Backyard Aquaculture (fish farming)

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chuck_n_grace
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Backyard Aquaculture (fish farming)

Post: #220521 chuck_n_grace
Thu Jan 13, 2011 7:31 pm

Hi,
I'm looking to meet others on this site that are raising fish to eat.

After a couple of months research and a very tiny investment, we now have a small operation in our garage. It's a 150 gallon tank (tank holds 250 gallons) that recirculates through a 'grow bed'. We have several small plants in the grow bed. Every few minutes, the auto siphon kicks in and drains the bed back into the tank.

We're not ready for catfish or tilapia...so we're experimenting with a lot of goldfish. We'll put more resources into a larger operation in the backyard (inside a small greenhouse) if we can do the following:

1. Keep the fish alive for several months...with evidence of growth and good health.
2. Current plants continue to grow.

We are observing many things and hope to learn quite a lot. Here's a short checklist.

1. Water chemistry...need to maintain ideal conditions.
2. Plant quantity/grow rate in relationship to the number/size of fish.
3. Feeding schedule/quanitity.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Regards,
Chuck

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Re: Backyard Aquaculture (fish farming)

Post: #220527 grahamhobbs
Thu Jan 13, 2011 7:59 pm

Can't offer any experience, but will follow your thread with great interest. Do you not have to heat the water for Tilapia during the winter (even in a greenhouse)?

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Re: Backyard Aquaculture (fish farming)

Post: #220553 niknik
Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:28 pm

Soirry can´t help either.......

but very interested to hear all about it, as came across acouple of videos on you tube about the subject, and am intrigued. maybe its something else I could hope to do at some point!

Keep us posted as to how you get on.

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Re: Backyard Aquaculture (fish farming)

Post: #220576 chuck_n_grace
Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:10 am

Hi,
Here are some Youtube videos I've posted.

Part 1 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFRpjMBMeYs
Part 2 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xc-g821CIcI
Part 3 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQYApAW9EcQ

Regards,
Chuck

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Re: Backyard Aquaculture (fish farming)

Post: #220580 oldjerry
Fri Jan 14, 2011 6:41 am

I'm really keen to follow your progress Chuck,please keep us updated ,however it goes. Best Wishes.

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Re: Backyard Aquaculture (fish farming)

Post: #220586 jim
Fri Jan 14, 2011 8:48 am

Dear Chuck,

Fascinating, I particularly like the way the loop syphon worked. As to the hydroponics working I have seen how effective it can be. I know of a guy growing strawberries in polytunnels that way who manages to get them much earlier than any other grower, and we live in a strawberry producing area! Keep it up and let us know how it progresses,

Love and Peace
Jim
The law will punish man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the Common
But lets that greater thief go loose
Who steals the Common from the goose.

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Re: Backyard Aquaculture (fish farming)

Post: #220602 niknik
Fri Jan 14, 2011 9:41 am

Excellent , informative videos..... hadnt come across yours.way better than the ones I had seen!

Keep it coming.

I don´t know if I´ll everbe able o set up such a system, but I´d love to know more

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Re: Backyard Aquaculture (fish farming)

Post: #220726 chuck_n_grace
Sat Jan 15, 2011 3:36 am

Hi Jim,
If this experiment goes well we have discussed a polytunnel and a few more fish tanks in the backyard. Not sure if we would have room with strawberries but that is a possibility.

Niknik,
I did a lot of reading online and watched a lot of "how to" videos about aquaculture. Over Christmas I found these tanks really cheap...which got me started.

We've lost 2 fish out of 20 so far. Since these were 3" long feeder fish, I figured they might be a bit sickly...so I expected to lose some...maybe half. We'll know in a few days. One thing about a submersible pump is they eventually attract (suck) dead fish drifting about in the tank. That is now the first spot I check when I view the fish.

The water is getting much clearer now.

Oldjerry,
I'll be glad to keep everyone up to date. I do appreciate the interest here in the forum...can't say any of my coworkers are very interested. That'll change when I bring in fresh fish I suppose. :icon_smile:

Regards,
Chuck

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Re: Backyard Aquaculture (fish farming)

Post: #221067 chuck_n_grace
Mon Jan 17, 2011 8:31 pm

*Update*
We've lost 6 out of 40 fish this past seven days. Since these were 'feeder' fish they may not have been very healthy to begin with...since feeders are often neglected. However, took some chemistry measurements this afternoon.

Nitrates (0 ppm), Nitrites (0 ppm), Hardness (50 ppm), Chlorine (0.25 ppm), Alkalinity (0 ppm), pH (6.8), and Ammonia - NH3/NH4 (1 ppm).

I'm still learning what this means. I can say that any ammonia level greater than 0 ppm is not good for the fish. This could be a key factor. The ammonia was 0 ppm when we began. I'm going to chalk this up to overfeeding. The fish food is made of protein...if not eaten it breaks down and releases ammonia. I'm going to hold off on feeding for 24 hours and then test again to see if the level drops. The goal is to get the bacteria level to increase sufficiently so that the ammonia level is regulated...but converting it to nitrites and then to nitrates (Nitrogen Cycle).

The plants are still alive! I need to put in a couple of more tomato plants. The one that is in there is standing up a bit perky...that's a good sign.

If anyone has any suggestions please send them my way. I am by far not a subject matter expert.

Regards,
Chuck

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Re: Backyard Aquaculture (fish farming)

Post: #221203 chuck_n_grace
Wed Jan 19, 2011 3:32 am

Hi,
I pulled a sick behaving fish out and placed into a 2 gallon tank. My wife added Methylene Blue to treat a serious fungus. Since we're new at being fish doctors we need to do more research and experimenting.

We're also taking steps to improve the balance of ammonia and bacteria. This is very important and I may have underestimated its effects.

So far this has been an interesting project. I'm hoping next year we'll know enough to do this with fish we can grow to eat. We have always enjoyed "Fish n Chips"...guess I need to grow extra potatoes. :icon_smile:

Regards,
Chuck

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Re: Backyard Aquaculture (fish farming)

Post: #221346 chuck_n_grace
Thu Jan 20, 2011 5:53 pm

Hi,
Ammonia levels are lower. Waiting for bacteria levels to increase...to convert ammonia -> nitrites -> nitrates. Plants love nitrates.

Big fish? Don't know what I was thinking. I went to the pet store and bought the 'largest' feeder goldfish they had in stock (27 cents each). Some were nearly 4" long. Anyhow, the fish that have been dying are the largest ones.

The smaller fish are doing very well. When I turn off the air to the airstones...the water calms...and these little fish go crazy at the surface. So they have become conditioned to expect a meal. It's actually a lot of fun. Down to 30 fish now.

Lettuce plants are shooting up now...they were drooping after the transplant from soil to the grow bed. Tomatoes are still waiting on something...but they are not dying.

Anyhow, this is still a fun project and I look forward to subsequent developments.

Regards,
Chuck

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Re: Backyard Aquaculture (fish farming)

Post: #221373 Ellendra
Thu Jan 20, 2011 9:47 pm

This thread reminded me of an aquaponics forum I stumbled across a few years ago, but had since lost track of. A quick search turned it back up again: http://www.backyardaquaponics.com/forum/

There's some great information there. The wheelie bin challenge is especially fascinating :p

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Re: Backyard Aquaculture (fish farming)

Post: #221374 yvette
Thu Jan 20, 2011 9:55 pm

Very interesting project.
I've only ever kept pet goldfish, but just wanted to pass on to you that when we have had sick fish in the past, the pet shop has always recommended treating the tank and not removing individual fish for treatment, since you can't always tell whether the disease has already been passed on to other fish. I'm not sure whether this still hold true for a much larger tank such as you have though...
Very good luck!

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Re: Backyard Aquaculture (fish farming)

Post: #221493 chuck_n_grace
Sat Jan 22, 2011 3:39 am

Ellendra,
Thanks for the link. I had visited in the past but I need to visit again to figure out this ammonia management process.

Yvette,
I agree with what your pet shop told you. However I'm not sure how to treat an entire tank that feeds a grow bed. Removing a sick fish and trying to treat did not work.

The remaining fish seem to be quite 'happy' when I feed them...it took them a week or so to get adjusted. I still have two larger fish hanging around the bottom and not eating. I'll see what happens next.

I'll post a video update soon.

Regards,
Chuck

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Re: Backyard Aquaculture (fish farming)

Post: #221737 chuck_n_grace
Mon Jan 24, 2011 5:01 am

Hi,
Here's a video I created of the bacteria found on the tank filter using a scope. The first half uses 40X and the second half is 400X.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Sq9EgbxGUU

Regards,
Chuck


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