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a naturalistic system / no input system.

Discussion in 'Aquaponics Ideas' started by Damon Polta, Jan 27, 2012.

  1. Damon Polta

    Damon Polta Member

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2012
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    ok, for starters i have to explain the name....

    no input to me means no cost. i think in the mind frame of business... i fully understand the laws of physics, but no input can mean many things..

    naturalistic is well... the natural way of doing things... that's pretty much self explanatory.

    the background.

    for most people we view AP as you feed the fish, the poo, the food grows. it's the simplest way to explain it, and that, for the most part is how it's viewed.

    but there's more to it than that.

    inside of a healthy system there is a whole food chain of micro bacteria also providing nutrient to the system. for people that have a raft system and are able to have mosquito fish, those fish are also putting nutrient into the system, which is another food chain added to the complexity of the system. and for those lucky enough to have gammarus (scuds) these guys are the clean up crew, mineralizing the sold wastes.

    now here's the thought....

    mother nature doesnt walk around to every stream and lake and personally hand feed the fish... so why should we have to do it? why not exploit what's already happening in most peoples systems...

    now im talking about raft systems here, which as i understand most people dont use...


    so for starters lets look at the bio mass of the systems... yes we have our measured mass of the fish in the fish tank, but how much bio mass do you think is floating around in your system in the form of microbes, algae, and bacteria? not to mention mosquito fish and gammarus if you have them in your system as well...

    now individually each organism is going to put out small amounts of effluent into the water, but we're not talking about individual size in AP, it's all about the mass, and when you're talking about total mass, numbers means nothing as long as the weight adds up...

    so my question is, whats the difference between 100 lbs of mosquito fish dumping their wastes into the system water and 100 lbs of tilapia doing the same thing? well for starters... nothing, well... there is the fact that you'll have between 50-100 tilapia and thousands of mosquito fish... but again, the numbers of organisms the provide the total mass doesnt really matter in the ratios...

    now the tilapia you have to hand feed, since their food source doesn't just naturally show up... but mosquito fish... their food source is put into the system on a very regular basis... almost continuously... and you want to know what the best part is??? ITS FREE!!!! i know what you're thinking... you're thinking, "you mean to tell me that mosquitos are just laying their eggs into the system for the mosquito fish to eat?" and the answer is YES!!!

    so, instead of having a deeper tank suited for larger fish like tilapia... why not increase the surface ares of the tank and lower the height? same volume of water, shorter wider tank. this gives the tank a better chance at catching bugs that come in for a drink and slip, and more area for mosquito sto lay their eggs. and heck, if the mosquitos aren't laying their eggs fast enough due to low mosquito numbers, just fill a barrel full of water and raise your own mosquitos. MORE FREE FISH FOOD!!!!

    now another though to add to this is the growing of green water. micro organisms eat the micro algae in the green water. and bigger organisms eat those organisms, and then bigger ones eat them, and then bigger ones eat them... and well you see what im getting at here... more free food for the system that occurs naturally, just like in nature.

    the end of the line is a strong force of detritivores. im talking about the mighty gammarus here. you want to know what the best part is about these guys is??? well i'll tell you. they are found literally everywhere. on every continent that has a fresh water source you'll find gammarus. so you wont have to worry about AG laws prohibiting you from finding a species of these wonder creatures. you want to know another great thing about these guys??? they eat the fish poop!! they eat the solid fish waste and just about anything else that falls into the system and dies. these things are basically the ants of the water. natures aquatic clean up crew. you want to know another cool thing about these guys? some of you are probably already buying them to feed to you ornamental fish. you know those little shrimpy looking things that you give to you fish as treats? those are dried gammarus. you'd be growing a food source for larger fish if you chose to raise them....

    notice i said chose to raise them. this type of system wouldn't require the daily feeding of fish. think of it as the cat of AP systems... all you have to do is check up on it from time to time and make sure it's still alive, and it basically takes care of itself... granted you'll still have to run regular pH tests, but since it's a naturalistic ecosystem with many intertwined food chains, each organism in the system is going to strive for survival just like a natural lake and stream, so your pH levels will be more stable.


    and you wouldnt keep the mosquito fish and gammarus in just the fish tanks, youd raise them in the troughs. really the only reason you'd have the fish tank would be to ensure a large enough surface are was available for mosquito to lay their eggs. they will lay them in the gaps you'll find in between the rafts and system walls, but giving them a side open sapce to do their business is a major help.


    im not just pulling this out of thin air... i believe i've seen this working on a large scale... i was working on a commercial farm that initially built a system to the UVI spec ratios of fish mass - growing area... then they expanded to twice the recommended growing are with the relatively same amount of tilapia in their fish tanks. they had no issues other than needing to aerate their long troughs due to D.O. depletion over such a long distance. then, they expanded again. no that system has three times the recommended growing area to fish mass in the fish tanks... but... no one was accounting for the amount of bio mass swimming about in the troughs...

    no one was giving any credence to the numbers of mosquito fish and gammarus and microbes living, eating and pooping into the troughs... i'm thinking this is why they were able to expand without any nutrient issues... mother nature was supplementing the needed extra nutrients by feed the mosquito fish and microbes and in turn the gammarus.

    this is just the beginning stages of this thought process... finding out which microbes are best ot use and can co habituate with other organisms. watching and recording nutrient levels of a system only being fed mosquito larva and eggs to make sure the plant are getting the necessary nutrients... im thinking that's a no brainer yes... mosquitos have blood, which carries hemoglobin, which carries iron. not cultivating a green water algae that produces the other necessary chemicals like phosphorous and finding a way to have potassium naturally enter the system still need to be found... but again... mother nature doesn't seem to be having any problems...

    i've brought this up in other forums and really the only people that have given me any grief about this idea are the people that are aquaculture oriented... they approach me in the manor of, "how dare you have an AP system where you're not raising edible fish?" kind of attitude... but in all honesty... not all people doing AP are looking to eat the fish... and really i think it'd be better for the user to have a choice... to raise fish or not to raise fish... i think that should be the real question. leave it up to be an option, not a mandatory facet of the systems.
     
  2. benwalters

    benwalters Member

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    Country:
    Australia
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    interesting ideas damon,
    im not sure if we have the 'gammurus' in australia? they sound cool, i think the mosquito fish are not legal to keep in australia

    dont tilapia eat algae?

    i like the idea of small fish that breed in system and dont need much feed and dont need harvesting

    im sure a lot of systems could use less fish , and still have good vegetable output

    cheers
    ben
     
  3. Damon Polta

    Damon Polta Member

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    yeah, i've learned that keeping mosquito fish are a big no no for australia.
     
  4. SolTun

    SolTun Member

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    Well DP
    :genius:
    Keeping mosqito is a big no no, in most of the world, in particular that goes for tropical/subtropic areas. Go figure
    In case you don't know most species of fish eat mosquitos in particular mosquito eggs/larva. so does the gamarus.:eek:


    cheers
     
  5. ZooRod

    ZooRod New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2011
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    Sounds to me like your talking about a natural wetland system. I have gone against most koi keepers and have planted my koi pond out with reeds, water iris, lillies, have gravel on the bottom etc. Although i use a pump i use biology to help me stop preaditors and to naturally feed my fish. I have algae growing on all the walls, have a light above the pond that i turn on to attract moths that drop into the pond etc etc.

    Every one should think about balancing their systems. Look to wetlands to see how they handle it.
     
  6. Murray

    Murray Site Admin Staff Member

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    Good quote, I feel the underling strength of AP in all of its variants is that it is an ECO system. Anything that enhances that should be explored.
    The concept of an ECO system to grow food is what excites people.
     
  7. keith_r

    keith_r Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2011
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    my system is slowly coming together..
    my green tanks to feed the daphnia are getting green, but every now and then i get an algae "die off" and one of the buckets goes clear (re-purposed kitty litter pails)
    daphnia tanks are starting to produce, my "gammarus guy" should have some in a few weeks
    crayfish have been mating, and i think i had one produce some babies - i'll probably be able to see some soon if they hatched ok
    had my first rosy red minnow spawn (fathead minnow) last week
    now that i think i understand some of the basics i'll try to record my findings to confirm or deny what i think..i can pretty much get the minnows to spawn when i want them.. and the crayfish..
    and thats the basis for supplementing the commercial pellets i've been using for my yellow perch and bluegill.. when the big tank is up, i may go with trout, but yp are easier to get,, and if i can successfully induce them to spawn!?!
     
  8. Damon Polta

    Damon Polta Member

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    Keith, if you can get the yellow perch to behave and fall in line you'll have one resilient fish species in your system. you're from ohio and you know what those fish have gone through and are still going through in the lake.

    the lake is getting cleaner, but it's still having issues... and any fish that can survive what we've done to it's environment is basically a gladiator among fish species... lol but then again i guess if you just wanted to keep fish and not eat them you could raise sheep head and gobies... now those guys are hard to kill. lol.
     
  9. Todd61

    Todd61 New Member

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    Damon,
    What is the name of the operation you are talking about? I would like to check it out.
    Thanks
     
  10. Damon Polta

    Damon Polta Member

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    im talking about a concept. it hasnt been put fully into practice. i live in a place where the weather wil not permit this kind of system... the cold kills off the bugs.

    on a certain scale this is being done. the friendly aquaponics farm has expanded its growing area to 3 times of the UVI's recommended space for the size of it's fish tank... the owners thought it was their ingenuity of system design that allowed this, but im thinking it's the living ecosystem inside of the troughs that are filled with mosquito fish and gammarus and a biofilm that lends the biggest helping hand in the expansion.

    if oyu can have a system that you can continually expand the growing area without expanding the fish tanks, then that would mean the growing area isn't dependent on the size of the fish tank, but the amount of total biomass in the system... if the mosquito fish in the troughs are thriving without being hand fed by people, then why hand feed the fish in the tank? why not just remove the fish tank all together once the ecosystem is up and running?

    i got the idea because of the unchecked variables in the FAP expansions. no credit is given to the mosquito fish or the gammarus, for the expansions, but if they are living, there has to be an outside food source that isn't being accounted for. and if they're living well enough to support such an expansion, why keep the fish tank at all?
     
  11. keith_r

    keith_r Member

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    i've got maybe 10 yp left from my first batch, 10"+ now..
    24 out of 25 yp i bought at 2" last feb now 5-8",,the bg i got grow to sporadically but i like having them in the tank and i'm looking for a specific strain right now..
    the zebra mussels are partly to blame for the water clarity in lake erie.. it's been through some rough stuff! you probably don't remember the "Blue Pike" (a walleye strain) that was in lake erie that went extinct in the 1980's..
    i see more and more "goby" lures at the fishing places
    my nieghbor's kids put 8 or 10 gobies in my system when it was outside during my "first year" of operation (i told them it was ok).. this was after i had a few yp die, one bg who got stuck in the cover, and a few fish that mysteriously dissappeared when i was on vacation..
    they were the first to die when the tank got real warm.. they are kinda weird, when you pull a fish out of the water and it barks at you..
     
  12. MoeCanada

    MoeCanada Member

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    Mosquito fish eat organic matter i.e fish feces and other small insects. Same goes for Gammrus. Once you take the source of their food i.e Fish from rearing tanks, obviously they won't be able to thrive in their for long. They are not being hand fed as they have constant supply of organic matter from fish feces. Once the Fish tanks are gone the source is gone. In nature everything plays a role and if we are trying to establish an ecosystem we have to be patient.
     
  13. Damon Polta

    Damon Polta Member

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    moe, thats where the biofilm, and algae gome into play, as well as the microbe food chain and gammarus... when things are grown in the system for the food chains to feed off of, that's a natural input of food. and the mosquitos and other bugs either laying the eggs into the system or falling ito the system is another input... i think the biggest trick would be balancing out the population of detritivores and mosquito fish with the amout of natural inputs... the fish tanks are only a component of the whole input system... yes, as the current standards stand they are the biggest input component... but as the system on the FAP farm keeps expanding its growing area without expanding its fish tank density, the fish tank becomes less and less of an input component... right now that fish tank is supplying nutrients for a growing area 3 times the previously recommended tank size... this means either the previous math ratios were wrong, or there is a sufficient amount of outside inputs being introduced to the system to sustain the expansions.

    like i said, a minimum fish density needs to be found. if at one point the systems outside inputs ever surpass the hand fed inputs, that would mean a naturalistic system is not only viable, but already in progress... the current mind set of hand feeding the fish is the only nutrient input to the systems need to change, because if your system is out in the open air, more feeds are making their way into the systems that just what you're giving your tank fish.

    as far as the"isn't this hydro" questions go... hydro is hand fed chemical inputs... this system would be naturally occurring... just because fish arent being produced for consumption that doesnt mean that a natural type of ecosystem isn't present... which is what i was taught to see as the difference between hydro and AP.... the difference between a sterol like environment vs, a natural like ecosystem... i dont see many living things floating and swimming about in the current hydro systems... this would take away from the mineral inputs...
     
  14. MoeCanada

    MoeCanada Member

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    Hey Damon,

    I have to agree with you on that. Well said..
     

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