Just a quick note that we’ve scheduled some spring Aquaponics Workshops in Sydney, which are 2 days of intensive aquaponics how-to and why-to with Charlie Bacon (Ecolicious) + Nick Ritar (Milkwood).
While the basics of Aquaponics can be quite simple, there’s a lot of ways to do it in a way that enhances growing conditions for both fish and plants while still adhering to permaculture principles, which ensures you don’t end up with an input-heavy system disguised as a closed-loop one. Which is the kind of knowledge that this workshop is all about…
For example – the fish in an aquaponics system (unless you’re using goldfish, i.e. fish not intended for eating but just for their nutrient (poo) contributions) need to be fed. You could feed them with fish pellets, or fish food, but to us that would defeat the purpose of an aquaponics system as aiming to be a closed loop system.
Happily there are lots of ways to generate high-protein fish food as part of your larger permaculture system that don’t involve buying in pellets made of ocean-caught fish ground to a pulp. Just some of these foods include black soldier fly larvae, compost worms, and duckweed.
Duckweed is a high-protein fish food that can be grown in the fishpond of an aquaponics system in contained areas, and fed to the fish periodically. You can even freeze it in cubes for year-round supply.
Black Soldier Fly larvae are a great fish food that are high in protein and easily ‘grown’ in either a DIY system or an off-the-shelf system such as a biopod, using kitchen waste or even dog poo. Now we’re talking integrated systems in a backyard context!
And then of course there’s compost worms, another great fish food. Once you get the hang of worm farming, a happy system breeds up worms to spare. Many, in fact. And it just so happens that the outputs of a black soldier fly larvae system make perfect worm farm inputs. Further integration, and all from household waste!
So that’s the fish food sorted. Now to the vegetables. You can grow many things in an aquaponics system, in many different ways. You can have a regular type growbed that produces greens and other veggies, or you can get a little fancy.
The below video shows growing wheatgrass in a backyard aquaponics system, which is a great way to grow this food with minimal inputs. The same technique could be applied to microgreens.
No space for growbeds? Apartment dwelling? Not a problem. If you have space for a fish tank and either a patio or a window, you could always set up a vertical aquaponics system.
So there you have it. The many faces of aquaponics. The thing we like about this growing technique is that it scales from apartment to farm without trouble. We can’t wait to get aquaponics going at Milkwood Farm, a project that will be headed by Floyd Constable, following his work in Thailand constructing aquaponics systems on a community scale…
So if you’d like to skill up in Aquaponics, we’re running 2 courses in Sydney this spring. The course includes two days of theory and practice of aquaponics, as well as a guided design exercise where you can brainstorm an aquaponics system for your own home, and get feedback on what would work best for you.