This topic contains 5 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  maxsewell 1 month, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #3138

    Nicky
    Member

    Hi, I’m thinking of setting up a home system just for home veg consumption in a poly tunnel, where to start, dangers and monitoring. Your experiences welcome.
    Nicky

  • #3148

    SubUrbanAquaponics
    Participant

    Hi Nicky,
    It can be quite daunting when first starting as there is so much about aquaponics on the internet (much by well meaning amateurs), but some can be misleading as it was intended for different climate zones or worse still making false/dubious claims so that they can sell you their special kit.

    I’ve done a few small home cold water versions, but am now I’m starting a commercial sized project in a polytunnel with UrbanAg. The project is an Aquaponics Smallholding and Training Facility located in rural Cheshire UK.
    For project updates see my blog … http://www.urbanag.uk/urbanag-blog

    As it appears you’re also in the UK are you going to design a cold water system ?

    Graham

  • #3149

    SubUrbanAquaponics
    Participant

    Oh I’m also on FB as SubUrban Aquaponics …. https://www.facebook.com/SubUrban-Aquaponics-1409819505992228/

    Always willing to chat,
    Graham

  • #3152

    Nicky
    Member

    Hi Graham, love your set up, perhaps it a bit ambitious for me? I’ve just been fascinated by some of the systems that appear on line and always wanted to try it.
    I have created a page just for the garden so that I can show the family. It’s https://www.facebook.com/Newhouse-Garden-Projects-1759878827408895/
    We live on Exmoor at a hieght of 1000 feet and have struggled to grow anything in the garden whilst having to work full time.
    A change of circumstances recently have given me time and a bargain polytunnel the space to try out Aquaponics on a small scale (see Facebook page).
    So far it’s looking really good but early days and only four small gold fish. I’m struggling to find a local supplier other than Pets at Home who insist only two fish per 100 litres! That isn’t going to grow much.
    I’m sure I will extend in time, already have a barrel coming for a fish tank and others waiting to be converted into new beds. I have Bob’s Back Yard farm on YouTube to thank for the info, he seems pretty good at the small scale.
    Anyway thanks for answering, if I get a chance will look your systems up one day.

    Nicky

  • #3301

    Nicky
    Member

    Update 22nd September 2018 after acquiring 24 small goldfish they still haven’t produced enough nitrate to grow successfully. I have been adding blood fish and bone meal with very good plant growth and no adverse effects on the fish.
    I know there are formulae for fish to water ratios but hadn’t realised the difficult balance needed and vulnerabilities of a system.
    I would like to expand but not commercially hence the costs need to be kept to a very bare minimum

  • #3314

    maxsewell
    Member

    Hello Nicky, somehow your post came up in a Google search and when I read it I thought I had written the post! It has led me to joining the European Aquaponics Club as I suspect there may be quite a few of us in similar circumstances – want to do things BUT….. need a lot of help!
    I have actually now built a small aquaponics system (64sq ft of rafts) and yes, it’s in a poly tunnel. I am down in South Devon so not 1,000 ft in the air as you are though. I’ll be happy to share my experiences with you and any others who would like to add their knowledge.
    Briefly, in a 21x 14ft poly tunnel I built a leveling platform (site is sloping) and installed a 1000 litre fish tank which is flanked by 2x8x4ft troughs which have got polystyrene rafts on them. I have installed water heating as well as lighting with the intention of attempting to try and produce all year round a variety of vegetables and some fruit to feed myself and my wife – and maybe half the neighbourhood! I am doing this mainly as a hobby but know enough about economics to be studying cost effectiveness of such a system and of aquaponics as a whole
    I initially purchased 25 goldfish and then later a further 25 so total now 50 (and they eat a lot!) My experience with this combination has been good and I have not had your issues. I have made one or two mistakes but I was guided by Friendly Aquaponics over in Hawaii both in construction and running but like most people I had to change some things….. well you think you know better…. maybe not!
    I set the system running back in mid August 2018 and put the first 25 fish in the tank almost immediately after having filled a 4x2ft raft with ready sprouted tomatoes, lettuce and coriander. Concerned about loose polystyrene bits being eaten by the fish, I decided to install a filter to hopefully protect them – this is totally against the advice of Friendly. I tested ammonia, pH, water hardness, nitrites and nitrates nearly every day at the beginning but got bored as it only ever showed pH static and no nitrites as well as no ammonia. There was however some nitrates and as Friendly advised if there is green algae in the troughs (round the edges) then there is nitrates in the system. I thought all was well (and maybe there has already been a nitrites spike) so I then thought I needed some more poo and bought a further 25 fish. The little plants were growing steadily. I didn’t test anything for a week (it’s now about 10th Sept) all seemed OK. I then tested ammonia first time in a while – wow! It had rocketed. Hands to pumps. Throw half the water; rafts off the troughs. Then checked nitrites etc. Nitrites had gone bonkers so for the next few days I struggled to get control. I then started to wonder if I was in fact in the middle of the start up nitrite spike and calmed down a bit and watched. Gradually the nitrites went down as did the ammonia. About 12 days after spotting the high ammonia I tested pH 6.4; nitrates 50ppm; ammonia trace; nitrites ZERO! This has been the case ever since. So basically I really only had a full operating system towards late September. Here we are beginning November, the fish are swimming, the plants are growing and the first produce is being consumed. (need to learn not to plant 50 coriander in future as am sick of carrot and coriander soup!
    I could go on but my fingers are worn out. A lot more to tell but let’s leave it for now

    Colin

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