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A Different Type of Aquaponics

Sometimes aquaponics can go to your head, you become so engrossed in the possibilities wondering what you can use to make a system that you even start to see aquaponics in simple day to day objects like food.. Fuzzmonkey is a member of the Backyard Aquaponics forum who has it pretty bad, in fact he has it so bad, that he’d prefer not to show his face, here’s his profile picture.

So Fuzzmonkey already had three aquaponic systems and he decided to build his fourth using a more unusual medium, sweets. Oh yes, edible aquaponics.

 

As with all good confectionery based aquaponic systems, it begins with a quality cake base for the growbed.  Don’t worry about the toes, they weren’t used in the making of the cake, it’s become a running joke on the forum to include toes in any photos. This first started when someone included toes in a photo by mistake, as can happen. Now it’s taken off and many a photo is carefully taken to include toes.

Now all aquaponic systems are powered by a fish species, Fuzzmonkey used a little know species called “sushi soyasauceus”.

These fish are normally found in their native habitat around sushi, but look quite at home  in this blue jelly/water.

So, what do you get when you combine some Malteser’s, Kitkat’s and other assorted confectionery?

Why an aquaponic system of course.  Complete with jelly filled drinking straw pipe work and seedlings emerging from the chocolaty growbed media. Fuzzmonkey felt that the system wasn’t going to get enough time to cycle, figuring that the system probably wasn’t going to last more than 24 hours at his house.  It seems that his latest system was more popular than his other three systems.

 

To show our appreciation of the hard work put into designing and making the system, we sent a pack a assorted goodies to Fuzzmonkey, that looks like one contented monkey.

Seems that this started a rash of people wanting to create new and inventive aquaponic systems, Charlie’s son built a copy of an IBC system using lego, looks like this one is owned by a turtle.

Then Charlie himself decided he didn’t want to be left out, creating a system in minecraft.

Andy

Andy lives in Brisbane and he wanted to keep things very simple by building a system with one pump, an IBC and a fibreglass growbed.  He decided on a “flood and drain” style setup to fill fast and drain slowly each hour.  After doing his homework each evening on the forum he was able to  formulate a simple and effective aquaponic system without breaking the bank.  Andy decided that he would dig the IBC far enough into the ground so that the bed would drain back into the fish tank.

The growbed is about a metre away from the fish tank ensuring that there lots of room around the bed for easy maintenance. Andy set up the plumbing so that in the main pipeline from the fish tank to the growbed, he’s included a T-piece with a side pipe and valve going back into the fish tank, this helps provide extra aeration by splashing water back into the fish tank, but if he needs more water going to the growbed, he can easily shut the valve off, pushing all the water to the growbed.

He’s also included a removable coupling (barrel union) which makes for easy removal of the pump if required.

30 Silver perch were added to the system to provide a source of nutrients for the plants.  The growbed receives 6 hours a day of full sun followed by dappled shade throughout the afternoon.  Gravel media provides good support for a range of lettuces and herbs planted in the bed.  A nice simple system utilizing an IBC as a fish tank.

 

Monitoring Your System

It’s good if you can keep a daily check on your system most of the time, a very quick visual check that the water level in the fish tank looks right, the fish are acting as they normally do, and the plants look healthy and happy will be enough. As you become used to your system, you can tell quite a bit from a quick look at the system, fish behaviour can change markedly when there are issues and it’s worth doing a little more research into unusual fish behaviour to watch out for. A typical example of this is when fish are “flashing”. Flashing is when fish rub their sides of their bodies on the base of your tank, this is generally because they are trying to dislodge something, often it’s can be a parasitic problem and one of the most typical causes of flashing can be Ich, a quick search for Ich on the BYAP forum will help you with further information on this. Some people like to test their water regularly, this is a good idea however you must be careful not to over react to readings. Most people who have trouble with their systems tend to be having troubles because they are often over reacting to test results. Extreme changes to a system can cause a lot of stress to the fish. For example, if you have a low pH, don’t react quickly by adding lime or other alkaline buffering agents. Firstly before adjusting anything you might want to be sure of your other levels in the water, high ammonia levels are not as toxic to fish when the pH is low and the temperature is low. So if you raise your pH you may be putting your fish at risk of toxic ammonia levels.

CLICK HERE TO SEE AMMONIA CHART

Over time and dealing with many beginners in aquaponics, here at BYAP we have found a minimalist approach works best for the majority of people in the majority of situations. Next we will deal with some of the most common problems people may come across and how we recommend you deal with these problems if they arise for you.