Monday, July 30, 2012

Aquaponics and Sustainable living

Drawings of sustainable living solutions and a design and price estimation for a aquaponic greenhouse. I figured they would be more useful if they were posted on the web them rather than letting them sit in a folder.

 Aquaponic and Compost system

The greenhouse works as a living symbiotic system, kinda like a plant or animal cell.

Water : Blood
Pump : Heart
Pipes and Trays : Artery and Viens
Gravel trays : Liver
Plants : Lungs and Bladder
Greenhouse Covering : Skin
Growing Trays and Greenhouse Frame : Skeleton
Compost Bins : Stomach
Worm Bins : Intestine
Worms and Bacteria :  Beneficial Bacteria
 (there are at least ten times as many bacteria as human cells in our body)
The Heart of the system is the aquaponic setup, water is pumped from the 2500 gal fish tank to ebb and flow growing trays where water is filtered by plants and bacteria on gravel then oxygenated when falling back to the main tank. 

The large volume of water is what keeps the greenhouse cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, because water takes more energy to heat up than air it acts as a coolant within the greenhouse when air temperatures are high and when then air temperature is lower than the water temp the water acts as a heater.  The aquaponic trays have a large surface area and function as a radiator that are either absorbing or releasing energy to the surrounding air in the greenhouse.  

If the aquaponic system is the heart then the composting bins and the worm bins are the stomach and digestive tract of the greenhouse.  The compost bins are on the north side (shady) of the hoop house and are used as a thermal mass to regulate the greenhouse temperature.  The bins are filled with pretty much any type of organic waste with exception to human or unverified animal waste and meat . The compost is them moved to worm bins on the south side of the hoop house where the compost is further broken-down by thousands of hungry worms.

After three months in the worm bins the compost is removed, most of the worms are removed and the compost rich in worm castings in put in 3 gallon pots mixed with shredded coconut husk.  The pots are put in the aquaponic grow trays where they are planted with the desired crop.  A single pot in my dome can sustain healthy plant growth for 10-14 months before the pot is removed from the grow tray and the material is recycled to outdoor compost bins.

By combining soil growing and the aquaponic system pants can grow heather with an abundance of trace minerals and nutrients.  Even more importantly though, more species of nitrifying bacteria can be supported in the soil/coco/gravel medium than just gravel or expanded clay mediums.  The few worms left in the compost can also crawl out of the pots when the trays drain and feed on decomposing organic matter in the gravel then retreat back to the pots when the beds refill with water.

Aquaponic greenhouse design
The prototype trays from the previous post Aquaponic-Growing-Trays are the ones for this design.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Aquaponic growing trays

I have been wanting to go bigger with my ideas so I decided to send it and make another mess and built the prototypes for my next aquaponic system.  More on this later...

 Two 4' x 8' x 4" grow trays on top and the water tank on the bottom.   

This design requires some digging for the in ground tank, 24" will be bellow ground level with 6" above ground level.

One 4' x 8' x 4" grow tray on top with two 4' x 4' x 18" worm bins underneath

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Photo update: Aquaponic Greenhouse 7/5/12

The dome is fully alive now, very exciting after a little more than a year of work.  
The plants are growing like crazy, the fish getting fatter, the water temperatures are nice and high (72-76 Deg F) and all sorts of critters have taken up home in the dome.

Aquaponic gardening it the bees knees.

 Panoramic shots

Simple free compost bins can easily be made from shipping pallets.

4'x8' Covered bed
This small bed drinks 10 gallons of water a day
 where the dome takes between 10 and 15 gallons
 of water a day to maintain a 650 gallon tank.

This is what $144 of tilapia look like.  
I ordered 50 small fingerlings from a hatchery on the net and wound up paying 99 cents a fish and $90 for shipping.  


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