Q: Where are you from? Tell us a bit about yourself.
A: Guymon, OK, right smack in the middle of the panhandle. I work at a natural gas pipeline company.
Q: How did you get interested in aquaponics?
A: I saw a tutorial on instructables.com and that sparked my interest. After a couple months research and planning i jumped right in and built it.
Q: How are you currently working with aquaponics? Home setup, community greenhouse, etc.
A: I’m running a barrel system in my backyard that’s been running about 2-1/2 months.
Q: Tell us about your system. Geek out a bit and tell us all the specs.
A: I used a 55 gal plastic drum for my system, and currently have 34 2″ to 4″ goldfish and 2 koi around 5″ or 6″. I haven’t had a fish death in over a month (knock on wood)! I started it out using pea gravel as grow media, but found out after a while that the plants couldn’t handle the high pH, so i changed it out for expanded clay. No problems since!
Q: What plants and fish have you had the best luck with? And the worst?
A: My beautiful zucchini and green beans died because of the pH of my gravel, but after i switched to expanded clay my surviving thyme, purple basil and roma tomato plant are doing great, other than the thyme being too shaded. My roma tomato has 1-1/2″ fruits on it finally… I also replanted green beans that are doing well, and transplanted mint (which will take over the growbed if i let it) and dill, which didn’t do very well. I think the plant i got was too old in the pot and rootbound.
Q: What do you like most about aquaponics? Least?
A: I love how innovative it is, and efficient on water and space. I want to set up aquaponics inside and everywhere i go!
The only thing i dislike about it is how the price to set up seems to go up like crazy with a bigger system, mainly because of the expanded clay media. And suitably small lava rocks have proven to be a challenge to locate near my rural area.
Q: What do you think the biggest misconception about aquaponics is?
A: That it’s just for potheads growing weed in their basement…
Q: What are your future aquaponics goals?
A: I’m currently planning an IBC based CHOP system that i want to plumb together with my barrel to keep its water temp regulated a bit better with the fall & winter coming up. I hope to eventually build a greenhouse to grow in and hopefully produce year round, and grow tilapia as well.
Q: What do your friends say when you show them your system for the first time?
A: None of them have heard of aquaponics before, they think i’m a wizard when i tell them or they see my system… People can hardly believe that the plants can thrive without soil!
Q: What is your next big gear purchase going to be? What about your next small one?
A: Definitely the grow media and the pump for my upcoming IBC system. Hopefully some sort of a greenhouse as well.
Q: What’s the best recipe you’ve ever had/made, based around something you grew in your system?
A: So far the only thing i’ve harvested from my barrel system is dill and bunches of mint, but i can’t wait till my roma tomatoes and my green beans are ready!