Q: Where are you from? Tell us a bit about yourself.
A: I’ve lived in a lot of different places, longest was 13 years in Philadelphia PA and Manhattan NY, 3 years in south Florida, ~3-4 years in Japan, and now roughly 9 years in Colorado.
Q: How did you get interested in aquaponics?
A: I had been developing Multiple Sclerosis for several years ( I didn’t know I had it until recently ) and was realizing my vocation as a senior engineer wasn’t healthy for me. Add in difficulties with heat and I needed to find an impossible job. I first heard about an Aquaponic’s system when being offered a job for a hydroponics system and while I turned down the hydro job, I started trying to learn more about AP.
Q: How are you currently working with aquaponics? Home setup, community greenhouse, etc.
A: Home setup, proof of concept.
Q: Tell us about your system. Geek out a bit and tell us all the specs.
A: “I have a 25/50 liter micro system growing ~10 radishes, 10-15 spinach plants, and one cucumber in leca media. This system is currently fed by 7 goldfish with a plan to get 5 more. Because it’s so small, it’s much more crucial to keep the fish stock down until they’re absolutely needed.
System is fed from a 250 gph pump in a grow bed over fish tank arrangement.”
Q: What plants and fish have you had the best luck with? And the worst?
A: “Oddly enough spinach has grown well, ( ~35 days from seed and I maybe able to start harvesting leafs in another 5-12 days ).
Goldfish have been fantastic, I’ve lost a few already but mostly they can handle PH swings, high nitrite/ammonia levels, and water clarity issues without instantly dying.”
Q: What do you like most about aquaponics? Least?
A: Fairly low maintenance so far, versatility, and its something I can do regardless of my state of health.
Q: What do you think the biggest misconception about aquaponics is?
A: “#1 I tell people I’m running Aquaponics and they assume I’m growing marijuana ( being in Colorado doesn’t help ).
#2 People are horrified when they hear that fish waste/respiration is the main source of the biofilter that feeds the plants. I think this comes from that fact that people are so dissociated with how food is grown that they just assume all food somehow comes from a factory or the supermarket.”
Q: What are your future aquaponics goals?
A: “I’m currently building a 50 gallon system with a plan to have 1-2 50 gallon grow beds. After the first “”growing”” season, the plan is to swap out the gold fish for cat fish and see how they do.
Next spring I want to build 3-4 275 gallon independent systems in my backyard, housed inside a hoop house cooled by an swamp cooler and heated by fulgora or rocket mass stove in the winter and a compost pile.
After that, I’d like to apply for a VA/USDA farm loan and start a larger scale system.”
Q: What do your friends say when you show them your system for the first time?
A: Most people think its a pretty cool idea. My more pragmatic friend’s think it’s a stupid waste of time but they haven’t given any reasons or idea’s of what else am I supposed to do. I have a few neighbors that are interested in building their own systems and I hope they do.
Q: What’s next for your system?
A: Immediate next big purchase is the materials for a 50 gallon grow bed ( the container I purchased for that idea failed in testing ). Short term expenses, better fish food, components for a swirl filter, and components to try out a vermiponics worm tank.