Our DIY Aquaponics System
(constructed mostly of recycled materials) has been operating for eight months and the fish and plants are doing well, says Julia from Cooroy.
We're in the middle of a very dry period in south east Queensland and it's a real pleasure to see the plants so healthy in spite of the heat and drought
We decided to try aquaponics because these systems are extremely water efficient. Since the water is constantly cycled between the fish and the plants, the system uses much less water than growing vegetables in our dirt garden.
This system has six 200-litre grow beds with vegetables and two 450-litre fish tanks, each containing 20 silver perch fingerlings. The water is pumped from a sump to the fish tanks, then the water gravity feeds down to the grow beds, and from there back to the sump. Animation showing the way the system operates can be found at http://www.aquaponics.net.au/Chops.html.
You can also see a video of the system at YouTube -
A small solar panel runs the pond pump (4000 lph) and aerator on sunny days. Tank water collected from the roof of the shed is used to replace water lost by evaporation and transpiration. The fish are fed on composting worms and commercial pellets. I have four worm farms now, and hope to feed the fish mostly on worms soon. Since the grow beds are located above the ground, weeds and pests are easily managed organically by hand. The bottom half of the beds are filled with 20 mm gravel, and the top half with expanded clay pellets.
To protect against heavy rain, hail and wind, we have constructed a shelter covered in clear Perspex, with roll down shade cloth.
So far we have successfully grown tomatoes, beans, Lebanese cucumbers, beetroot (beets), silver beet (Swiss chard), rock melon (cantaloupe), basil, chives, coriander, parsley, lettuce, snow peas and strawberries.
Very entertaining and rewarding!
JULIA from Cooroy Qld.