Aquaponics - Sick fish

I had another fish die this afternoon, and one is in my kitchen in an aerated slightly salted bath, trying to get cured.

It has some fin damage to it's tail and, it has what appears to be mould on its back.

All the water tests report normal, so I'm researching all I can on fish disease. Actually there was a slight spike in nitrites (.25) but I think that was due to the dead fish.

Busy - what I need is a fish expert.

[edit from the future - All these woes ended up being part of an ongoing problem with me poisoning my fish with rainwater run off from a common garden plant which is highly toxic to fish -]

Solar hot water - Poly pipe collector

It was a chilly and windy day in the hills today. But the sun was out for a while in the morning.

The ambient temperature was around 11°C as I added the rest of the T junctions to my new poly pipe collector, and I was almost confident that I'd sooner or later, be making some solar hot water. 

The water temperatere was around 10°C from my rainwater tank.

It was interesting to note the temperature of the collector was very close to the temperature of the storage tank, and the air temperature in the collector stayed low. (digital thermometer is testing water temperature and the glass one is testing air temp in the collector) 
No doubt this means that the heat exchange area of the black poly pipe is sufficient. This came as a bit of a surprise to me, although in hindsight it would appear that the transfer rate is self governing to some degree. The hotter the water gets, the faster it will flow and thus the more heat exchange will occur.

Final temp before it started raining and I went inside was only 22°C, and it didn't get any higher in the overcast, windy and rainy conditions, even when I went outside hours later. But, I think it was actually a success. I doubled the temperature of the water and it only took an hour and a half. 

Given I only used two sheets of corflute for insulation, and the insulation for the top, bottom, and sides was just tape, which isn't really insulation it's really just tape, It did about as well as I hoped.

The experiment served its purpose in that I learnt a few things and didn't cost anything as I'll be pulling it apart and using all the bits in the real thing.

Lessons learnt ...
  • Air bubbles are not your friend. Don't let them collect.
  • You don't need a lot of tubing to shift a lot of heat from a collector.
  • Insulation is amazingly important. (tape leaks heat so that you can feel it leaking)
  • A tube based solar siphon regulates itself, so there wont be any issues with the collector overheating.
  • Even at the rate this poorly constructed solar collector collected heat, it would still be worth using it as a bathroom heater or something*. On a bigger scale without changing anything except scale I could heat my house by building a wall out of water tank and simply circulating the water to my collector.
  • Collecting free energy is a worthwhile pastime.
  • I'm not very skilled at gluing.
  • there was a reason I collected all that 19mm poly pipe for all those years, even though it had holes in it every few metres, and kinks in the sections between the holes.
*Hmmm towel heater...

Solar hot water - Poly pipe

My too hard basket brimmith over.

I have patches on my patched patches. I think it's time I gave up on my solar hot water heater.

And tried a new design!

For a change I thought I'd try taking advice from people who know much more than I do. I thought I'd try a different method. There comes a point where a project can leak more than one can safely ignore. Especially when wiser folk are suggesting I try something else.

So the new plan is to use poly pipe hose fittings to pass the water through the solar collector. I'll use two layers of corflute to insulate.

Also, it's possible to be too frugal.

Say, for instance buying enough T junctions to make only one half of my new design.

I'll get the rest tomorrow and test it rain or shine.

I suspect I'll need to add a second layer of these pipes in the grown up version to extract all the heat from the collector, but only a test will tell because I have no Idea how to calculate such stuff.

Cheese - Fired haloumi

An unqualified success! I did make cheese. In fact I made a cow's milk version of haloumi.

Fresh (cow's milk) haloumi looks like this...

After running it through a menu that went something like this...

Pan fried bovine haloumi in garlic and fennel seed infused Italian olive oil with pistachio nuts, shallot, mushroom and tomato, on a bed of baby spinach with fresh cracked black pepper and a drizzle of lemon juice.

and it looked something like this...

And it was good. I would have been quite happy had I been served it in a restaurant. The only thing that could have made it better was to share it.

And I did...

I throughly recommend you give homemade haloumi a go. For the most part, the temperatures are all child friendly, so get some kids involved. It was much easier than I expected and I can't see much that could go wrong.

Total cost to make the cheese in Australian dollars was $4.39 in un-homogenized milk and a few cents worth of rennet.

Total time was around 3 hours. But with only a few minutes actual work. It's also worth noting that a larger batch would take no longer to prepare. I can see no problem with freezing this cheese.

I will definitely be making this cheese again and again.

Lastly I think I read somewhere that traditionally its stored in mint leaves. True or not, I put some mint into the container of cheese and it successfully imparts a subtle mint flavour that compliments the cheese nicely. I've also had it cooked with fennel leaves to excellent effect.

Cheese - Haloumi and ricotta

I think I just made cheese!                                                                  [see the full haloumi story]

Haloumi is made with goat or sheep milk, but not in my house. All I have is cow's milk. It's also interesting in that you can fry it. I think you can even deep fry it.

After reading a stack of different recipes I've settled on a cross between an average of them all, and the limitations of my abilities and equipment.

First I made a double boiler to make the heating process gentle. I started by putting a cake cooling rack into a large fryingpan. Next I drowned a large saucepan about half filled with two litres of pasteurized, but not homogenized milk. I brought the milk to around 30 °C (the water in the frying pan was sitting at around 55 °C). Then I added around 7 drops of my vegetarian rennet.
After sitting at mostly 28-30 °C (fluctuating between 32 °C and 27 °C) for one hour, I was utterly surprised to find I had set the curd.
I cut the curd (lumpy stuff) into 1 cm cubes 
I then stirred it for around 25 minutes at around 40 °C.
I collected it into a sieve.
Then placed it onto a piece of cotton cloth in a colander
I added a weight to press it (5 litres of water in milk bottles), and left for a half hour or so to squish out much of the remaining whey.
Leaving that aside, squishing, I brought the whey up to the boil (around 88 °C) and added a teaspoon of salt and about 3 table spoons of vinegar.
This curdles the whey into ricotta!
I poured it through a sieve lined with a cotton cloth to collect the cheese.
Ricotta can be eaten right away and it tastes great, but I'm going to take it to a dinner party I've been invited to tonight and see what less biased people think. In fact I think I'll take some haloumi as well.
That being done and my ricotta put in a tub and refrigerated, the next step is to unwrap the haloumi ...
and cut it into smaller sections...
then add it back to the simmering whey to cook for a half hour or so.
I see my haloumi has floated to the top of the whey. I'm not sure what that means so I'm frantically researching.

CONCLUSION: I don't think it means anything.

the end result from my 2 litres of milk was...

90 g ricotta (tastes like ricotta!)
280 g haloumi (no idea yet)

Cheese - Acidification

As far as I can tell, it's acidification that contributes to the coagulation of the proteins that make cheese cheesy.
Acetic acid in vinegar or citric acid in lemon juice can be added to milk to separate it into curds (lumpy bits) and whey (watery stuff). Another way is to introduce your milk to some miro-beasties like Lactococci bacteria. Lactococci, along with others including streptococci, lactobacilli (pictured), and propionibacter shermani, involve themselves with the milk sugars and turn them into lactic acid. It also seems these beasties and the enzymes they produce play a role in the final flavour of the aging cheese.

Like beer, wine and bread, cheese flavours change depending on the ambient temperatures the beasties find themselves growing in. This, and the amount of salt required as preservative when cheese making in a desert, leads to differences in cheese matured strapped to the side of a camel on the Arabian Peninsular when compared to say, one ripened in the cellar of a European monastery. All great food but potentially very different. There are probably many other things that influence flavour that I don't yet know about.

The holes in Swiss cheese are made by contemporary Swiss sculptor Gerald Hach as part of a long standing government tourism campaign.

Actually the holes in swiss cheese are a bi-product of carbon dioxide produced by the micro-beasty propionibacter shermani.

Cheese - Legend

It turns out cheese isn't complex magic after all.

Cheese is made from milk, and the interesting bits of milk are it's fat, and it's protein. Cheeses also often contains rennet. Rennet is found in young mammal stomachs. Which is odd because young mammals don't eat cheese. It seems the rennet acts on a protein called "casein" within the milk, causing it to coagulate. Perhaps the young mammals use it to digest milk.

Vegetarian rennet is made from some microbe or another.

As with many of the yummy things in life, I've read that monks are thanked for their input into making cheese as we know it, but before that it may have been discovered that if you milk a goat and store that milk in an animal stomach you get a cheese of sorts. Apparently, in the Middle East, there is a legend of a Nomad doing just this and discovering the beginnings of cheese. It's also possible that cheese was first discovered by me in the delicatessen section of a supermarket, but from my research I find fewer facts, and only one anecdote supporting this history.

Pictured here is our goat Granger. Granger is male, and as such, has no place in the legend of cheese other than having some rennet in his gut as a kid.

Aquaponics - Glass bell siphon

It's been said before, even by me, that a picture paints a thousand words. So imagine how many words a short video paints.

I made a glass bell siphon in an attempt to discover what actually goes on in one as it starts to siphon. It involved taking a glass jar, and turning it upside down.

I think the key when building a siphon is to place a tap at some point on the hose coming from the pump to allow a small percent of the flow to be diverted. This allows you to increase or decrease the flow and makes making a siphon very easy. The most difficult thing to get right is to match the flow against the size  of the standpipe (the standpipe is the white PVC pipe the water drains out of the bucket through.

in this video...

  • the siphon starts at around 00:20. Even though there is some flow before 20 seconds in, it doesn't really start properly until enough water is entering the standpipe to create the required suction)
  • then stops at around 00:40. Note the rush of air in through the small hose within the jar and how quickly it stops the siphon. 
  • then the cycle repeats. 

A bell siphon does that. It also generates a tide-like ebb and flow in the grow bed(s). This test siphon is in a small bucket, so the time it takes to flood and drain is only a few seconds. We could flood and drain as fast as this in aquaponics, but would then normally turn the pump off for up to an hour each cycle in order to let the plants breath for a bit. Alternatively we might use a smaller pump and run it all the time.


Some years ago I tried my hand at home made cheese making. I put some vinegar into some milk. It curdled into something a bit like cheese. It tasted more like milk with a bit of vinegar added. But it looked a little like something that could one day become cheese.

I'm going to try to do a bit better this time. I'm going to make some real cheese. I'm going to learn words like gouda, pecorino, and maybe even camembert.

I have a lot to learn in order to catch up to the current state of the art.

I have quite a bit to read. It seems cheese goes back a while.

But I acquired some rennet and some starter culture. It seems I need rennet and starter culture. I don't know what rennet is but I suspect starter culture is like yeast or something.

I bought vegetarian rennet. Not because I'm a vegetarian, but because I don't know what rennet is. Now All I need is a cow.

I really need a cow.

I don't have a cow, but I know where some are.

And I can't help thinking that whoever invented cheese didn't just go and borrow some rennet and some starter culture from one of their cheese making buddies. I'll work that out later if it turns out to be important.

Good luck me!


Solar hot water - Blow torch and glue

Blow torches set fire to stuff.

It's raining a lot today. My new solar collector was still wet from yesterday's leaks and with the weather the way it is, doesn't look like drying any time soon. What I needed was a way to dry it and also a way to melt the glue to repair the leaks. So I did what anyone in my position would do. I pointed a blow torch at it. Just a tiny one. And just for a tiny time. And I melted just a tiny bit of my collector. But it was enough to make it look like a shower head when I put water in it to test it.

I wish I had some kind of drawing board to go back to.

Solar hot water - New, bigger corflute collector

It's still a test, but I've started making my new, bigger corflute collector.

This time I'm using my new glue gun to make everything stick, and I'll be using two sheets of corflute glued on to the back of the collector as the insulation. By doing so I can make it a bit bigger than the first test, and make better use of my glass. I will glue the entire thing to the glass to give it some structure.

At the moment it's upright, full of water, and leaking all over my front steps.

It turns out making a solar hot water service involves an awful lot of water leaking out of stuff. In fact, generally speaking, I've noticed that a lot of my projects involve leaks.

This time I anticipated my poor craftsmanship, and held off on painting it until I had repaired the inevitable leaks. I've marked where the leaks are so it should be easy enough to fix them.

And I forgot to sand the surfaces so the glue would stick better. The hot glue gun glue sticks well to the corflute but does't seem to like the black hose. I suspect roughing up the surface a little will make it stick better.

Aquaponics - Success

Success! I've actually managed to out-smart my fish. This last thwarter was made from a plastic mesh designed to keep leaves out of your gutters.

It's a good thing I'm learning on my small blue barrel system. I'd hate to be making all these adjustments on, and drilling holes in, my big system.

I just spent an hour trying to get my auto siphon to work again.

In order to prevent my fish tank from getting too cold overnight, I tried turning off the pump during the hours of darkness (I now have a small air pump for oxygenation). The downside to this was an increase in ammonia and nitrite levels.

- The nitrates values are divided by 100 so they fit on the graph. (I'm told nitrates can safely be over a thousand, so nitrates are not a concern)

I think my nitrite and ammonia levels are still within safe limits, and it was only for one night, but I've decided to go back to running the pump overnight.

Auqaponics - Fish exclusion version III

My fish are crazy. They have overcome my previous exclusion zone. They have forced me to create pump Alcatraz.

This time there were no losses, but I had failed to realize that the opening at the top of the bottle would be tempting to swim into. Once inside, the lone fish seemed happy enough to live out its life, but it became decidedly unhappy when I decided it shouldn't.
Looking at the fish in that photo, it also appears they have grown compared to this picture from the day after I got them. I'd best find out if they could have grown a noticeable amount within only two weeks. I need some way to measure them without disturbing them.

Korg Wavedrum

Got me a korg wavedrum

and a pizza.

cant blog... drumming with one hand

holding pizza with the other.

typibg eith nmy nose

Aquaponics - Exclusion zone

It's said that a picture paints a thousand words. But I'm confident that I could have described this in under two hundred words.

I had another silver perch commit sashimi yesterday. I'm not certain if it was due to being caught up in the original ruckus, a new ruckus, or some mystery problem that I'm yet to discover.

I built a new and hopefully improved exclusion zone around the pump made of a soft drink bottle with some holes drilled in it. There. That took only ten words. They are already trying to defeat my new anti-fish security system as I type.

I get the feeling they are desperate for cover as they seem to be trying to burrow behind and under everything they can.  No doubt they are distressed at all my mucking about in there. Tomorrow I'll add a terracotta pot or something suitably non-toxic as something to hide in or under. I think they have had enough for today as I'v had my hands in their world for the last hour or so trying to block all the entry points to the pump.

This episode has raised some issues with regards my design for the bigger second system. I'll need to figure out some way to make the powerhead safe.

I also discovered as a result of a head count that I actually took delivery of twenty two silver perch, not twenty.

Aquaponics - Bill

Welding mild steel angle iron is easier than you think. Just get someone else to do it.

I've tried welding before and can kind of make some bits of stuff stick together a bit. Which would be fine if I was trying to get a government contract or something, but these welds will be stopping things from crushing me!

Because they will be supporting nearly a ton each I thought they should be welded by someone who could at least weld well enough  that you could wiggle the work and it didn't fall to bits.

I got someone named Bill to do it. I recommend people called Bill to help you with all kinds of things. So far Ive found people named Bill to be most reliable.
Bill added some bits to some existing stands I had from an old bench.

Now my growbeds look like this.

Thank you Bills where ever you may be.

Solar hot water - My first solar collector

Its done. Or at least its as done as its ever going to be. Now all I have to do is sit back with a tea bag at the ready and wait for all my hot water to collect.

I have a recommendation.

Paint stuff.

I've never really been into painting things. I'm more of a "just let it rust" kind-a-guy. But now I'm not so sure. Very small sections of this thing actually look as if it were made by someone who could make stuff. And all it took was some black paint, and a camera that cant deal with contrast.

Now all those people who say things like "If a jobs worth doing its worth doing properly." don't seem quite as insane as they did in the past. It occurs to me that when this thing springs a leak, even though its just an experiment, I'm really going to regret that decision to use that old tube of silicone I had lying around. A piece of junk left behind your garden shed is just junk, but paint it, and you leave that same piece of junk in plain sight where it belongs.

I should put this to the test by painting pieces of litter I find in the street.

Tomorrow I test my painted junk to see if I can collect some heat.

Aquaponics - My first salad

I had my first aquaponics salad today. Whilst pesticide is delicious, its nice to know I now have a choice. I think this may have been the first pesticide free salad of my life.

Its also nice to know that the plants had whatever nutrients they needed. In the past my dirt garden attempts at growing lettuce always ended in bitterness. Literally. My lettuce was bitter. I think it was due to inconsistent water. It makes me think I might be able to grow carrots as well.

Because we are on rainwater only, anything that needed more water than nature provided had to do without in the past. When you try to grow carrots without enough water they split, and lack the sweetness of a proper carrot.

I think this aquaponics thing just might work.

Solar hot water - corflute collector part 3

Get ready for another riveting post on the corflute test collector!

I mounted the collector into a foam box and painted it with blackboard paint. I told you it was going to be exciting.

 Now I'll stop watching silicone dry and watch paint dry for a bit.

Actually its starting to look a bit more like something that might actually work.

To date all the experiments with water involved, haven't worked as well as they might have, but I suppose I did actually learn a few things along the way. And that is the point. I'm just not so good at this waiting business. I tend to rush my waiting.

All thats left to do is put the glass on and attach it to the drink bottle. Today I'm off to get a broken hot water service I'm hoping to use as a storage tank for the hot water I create with the real system. Either that or just undo a few screws and then leave it in my back yard for 20 years.

Solar hot water - Corflute collector part 1

Corflute collector part 1 will indicate to all just how bad I am at applying old silicone sealant to a home made corflute solar collector.

This gives some indication of the general idea. Tubes attached top and bottom will carry water up through hundreds of tiny tubes in the corflute (white thing pictured here side on) where they will be collected at the top into a bigger tube (black and end on) and sent to the storage tank. Actually that pic doesn't really look like its anything to do with this project but I promise it is. It's looking down the length of pipe that runs across the bottom of the sheet of corflute. The black hose will be siliconed on and a stopper put in place to block one end, and the inlet hose from the storage tank will be attached to the other end. The same will be repeated across the top)

My camera is really struggling to take pictures of the corflute, I think because its so bright white.  (I might have to make photography a "thing").

According to the instructions there is meant to be a nozzle that isn't packed with solid dry silicone. 

My work looks nothing like the suggested use pictured on the tube. My work looks like leftovers from "ice your own birthday cake day" at an infant school.

Oh well. At least I'll get some more practice when I have to do it all over again tomorrow, after I test for leaks.

Solar hot water - Corflute collector part 2

No photo today because my photo-journalistic skills are simply not up to the task of making pics of drying silicone look interesting.

There were only two small leaks in my corflute collector, but they will take at least until tomorrow to dry so there will be a part three to the construction of the test corflute collector.

In spite of my poor craftsmanship I actually have a tip or two to pass on. 

  • Black hose is best worked after it has been laid out in the sun for a day or so to straighten it. Tie one end to a fence and the other to a brick or something, so you can pull it tight.

  • If you cut the black tubing along the side of its natural bend it will sit straight against the edge of the corflute. For some reason its tempting to make your cut on the inside of the curve. Doing so will make your hose pull away from the corflute when siliconing.

  • Get a grownup to do your silicon work if you are as unskilled as I am.

  • Make sure your flutes go from top to bottom before you make any cuts or glue anything. I didn't make the error of getting it sideways, but I can imagine it would be a pain if I did.

  • Create a slight slope on your top cut in the corflute so that any bubbles will flow up to the exit hose. Bubbles are not your friend and any place where air can be trapped will collect air as soon as your solar collector starts working.
  • making solar hot water is much more exciting than I make it look in this list.

Solar hot water - Pre-heater

I have a perfectly good hot water service at home so I wont be throwing it away just yet. But I think I've decided on what I'll do instead. My plan is to make a pre-heater to heat the water that goes into my hot water service, so less energy is required to get my water up to temperature.

I already have a working understanding of heat exchange principles, so I'll leverage my new knowledge and attempt to apply it to pre-heating my hot water inlet. By doing so I'll avoid having to make a solar collector that is capable of taking mains (in in my house mains-like) water pressure.

Currently my hot water service takes delivery of its water at around 13 deg C and then uses fossil fuel to heat it to something like 65 deg C. If I can collect some heat and store it in an insulated container, I should be able to make a simple heat exchange device to transfer that heat to the inlet water of my hot water service. If I can spare my hot water service the trouble of even a few degrees It will have been worth it. But I'm hoping to contribute more like half the energy required to make my showers hot. If I can do that I can feel a bit more confident that I can make a replacement hot water service when my existing one gives up one day.

I guess that means my official target for my inlet water temperature is a 26 deg C increase from 13 deg C to 39 deg C.

That should be easy enough in summer but it's moving towards mid-winter here so I will be very pleased if I can get even close.

Solar hot water - Corflute

Just as there is for most things in life, there is a product that seems to be perfect for collecting solar hot water. Luckily it's something people throw out because its also good for advertising.

Corflute is a plastic product that we in the western world need a surprisingly large amount of. This is odd because we dont really use the corflute. We use it to make us want to use other things. Different things. Things other than corflute. We use corflute to make advertising signs. These signs are rarely, if ever, trying to sell us corflute. More often than not these signs are trying to sell us real estate.

A few days ago, when doing some research, a found a website where someone very clever had used corflute as a solar collector. Painted black, insulated, and covered with glass, this should make a very useful solar collector. I cant remember the website and have been trying to discover it again. If you know it, or you made it, please let me know and I'll link to it. The genius behind using this is in the plumbing. It seems a lot of people have made solar collectors from copper pipe. This involves a stack of soldering and a stack of time, money, and skill. I have time, but no skill and no money. Corflute is just what the doctor ordered. The secret is to cut some plastic hose lengthways, and slot this onto a sheet of corflute top and bottom. Silicone it all up and you are now the proud owner of a few hundred pipes all plumbed together. It should only take a few minutes and even fewer skills.

The plastic that corflute is made of doesn't conduct heat very well but its thin, and because each tube is square, and has a huge surface area of water carrying pipes that we can expose to the sun, it should work well.

If you need some corflute and don't want to pay for it, you could try putting your house on the market and stealing your own real estate sign from your front lawn.

Re-reading this post makes me wish I had arranged some sponsorship from whoever makes corflute.

corflute corflute corflute

Solar hot water - Lukewarm response

My first test of my experimental solar hot water system ended in disappointment.

There are two pipes attached to the storage tank, one drawing cold water from the bottom, and one carring hot water to the top. Due to my overly hopeful construction technique, there was no way to remove the inevitable bubbles. The result was, as soon as the system started working, it would stop.

I managed to get from 12 deg C to 23 deg C but I had to remove the bubbles. That meant losing water and adding cold water to replace it. So I was back to square one again. I did that a few times and each time it would rise rapidly to 23 and then bubbles would collect again.

The other issue (actually there were many) was the flow was too low. If the system is working properly we should see the collector box being cooled by the water flowing through. Cooling one place means shifting heat to another. I was still getting readings around 70 deg C and I'm pretty sure they should have been more like 55 deg C.

I changed the top pipe entry point so that it no longer traps air bubbles. I'll test it again tomorrow. And I've just discovered I have a leak.

Thinking - Generally dissatisfied

Thinking is harder than you think.

Before I started 120 things in 20 years, I could count to 59 on my fingers. I thought that was quite clever of me.

It was quite clever of me.

But I thought I'd employ a technique that I'v been using in my life recently to see if I could count to 120, in the hope of getting parents all over the world to insist that their schools make it mandatory for all students to subscribe to my blog.

The technique I employed, and have been employing, was to be generally dissatisfied.

I still cant count to 120, but now I can count to 99.

The method I was using was to count 1,2,3,4 with the fingers of my right hand, use the right thumb alone as 5, then 6,7,8,9 are created using the right thumb(5) plus the right fingers. Then use the left digits for 10's.

The wacky thing is, it never occurred to me to do the same "thumb is 5" thing on my left hand. Crazy! Why should I be able to count to 9 on my right hand but not think to be able to count to 90 on my left.

It turns out it's a well known counting (and calculating - just add the digits then add the 10's) technique and it seems to be called "chisanbop" and appears to come from Korea. I had probably heard of it or seen it on tv before I "invented" it. For all I know it was an important part of my schooling. I really should have paid some attention.

The point here is once I knew something could be done with my right hand, for some reason I didn't expand the idea to include what could be done with my left hand.

Sometimes solutions are staring us in the face and yet we don't notice them. Often the solution is being used to solve some other, similar problem. All we need to do is look it up. Sometimes we can even use the problem as part of the solution.

My Favorite form of invention is when someone uses the force they are trying to overcome against itself. An example might be using a lever with a series of weights added to it to lift something. So using gravity to overcome gravity. Or using the fact that hot air rises to create a cooling breeze by building a tall glass chimney on the top of your house, and opening a window at ground level. (cooling tower)

I'm going to try to get better at this thinking business. In fact, I've already started.

Aquaponics - Adding fish to your system

With much the same delicacy you might employ when introducing your mother-in-law to her new nursing home, it's important to introduce your fish into their new fish tank in a gradual manner.*

Temperature and pH are the things to look out for. We want the temperature of the bag with fish in it to be identical to the fish tank water. And the pH should be close. The easiest way to achieve this is to float the bag on the fish tank for a few hours. My fish came in a bag filled with oxygen (there was some water as well) and as such can be left in the bag for days if need be. I got mine from a man who breeds quality fish and charming children, and operates out of Meadows, South Australia. Buy fish from him and tell him "Bullwinkle" sent you. It wont help you at all, but it might make him happier about being so nice to me. He freights fish all over the place.

Your new fish will have grown attached to their plastic bag, and as such will be keen to get stuck in the corners for as long as they can. After floating the bag for a few hours open it to the fish tank in such a way as to allow the fish to wander out at their leisure. Fish leisure can seem like a long time when all you want to do is look at your new fish swimming in your fish tank. I would have thought finding your way out of a bag with an opening at only one end might have been easier than it turned out to be. In some strange way, fish remind me of emu.

*actually I quite like my mother-in-law.

Aquaponics - 20 silver perch


Aquaponics - Fish

Aquaponics - Fish

Fish! Vegetarians, this page might not be for you.

The swimmy, tasty side of the aquaponics equation is fish. Depending on where you live there are a few different options. Talapia might be one if you don't live in Australia. Statistically you don't live in Australia. If you did live in Australia, and you grew talapia, you might get into a stack of trouble. Talapia are a pest species for all of the reasons that make them a good candidate for aquaponics.

Catfish. I know nothing about catfish but it seems like they are a candidate for aquaponics. Other species that might be worth a look are Cod (angry, eat their young), Barramundi (warm water), Jade perch (highest omega three), Goldfish (only swallowed whole by 50's youth in TV sitcom "Happy Days") and various things like clams, and walking things with claws(whatever they may be called in your part of the world). Basically, from what I've read, if it poops and lives in fresh water you can use it. But if you don't intend to eat it I would think goldfish would be your best bet.

Check your local laws, but good candidates for edible species include...

Talapia are a very popular fish to grow in an aquaponics system because they cope with a wide range of water conditions, they eat everything and are apparently good to eat, they breed readily and grow quickly. If they are legal in your area, from what I've read they seem like the best choice as long as you have warm water. Talapia covert food into fish very efficiently.

Trout. If you are in a colder part of the globe you might try trout. Trout enjoy water that's less than 20 deg C. Its often possible to grow trout as a winter crop as they grow very quickly. Trout are often farmed commercially and are known for their conversion rate of feed to harvested fish fillets. ie It takes a relatively small amount of feed to grow a trout. I think that's because they do a lot of sitting still.

Carp are another pest species for Australians so are a no-go area for me. They are full of bones and taste like mud. Many Australians have a poor relationship with carp because we think they are full of bones and taste like mud. Australians also thought they tasted so good that they would import them from Europe and release them into waterways, causing insane damage to eco-systems that were poised on a knife-edge of sustainability just by virtue of being in Australia. Full of bones, mud.

Yabby. The yabby is delicious. As are marron. I'll be trying to grow some yabbies and/or some marron.
They breed in captivity, eat scraps of food left by other fish, and generally clean up your fish tank. I am trying to work out a way to keep them separate but living in the same fish tank.

[more in this post on marron]

Silver perch. Silver Perch seem to be the most suitable species for me to grow based on my location. They are good to eat but are a little slow to grow. They have high levels of omega three fatty acids, whilst retaining a clean white flesh. They are omnivores, and will eat things like lettuce and duckweed (a very small, floating plant I'll try to grow in nutrient rich barrels of water for fish food) From what I can gather they can take a wide range of water temperatures but might not grow much over winter. They also tolerate a wide range of water pH. If all goes well, I should have fish for the plate within 18 months, and then have a constant supply after that. Silver perch seem to get along with little silver perch without all the cannibalism that comes with some other species so I'm hoping to keep 3 or 4 different ages of silvers all in the same tank.

Not just Aquaponics - Fish,

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