Episode 41 S2-6
Without Land Ch 6
Vince and Erika head back to the heart of the refugee camp and their home, in this chapter of Without Land. They pass various buildings along the way and Erika describes Vince's role with the communal gardens and how important these building are to both the landowner and refugee communities. Here to discuss how aquaponics systems work is Ken Jensen, producer of thecleversurvivalist.com and host of The Prepper Podcast.
As long as you build your aquaponics system correctly, this is an extremely viable system for long term survival. Aquaponics is a marriage of hydroponics and aqua-culture. Hydroponics cultivates plant life in a bath of nutrient rich water in stead of soil. This allows you to grow a large amount in a small area. Aqua-culture is designed to raise fish or aquadic life like shellfish, crawfish, snails, etc. This helps meet the fish demands in a safe, healthy way. Aquaponics uses fish for nutrients for your plant life. This removes chemicals filling groundwater supplies and destroying wetlands.
There are lots of aspects to this system. The typical system has a rearing tank, which is basically a fish tank. This fish tank is big! It can be a barrel, pond or a classic tank that is large. The settling tank catches fish nutrients. The bio filter, located between the fish and the grow bed, is where the ammonia turns into nitrates for the plants. You should have a lot of surface area for the bacteria to grow. It could be a bucket with pellets or lave rocks. Having this bio filter allows for a certain margin of error. The next piece to this system is a hydroponics subsystem. This is where your plants grow. it could be a flood table, a frame above the fish tank, half barrels with open part up, or a bathtub. A sump pump is located in the lowest basin where water is gravity fed into and then it pumps the water back into the rearing tank. A water pump (usually a mag drive pump, centrifugal and submersible) pumps water from fish tank to grow bed. Finally the bell siphon, a raised pine with a bigger pipe with holes surrounding it then a bigger pipe traps air and makes it float) moves water from plants to the fish tank.
When you add new water to the system put it in a container, add dirty fish water to it, allow it to sit about a week so healthy bacteria can grow in it before you add it to system. Alternately you can just add some pond water to it. The water will trickle feed to the hydro-table. You shouldn't have to add more water except to make up for losses. The plants grow in rocks not dirt and is more of a bare root system.
There are many types of aquaponics systems. A deep water raft system is Ken's preferred system. In this system the plants float in Styrofoam rafts in a deep basin. Recirculating aquaponics is best for beginners because you have less chance of killing everything. There are less parts, it's cheaper, the water constantly recirculates, and the media bed mechanically filters everything. Reciprocating aquaponics is a flood and drain system or eb and flow. It's easy to build, uses a one to one ratio, is easy to maintain, and uses siphon drains. Vertical tower aquaponics uses towers to trickle feed from the top. Finally the nutrient film aquaponics uses a sloped bed of 1.1 to 1.4% grade. The flow is 1 liter per minute.
There are also many types of fish you can raise. Tilapia is the preferred fish because it is easiest to raise and yield the most meat. Silver perch, eel tailed perch, catfish, jade perch, Murray cod or any type of cod are also viable options. Goldfish are edible and they will get huge. They have many small bones but they are resilient fish. coy fish are another option. In climates that fluctuate drastically bluegill or catfish are preferred.
The pros of using aquaponics is that everything is in one place and you can go vertical for more productivity. There is more functionality for use of space and the yield is high. Some of the cons of this system is it may be difficult to maintain circulation and water temperatures. A single failure point can destroy the whole system. You will need to think about natural power and battery banks for a grid down scenario.
A great way to set up this system would be to float your plants in a grow bed and attach ropes so you can grow your plants right in the middle of your pond. "Lagniappe" your system with a small fountain in your pond to keep the water circulating. it will spray plants and keep everything cool. It will also provide a source of relaxation while you reap the benefits.
The Changing Earth Series
Ken Jensen is an American, Ex-Military Patriot that is knowledgeable and experienced in Electronics and Industrial Electrical design and maintenance. Ken is also an experienced Nuclear Reactor Operator and also worked on nuclear instrumentation. He grew up hunting, camping and spending time outdoors. In adulthood, Ken has spent many years learning wilderness survival and, eventually, urban survival.
Ken is the author of a book, The Honey and The Bee and is the main author and contributor to The Clever Survivalist Blog, Survival Guide and The Prepper Podcast, Survival Podcast.