Exploring Sustainable Aquaponics Systems Mon, 06 Jun 2016 18:37:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 What’s powering the system? /2013/07/02/whats-powering-the-system/ /2013/07/02/whats-powering-the-system/#respond Wed, 03 Jul 2013 06:41:23 +0000 /?p=1242 more »]]> Well in this system the workhorses are the fish!

The system is home to 33 koi, 16 shubumkins, 2 large goldfish and two very large Plecos rescued from fish tanks they had out grown.
They have all grown so much since they arrived!
Currently they are eating aquatic plants, plants cast offs from the raft tank, scuds and commercial food.


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July plant update /2013/07/01/july-plant-update/ /2013/07/01/july-plant-update/#respond Mon, 01 Jul 2013 17:44:07 +0000 /?p=1236 more »]]> Here we are at the beginning of July and things are growing great in the greenhouse. I just wanted to share a few of these photos with you!
Cauliflower is doing great, this was one plant I wasn't sure would even grow.

Nasturtiums are taking over, I keep having to tie them up and throw them over the edge. Come take some of these yummy edible flowers home!

Lettuce, greens, spinach, dill and parsley are all doing great! Some of the plants however have started to bolt in the heat.

The broccoli did ok, they only formed small heads though before they started to bolt. Maybe starting the out earlier in the season would have been better.

The lettuce was fast growing, crisp, and tasty!


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Mmmm Spicy Flowers! /2013/06/21/mmmm-spicy-flowers/ /2013/06/21/mmmm-spicy-flowers/#respond Sat, 22 Jun 2013 04:59:36 +0000 /?p=1227 more »]]>
It's crazy how a little plant like the one above can turn into the giant mass below.
They are taking over the raft tank, we can't harvest them fast enough!!!

These edible flowers make a great and spicy addition to salads.




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THE best strawberry…. /2013/06/20/the-best-strawberry/ /2013/06/20/the-best-strawberry/#respond Thu, 20 Jun 2013 14:28:45 +0000 /?p=1246 more »]]> This is seriously the best strawberry I have eaten all season. Which is really saying something since we harvested gallons from our home garden this year.

It was huge, juicy super sweet. This berry came from the wicking pots and were still in a small amount of earth. This might be the best way for strawberries, at least in this system. The ones in the raft tank didn't do very well and the ones in the grow tower only produced a few berries.


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Little helpers /2013/06/15/little-helpers-2/ /2013/06/15/little-helpers-2/#respond Sat, 15 Jun 2013 15:35:29 +0000 /?p=1251 more »]]> Released about a hundred lady bugs into the greenhouse about a month ago, to help control the aphids.

I was hoping some would stay in the greenhouse, mate and lay eggs.

Look! These are lady bug larvae! They kinda look like tiny alligators. You definitely want to know how to identify these little guys and keep the around. The lavae are hungry and devour dozens of aphids a day. They also chomp on mites and insect eggs.



I already don't use any pesticides and in aquaponics using organic or natural products like insecticidal soap is dangerous for your fish and bacteria colonies. Most aquaponics setups are also placed in greenhouses which come with a particular set of pests and diseases. The best control once these pests are present are beneficial insects. It's best to try and keep these pests out in the first place, always thoroughly inspect the plants you bring in and it's best whenever possible to start your own from seeds or cloning.


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Little helpers /2013/05/15/little-helpers/ /2013/05/15/little-helpers/#respond Wed, 15 May 2013 18:02:42 +0000 /?p=1217 more »]]> Released about a hundred lady bugs into the greenhouse about a month ago, to help control the aphids.

I was hoping some would stay in the greenhouse, mate and lay eggs.

Look! These are lady bug larvae! They kinda look like tiny alligators!


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Vertical Airlift /2013/03/12/vertical-airlift/ /2013/03/12/vertical-airlift/#comments Wed, 13 Mar 2013 04:13:03 +0000 /?p=1208 more »]]>

Pretty simple airlift, just a tiny air tube moving water over 12ft!


This is the plan for the next phase of construction! Vertical air lift up to grow tubes and NFT system. What do you think of the new plan?


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Spring work party! /2013/03/12/spring-work-party/ /2013/03/12/spring-work-party/#respond Wed, 13 Mar 2013 03:30:40 +0000 /?p=1204 more »]]>

Saturday was sunny and beautiful. Many great volunteers showed up to lend a hand. We got a tremendous amount done, thanks so much!!!

Never to early to learn how to grow food!

New barrels installed now we can off gas and dechlorinate 100gallons at a time.



Look. At how great the strawberries are growing! Happy little aquaponic Berries!'


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Tour de Tanks /2013/02/26/tour-de-tanks/ /2013/02/26/tour-de-tanks/#comments Wed, 27 Feb 2013 07:43:07 +0000 /?p=1184



I will be giving tours of my system April15th-18th 1pm to 3pm come down and check out the system in person!


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Fishless cycling /2013/02/26/fishless-cycling/ /2013/02/26/fishless-cycling/#comments Wed, 27 Feb 2013 07:32:19 +0000 /?p=1182 more »]]> I started cycling for this system by using powdered ammonia. It worked pretty well. I wanted to share what my test kit looked like over the month.

This is what it started out looking like. Although nitrates and ammonia are flipped from how they will appear in the rest of the post.

So currently it shows test tube #1 PH is pretty high, above 7.6. Tube #2 nitrites are at 0. Tube #3 ammonia and tube #4 nitrates are both at 0.

Doing a little better now, PH is coming down ammonia is added, nitrites are still at 0

Ph looks good here about 7.2ppm. I over added ammonia, should have mixed it in a bucket and added it slowly rather than adding it directly, it took time for the ammonia to dissolve and mix fully. Nitrites is still at zero. At this point no reason to test for nitrates.

Hooray! First population of nitrifying bacteria are present. Due to the change the water becomes more acidic, Lowering the Ph. Tube #2 the ammonia is still really high, if I had fish in this would be a serious hazard. But tube #3 shows the presence of nitrites! This indicates nitrosomonas bacteria are present in enough quantity to convert ammonia to nitrites. Nitrates however at this point are at 0.

This shows that the ammonia is dropping and the nitrites are rising but still no detectable nitrates.

Finally the nitrates are rising! This can be seen by the last tube turning orange. Tube #3 is deepening purple showing a higher level of nitrites. With fish in the system this would have been toxic. You can also see that the Ph is still dropping, this can be buffered by adding builders lime.

After buffering with builders lime the Ph is back in normal range Tube #1. Ammonia is dropping in Tube #2. Nitrites are rising in Tube #3. And now in Tube #4 the nitrates are rising which indicates a healthy population of nitrobacter.

Here the nitrates in Tube #4 are dropping due to them being utilized by the plants as food. Ammonia in tube #2 is still high but there is no detectable nitrites in tube #3. I believe this is due do the Ph dropping too low which put the nitrosomonas bacteria into a hibernating state. Which you can see in the yellow color in tube #1.

Here you can see the nitrates in tube #4 are still rising and the ammonia in tube #2 are still dropping. There are still no detectable nitrites. But I don't believe that this means they weren't present but rather the being converted quickly to nitrates. Even at this low Ph the nitrobacter bacteria are still doing great.

Finally the system is fully cycled! Tube #1 the Ph is 6.8, Tube #2 the ammonia is almost to zero, Tube #3 nitrates are down to zero and the nitrates are high. (later finding my nitrate test kit is a little off, so they aren't quite as high as it looks)



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Aquaponics layout spring 2013 /2013/02/26/aquaponics-layout-spring-2013/ /2013/02/26/aquaponics-layout-spring-2013/#comments Wed, 27 Feb 2013 05:38:29 +0000 /?p=1170 more »]]> Current aquaponics setup at the Evergreen State College

New addition to the water return. This helps to off gas as well as add extra aeration.

These are a few plants in the bio filter. Horsetail and watercress.

Here is the DWC, deep water culture, or raft tank prior to putting in plants.

Rainbow chard is taking off nicely.


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Turn Key Aquaponics LLC /2013/02/17/turn-key-aquaponics-llc/ /2013/02/17/turn-key-aquaponics-llc/#respond Mon, 18 Feb 2013 07:33:36 +0000 /?p=1081 more »]]>  

This was an interesting small setup built as a demo piece for high altitude cold climate aquaponics projects.

This system from Turn Key Aquaponics was on the Aquaponics Association tour in Denver Colorado.

This is a picture of their greenhouse from the outside, didn’t look like much at first…


Looks a lot more spacious from the inside!

This project utilized gutters for vertical grow tubes,

and raft systems as well as media systems.

It was neat to be able to see them all together in one system.

This whole setup was powered by only a few tilapia.


The blue barrel here was used for off gassing water from the tap before topping off the system water.

Tomatoes towering over our heads!
In the media bed there were numerous herbs but they were also growing a lot of non-edibles such as these succulents which were doing really well.
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Plants currently in the TESC AP system /2013/02/17/plants-currently-in-the-tesc-ap-system/ /2013/02/17/plants-currently-in-the-tesc-ap-system/#respond Mon, 18 Feb 2013 04:26:20 +0000 /?p=1148 ]]> /2013/02/17/plants-currently-in-the-tesc-ap-system/feed/ 0 Progression of Plants /2013/02/17/progression-of-plants/ /2013/02/17/progression-of-plants/#comments Mon, 18 Feb 2013 04:10:54 +0000 /?p=1123 Progression of mint cuttings to plants in 4 weeks in the TESC aquaponics system.








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On our way to fish! /2012/11/07/on-our-way-to-fish/ /2012/11/07/on-our-way-to-fish/#comments Wed, 07 Nov 2012 04:45:47 +0000 /?p=973 more »]]> Finally heater is installed and I have approval from the lab committee for fish, one more hurdle and we will be all set to put fish in.  Heater is turned on, im curious what the temp will be in the morning.  System cycling will start tomorrow.  I will start by adjusting ph and adding ammonia.  It will be interesting to see how fast the ammonia is converted.  I have system inoculant But I will wait to add until next week.  I don’t think it is necessary to inoculant but I am looking to see how much difference it makes before and after.  I’ll keep you posted!

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Water is flowing… /2012/09/20/water-is-flowing/ /2012/09/20/water-is-flowing/#comments Thu, 20 Sep 2012 14:51:10 +0000 /?p=930 …in the TESC Greenhouse!


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Water’s moving /2012/09/19/waters-moving/ /2012/09/19/waters-moving/#respond Wed, 19 Sep 2012 15:12:47 +0000 /?p=964 more »]]>



Thank you to everyone that came out and helped during the past few months and at last weeks work party.  Couldn’t have done it without you!

Finally water is in, pumps and aerators are on.  Everything is working great!


These rafts are made out of open celled foam, I will be replacing these with Blue Dow foam board.  It will hold up better and not fall apart.


It was so exciting to finally see the water in the system, water flowing, the system was functioning the way I planned!
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Workparty /2012/07/24/workparty/ /2012/07/24/workparty/#respond Tue, 24 Jul 2012 05:23:35 +0000 /?p=610 more »]]>

You guys were amazing!We finished attaching the greenhouse plastic!  It is trimmed up and looking sharp.

I started installing the siphon piping connecting the two aquaculture tanks.

We had an amazing workparty at the Aquaponics Greenhouse today!  A big thank you to everyone that came out a pitched in.  We got so much done today!  I couldn’t have done it with out you; big thanks to Evan, Heather, Mitch and Scott

Scott helped move a bunch of blocks to the end of the green house to make a stand for the Solids Separator.

Mitch and Evan set up the blocks and got them level.  Awesome job!

Evan helped getting the pump mounted at the end of the raft tank.


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Raising Aquaculture Tanks /2012/07/11/raising-aquaculture-tanks/ /2012/07/11/raising-aquaculture-tanks/#comments Wed, 11 Jul 2012 18:10:52 +0000 /?p=587 more »]]>


The concrete blocks were delivered last Thursday and were installed on Monday.  Johnny and Greg did a great job and they look fantastic!

By lifting up the tanks I aim to prevent overflow and to take advantage of gravity rather than just relying  on siphon feeds for connecting all of the tanks.  By designing properly water will flow from the top of the system to the bottom with only one pump.

  Although this is not my favorite solution, while working within the boundaries the college,(which means creating structures that can be removed)  as well as staying within budget this solution is the best for this project.  It would be possible in another situation to dig aquaculture tanks into the ground and having them as the lowest point in the system pumping up to the plants.

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Greenhouse Plastic Take 2! /2012/07/08/greenhouse-plastic-take-2/ /2012/07/08/greenhouse-plastic-take-2/#respond Sun, 08 Jul 2012 18:01:09 +0000 /?p=581 more »]]>  


Pulling the greenhouse plastic tight over the frame. On this greenhouse we were attaching the plastic with lathing, another option is channel lock using wiggle wire.

It is best to pull the plastic as tight as possible when installing.  The warmer the day the better, the plastic will expand and be the most flexible.



Finally the greenhouse plastic is up and installed!  We had a great group of volunteers show up and help out!  I wouldn’t have been able to get the plastic up without them.   Thanks to Heather, Jesse, Claire, John, and Nick!
Most importantly is to not try to do this on a windy day!  It seems every time we even talked about skinning the greenhouse the gods would laugh and kick up a little windstorm to make this task a little more fun…ha!




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