New To Aquaponics... Here are ten system setups considerations that you should consider as a minimum if you are new to Aquaponics
Spoiler Alert: there is a bonus hack for good measure.
I am running my Aquaponic system 9 years now and done construction and upgraded it three times during this time. In hindsight these are the things I would make sure and cater upfront in my next build:
i. Pipe clean outs should be installed at all critical points of the system.
ii. Ensure pipe drain angles are sufficient angled to completely drain out system vessels.
iii. Isolation and drain of each vessel and/or acquire a suction pump to drain isolated vessels.
iv. Isolation and drain to allow isolation and drain of each component i.e. the fish production component, the filter component and the plant component. This is to allow to run the system as an aquaculture system (with the fish and filtration components only) and as a hydroponic system (with the plants and filtration components only).
This allows one to operate an Aquaponic System system as two separate units i.e. one being a hydroponic system as a stand-alone and separate unit and the other being an aquaculture system as the second stand-alone unit. This simply allows for the fish production tanks to operate if the plant beds are placed out of commission for whatever reason and vice versa. Perfect for execution of maintenance works, planned or unplanned repairs, for cycling system at startup, isolating fish for harvest or grading fish etc.
vi.Back up power for at least 8 hours.
vii.Fry tank for any fry that show up in your system. Gotta save the babies.
viii. Stock spare and replacement parts and materials (pvc fittings, air tubing, air diffusers, water pump, fish nets, etc.).
ix. Fish measuring and cleaning station w water mains/ source and an elevated supported weighing bucket for weighing the whole harvested fish.
x. Covers for fish production tanks, easily removed and stored upright for access to fish/ fish tanks for feeding, harvesting, routine checking etc.
xi. Holding bay (that is also part of the circulating system) bay for seedlings.
xii. A paved, level surface around the Aquaponic system that would make walking and moving around the system easy, safe and clean.
xiii. Cool, dry storage for fish feed.
During 2017 our Freeport system has undergone some upgrades that include some of the above. Here are the upgrades we have done over time. The others are scheduled for future works:
- Installed isolation and drain of each vessel, installed means to isolate the system into an aquaculture system and an hydroponic one and acquired a suction pump to drain isolated vessels.
- Installed Back up power that gives us at least 8 hours.
- Made a cool, dry storage for fish feed. This year I would like to add another unit so that we can have an back up bag of feed as the supply is not always locally available.
- Added a third fish production tank to allow for easier grading of the fish and harvesting of mature fish.
- Stock spare and replacement parts and materials. This is ongoing and this year we are going to stock up on tubing, a spear air pump and new air diffusers.
This year the upgrades I would like to complete to improve our freeport system are:
- Fish measuring and cleaning station w water mains/ source and an elevated supported weighing bucket for weighing the whole harvested fish.
- Proper covers for fish production tanks, easily removed and stored upright for access to fish/ fish tanks for feeding, harvesting, routine checking etc. Right now the covers we have are less than sufficient.
- Holding bay (that is also part of the circulating system) bay for seedlings.
- A paved, level surface around the Aquaponic system that would make walking and moving around the system easy, safe and clean.
- Improve my soft skills and customer relations. Aaron has been working on customer relations and has suggested some simple things I can do to assist, introversion aside.
Now I want to point out that these system considerations are common and openly available information and it is likely that you are on the same path as I and have been placing more focus more on getting your system functional, balanced and up and reliably running. But consider this, the alternative may consume resources (both time and money) that you feel may be better used else where but in the long run the opportunity cost does add up. And this is what I'd strongly suggest like those that I have learned from in the past to focus on these things first, you will thank me later.
Have you been enjoying this series so far? Are you into Aquaponics in any capacity? Tell me, even if you are still in the dreamer phase or if you are a consumer of Aquaponic Produce. I'd love to learn about your personal journey.
Topics for consideration for future posts
- System water temperature, system pH and nutrients like iron and calcium which plants require
- Tools of the trade
- Pests ( Common system pests that we have come across in our Freeport 'Ponics, Where do snails come from?)
God Willing. My Aquaponics Journey.
With love from Freeport,