Aquaponics Experimenter’s Kit

Aquaponics Experimenter’s Kit


It is made from used 55 gallon plastic drums and $100 or so worth of PVC piping & fittings. Both the name and the concept were inspired by / adapted from Allpower lab’s GEK (Gasifier Experimenters Kit). The basic idea behind both is to develop a relatively low cost, but sophisticated kit for experimenters to explore, learn, help develop, and contribute to the body of knowledge. Oh yeah — and have a ready supply of fresh organic salad greens year round. Oh yeah — and see if such small scale local food production systems can be made thermodynamically efficient enough that they could be powered by renewable energy sources, (like the GEK, for example…).

My design is based on, and draws from the work of many others, linked to below. (We all stand on the shoulders of giants.) It can be summarized as a “flood & drain” (per Speraneo), CHOP (“Constant Height One Pump” per Hallam) “barrel-ponics” (per Travis Hughey) system using a loop siphon (per Affnan, et al), (simplifying and hopefully improving on more complicated flapper valves, bell siphons, timers, float switches and/or electronic controls, etc. used by others) to generate the flood & drain cycle without moving parts. It is a lot less expensive than comparably sized commercial units, and (I like to think) it simplifies and improves on the earlier systems it is based on. For those not familiar with aquaponics, it is …

“…the marriage of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (the soilless growing of plants) that grows fish and plants together in one integrated system. The fish waste provides an organic food source for the growing plants and the plants provide a natural filter for the water the fish live in. The third participants are the microbes (nitrifying bacteria) and composting red worms that thrive in the growing media. They do the job of converting the ammonia from the fish waste first into nitrites, then into nitrates and the solids into vermicompost that are food for the plants.

In combining both systems aquaponics capitalizes on the benefits and eliminates the drawbacks of each. It should not be confused with either.

Read more…

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