Monday, November 14, 2011

aquaponics 101 ....

so .... i am back after a weekend camping at the beach and am chuffed to say .... the fish survived!

the fish survived?  what are you talking about?
ahhhh ... i've been keeping a secret.
the aquaponics system is pretty much there.

i think it's important to highlight, for just a minute, the value and benefits of aquaponics.  they are great in small area's where you have limited space to grow things.  food grows 3-4 x faster than it does conventionally.  what happens is that the tubs are full of water from a pond that houses fish (in larger scale, you can get fish that you eat).  this water cycles through ... pumped from the pond into the grow beds.  the water is full of fish poo and nutrients from the fish that are heaps beneficial for the plants.  the plants use these nutrients and clean the water which, via a bell siphon, is periodically pumped back into the pond.  the force and dramatic pull down of the water from the grow beds, encourages the roots of the plants to grown down .... make sense?

i thot i'd just do one big post when the whole thing was flash with fish and veg.  but, as with all experiments there have been a few hiccups along the way.  so, this is a post about progress so far and some of the foibles along the way!  <g>  i figure a picture is worth a thousand words .... so i'll let the photo's tell the story.

first things first!  lets not forget what aquaponics is about!
an alternate way to grow our veggies ... and quicker too!
here, JJ is helping me transplant some of the green leafy matter to get better roots
before putting them in the aquaponics.
enter Scott, aka brillo with bath tubs and tubes to make
an aquaponics system work.  here he is checking out levels
for his bell siphon.
this is cool watching what dad is doing!
internal workings of a bell siphon.  
but what the heck is a bell siphon i hear you say?  all i can say is that it sucks the water out when it fills up because the air is trapped and it flushes.  i know ....pretty weak.  but have a look here on E-How.  that's the best i can say.  but i can tell you that it works, after figuring out a few foibles and with a few tweaks left to go .... yes .... it works!
the bits of our bell siphon for tub #1.

yeah for girl power!
so the next step was to start filling the  tubs with river pebbles.
there are these lightweight beads you can purchase which are VERY
expensive ... so we have opted for river pebbles.  a cheap alternative
that works just as well .... only real draw back is how heavy they are.
and no wonder it got done so quickly!  we had bumble bee and
batman helping us out!  
tada!  the tubs are fulled!  notice the black pipes.  these are from the
pond and are used by the pump to put water back into
the beds.
what a helper!  he is helping us fill the tubs and cycle through some of the
gunk from the rocks before we put the fish in.
that's me .... putting in our first plant....
a strawberry.  i was so excited!
doesn't it look fabulous with the spray of water!  the water, when at full
tilt sprays onto this rock and helps to aerate the water.
i wish i could say it was all running perfectly!  the next day we were gone the whole day and when we came home the plant was dead!  for some reason the pump wasn't working correctly and it didn't get any water on a very hot day.  we are having continued issues with our pump .... but scott is tweaking and pulling things apart and each day it gets better and better.  we have also put up a shade cloth.  hadn't realised just how much sun they get and i am concerned they will fry.  so we have a 50% shade structure.  it serves two purposes .... to shade and will act as a support for plants going in.  i anticipate plants within a week .... so watch this space!


  1. You have so much energy Maggie! I can't believe you just moved hundreds of kilometres and still have the stamina to set up an aquaponics system - inspiring!

  2. Maggie oh maggie...we logged on because we have been wondering how you and all the m gang have been going...and now we see that you are right back into it! Incredible, you aquaponics system looks wonderful, Je scooted straight over when I said "wow maggie's done it!"...can't wait to see the finished product. We are well, the first Crop & Swap was a huge success, but we wished you were there, pretty sure you would have loved it. Hope the kids are well and S too. Looking forward to chatting again soon,

  3. wow that looks interesting! you can see the kids had a great day building it. I really want to see it when the plants are going. Great work!

  4. Jo / Joe, Kim .... part two is coming and i am gob smacked at how quickly things are growing!