 PM.

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#22 andy

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Posted 07 February 2016 - 04:08 AM

Aquaponic - Microgreen and Sprouting System

 

Microgreens - Tiny edible plants that are older than a sprout, but younger than a full-grown plant. Microgreens are harvested after the first (true) leaves have developed.

Nutrients measured in Microgreens,  are as follows -

·         Ascorbic acid (vitamin C).

·         Tocopherols (vitamin E).

·         Phylloquinone (vitamin K).

·         Beta-carotene (a vitamin A precursor).

 Plus other related carotenoids in the cotyledons.

Further plant use -

Microgreens!  for planting on (until mature) Ether acquaponic or soil based planting.

(This will be more appropriate,  as the costs for harvesting young crops for consumption would be rather expensive).  

Grain Sprouts! For animal feed, and planting on (for agricultural soil based planting).

Growing media - Coconut Coir – Should be widely available in Cambodia.

(I would be looking at course matting, and developing grow plugs with the material).

Fish-Tilapia - Commercial tilapia farms will usually feed their fish pellets made from fishmeal, grain, soybeans or other food products. In the wild, tilapia will eat vegetation, algae, plankton, insects, larvae, decaying organic matter, fish wastes, small fish and just about anything edible that they can get in their mouth.

System water - Collective rainwater.

The pH of collective rainwater is between 5.5 and 6.0 because of carbon dioxide that's dissolved in the atmosphere. (Rainwater is ideally suited for the system).

 

Introduction to the pH scale

 

pH.PNG

 

The colours observed in solutions when universal indicator is added

The pH scale is a measure of the relative acidity or alkalinity of a solution (see diagram).

So, knowing the pH of a solution, you know how acid or alkaline it is by reference to the pH scale (diagram above) or whether the solution is neutral.

The smaller the pH number, the more acid it is, the greater the pH number, the more alkaline it is, and if the pH is close to 7, you have a more or less neutral solution that has neither acidic or alkaline chemical properties.

System pH levels - Maximum nutrient absorption rates would work well at around 5.5 to 6.8. (for the planting I have recommended for this system).

Plant growing- For example

Tomatoes, Peppers and Cucumbers are all flowering plants and prefer slightly more alkaline water.

Lettuce, Basil, Swiss chard and or green leafy plants are much happier in a slightly less acidic solution.

Altering pH levels - For gentle buffers that provide potassium and calcium I would recommend potassium bicarbonate and calcium carbonate. Be sure to only use small quantities at a time since you don’t want to raise your pH much.

A simple way many people will add calcium carbonate to their system is to put some shell grit or limestone chips into a mesh bag or some stockings and hang them in the tank. If the pH value, rise too high in the system, you can pull them out for a while till the pH starts to drop again.

Potassium bicarbonate can also be used mixed with water to spray on plants to combat certain moulds and mildews.

Nutrient Shutdown - This occurs when the pH is way too high or low and the plants cannot absorb the nutrients in the system. Plants will start to wither, show signs of leaf curl begin to yellow, have stunted growth. In effect, the plants are starving to death.

New System build proposed

Settling basin - Separating solid wastes and uneaten fish feed.

Bio filtration - Pollution control of the system.

NFT System - Nutrient Film Technique. This is a hydroponic irrigation technique, where a flow of water containing all the dissolved nutrients needed for plant growth is circulated through the plant roots. (Clear irrigation pipes and Coconut Coir filled grow beds).  

Fish will be raised in fresh clear rain water. The water will flow into the settling basin. Then will be pumped into the planting system and returned to the fish tanks via the Bio filtration bed.

The system will be low water flow, due to N.F.T and slow flood and drain beds. The system will be nutrient-rich, providing bio-security and food safety.

 

 NFT.png

 



#23 andy

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Posted 07 February 2016 - 09:49 AM

 set.png

 

Looking to find synthetic filter materials for this system. The tank filter is removable for cleaning. The aim with this system, is to keep it very clean, Very much like a hydroponic system. Hopefully to keep the pH levels constant and steady. The system will only be organically controlled. Aerators will be housed in the fish tanks and the gravity feed tank. 


Edited by andy, 07 February 2016 - 10:06 AM.

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#24 Paul

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Posted 07 February 2016 - 02:23 PM


Plant growing- For example
Tomatoes, Peppers and Cucumbers are all flowering plants and prefer slightly more alkaline water.
Lettuce, Basil, Swiss chard and or green leafy plants are much happier in a slightly less acidic solution.

 

Would this be reason enough to possibly run two separate, smaller aquaponics systems?


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#25 Kenny

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Posted 07 February 2016 - 05:48 PM


Plant growing- For example

Tomatoes, Peppers and Cucumbers are all flowering plants and prefer slightly more alkaline water.

 

The Philippines department of ag advised me that tomatoes need calcium to fruit.

On Camiguin, a volcanic island, there is very little to no calcium in the soil so tomato growers are advised to add egg shell or similar to the soil before or when planting out.

I would guess that holds true for peppers too.


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#26 Kenny

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Posted 07 February 2016 - 05:58 PM

Would this be reason enough to possibly run two separate, smaller aquaponics systems?

 

Paul, would it be possible to use your dams to hold the water supply and pump it to the location where, for instance, your hydroponic plant were?

Such a large body of water, with fish in it and water birds shitting in it should, with care, be near perfect for such use.

If you only had a small installation, say a few square meters of sprouts, a hand pump a few times a day should work, keeping in mind that sprouted seeds don't need anywhere near the nutrients that a full grown aquaponic grown plant requires.

 

My guess would be that you could sprout mats of grain to a 6" or more level without modifying the pond water nutrients or pH at all.

.


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#27 Paul

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Posted 07 February 2016 - 10:35 PM

Paul, would it be possible to use your dams to hold the water supply and pump it to the location where, for instance, your hydroponic plant were?

Such a large body of water, with fish in it and water birds shitting in it should, with care, be near perfect for such use.

If you only had a small installation, say a few square meters of sprouts, a hand pump a few times a day should work, keeping in mind that sprouted seeds don't need anywhere near the nutrients that a full grown aquaponic grown plant requires.

 

My guess would be that you could sprout mats of grain to a 6" or more level without modifying the pond water nutrients or pH at all.

.

 

While assuming the ph levels would be fine, not sure what I would do after rainy season when the land dried up?

 

If I have water storage to top up the (much smaller) aquaponics system, I think that would be the only way to be guaranteed a year round system, wouldn't it?

 

At the moment, I am unable to find any sort of tub. I know food grade (30 / 50 / 55 gallon sizes) drums are available. I am also considering trying to find old poly water tanks to cut in half, as well.


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#28 andy

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Posted 08 February 2016 - 01:40 AM

The Bio-filter

The Aquaponics system is a natural bio-filter! The fish waste is basically ammonia, it is converted by bacteria into nitrates (the nitrogen cycle).  The plants extract the water and nutrients they need to grow, cleaning the water for the fish.

But with this system we will have a simple man-made bio-filter, to help along with the natural process.  

The use of synthetic filters should limit unbalancing the pH to the system.

 bio.png


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#29 andy

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Posted 08 February 2016 - 01:50 AM

Would this be reason enough to possibly run two separate, smaller aquaponics systems?

Yes Paul. That is what I have in mind. To make two identical systems for different pH levels. I am aiming for very clean water system! but to produce just the needed nutrient's and less waste to do the job. It may all sound a little clinical, but I want to prevent any foreseen problems from the beginning.

 

 sys.png  

 

The system with rain water collection tanks. The system will also benefit from being housed to prevent pests.


Edited by andy, 08 February 2016 - 02:48 AM.

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#30 Kenny

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Posted 08 February 2016 - 08:51 AM


While assuming the ph levels would be fine, not sure what I would do after rainy season when the land dried up?

 

So the pond/dam dries up?

How long for? How many months with no water?


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