Aquaponics


The carp have arrived, and seem to be enjoying their new home. It was slightly surreal coming home to a box of live fish, but after a gentle introduction to our tanks they all swam off happily, showing no ill effects.

We got a couple of kilos of carp food delivered with the fish, but as they’re far more omnivorous than the trout we’re keen to try something a bit more home-grown.

Some of our sumps are doing well at growing duckweed so I thought that would be a good start and added a net-full of duckweed to their tank.

They’re much gentler feeders than the trout, so I haven’t seen them aggressively attacking clumps of weed, but it is steadily disappearing.

At this stage, with tiny digestive systems, they need to be able to “graze” through the day, and I think the duckweed helps with that between their main feedtimes.

As they grow we’ll try to expand their diet further to see if we can eventually produce all their feed in-house – ideally from waste, or areas we’re not using for our food.

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At some point I’ll manage to document the roller-coaster ride that was our first go at Aquaponics. Suffice to say it was a mixed success – we got to eat lots of delicious trout, but lost quite a few on the way too.

After a major redesign to get the fish out
of the polytunnel we are finally ready to go again – the system has been split to allow for different sizes, and different species, so we’re now eagerly awaiting our first Carp delivery ….

If you’re serious about growing your own food, you need to look at Growing Power in Milwaukee. Here are the headlines:

  • Three acres
  • 450,ooo kg of food a year
  • 10,000 fish

Show me a non-aquaponic system that can produce that! Take 5 minutes of your life and look at a non-profit doing something amazing:



In spite of the snow and big freeze before Christmas (it got down below -10c) we have been able to keep harvesting food from the aquaponics and under the fleece tunnels. The pic on the left is perennial spinach, and the one below is the first of our aquaponic leeks heading for the dinner table.

And here’s some of our Ruby Pak Choi:

It’s been a great 2010 at the Trafford Eco-House, we’ve not posted updates recently not due to lack of activity, but the opposite!

The garden’s been going well and we’ve got trout and beds of winter veg surviving the snow. The pace isn’t going to stop in 2011 though, this is the year when the changes to the house should happen: Solar PV, Solar Thermal, Woodburner with Flue Boiler, extension with bike garage, wrap the whole thing in external insulation, put up much thicker curtains.

The garden in 2011 will keep us busy too – we’ll fix up the shed and give it a green roof, expand the aquaponics, and dig over another 500sqft of turf into veg patch.

Looks like a fantastic year ahead, and we’re really looking forward to what we’ll be saying this time next year.

Hope you’ve all had a good 2010, and are looking forward to an even better 2011.

We’ve just got back from a week away, and in our absence the trout were being fed by an automatic fish-feeder. They seem to be pretty happy with that arrangement as they now look huge – at least in comparison to when we left!

We weighed them to see and their weight is now over 35g – doubled in the last two weeks. Time to up the amount we feed them again.

Yesterday we lost our first fish – she got caught up in the net that is over the top of the tank to stop then jumping out!

Feeling a bit sad that we’ve lost one already, but it did give us a chance to weigh and measure one accurately. We’d been working on a weight of about 10g and thought they were about 4″ long. The one who came out is 18g and 4.5″! So now we understand why they were a bit hungrier than expected – we’ve upped their feed from 30g/day to 45g/day (about 1% of body weight). Here’s the pic of the little one who sacrificed herself so that the rest could get properly fed:

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