Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Aquaponics Rafting System

Was looking through some old pictures and found an 2003 Aquaponics system we setup for Ted and his dad. This was a fun project and I learned a lot from doing it. Now remember this was a larger scale setup and can be made to suite your family's needs.

What they wanted to do was grow (Ocimum basilicum) basil for local organic stores, so we had to figure out how many basil was needed to be worth the build and keep production going week in and week out. They already had commitments for about 200 units a week, so with a Germination to final harvest it would be about 3-4 weeks. 

We figured out that we could do 128 plugs per 4 ft by 8 ft by 2 in thick foam insulation sheet which we bought at local Home depot. So a total of 12 rafts at 128 cups each for a total of 1536 units. That worked out to be around 256 units per week which meet there needs on production, and allowed for any that didn't mature. We also choose Talipa as the fish of choice as we could set up 3 tanks to rotate out fingerlings as they grew down the line to final tank for harvest every 3-4 months. Now if you don't want to use Talipa then you can do Koi as a source for feeding the plants of choice for harvest. 

Blue Tilapia (Oreochromis aureus), Nile Tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) and their hybrids are common in mixed-sex cultures since they will attain a marketable size before commencing spawning. Species such as Mozambique Tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus) and Wami Tilapia (Oreochromis urolepis hornorum) are normally avoided since they will be too small when they reach sexual maturity. By choosing the right species or strains and providing the fish with a suitable environment and proper nutrition, it is possible to achieve a growth rate fast enough to allow fry produced in the spring to reach a marketable size by autumn in temperate regions. For a 4-5 month long culture period, we choose Nile Tilapia. So based on 1/2 pound per gallon we used 300 gallon tanks, starting with 125 fingerlings which will reach 1.0-1.5 which is within the balance of things. We moved them down to next tank about every two months, adding 125 more new fingerlings.

We also put a pre-filtration on the first tank before the fish to help trap heavy debris and various things like leaves, paticulents in water column.

We found a 3 local Vietnamese markets that wanted the live Talipa so the harvesting was covered, and provide a return for buying new fish and feed bill. So with the 256 units of basil at 2.50 per unit every week minus packing material of .05 per unit it wasn't to bad for a small setup (2500.00) per month and Talipa was a break even operation.

2" Net Cups
Ok so what did we use to do this project? 

15x50 45 mil EPDM
2- 2x14x8
1 4x8x5/8 ply-wood
6-bundles of 3/4"x3"x24" stakes
1 box of 1-3/4 screws
1 box 1-1/2 screws
4- tanks 300 gallons
1 Sequence 1/4 pump
1 Intake screen
75 ft of 2" pipe and assorted fittings
30ft of 4" pipe
7- 4" bulheads
5- 2" bulkheads
12- 4'x8'x2" foam insolation sheets (Rafts)
1- 100L air pump and air stones
1800 2" net cups

We will get into Germination in another artical, along with a "Purge Tank"  

We won't get into much detail as to how it all went together as the picture explains the basic setup. We will go into more detail on certain steps in another artical. As you can see we setup a raft table so you can pull out raft and pull cups for packaging, then empty's go to Germination room along with rafts to start over. At that time we loaded in new cups ready to make the trip down the river...... too start all over again.


More to come in next post............... Until next time!

Mark "Koiman" Lawson