Aquaponics Q & A

I’m pretty cheezey about showing off my aquaponic system. I really enjoy giving a tour. The questions I get make me chuckle sometimes, and often repeated.

What are these?
Expanded clay. They are the ‘media’ I chose to grow my plants in. It’s often what is used in hydroponics which is just plants and water. Other media often used is crushed granite. Expanded clay is more expense but weighs less than granite.

I’ve always recycled my aquarium water in my plants around the house. This must be the same. 
It’s not at all. The difference are the worms in the grow bed/expanded clay. The worms are composting the fish waste to make it food for my plants. Otherwise it’s just waste in dirt which is only an invitation for composters. AKA bugs, mold, etc. 
What kind of fish are they?
Goldfish and Tilapia. The goldfish (gold and white) were my test dummies to my sure my water was ready for (any) fish and I just haven’t done anything with them.  The others are Blue Tilapia I purchased from White Brook Tilapia Farm. There are different breeds of tilapia, and I purchased this breed because they were on sale. They are cheap, but the overnight shipping is budget killer at almost $80.

Are you going to eat your fish? (followed by) how? Yes. I think it’s so cool to say I have my own food source. How… the conclusion of my research is that I will place it in a a cooler of ice water. They say it’s a pretty quick death. I don’t know how to clean a fish, though. It can’t be that hard, right?!

Are your fish pets? No, as a joke I named them all Taco. They aren’t big enough to eat, but I feel it will be the same as fishing. 
How did you come up with this system? I didn’t. It was a kit I purchased on craigslist. How I learned about it: I’m not sure. It seems one thing led to another. Damn that Pinterest! This is how I remember it: I was looking up greenhouses on pinterest when I stumbled on Garden Pool with an ‘endless supply of fish and veggies’. My curiosity got the best of me and furiously started researching how they were doing it. I needed to the same, and they too have an aquaponics system from an used pool turn greenhouse. (They have chickens!) It’s extreme, but I found smaller systems that I could incorporate in my backyard. The king and leader of the aqauponics system is Murry Hallam from Australia.

What will you do in the winter? Tilapia and gold fish like warm water. When the water is cold, they go to the bottom of the tank and are pretty still. It’s interesting insight in what fish are doing on a bigger scale like lakes. I’m building a greenhouse and I have heaters to keep the water warm.
It’s clearly not going to be warm enough with just the tank in the greenhouse, so I’ve been doing some homework. More ‘things’ in a green keep things warm. For example, I’m hoping my house plants will fit. For one of the best natural heaters are hot compost piles. I’ve felt like a pretty big failure when it comes to my compost piles, but hopefully I can relearn the ‘hot’ compost pile. 

Are you doing this to save money? No! It’s much closer to a hobby which is expensive. I enjoy learning and it’s always pretty cool to know where your food comes from. It’s a lot of food for a small space and I like to brag that I never have to leave home to get my food. Of course I do, but I have the means and knowledge to provide for myself. That just seems to be a powerful thing not many can say.

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