tirsdag den 4. marts 2014

Post Aquaponic Blues - 6 lessons from a year of indoor aquaponics

Hello all,
So as detailed on this blog, I've been experimenting with indoor aquaponics during the last year or so - if you missed a post or two, just click here!

To be succint - it was not the success I had hoped for and I've thus decided not to continue this year.
But I thought it might be prudent to share why I have reached this decision and what I learnt from my mistakes.

The setup was in a windowsill above a small aquarium (54 liters) and was made throguh recycled materials. The entire setup cost about 15$ - and was fun to build with the kids:

In the other windowsill was a "normal" kitchengarden, no aquaponic system but it did receive a bit more sunlight and this is what made me give up aquaponics. The normal garden gave as much produce as the aquaponic system.

So this experience taught me the following:

1) Aquaponics works - it was amazing to see things growing in clay - no soil what so ever.

2) As a filter the system worked and the aquarium was as clean (almost) as if there had been a filter.

3) It is all about the sun - without adequate sunlight it means little to the plants if they have a ton of food to grow from. So either you need a great spot or a dedicated lamp, and this costs too much (in my opinion).

4) If it can leak, it will. I've had so many waterspills in the end it gave me bad dreams :-(. For anyone contemplating a similar setup - please remember that it will drip, spill or leak if at all possible. Use good materials and let the silicone dry for a looooong time - that way you may avoid the worst.

5) It is a very damp environment and new plants do not like it - I had a lot of diseased plants and while things grew well once established, the first few weeks were crucial.

6) The aquarium needs to be optimized for the system to work: little or no plants, overstocked amount of fish (preferable large) and this was not something I was willing to do to my fish - but should I do this again, I would choose some of the smaller Tanganikian chichlids, perhaps some Lamprologus ocellatus, who would thrive without plants.

So, it was fun to prove the concept to myself and friends, but in the end it was not 'worth' it and I've gone the more traditional route this year.

Good luck to anyone who tries this (and please do, it was a fun experience) and I hope the gods of aquaponics treats you well!

All the best,

4 kommentarer:

  1. Thank-you for posting all this information. I had been considering such a system, but wondered about all the work involved. Many sites labeled 'easy' and 'inexpensive' became complicated and required increasing amounts of money.

    Your record has proved to be the most honest. Best wishes for the future.

  2. Hey Kasper,
    I really enjoyed your blog. I myself is trying out aquaponics, aside from leaks and several times of failing mine works alright so far. I haven't grown any vegetables yet but you can see my setup on this link...
    ...one thing that i noticed on yours -- or maybe i just missed -- is that you didn't use a bell syphon, which lets the water fill to a certain level -- then drain. This will aerate the roots and help the plants grow. It does take some time to figure out that darn bell syphon works.
    My system is about the same size as yours. However, mine is outside in a balcony and could easily be brought in like yours. Goodluck with it!

    1. Hello lostraindrop (what a poetic handle!),
      Yes it really does work, but I think I put too many hurdles in front of myself - indoors, in a bedroom, no light, and as cheap as possible. If you have a good source of light, then this is wonderful - otherwise it is a bit too much of a hassle.
      I decided against a siphon due to the level of noice this makes when draining (and as mentioned, this was in my sons sleeping chambers and needed to be silent). Instead I had the pump switch on and off each 30 minutes and thus creating a slower (but silent) siphon effect.
      All the best,

    2. Ah! Makes sense! The bell siphon IS annoyingly loud! I can see why you didn't go that direction now specially in your sons bedroom. I'm still trying to mess with mine to reduce the noise. I might look into at pump with a switch like yours. I really like your setup. Keep up your aquarium and blog! It's great!


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