Food purity is one of the main reasons a lot of people get into aquaponics. Every time I run my 4-Day Aquaponics MasterClass, I ask students what their interest is in learning about aquaponics. And without fail, Food Purity is always one of the main reasons.
People are concerned about the grubby stuff that’s going into their food, these days! Pesticides and herbicides and preservatives and artificial colours. Even if the first dose won’t kill you, over time it can build up in your body and cause a whole lot of health issues.
Take mercury in fish, for instance. Mercury is a natural substance, but through various processes – some of them natural, some of them industrial – it gets converted to a toxic chemical called methylmercury. This is really easily absorbed into living cells and it never goes away. Once you have it in your system, it’s there for life. It’s what’s called a ‘persistent’ toxin.
Not only is it persistent, but it ‘bioaccumulates’ or ‘biomagnifies’ as you go up the food-chain. That means that an animal higher up the food chain will contain more mercury than animals lower down the food chain because it now contains all the mercury from all the animals that it ate. For example, let’s say there’s a group of small fish in the ocean, each containing a small amount of mercury. If you eat one of those fish, you ingest a small amount of mercury. Now, let’s say a larger fish comes along and eats all of those smaller fish. All of the mercury in their bodies now takes up residence in its body. And then you eat it! So, what do you get? All the mercury from all the smaller fish! That’s what bioaccumulation means. The toxin builds up in the food-chain until eventually, you eat it at a dangerously high level.
But it’s not only major toxins like mercury that people are worried about when it comes to food purity. Food additives are also a concern for a lot of people. Pick up just about any pre-packed food and read the ingredients. It’s like a mad scientist’s shopping list! Benzo this and butyl that, and a whole lot of numbers that only a chemist would recognise. At low levels, most of them are considered fairly safe, but so many people these days are eating so much packaged food that it is becoming a problem. Allergies and sensitivities abound.
Now, while we’ve come to expect additives in pre-packaged foods, it’s a real concern to know that you can find nasty chemicals even on fresh fruit and vegetables! Producers cover them in a whole range of things to extend their shelf life or make harvesting and transporting easier. Unfortunately, this often means that you, the consumer, end up with flavourless, nutrient-poor food. In some cases, you’re better off buying frozen or canned – the ‘fresh’ produce may have been picked months ago, while the canned or frozen stuff was probably still in the ground the day before it was packed.
Nutrient Poor Food
Even the types of crops that are grown these days are chosen for their packageability rather than their nutritional value or flavour. And a lot of them are picked unripe before they’ve had time to develop their true flavour and full nutrient content. Again, this means we end up with lower-nutrient, lower-flavour food. This is why a lot of people are starting to grow their own – they can choose from a wider variety of crops and they can let them ripen properly before picking them. This means they end up with food that is flavoursome and nutrient dense. And I can tell you, there is just no comparison between biting into a soft, sweet, juicy strawberry that you’ve just picked from your own garden, and the bland, crisp, woody ones you so often find in the supermarket these days.
Genetically Modified Food
Another aspect of food purity that’s become an issue for many people is the use of genetically modified (GM) foods. This is a real hot button for some people. Like any argument, there are two sides, with some people saying GM food is the only way to feed the world, while others say it’s going to kill us all. But it is a major reason some people are starting to grow their own food.
Grow Your Own – Aquaponically!
Growing your own food is absolutely the best way to know that it’s going to be clean, fresh and nutrient rich. Farmers’ markets and buying organic are great and may be the only thing you can do if you don’t have the time or space to garden. But if you really want to make sure you know exactly what’s gone into your food, there is no substitute for growing it yourself.
And this is what attracts a lot of people to aquaponics. It’s a clean-food machine! You can’t add any nasties to it or you’ll kill your fish and the microbes that make the system run. So, because you have to take care of your system like that, it will take care of you by providing you with flavourful, nutrient-dense food, right in your own backyard. No more rubbery cucumbers or rock-hard tomatoes. Just fresh, clean food the way it was always meant to be. How good is that!
[references for the mercury, food-additives and GMO section]
Do you want to build your own home Aquaponics system but not too sure where to start? What materials to get or even what tools you will need.
This book of system plans is just what you are looking for.
All plans, drawings and material lists have metric and imperial measurements.
Four plan sets that will give you an excellent choice of where is best to start for you.
A large home system that will supply all your fresh vegetables for a family of two. A wonderful fish dinner every two weeks or so.(very conservative estimates) This INDY system looks good and is a serious food producer.
Ever wondered just how to build a wicking bed? The instructions are all there. A very small wicking bed, say of 1 sqm (10 sqf) or as large as 6 sqm (65 sqf approx).
Use recycled Totes (IBC’s) to build a well proven three bed design…..or
Build a very low cost system from two recycled bathtubs.
Over 180 photographs, illustrations and diagrams.
Bill of quantities for each of the four projects.
Plumbing mysteries unravelled.
Very useful book-essential reading for the DIY backyard aquaponics system prospective owner.
Kate Wildrick says,
I am so excited to see that Murray Hallam has made his plans available by Kindle. I absolutely love this book!! The easy to understand step-by-step instructions have helped us build our own abundant aquaponic system. After spending several months doing research on what type of systems and plans would work best, we decided Murray Hallam had put together the most thoughtful and practical approach. He has a great way of explaining what you need to know every step of the way. Plus, the easy to understand diagrams and pictures provide a rich visual source of information. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is curious or serious about aquaponics. It is an excellent and super affordable resource that is guaranteed to save you a lot of time and costly mistakes.
Practical Workshops –
Dragon heaters. Greenhouse system inspections. Backup systems.
Discover AQUAPONICS Extended -
2_DAY TRAINING PROGRAM ….TEXAS
Course content – Day #2
Types Of Aquaponic Systems-
Media Grow Beds. Nutrient Film Technique. Deep Water Culture. Wicking Beds.
Pumps. Plumbing. Siphons. Timers. CHOP. CHOP 2. FloMedia. Filters. Clarifiers.
Swirl filters. Canister Filters.
Fish and Plants-
Fish diseases. Treatment.
Integrated pest management. Common plant diseases.
Nutrients balance/shortfall. Compost. Vermiculture. Grow bed health.
Which species of fish. Fish food.
Practical Workshops –
Home system build. Plans. Liner. Specifications.
Water testing. Aeration devices. Fish handling.
Seed raising. Planting. Pruning. Buffering the system.
Aquaponics Institute team with Murray Hallam will present Home Aquaponics instruction at its best. There will be two x two day sessions. Choose the two day session that suits you best.
The ultimate Aquaponics filter. - Patent pending !!!
The ultimate Aquaponics filter. It has many essential elements in this elaborate design. Look at all the innovative elements, especially the fish centrifuge. That will get the solids out of those little critters whether they like it or not!
There are three clearly defined approaches to what we know as Aquaponics.
1 Aquaculture with some plants hooked onto the end to help with Nitrate control.
2 Hydroponics with a few fish thrown into a tank to reduce the cost of nutrients.
3 Aquaponics as an ECO system, producing wonderful chemical free, clean food in a ecologically sensitive way combining the fish and plants lending both elements equal respect and importance.
Some who approach Aquaponics from the Aquaculture perspective want to get the ultimate filter. They have been led to believe that the more elaborate or the sheer quantity and size of the filter, the better their system will run. That is certainly true if running an Aquaculture system. Aquaculture methodologies are well established.
The idea of adding various gadgets to a system is very appealing to the “tinkerer” that lurks just below the surface in many a bloke. But just how much and what type is needed? Do we really need to filter or not?
There is just no doubt that there needs to be mechanical and biological filtration in any Aquaponics system. The fish in the system produce waste and it has to be dealt with in order for the fish to be happy and healthy.
In a home Aquaponics system the most efficient and convenient filter system is the humble media bed. Various designs have been put forward for a media bed and most of them work rather well, some better than others, but the differences in performance are usually not all that great.
A row of media filters. Excellent filtration capacity both biological and mechanical.
Media beds, particularly gravel of 20mm (¾”) work exceptionally well. The humble media bed functions as a biological filter and a mechanical filter. It both converts the ammonia produced by the fish waste into useful nitrates which is plant food, and collects the solid material produces by the fish.. Further, in time it also functions extremely well in providing mineralisation of organic material thereby releasing mineral, and myriads of trace elements that one would expect to find in a well found organic garden.
If you run a domestic style AP system with enough grow beds attached, which, in my opinion is how a domestic system should be configured, then you do not need additional mechanical filtration. This is assuming that you are running a balanced system, that is, a system that is not overly loaded with fish and is in balance with the fish and plant occupancy.
More media filters means more vegetables can be grown. More media filters means more fish can be raised.
A really good way to build a very effective media filter is as follows.
Make a solid structure, possibly out of plywood and timber and line it with an appropriate liner. If a poly or fibreglass tank near that size can be found it would be ideal for the purpose.
A suggested good size is 2m long x 1m wide by 0.3 deep. (6’ x 3’x 1’deep)
Fill with gravel of 20mm or 3/4" (make sure it does not contain limestone.)
This gravel filter is approx two square metres (2 square yards) in size. This one is getting new gravel after six years in service cleaning the fish water, processing ammonia and growing a huge bounty of vegetables, particularly fruiting vegetables such as tomatoes and the like.
Pass the water of your system directly through this wonderful filter. Various methods can be employed to do this; a constant flow or flood and drain. Various plumbing and pumping regimes can be employed to regulate and distribute the water.
I have been using this style of filter for many years. They work exceptionally well, requiring little cleaning and minimal maintenance.
I have also discovered that worms will take up residence in this filter system..... Wonderful stuff. We all know what worms do for any garden. They are particularly important in an Aquaponics garden, processing solid organic material and releasing a myriad of minerals, and micro nutrients. The worms also play a vital role in the maintenance of the filter by reducing the volume of collected solids by up to 80%. The plants do really well, because, amongst other things, the action of the worms releases and makes available nutrients for these plants.
Much to my utter amazement I have found that , by growing plants in the top of this filter (I grow veggie types of plants) the efficiency of the filter is further enhanced. By growing plants in the filter I found that the Nitrates that are naturally produced by this very effective bio and mechanical filter, are used up by the plants. This wonderful little benefit means that I do not need to discard water on a regular basis to keep Nitrates under control. (Discarding water to lower Nitrate levels is common practice in aquaculture systems.)
I know this all sounds very unscientific.....but hey....it works and works astonishingly well.!
I have been running such systems now for more than 6 years, sold and installed hundreds of kits across Australia and also into the USA, NZ and China. My kits and that of the other only credible kit manufacturer in Australia, are highly successful. Clients enjoy a very high degree of satisfaction and enjoyment. Further to that there are literally tens of thousands of DIY system builds around the world using the humble media bed filter with excellent results. As far as we are able to tell we believe there are over one thousand Toteponics systems built from my plans utilising CHOP 2 methodology.
I am totally confident in what I say based on solid verifiable experience.
There are those who promote adding mechanical filters way beyond the humble media bed. These folk are actually trying to push fish production way beyond what a home based Aquaponics system should. This is actually home Aquaculture.
If you want to go outside that balance and push for more fish production and actually turn your AP system into a half baked Aquaculture system, then you need to start adding aquaculture like equipment such as moving bed filters, swirl filters and so on.
By going in the aquaculture direction, the beauty of the simplicity of a well balanced Aquaponics system is lost and it becomes ever more complicated to maintain and run.
This may be the deliberate choice of some operators of home systems.
If you want to add filters, then go for it....have fun....knock yourself out, add a couple, or three.
Some people that go on and on about filtration, are heavily influenced by Aquaculture people and have a strong aquaculture bent. They have lost sight of the beautiful thing about home AP, and that is ...it is an ECO system. It is NOT Aquaculture and it is NOT Hydroponics. It is Aquaponics.
An AP system is an ECO system so therefore must be in a balanced state. This should never be forgotten. Aquaponics as an ECO system is a system for this time in history. More and more folk are realising the importance of growing food using all the natural processes possible. There is increasing rejection of systems that rely on chemicals or push things way beyond natural limits. A balanced ECO system such as Aquaponics allows for the raising of food fish and vegetables in a symbiotic relationship.
The great majority of home system owners, especially those that have purchased a ready made premium kit are not interested in additional complications in running a system. They are very attracted to the beauty of the ECO system. It fits well into their idea/desire to move towards a greener more sustainable lifestyle.
There is an element amongst the AP - DIY world that enjoy tinkering. For those people, build yourself at least one of every kind of filter you can think of and ...enjoy. Tinker away till your heart is contented.
Why not build a replica of the Yellow Polka Dot Filter and attach that to your system?
The Yellow Polka Dot Filter. It just might be the ultimate filter for the home aquaculture system. Those who feel they need additional mechanical filtration, want to get into home aquaculture, and you just love to tinker!
Please take note, if we were to build a full blown Commercial system we would approach the design with a different set of parameters to produce a commercially viable system while still maintaining the beauty of an Aquaponics ECO system.
Murray Hallam of Practical Aquaponics is available world wide to consult on design and commissioning of commercial scale Aquaponics systems that are efficient in design and maintain the working principle of an ECO system.
PS.... Come to my Commercia and Small Farm Training at Pescadero California December 2 to 6 ....2012. See here for more info about all my training classes in Australia and the USA.
We have put together a short video clip to show the amazing difference between plants from the exact seedling batch, planted in different systems.
One system is young and new and has not yet built up a good solid nutrient bank. Obviously the nutrient does not yet extend across the full spectrum of that needed for good plant health. This is so important for the follow on effect this has for the food consumers personal health and well being.
Nutrient in a well found Aquaponics system comes from a variety of sources but principally from the fish waste. There is a variety of ways that nutrient can be provided, all of them relatively easy and very effective.
Nutrient capture and distribution is vital to ensure the system produces well.
Our FloMedia methodology, utilising media beds together with raft systems connected in the right configuration and proportions provides good plant nutrition across the plant side of the Aquaponics system.
This is evidenced by the plants we grow in our research and client systems. Good examples of wonderfully healthy plants can be seen in the video clip. I have visited on Aquaponic farms where, frankly, the growth of commercial crops was poor. This is due to insufficient balanced nutrient properly distributed across the farm systems. A successful Aquaponic operation needs to maximise the output from the farm, community or home system while working within good cost structures.
Learn about these and other very practical methodologies from those with the actual practical experience on farms from all climate zones.
If a little "cheating" happens....we will know....the fish will all die.
The fish will die if chemicals or artificial fertilizers are applied.
Many are very dissatisfied with the quality of food available. The widespread use of chemicals in food production is worrying. Studies are beginning to show links between many modern day ailments and chemical use. The demand for "Organically Grown" is on the rise. Consumers want to eat better, reduce drastically the intake of unnatural chemicals via the food eaten. These chemicals are most often in the form of agricultural sprays and artificial fertilizers.
Grow your own. It is easier than you might think. Imagine fresh, chemical free fish and vegetables, grown at home or at a family or community farm nearby. Aquaponics is a wonderful way to grow-your-own at home and on a bigger scale to supply the needs of others.
Aquaponic grown lettuce - better than organic. Students examine these prime quality, chemical free lettuce.
Aquaponics is better than Organic because we have those inbuilt policemen in the system - the fish. Fish are very intolerant to agricultural chemicals and will quickly die if contaminated with even very small amounts of these chemicals. An Aquaponics farmer just cannot "cheat" when tempted to increase yields or to control a pest outbreak by using chemical sprays or fertilizers.
Organic Policeman built into each Aquaponic system
If a little "cheating" happens....the fish will tell us.......they will all die.
Gina Cavaliero is expanding her 1,000 square foot floating raft system to cater for demand
Gina Cavaliero of Green Acre Organics who is expanding her system from a 1000 square foot DWC “floating raft” system to a mix of NFT and Media Bed systems to take advantage of different plants and their growing requirements.
Listen to the Podcast.
Ecofilms: Today, small scale commercial Aquaponics system. Can you make any money from them? We speak with Gina Cavaliero from Green Acre Organics and Murray Hallam. Gina, tell us about your system. You’ve got one system already established. A 1000 square foot floating raft system and you’re building and expanding your system. Tell us a bit about that?
Gina Cavaliero: Sure. We started out with a 1,000 square foot DWC (Deep Water Culture) raft type system and we just expanded it to include an additional 1024 square feet. So we’re just right at 2000 square feet of DWC growth space. Its still being powered by the same amount of fish density fish space so we didn’t have to add on anything additionally to our tank area – but just more grow beds.
Murray Hallam: That’s just great Gina, isn’t it.
Gina Cavaliero: It is. We’re looking at trying to optimize how much we can grow with as little bit of fish as possible.
Murray Hallam: Why have you got that approach Gina about keeping the fish at a low density?
Gina Cavaliero: Well the reason is we didn’t really start out with that intention. We thought we would have a better market for our fish products. But what we found is that it’s just not a really competitive type of product – the tilapia here, because they can get it cheap elsewhere. It comes in imported at ridiculous per pound prices. Also for the fact that we don’t process (the fish) We would have to provide our restaurants and chefs is a whole fish on ice. They love the flavor. They love the texture. They didn’t like the labor and the comparison of getting a few servings out of a tilapia as opposed to fifteen out of a grouper of salmon. So it just wasn’t cost effective enough for them.
So what that meant to us is that we had to look at our fish as just our fertilizer generator. They are part of the cost of growing our produce. So we want to minimize how many we have so we have the least amount of overhead to raise and rear them and we can produce as much product as possible.
Murray Hallam: Of course you want to do that with fish because Aquaponics is an ecosystem. You’re dealing with a non-chemical growing method.
Gina Cavaliero: Absolutely. We get everything we need out of the fertilizer, out of the bacterial conversion that occurs as a result of the fish and the ecosystem. So we don’t need to do anything else other than keep those fish happy, keep them fed and they do what they need for us.
Ecofilms: Gina, a lot of people have problems with the word “commercial.” You are selling your produce. How big do you have to be before you would classify an Aquaponics operation to be commercial?
Gina Cavaliero: That’s a great question Frank. In my opinion I think if you’re producing a product and selling it, you’re essentially commercial. You’re putting a product out for sale. So we have this concept of mega-farms which is pretty much what’s dominating the landscape of agriculture these days. That’s kind of far removed from what in my opinion we need. We need small family sized farms where we can really concentrate on delivering to the community. Because that’s what people are desiring. They don’t want this commercialized, processed product. They want to know their farmer. They’d like to have that relationship and knowing their farmer and knowing their food. There’s so much security and sense of comfort that they receive from that. So, you know, you can start out as a very small sized farm and go to your farmers market and sell to your community, your neighbors. In my opinion that’s commercial. Your selling what you are doing.
Ecofilms: But is it viable?
Gina Cavaliero: It is definitely viable depending upon size. Depending upon how much one needs to generate. I get that question a lot. Can I make a living off it? Well I can’t answer that because I don’t know what each individual needs to make a living. That’s a variable number. Can it support two people? I believe so. I think if you have the land, the space to do it. Its definitely viable. I think if you have to incorporate any kind of additional mortgage or lease – I think it will definitely be more challenging. I don’t think its impossible, but I think it escalates you into a larger category where you are looking at paid labor. Ideally what we’re trying to do is to do this with two people. Not to have that addition of paid labor.
Murray Hallam: That applies to any business though really. Any small business that you run, once you start employing people and taking out leases on vehicles or equipment or whatever. It’s the same. Its no different to any other business.
Hey Gina, I’m getting excited about April. I’ll be over at your place in April and for me that’s a bit of a long trip across the big wide ocean but I’m just looking forward to getting over there because you are running a training program. Do you want to tell us a bit about that?
Gina Cavaliero: Sure. We’re really excited about it too. We can’t wait to have you back over here to our side of the pond. What we’re doing is a four day intensive course and we teach everything. Its not just the nuts and bolts. It’s the pen and paper too. We’re going to cover business aspects. SEO management. Why would a farm need a website? Things as intricate as that. As well as managing day to day operations. How to construct a system. How to manage the system. Dealing with fish, planting, harvesting. You name it. Everything you need to do to replicate what we do – we’re going to teach.
Murray Hallam: Fantastic.
Ecofilms: And Murray what’s your involvement in the course? What will you be teaching?
Murray Hallam: I will be talking about media grow beds. That kind of thing, more of the hands on practical kind of stuff. That’s what Gina has asked me to do so I’ll be excited about doing that and of course to meet a lot of my USA friends. But look there’s another thing that’s going on there, that I’m excited to see and listen to and that is Penn and Cord Parmenter are coming down. Can you tell me a bit about that please?
Gina Cavaliero: Yes. We’re excited about the addition of a one day workshop that is in between the four day courses that we’re running simultaneously. Penn and Cord are going to teach their practical application of a passive solar greenhouse. What these folks have done is enable themselves to grow year round at 8,000 feet in Colorado. Incredibly cold non forgiving environment and they grow year round. So what they’re going to do is teach folks how to replicate their green house. A passive solar design. They are also going to do a segment on seed-saving. Its so relevant to what we need here. The vast majority of growers in the US really have to deal with inclement weather and cold temps. We actually had an experience with really bad freezing temps for a prolonged period of time and a passive solar greenhouse would have done wonders for us.
Murray Hallam: Where I live in south east Queensland, we’ve got a fairly good climate. Our worst winter day is a frost that’s just freezing for a couple of hours and that’s it. I’m frequently asked about growing Aquaponics in inclement or cold environments. So that’s really interesting because going back to what you said earlier about the farms you see for the future being small family and mom and dad kind of operations, in selling their stuff locally, its really important for people to be able to grow Aquaponics anywhere. As you say, cold weather climates make it challenging. Imagine if you had to build a greenhouse and you had to have the gas fitted and the big electricity bill and on and on it would go. That’s why I’m so interested in what Penn and Cord have to say. Its going to be really interesting.
Gina Cavaliero: I agree. I’m excited by it. Our partner in this Sylvia Bernstein has actually taken Penn and Cords class and is quite familiar in what they do. So for me its going to be a treat to sit in on this workshop as well.
Ecofilms: Gina just before we finish up, your expanding your Aquaponics system. Can you tell us in which direction you’re going? You’re making a demonstration Aquaponics site that covers all the different aspects. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
Gina Cavaliero: Yes. We started out as deep water culture. Raft type. And that is absolutely the prevalent type of growing system for commercial. That’s what’s taught elsewhere with good reason. It has its pluses for commercial type growing. What we discovered doing this for some time is that we really needed to diversify our crops and we needed to optimize where those crops grew. We can get some great growth out of herbs for instance in our DWC. But what we found is that they take up quite a bit of space over a long period of time. When in that same bit of space we could have turned over lettuce perhaps three to four times in the same time span and generated quite a bit more money. We want to take those herbs and put them in a more conducive growing environment which for them means a NFT system. So what we’re doing, we’re tieing in NFT, media, vertical all in together with our DWC. So we can take different crops, put them in the best place where they’ll grow most optimally. Perhaps that means not taking up space. Perhaps that means being mobile in a DWC system and we’ll have a great example of different systems and how you can incorporate those systems together.
Murray Hallam: Actually Gina you’ve also found with supplying your chefs and customers that they don’t want just lettuce every week. They want other things.
Gina Cavaliero: They want anything and everything. I can probably say we have still not satisfied our chefs. They are ravenous for anything. They want different things. They want unique items. They want us to grow certain things specifically for them so they can have something that no one else has. They love our lettuce products. We hear all the time how its so much better than anything else. Its sweeter. Its more tender. The colours are more vibrant. They love it. They want more of it. They want different things.
Ecofilms: Wilting. I’ve heard stories of people having problems selling their produce because once they pick it they take it out of water and the plant just flops over and wilts. Do you have that problem?
Gina Cavaliero: That is usually indicative of the time that you are harvesting. We harvest specifically lettuce and greens very early before daylight. It has a lot to do with the stomata opening and how it affects the plant as well as temperature which is very relevant for harvesting. So there are some keys and tips of the trade so to speak that we are going to share in our training so people will not have that issue.
Ecofilms: Fantastic. I wanted to ask you what plants are the most profitable but maybe we should keep that for the course.
Gina Cavaliero: (laughing)Yeah we can keep that for the course, but its really market specific. I stay away from making statements about what might be really great here might not be really great in Louisiana or California or Colorado. Research your market. Become very familiar with it. Know who your clientele is.
Ecofilms: So how do people find out? What days are the courses? You got two groups, April 21-24 as well as April 26-29. Why are there two sessions?
Gina Cavaliero: We decided to go with two sessions because we anticipated a really good response. We know that we are offering something that really is not being offered elsewhere like some of the other commercial trainings. There’s something unique about ours. It involves the fact that we’ve been doing this. We do it everyday. We have some incredible industry leaders like Murray and Sylvia joining us. And its comprehensive. There’s everything you need to know.
Ecofilms: Where do you book it? Where do you sign up?
Gina Cavaliero: You can go to my website which is www.greenacreorganics.biz I always tell people there is an “s” on organics, not on “acre”. It will link you though to the registration page. All the information you need to know is right there at our website.
Aquaponics floating raft systems an Aquaponics media based bed systems have been successfully combined by Practical Aquaponics to form an even more dynamic AP growing system. Now you can grow a large variety of vegetable crops in your Aquaponics system.
Large Educational FloMedia system being installed at Clontarf High School in December 2010
For over a two years we have been running combination systems here at our test facility and out in the field. Several very large domestic and educational systems have been running and showing excellent results.
This marrying together of both styles of growing methods gives us the best of both worlds in an Aquaponics system. We have coined the term FloMedia to describe this hybrid technology.
Floating raft systems are particularly suited to growing green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage and the like, whereas media based beds give better results for fruiting plants such as tomato , eggplant, okra, and the like. Some root crops such as Taro give excellent results in media based grow beds.
Taro grown in an Aquaponics system. This Taro "corm or tuba" went 2 kg in weight.
At Practical Aquaponics we have refined the connection methodologies, the flow rates and nutrient distribution to make these FloMedia systems work to the optimum.
As per our normal practice we have thoroughly tested and run FloMedia systems before we release information, specifications and build systems for our clients. Each install is different, the site, the size and the proportions of each technology to be married together to form a wonderfully robust and productive FloMedia system.
Murray Hallam says "We anticipate FloMedia technology to be the mainstay of small to medium Aquaponic farms into the future". "The small scale farmer will have the ability to effectively use all the nutrient produced in the fish side of the system, and the versatility of being able to grow a variety of crops in order to satisfy the needs of their restaurant and private clients".
How quickly does time fly? Since building and testing his innovative toteponics system based on CHOP2 technology we caught up with Aquaponics guru Murray Hallam to ask how its all been going? Murray immediately lights up with his usual enthusiasm, “Can you believe it – its 18 months since we built that first system and its still functioning perfectly well, day in day out.”
The DIY Aquaponics DVDthat features how to build this system in detail has also been tremendously successful with aquaponics enthusiasts right around the world enjoying Murray’s laconic style of instruction. So successful that Murray has started building kits for those people who want to buy a CHOP2 system pre-built with all the fittings ready assembled.
You can buy the fitting directly from his website in Australia or from Sylvia Bernstein’s Aquaponics website in the US which has American plumbing parts that are slightly different from the Australian fittings. But both fittings will work just the same.
Murray Hallam in front of his more recent CHOP 2 System
“We’re selling around three IBC CHOP2 kits a week, going out our door here in Australia!” says Murray.
Murray has a two to four months back order for his quality line of aquaponics system built from fibreglass. Murray says Australians love building and tinkering on weekends with Aquaponics. “Most people with a little handyman skills like to assemble it themselves,” says Murray, but there are others who want everything delivered.
“We cater for everyone.” he says.
“The only thing if you buy our IBC CHOP2 system that you will need to source yourself are the concrete blocks and timber sleepers to hold the tanks in place. These things can be found in any hardware store.” he said.
But are there any problems with assembling the kits? Murray says most people that ring him usually have difficulty locating the pdf instructions that come on the DVD. “We usually explain where to find it and what software they need to view the file on their computer.” he says. “But the response has been great.” Murray says he continually gets fan mail and thank you emails in his inbox.
“If people follow the instructions they will build themselves a quality Aquaponics system.” said Murray. “But they have to follow the instructions. All the measurements and parts needed are on the disk.”
“And if they don’t want to build it they can buy just the parts they require from me.” he said.
Murray clowning around with "Gary" his talking fish!
Murray has recently created a special CHOP2 Toteponics forum on his website where owners of these systems can upload photos of their systems, shoot the breeze and ask questions. “I gives people tremendous confidence to see their own system producing great vegetables and fish at home.”
When Murray Hallam launched CHOP2 he wasn’t alone from some critics who said his design was flawed because he recirculated the water in the system in an unusual way. “Some people said that the fish would go blind!” laughed Murray, “It’s a total furphy because some of the suspended solids get returned to the fish tank!”
But all the solids are eventually filtered through the growbeds as normal and 18 months later the fish have been harvested and the vegetables replanted.
“We currently have lettuce, asian greens, a mustard bush, tomatoes and an aloe vera plant transplanted from one of my other systems.” he said.
Being an innovator Murray has begun testing the juice from black soldier fly larvae as a source of nutrient for aquaponics. “I’m using it in the same way you would add worm-juice to a system.” He adds. “I want to see how well it performs.”
So are there any secrets under wraps that we can divulge to our readers? Murray teases us with his mischievous grin. “I got a new Aquaponics system design based on CHOP2 – and its a little beauty, but I can’t say anymore!”
Like a lot of Murray’s inventions – he wont release any more information until he knows it works.
Clontarf High has completed the first 12 months operation of its FloMedia Aquaponics System. The system is based on CHOP 2 making use of auto siphons to provide the ebb and flow action that is so important for good aeration in Aquaponics systems.
Clontarf High Aquaponics Educational system under construction December 2010
The install consists of 3 x 1250 ltr windowed fish tanks and 4 x media beds together with 2 x floating raft beds.
The system combines to work extremely well. The three windowed fish tanks provide excellent viewing allowing the students to conduct their science projects with ease. Having three tanks allows for three different species of fish to be kept. The water flow provides for excellent filtration and nutrient delivery to the media and raft beds.
Aquaponic Raft beds ready for planting.
Marine Coordinator Adam Richmond says the Aquaponics system has been a hit with the students. "There is so much science we can teach out of Aquaponics "says Adam. "The variety and scope of subject matter that can be taught is expanding each month, it is a very exciting teaching tool"
Windowed fish tank with Jade Perch and one Cat Fish.
The FloMedia system combines both Media and raft systems into one dynamic Aquaponics unit.