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A Very Simple Barrel System

A Very Simple Barrel System

I absolutely love Aquaponics gardening. Year after year, my Aquaponics system is the feature piece of my garden.  It’s a phenomenal, fun, way to mimic nature by creating a closed loop system that integrates aquaculture and hydroponics.  It’s also addictive.

What Aquaponics is not, however, the future of farming ,as many have labeled it. I am aware that this statement runs counter to many of the YouTube videos and local interest stories all over the internet, but I stand by my comments. I’m also aware that many of my Aquaponics posts seem to be negative towards a growing method I keep saying I love, but stay with me and I’ll explain.

First, Aquaponics is rather expensive to get into. Even a DIY backyard system is probably going to set you back several hundred dollars, while a kit will be at least $1200 and that’s for a small system.  Sure, a creative handyman can probably make something cheaper, but face it, most of us are just not that handy.

Secondly, they are fairly expensive to maintain, especially if you are going to try to grow indoors or all year round.  Growing in the winter, for example, is going to require heating the water, both for fish growth and for maintaining a strong colony of beneficial bacteria. Doing so comes at a price.  It you’re growing indoors, there is also the cost of lighting.

Someone will undoubtedly will suggest Solar power, and I’m all in favor of that. The thing is, a solar unit that will both operate the system and heat water is not an insignificant financial investment.

Our third limitation is the fish. They must be sourced, fed and replaced.  There are not many varieties that can be grown to market size in a single season without considerable inputs, thus reducing the profitability of the method. Tilapia, arguably the most popular fish for Aquaponics, is not cold tolerant and needs to be raised indoors or with heated water in the winter (in most parts of North America). Most cold hardy types require two or three growing seasons and must be over wintered.

Ornamentals, such as Koi,  and Bait fish, like minnows, are hardy options, but breeding them takes some practice and experience so potential profitability may be delayed.

Whatever varieties of fish we choose, they all require food inputs, and that’s another expense. Yes, it is possible, over time, to grow your own fish food, but that is another serious effort to accomplish.

None of these challenges are insurmountable nor are they meant to discourage an potential enthusiast. They certainly don’t discourage me. They do, however, demonstrate that Aquaponics is not the future of farming.

I write these articles to help newcomers have realistic expectations as they get started.  There are many thousands of healthy backyard systems operating all around the world. In some parts of the world, Aquaponics may be a part of a solution to the problems of hunger and water management. There are even a few profitable commercial operations, but the propagandists would have you believe that it’s a simple way to make a living growing fish and veggies together. Reality is a little different.

For those of you who have persevered and made your commercial Aquaponics profitable, I applaud you.  You have worked both hard and smart. As for me, I will stick to my seasonal backyard system that serves as an adjunct to the rest of my crazy integrated garden.

Aquaponics is indeed fun and can be worth the expense and effort.  It is not the future of farming, but that doesn’t mean we should abandon it. Not by a long shot. We simply need to be realistic.

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 It appears that Aquaponic Gardening in the USA is continuing to gather interest throughout the country, but it’s also facing a great deal of turnover due to the expense and fairly steep learning curve of start up.  Many excited newcomers, balk after seeing the high cost of pre made kits, or even the complicated nature of DIY when compared to growing in raised beds or traditional in ground gardens.

For those who manage a successful set up, new unforeseen headaches appear with water. Who really knew dechlorination and pH balance would be so time consuming and pricey, or that maintaining a thriving colony of bacteria that continuously convert ammonia to nitrites then nitrates is not as easy as it looks in diagrams or on YouTube.

Oh, let’s not forget about the fish. Waking up to fish floating in your tank is not only expensive, it’s discouraging, especially when you’ve poured a lot of hard earned money into having (Usually) Tilapia shipped from halfway across the country, only to watch them die in the first month or six weeks. In my case, I spent several hundred dollars learning that I could not raise redclaw crayfish here. I’m a slow learner.

The failure rate of ‘commercial’ ventures is even greater. The USA landscape is littered with abandoned Aquaponics systems that were going to make a fortune by selling premium products at premium prices to an ever growing health conscious public, who’ve grown tired of poisoning themselves with traditional supermarket fare.

The truth is, that there are only a relatively few places in America where the demographic that can afford premium prices, the proper climate for successful Aquaponic Farming, and would be entrepreneurs with the fortitude and work ethic to succeed are able to intersect.

I know some awesome people in west central and central Florida who are making it happen. I cannot promote them too highly. But they also work their butts off to make it happen.  Many, if not most, Aquaponics dreamers are simply not prepared to pay that price.

A large percentage of the success stories in the more temperate climates are not really commercial ventures at all, but are non profits, dependent on grants, gifts and donations to stay afloat. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with the model per se, but running a non profit is a whole different animal and requires a different set of skills than a for profit commercial farm.  Many would be Aquaponic farmers miss that difference and are destined for failure from the beginning.

Like its older sibling, hydroponics, Aquaponic farming is NOT the future of food production. It has its appeal, it has a niche where it can be successful, but it is not going to begin replacing traditional gardening and farming anytime soon.

If you have stayed with me this far, you probably think I’m some kind of hater or have sour grapes about my own lack of success with aquaponics. If that’s what you think, you would be wrong by a mile. In fact, I am within a few days of setting up my 2016 backyard aquaponics system, and I already have several hydroponic projects going.

What I want to do, is cut through a lot of the boloney and help you be successful, or at least help you set realistic expectations if you’re new to aquaponic gardening, especially if you’re on a budget.

I have no intention of discussing how to begin a commercial aquaponics farm.  I understand marketing and sales, because that’s my background, and I’m an entrepreneur to the marrow in my bones, but I have no experience in commercial aquaponics farming, and I will not pretend I do. A successful commercial aquaponics farm is a unique animal. It will require capital, patience and night and day work for a long time.  I will tell you that, as I’ve already mentioned, location is mission critical. Out here where my wife and I live, such a venture would be a disaster. If you are really keen on investigating how you might launch a commercial project, email me, or use the comments section and I’ll be happy to direct you to some people in the business who will give you good answers without the bull. This article is for people who want to begin a backyard, basement, or garage system.

First, understand that you can build several raised beds or buy a whole lot of containers for what a backyard aquaponics system is going to set you back. A small ‘off the shelf system’ that will keep a handful of fish and grow a few veggies will cost you over $1000.  If you’re going to grow in your garage or basement you’re going to have to add in costs of lighting and water temperature regulation, which can be significant. 

If you’re going DIY it can be much cheaper, but still significant. First there is the cost of Fish Tanks and grow beds. Will you use plastic barrels, IBC containers, stock tanks, or some other container? Your cost will be determined by what you choose and where you source it. I have historically used plastic barrels and stock tanks, but I also have some IBC totes for potential future use.

Plumbing costs money. There is the pvc, fittings, valves, hoses, cutting tools to consider, in addition to the costs of a filtration system.  Unless you already have an off grid power supply, you’re going to have to find a way to operate the water and air pumps. If you plan to run year round you’ll also have water heating costs.

Now, for the fish. Most of us began with Tilapia. Most of us failed. If you live in in Florida, south Texas, Arizona, Nevada or Southern California, you might get away with it. For most of the USA, however, the only way to successfully raise Talipia, is to heat the water at least part of the year and/or to raise them inside. When water temps get below 50 degrees F, Tilapia are going to die. For example, my inlaws live in west central Florida just south of Tampa Bay.  They have wild Tilapia in the ponds and lakes around them. A couple of years back, during a particularly cold spell, tens of thousands of Tilapia died and floated to the surface of the local ponds. Now just imagine what would happen here in north Georgia, or Kentucky, or Indiana, or Montana, or Maine. I think you get the picture. Tilapia can handle a wide range of water quality conditions, but water temperatures are literally a killer.

I was successful growing Tilapia in my basement and garage when we lived in town, but it wasn’t cheap. I gave up very quickly once we moved out here in the country. The cost of heating water in my greenhouse was prohibitive.

On the other hand, I love gardening and many things grew better in aquaponics than they did for me using more traditional methods, so I started thinking outside the Tilapia.

After it became just too expensive to raise Tilapia, I tried bluegill and catfish. They grow great here. I suggest you look into what might work in your area. In many places, especially north of the Mason Dixon, Yellow Perch are a good option. They grow relatively quickly and are extremely tasty.

In our case, my wife doesn’t eat fresh water fish, so it was pointless growing them. If I want some crappie filets, I just go to the lake and catch some. Easy.  The last two summers, I’ve grown goldfish.  They are 20 cents apiece at the pet store. That price is hard to beat. If you don’t eat fish, if you are on a budget, or if you don’t intend to grow year round, goldfish may be a great option.

Other options include minnows and Koi. Minnows are cheap, easy to raise, and can be used, or sold as bait for crappie and bass fishing.  Our ducks like them, too. Koi are often in demand for backyard ponds and can easily pay for themselves.

Koi, minnows, goldfish, bluegill, catfish, and many other varieties can be overwintered if the tanks are deep enough, but my wife and I have decided that growing all year round is not worth it for us. We live in Bartow County Georgia, not Adelaide, Australia. 

My systems work this way. I set up my system(s) in April, stock it with goldfish, and grow exclusively lettuces, herbs and greens in raft (DWC) systems. By doing this and using plenty of oxygen in the water, I can keep growing lettuces almost all summer. I can also grow Okra very successfully in rafts.  By growing these things aquaponically and hydroponically, I have lots more room in my traditional garden for tomatoes, peppers, melons and etc.

Once fall comes, I will grow some kale and swiss chard. Then once things get too cold for gardening to be fun, I take the system down for the winter. The fish will be fed to the ducks and chickens. It’s that simple.

Aquaponics can be fun and rewarding. To make sure it is, think about where you live. What fish will work where you are? Do you want to eat your fish, or will they be just for aesthetic enjoyment?  Will you grow seasonally or all year round? Will you grow outside or in? What’s your budget?

In short, do your homework. It’s the equivalent of measure twice, cutting once. And by all means, think OUTSIDE the Tilapia.

Please email me with any questions or add your comments. After all, we’re in this together.

 

 

 

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Photo comes from theaquaponicsource.com

Photo comes from theaquaponicsource.com

Two weeks ago, I was at my wit’s end with, and over, the whole Aquaponics thing. I threw up my hands and said, “I’m done. The end. El fin.” And probably a few other things, not ready for prime time.

The first two or two and a half years of my Aquaponics journey had been rather positive.  Sure, I’d had some problems, but I had successfully kept a batch of Tilapia, Bluegill, and Catfish alive, while raising loads of herbs, okra, duckweed and KangKong in the grow beds. Using water from filter changes and routine partial water exchanges, I had successfully grown a number of plants in self watering containers. I had even saved a small naval orange tree and a pineapple plant from the brink of death and watched them bear fruit. Life was good in Aquaponicsville.

Late last summer, though, things just went to…, um, er, well, lets just say they went south.  I had filter problems, pump problems, plumbing problems and even predator problems (it turns out, we have wetlands right behind us, complete with blue herons. You can figure out the rest).  I lost a lot of fish and spent days and days working on my systems.

Just when everything seemed to be gaining traction again, we were visited by the coldest winter in Georgia since 1912. My greenhouse isn’t heated, so I use aquarium heaters in the winter water. During normal winters, that’s not a big deal. This year, though, it was a nightmare. The water heaters just couldn’t keep up, but my electric bill sure did.

The cold kept the beneficial bacteria from growing, so it was very difficult to keep the water clean. In the end, my fish died and I was not happy. I had towel in hand and was ready to toss it into the ring and surrender, when my moment of enlightenment came. I had my priorities all bassackwards and was working too hard towards the wrong goals.

I have been pursuing fish as the end game, which is not my real priority in Aquaponics Gardening. Brittan and I don’t eat that much fish, and our market is fairly limited. The stress of trying to keep fish alive all winter was totally unnecessary.

To a large degree, even the plants we grow in the system, aren’t the end game, either.  They are  important to our operation, but the ones we raise in our growbeds are mostly there to take up some of the excess nutrients created by the beneficial bacteria.  In truth, I’m using Aquaponics to farm nutrient rich water, which in turn, grows the vegetables in both my Aquaponics growbeds and my wicking beds (self watering containers). Yes, the water is the end game, and I don’t need nutrient rich water in the winter time.

The moment the realization hit me, the lights came on in my head again and all the pressure melted away. Until my greenhouse is heated, Aquaponics gardening will be a seasonal venture.  I can raise just enough Tilapia to put in our freezer and sell a few of the excess and use twenty cent goldfish to run all my other systems.  After I harvest the Tilapia in late fall, I can bring the goldfish into the greenhouse, shut down the grow beds and overwinter the goldies in the big tank.  They can handle the cooler water.

I feel so much better now.  I didn’t want to give up on Aquaponics. I’ve never seen okra, basil or kangkong perform better than they do in aquaponics systems. I didn’t want to lose those results. Using the fish water in the wicking beds actually builds the soil rather than creating a toxic salt build up like some commercial nutrients do. On the other hand, I can’t go through another winter like this one, running up an electric bill, only to watch my Tilapia die off one by one in the frigid temps. Now that my priorities are back in focus, I don’t have to. Aquaponics is fun again!  I like fun.

 

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bunniesDecember is ‘retrospective month’.  Turn on the radio, the television or the internet; open a magazine or newspaper and you can find a nearly infinite number of ‘best of’ and ‘worst of’ stories for the year that was.  I think I’ll give that a miss.  2013 was a tough year, mostly because of the wet winter and my surgery.  Poor Brittan was left virtually alone to keep this ship afloat.  She did a great job.  She is one incredible woman.

Fortunately, the year is behind us, I’m 90% healed (and probably can’t expect more than that) and the new year awaits.  I am psyched and ready.  I hope you can keep up.

Here are some of the plans:

  1. In January, I plan to apply for a live plant license in order to sell seedlings to the public.  Oddly, you can sell basil leaves a farmers market, but the plant requires a license. It’s ok to sell tomatoes by the bushel, but you better have a plant license to sell that seedling for a buck and a half.  I know, it’s weird, but that’s life and we’ll comply.The idea was born from two seemingly coincidental events. First, we had so many starter greens and herbs last year that we had to feed hundreds of them to the compost heap.  Secondly, a nearby shop experienced a lack of interest from a well-known starter plant distributer.   The truck would drop off the plants, but the company didn’t come around to attend to them or keep them freshened.  As a result, many plants bolted or died.  I thought to myself, I bet that if seedlings were grown locally and naturally, they would have a stronger appeal and be able to be cared for in a better manner.  Since one of my favorite parts of gardening is starting and transplanting seeds, it seemed serendipitous.  I’m only hoping the State of Georgia agrees. seedlings
  1.  We will be expanding our garden considerably.  The addition of aquaponic and hydroponic systems is going to allow us to greatly increase the amount of produce we grow and make available.
  2. More Rabbits, Fewer Goats is the name of the game.  We’ve already reduced our goat herd considerably and may move a few more.  We didn’t have the market for goats and goat meat I had hoped for, so we are cutting back to a smaller herd that will still be large enough to provide plenty of meat and dairy, but will not overburden the pastures or pocket book.  The freezer will remain full and we may occasionally still have some goats for sale.  At the same time, we are increasing the number of rabbits.  The manure alone makes the decision worthwhile.  The rabbit waste is like gold when it comes to producing good compost.  There is nothing better.  We can raise 99% of all the food the rabbits need and the meat will feed us AND our dogs/cats.
  3. We will be cutting the number of hens, adding ducks and bringing back turkeys.  Basically, we decided that the broiler chicken business was too much work for no money.  We will keep a few hens for eggs and pasture maintenance, but just a few.  We have missed eating good turkey this year. Those rubbery, greasy things from the grocery store simply don’t cut it with us anymore, so we’ll raise a few birds this year for fall consumption.  I can’t wait.  The big thing, though, is Brittan want ducks.  She likes to watch them waddle and hear them quack.  She wants to try cooking with duck eggs. Who am I to argue?  Besides, I want to keep a few meat ducks (the OTHER red meat).
  4. tilapiaTilapia and Crawfish have been added already.  The Tilapia are doing nicely in their winter tank and we expect them to be ready for a nice autumn harvest.  In March or April, I will separate a breeding colony and begin breeding my own.  That ought to be an adventure.  My crawfish are surviving.  That’s better than the last time I tried raising them.  My fingers are crossed as I really want to be able to make a go of them.  They can be great food, good fish bait, and the carcasses are awesome for the compost heap.
  5. You Tube Channel is on the drawing board.  I’ve toyed with the idea of a channel for a couple years and even made some episodes that I never posted.  Brittan has convinced me that it would be a good idea, so I’m looking at “Gardening With The Village Idiot”, or something similar, to be released this spring.  The concept is, if I can do it, anyone can.

There are other projects and dreams in the oven, but I hope these will be enough to pique your interest enough to keep dropping back in on us here.  We love it when you come visit our site.  We’d like to see you come by more often.  And…we’d love to hear from you.  Don’t be shy.

 

 

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Raft System before planting

Raft System before planting

I do love aquaponics gardening.  I make way too many mistakes, but I continue to persevere.  Our raft system is running fairly well.  We have some fantastic basil.  I believe raft aquaponics and basil are the perfect match.  The plants grow tall and the leaves are twice the size of traditionally grown plants.  We have both sweet and purple basil.  Both are performing splendidly.  We have some butter crunch lettuce that is to die for.  The sage is looking good.  I just put some okra and a couple small tomatoes as an experiment.  We’ll see what happens.  I’ll try and get some snapshots of the root systems on these plants.  They are huge. I’ll get some photos this weekend to add.

On the downside, we’ve had some algae bloom that wreaked havoc on our catfish.  I’ve lost most of them.  Fortunately, there is enough ammonia in the system to keep feeding the beneficial bacteria and ultimately the plants.  In the meantime, I’ve treated the algae, added a bacterial supplement and covered the fish tank with shade cloth.  I didn’t have any of these issues when it was an indoor system, but there’s a whole new set of challenges having the unit in the greenhouse.  The plant growth, though, is way superior to indoors under lights.

Once I’ve fixed the ammonia and algae issues, I’ll add some goldfish and run my units off of those for a while.  Much better to learn on 15 cent goldfish than expensive or exotic species.

I have a flood and drain system ready to begin cycling as soon as the timer arrives.  I had some challenges with the auto siphons in the original design and decided to switch it to a timed fill and drain instead.  The flood and drain work great.  The timer should arrive just before Memorial Day, so I’ll cycle it for a few days then add some goldfish.  This unit will mostly grow zucchini and squash. I am told that by growing squash in an aquaponics system I can avoid squash bugs because they need soil to live on.  I can’t wait to get it started.

I have one more single barrel experiment to try before June.  I want to hook up a 55 gallon barrel, with the top third turned into a grow bed.  I will place it in the middle of my earthbox

First 2013 Tomatoes in Earthbox

First 2013 Tomatoes in Earthbox

garden and will run a hose off of the fill line so I can divert water to top up my self watering containers.  Yes, it will mean more frequent water changes in the aquaponics unit, but I believe the fish will benefit from that.  If it works, I will add a larger tank later in the summer.  This single barrel will grow oregano, thyme and dill.

In June, I will order my breeding colony of Tilapia.  They will be kept in an aquarium in the greenhouse.  I have three other aquariums to use for nursery and grow out.  By next spring, I fully expect to be using small swimming pools to grow out large numbers of Tilapia.

We will begin with Blue Tilapia as they are about the hardiest variety.  If all goes well, we will have to build another greenhouse next spring for the Giant Redclaw Crawfish.  I’ve been waiting two years already to get that project going.  I’m close enough to see it  now.  I have three obstacles between where I am and where I want to be; time, money and patience.  I’m a bit short on all three. Then again, who isn’t.

 

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It’s been 6 weeks since I last updated this space. Had you given up on me? I hope not, but I certainly wouldn’t blame you. We have been buried in work; farm work, house work, work work. So I’m stealing a moment for a quick update. 

First thing I notice is some changes in wordpress.  I guess I have to figure out how to use this site all over again.  Lovely.

Since I last wrote, we’ve moved house, more or less.  We still own our other place and there is still stuff in it, but we’re not there.  We have downsized house to upsize land.  We’ve gone from 4000 square feet of living space to something like 1200 square feet. It’s….cozy!  Actually, we like it. The utility bills alone have been cut in half.  Somebody give me a witness! Amen.

The goats, donkeys, mules and turkeys are all at the new place.  We have about 4 acres of goat pastures in our front yard, divided into 4 paddocks. We have some more out the back.  We can sit on our front deck and watch the goaties graze and enjoy the autumn evenings.  It’s rather peaceful.

Speaking of the goats, fall is breeding season.  Normally the 4 paddocks would be used for rotational grazing, but this time of year, each of our three bucks is assigned to a paddock and the does we want him to breed are in with him.  The 4th pasture is for wethers and girls we don’t want bred.

It’s a perfect plan….except someone forgot to tell the goats.  It seems that doe goats have preferences.  We woke up earlier this week do discover a fruit basket upset.  Several of the girls managed to get gates open and make their way into another pasture to cavort with a buck other than the one with whom they were assigned.  The boys have all stayed put, happy to welcome the new visitors.

We will have to keep pretty close records this year.  I know we will have one Kiko/Alpine cross. We had planned for our Alpine buck to cover three of the 4 Alpines while our Kiko/Boer buck would cover the 4th.  One of the Alpine girls, however, apparently has an eye for Achilles, our big Kiko boy.  This is not a bad cross and should provide some nice meaty offspring to take to market or put in our own freezer. We had hoped, though, to have Alpines to register. Oh well.

We will have a few other surprises, but fortunately, our Kiko girls stayed put and our Nubians have remained safely we left them.  They probably won’t come into season until December or January, anyway.

I must admit, having three rutting billy goats in the front yard is a smelly proposition. They reek, and will continue to do so until the last of the girls has been bred. 

One other quick update regarding our aquaponics systems.  I had a heart stopping experience with them this week.  The fish, you see, are still at the old house.  The veggies are done for the year, but the systems are still operating as filtration units.  I check on them daily and feed the fish morning and evening.

Earlier this week, I skipped a night because of heavy rains.  I didn’t make it back until lunch time the next day.  When I arrived, I noticed there had been a power outage.  It didn’t seem to be a big deal because the big system in the garage was working fine and all the freezers were operational, as well. 

When I opened the basement door to check on my three tanks down there, though, I was greeted by darkness and silence. A breaker had blown, due to a bad plug (caused by the storm? Maybe lightening?) and there was no power to the fish tanks.  Danger. Danger. Danger.

I switched the breaker to a new one, but still no luck. That’s when I realized there was a bad outlet in the circuit, but it’s trapped behind the wall of fish tanks.  The fish were in obvious distress due to lack of oxygen and filtration.  All I could do was drain the tanks, remove the fish and add them to the garage unit.  It’s been 4 days and so far there have been no deaths from ammonia poisoning or shock from being plopped in a new environment.  And they all seem to be eating.  The tank is a bit over crowded, but not badly and about a third of the fish are small.  Still, I need to get one of my IBC totes operational and get them moved into it.

Once upon a time, I had two tanks of Tilapia, one of bluegill and one of bluegill and Catfish.  Now I have one tank with all of the above.  All I need are some largemouth bass, and I will have replicated a Florida fishing lake.

That, dear reader, is the latest on the life, loves and drama that make up our regular routine here in the ‘burb’. Your life feels calmer already, now doesn’t it?  Glad I could help.

 

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I obviously don’t have photos, because I haven’t built the units yet, but I’m really excited about the next generation of Aquaponics units I plan to build this fall.

I’ve been playing at this for a year, with mixed results.  On the whole, my fish have done swimmingly (sorry, couldn’t resist).  Some plants have done well; my basil was phenomenal.  Some other starter plants have thrived.  Quite a few veggies have burned up, due to first, being too close to a grow lamp. A recent batch, including a tomato plant that was growing like it was on steroids, steamed in my garage during a heat wave.  I was pretty steamed, myself.

Using waste water from my aquariums to fertilize container plants has been an unparalleled success. Plants we had given up on have revived and new plants have grown like we’re putting something illegal in the water.  I couldn’t be happier.

Now it’s time to get down to some serious plant growing and fish rearing.

First, I’m going to build a greenhouse this autumn.  My goal is to build it 60′ by 30′ and 10′ tall.  I want to put 4 units in it; two raft systems and two flood and drain systems.  I will be using 250 gallon fish tanks, so I will be able to keep a good number of fish going.  Since I intend to stock fairly densely, I’m going to add a settling tank to each unit to catch solids.  I’ll make the tank from blue barrels to keep costs down.  I will also include a bio filter for each unit, though I can’t decide whether I’m going to use a submersible or an exterior one.

Here’s the exciting part (for me); I’m going to use 6′ diameter kiddie pools as sump tanks and use those to house my Giant Redclaw Crawfish.  Four units is the perfect number to keep a breeder tank, a nursery tank and a grow out tank for males and one for females.  Each system should only require a single pump.

Because I’m going to house both fish and crawfish in each unit, albeit separate tanks, I will add extra grow beds and extra filtration.  The solids tank will be drained regularly and the waste will be combined with rabbit manure to make what I believe will be the finest natural fertilizer on the planet. I’ll use that in my raised beds and container garden.

I almost forgot, but I plan to use my two large aquariums as breeding tanks for Tilapia and Coppernose bluegill.  I am going to put a single flood and drain growbed over each one of them to add extra grow space.

Making it work in real life will undoubtedly have more challenges than making it work on paper, but I am extremely confident. Our Edible Suburb is about to come of age.

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