Q: Where are you from? Tell us a bit about yourself.
A: Living in Arvada, Colorado. Retired a couple of years ago. Became very interested in health and nutrition because of my late wife’s health challenges.
Q: How did you get interested in aquaponics?
A: I’ve always had an interest in self-reliance. My distrust for the big-ag food producers has led me to aquaponics so i have more control over what I eat and what I eat eats. My back yard is so overgrown with large mature trees (mostly in neighboring yards) that outdoor gardening is pretty iffy. Aquaponics gives me the opportunity to grow my own organic protein, fruits and veggies year round and in essence also control the artificial sun.
Q: How are you currently working with aquaponics? Home setup, community greenhouse, etc.
A: I have one system setup in my basement.
Q: Tell us about your system. Geek out a bit and tell us all the specs.
A: I have two 2 ‘x 3.5’ grow beds and a 150 gallon IBC container with a few Tilapia and two catfish in my basement. It’s only been setup for slightly less than 2 weeks. I bought the system used so it’s a little bit of an unusual design. Both grow beds are connected at the drain, and that leads to a hose that is essentially acting like a bell siphon, but is a little trickier to get adjusted. The height and the angle of the hose leading to the fish tank are used to control the height of the water that enters the grow beds before the siphon kicks in. I have two 200w 6500K CFLs over one bed and a couple of led lights over the other. I also have a high intensity sodium light that I haven’t yet incorporated but think I might soon.
Q: What plants and fish have you had the best luck with? And the worst?
A: As I said, it’s only been set up for several days but i have lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, beets, onions, and bush beans growing. The chard and onions are refugees from my shady garden and are already doing very well. The beets are seedlings at present and are just now starting to develop their true leaves. I also have a zucchini and yellow squash plant there but I’m keeping an eye on those. They may just be too big for this. The Tilapia and catfish seem to be growing well.
Q: What do you like most about aquaponics? Least?
A: It’s pretty exciting to see the plants growing much faster in this system than they were, in the dirt (and shade) outside. Once setup and running, it’s pretty easy and as I said before, I get to control my food source.
Q: What do you think the biggest misconception about aquaponics is?
A: Since I’m pretty new at this, it’s pretty hard to say. I haven’t talked to a lot of people about it other than family and the folks at the Aquaponics Source store.
Q: What are your future aquaponics goals?
A: I’m too new to say. First just want to get comfortable with what grows well and see how well this works for me. I am considering swapping out the CFL’s for LEDs in the future.
Q: What do your friends say when you show them your system for the first time?
A: My next door neighbor and the one across the street were both over with tons of questions before I even got the system out of the truck. Both are pretty interested. One has a missionary friend who is trying to set something up in China or Burma and wants to come see what I’ve done.
Q: What’s next for your system?
A: Next big gear will most likely be a better LED setup for both grow beds. Next small one might be an automatic fish feeder so I can go to my family reunion and make my mother happy.
Q: What’s the best recipe you’ve ever had/made, based around something you grew in your system?
A: You’ll have to ask me that question in about 6 months but I’m gathering some pretty interesting Tilapia recipes.
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