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PostPosted: Mar 31st, '17, 03:41 
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Hi folks,

I hope you are willing to share some of your experiences and insights with me. I'm Mikkel, a 27 year old Dane and a total newbie, when it comes to aquaponics. I grew up on a farm and now I'm looking for a way to farm in urban environment, where I currently live. Aquaponics definitely seems to be a very appealing option.

I reach out, because I would like to know a little about the challenges of aquaponics, before jumping right into it. I imagine some of have had your struggles already and have the personal experience to pinpoint, what I should focus on. So to make it easy, I'll only ask one question:



What are the three main challenges for you as an aquaponic farmer?




I'm looking forward to learning a lot. Every input is much appreaciated

Cheers,

Mikkel


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PostPosted: Mar 31st, '17, 15:24 
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Hi Mikkel, Welcome to the forum.

Most of use here aren't farmers we're home backyard growers.

Cheers


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PostPosted: Mar 31st, '17, 17:24 
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Most of use here aren't farmers we're home backyard growers.

yep +1... it is akin to growing a vegie patch in the backyard for most people in urban areas/towns/cities.

However there are members with bigger systems (usually living in out of town areas)

if you had a big enough yard then this is a pretty good example of where the upper limit probably is for back-yarders....
Fayes System viewtopic.php?f=18&t=1622

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PostPosted: Mar 31st, '17, 19:08 
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scotty435 wrote:
Hi Mikkel, Welcome to the forum.

Most of use here aren't farmers we're home backyard growers.

Cheers


Thanks Scotty435 for the heads up. I don't know how I missed the backyard part. However, I often find it just as interesting and educational to talk to "backyarders". They usually see things in a different light and are more willing to experiment.

So if you are up for it, I would still very much appreciate if you could me tell of the three biggest challenges in your eyes.


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PostPosted: Mar 31st, '17, 19:17 
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dlf_perth wrote:
Quote:
Most of use here aren't farmers we're home backyard growers.

yep +1... it is akin to growing a vegie patch in the backyard for most people in urban areas/towns/cities.

However there are members with bigger systems (usually living in out of town areas)

if you had a big enough yard then this is a pretty good example of where the upper limit probably is for back-yarders....
Fayes System viewtopic.php?f=18&t=1622



Your explanation is good for comparison, dlf_perth. Let's see of anyone with big systems jumps in.

Like I mentioned in the above quote, I'm still quite interested in knowing what you think are the three biggest challenges in aquaponics. The more input, the better.


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PostPosted: Mar 31st, '17, 20:00 
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>> Like I mentioned in the above quote, I'm still quite interested in knowing what you think are the three biggest challenges in aquaponics. The more input, the better.


Relevant to Denmark....

#1 - climate, colder climates introduce quite a few issues with the veg growing season.
In cold areas it is almost better to run a quasi RAS system so that the fish can be carried for the winter periods.
You also pretty much need a greenhouse. Cold temperatures also determine the types of fish you can grow.

#2 - water, lots of places have issues with water. system pH and city water treatments. Also rain water is not so good in city areas. Some places it is a big issue some places it is not.

#3 - for a big system, is the setup and experimentation. What methods work for the sorts of things you want to grow and whether or not you can match your fish and plant needs. In a small system you can add a bit of this and a bit of that and you can balance things out if you have a bit of an imbalance - in a big commercial system small mistakes in a home BYAP system can have serious repercussions when a lot of fish at high stocking rates are involved.

#4 (I am going one more than 3) - fish husbandry. large systems need to be serious about managing the fish and fish issues. As for #3 small things can pretty rapidly become big issues.

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PostPosted: Apr 1st, '17, 03:11 
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Pretty tough to narrow it down to just three but I'll go with these.

1. I'm in a relatively mild climate but here in the states for many growers it would be the cost of trying to run a system through winter - some places here it gets well below 0 F so indoor growing is the only option and then space becomes an issue. A large portion of the northern half of the country falls into this category. Totally shutting down a system in Winter usually doesn't give enough time to grow out fish to eating size unless you can find fish locally that are big to start out with.

2. Cost of feed and system operating costs.

3. I'll call this one diagnostics. Occasionally we can recognize a fish disease based on external signs but it's probably safe to say that none of us know enough to diagnose most fish diseases, the same is true for most beginners when it comes to plant nutrient deficiencies. You'd really need a lab to get a handle on some of these but the cost of lab work is beyond what it's worth for a backyard system.


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PostPosted: Apr 1st, '17, 06:59 
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back-yarder or commercial I'd say spend extra time on the Design, scale and Costs. All very important.

I'm running about 130 gallon system. 26 large tilapia and 150 smaller ones.


By the time i harvest anything I think I'm about 3x the cost to buy at a store.



viewtopic.php?f=45&t=28259

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PostPosted: Apr 5th, '17, 03:16 
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dlf_perth wrote:
>> Like I mentioned in the above quote, I'm still quite interested in knowing what you think are the three biggest challenges in aquaponics. The more input, the better.


Relevant to Denmark....

#1 - climate, colder climates introduce quite a few issues with the veg growing season.
In cold areas it is almost better to run a quasi RAS system so that the fish can be carried for the winter periods.
You also pretty much need a greenhouse. Cold temperatures also determine the types of fish you can grow.

#2 - water, lots of places have issues with water. system pH and city water treatments. Also rain water is not so good in city areas. Some places it is a big issue some places it is not.

#3 - for a big system, is the setup and experimentation. What methods work for the sorts of things you want to grow and whether or not you can match your fish and plant needs. In a small system you can add a bit of this and a bit of that and you can balance things out if you have a bit of an imbalance - in a big commercial system small mistakes in a home BYAP system can have serious repercussions when a lot of fish at high stocking rates are involved.

#4 (I am going one more than 3) - fish husbandry. large systems need to be serious about managing the fish and fish issues. As for #3 small things can pretty rapidly become big issues.


Over-achievers are more than welcome :). I lived in Spain last year, so yes, Denmark is definitely a colder climate! With regards to the system and fish, my parents luckily live close to a guy who runs an aquaculture facility. Maybe he can hook me up with some stuff for the system and some advice on what fish to go for.
Water should be okay. And I expect to start out with a small system to get to know the basics and do the experimentation. And then I'll see what the future brings.

I'm thinking of setting up my system in a nearby community DIY-workshop. We got all kinds of people there, so I would like to set up a team of people who'll take part. Any particular skills, I should look for? And since we're all newbies, are there any resources that you can recommend us to take a look at (apart from this forum)? Aquaponics is almost non-exisiting in Denmark, so there's not that many people to take advice from.


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PostPosted: Apr 5th, '17, 03:26 
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scotty435 wrote:
Pretty tough to narrow it down to just three but I'll go with these.

1. I'm in a relatively mild climate but here in the states for many growers it would be the cost of trying to run a system through winter - some places here it gets well below 0 F so indoor growing is the only option and then space becomes an issue. A large portion of the northern half of the country falls into this category. Totally shutting down a system in Winter usually doesn't give enough time to grow out fish to eating size unless you can find fish locally that are big to start out with.

2. Cost of feed and system operating costs.

3. I'll call this one diagnostics. Occasionally we can recognize a fish disease based on external signs but it's probably safe to say that none of us know enough to diagnose most fish diseases, the same is true for most beginners when it comes to plant nutrient deficiencies. You'd really need a lab to get a handle on some of these but the cost of lab work is beyond what it's worth for a backyard system.


Thank you, scotty435. The climate issue is clearly a thing, I have to focus on and figure out how to handle. Occasionally, it gets quite cold around here, so I'll have to prepare for that.

In the case of no. 2, how would you go about cutting costs?

You also mention diagnostics and plant nutrition deficiencies. Any other specific areas of fish and plant management, you would recommend me to look into? And what resources do you use to inform yourself?


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PostPosted: Apr 5th, '17, 03:32 
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DanaPT wrote:
back-yarder or commercial I'd say spend extra time on the Design, scale and Costs. All very important.

I'm running about 130 gallon system. 26 large tilapia and 150 smaller ones.


By the time i harvest anything I think I'm about 3x the cost to buy at a store.



viewtopic.php?f=45&t=28259



Great with another beginner aboard :). I just took a look at your link - cool pics and videos, good to follow your progress.

I imaging you're facing a steep learning curve right now. That's still ahead of me. Now that you have your experience fresh in mind, how did you manage design, scale and costs? And what would you do differently?


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PostPosted: Apr 5th, '17, 11:00 
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On number 2 I'd make sure you get efficient reliable pumps, they'll save you a lot of money in electric bills.

You might be able to supplement the feed but make sure you get a good feed that's designed for growth of fish and shop around. I can't tell you how long feed will last but it has a finite shelf life and needs to be used fairly soon after you open it or stored so that it won't go bad before it gets used.

------------

I think you might want to look into using a fish loop and a plant loop. Basically using a Recirculating Aquaculture System with associated filtration during the Winter so that you can keep the heating cost down. Shunt the solids from the fish loop off to a mineralizer and connect the plant loop through this solids mineralizer - don't return any water to the fish loop. This gives you more control of the plant side but isn't as simple to run.


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PostPosted: Apr 8th, '17, 08:38 
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mikkelebbesen wrote:
DanaPT wrote:
back-yarder or commercial I'd say spend extra time on the Design, scale and Costs. All very important.

I'm running about 130 gallon system. 26 large tilapia and 150 smaller ones.


By the time i harvest anything I think I'm about 3x the cost to buy at a store.



viewtopic.php?f=45&t=28259



Great with another beginner aboard :). I just took a look at your link - cool pics and videos, good to follow your progress.

I imaging you're facing a steep learning curve right now. That's still ahead of me. Now that you have your experience fresh in mind, how did you manage design, scale and costs? And what would you do differently?


Actually it's a lot easier than I thought. The learning curve is well before the growing. IF you are able t grow stuff and your fish are okay, your beyond the learning curve BUT still learning.

My design isn't the best. I have limited access to my tanks. Without completely moving the GBs, I just can't do anything meaningful to those tanks. Also, should have used insulation to maintain temp. This would minimize my need for heaters. I am using Purina GFC and it's not cheap either.

on scale...my AP project is just small enough to cost me a small fortune in heating and food costs. my 2 2x4 GBs are nice but I'm sure there is a "sweet spot" not sure 150gal is it.

On costs, I run about $40 on electricity & $10 per month on feed, $600 per year. My set up costs were about $800. First year into this project in August will be costs of $1400.

$1400 buys a lot of veggies at the market over the year.

Hope this helps!

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viewtopic.php?f=45&t=28259


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PostPosted: Apr 21st, '17, 00:31 
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DanaPT wrote:
mikkelebbesen wrote:
DanaPT wrote:
back-yarder or commercial I'd say spend extra time on the Design, scale and Costs. All very important.

I'm running about 130 gallon system. 26 large tilapia and 150 smaller ones.


By the time i harvest anything I think I'm about 3x the cost to buy at a store.



viewtopic.php?f=45&t=28259



Great with another beginner aboard :). I just took a look at your link - cool pics and videos, good to follow your progress.

I imaging you're facing a steep learning curve right now. That's still ahead of me. Now that you have your experience fresh in mind, how did you manage design, scale and costs? And what would you do differently?


Actually it's a lot easier than I thought. The learning curve is well before the growing. IF you are able t grow stuff and your fish are okay, your beyond the learning curve BUT still learning.

My design isn't the best. I have limited access to my tanks. Without completely moving the GBs, I just can't do anything meaningful to those tanks. Also, should have used insulation to maintain temp. This would minimize my need for heaters. I am using Purina GFC and it's not cheap either.

on scale...my AP project is just small enough to cost me a small fortune in heating and food costs. my 2 2x4 GBs are nice but I'm sure there is a "sweet spot" not sure 150gal is it.

On costs, I run about $40 on electricity & $10 per month on feed, $600 per year. My set up costs were about $800. First year into this project in August will be costs of $1400.

$1400 buys a lot of veggies at the market over the year.

Hope this helps!


Back in the loop from my holidays :).

I have taken notice of your point about insulation. Some of the other guys have also mentioned the issue of heating to keep the temperatures high enough.

Now that you have set up your system, I imagine you rely more and more on "learning by doing". Whenever you need additional knowledge to inform your decisions on design etc., what resources do you look to?


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PostPosted: Apr 24th, '17, 17:23 
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Hi mikkelebbesen,

initially I think it's a costly exercise that most newbies are willing to carry as a hobby and to supplement their food bill. Doing it as a group could multiply the enthusiasm and therefor the size so watch out!
When planning I think a modular design is best as it can be added to without much redesigning. Think long and hard about that one. To obtain a wide variety produce you'll need to be able to expand the types of GBs.

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