If you're a fan of Rube Goldberg, you're gonna love this ...
Yesterday, I spent part of the rebuilding parts of my home recirculating aquaculture system. It's been down for awhile so all the plumbing and setups you see above must be reconstructed. I'm just doing a little here, a little there, as Mrs. FC says we have to pay bills and buy groceries. She's odd that way ...
Later that evening, I was putting in another session of scanning old photos. It's time for Emma's senior page in the yearbook (remember last year?) and so we are selecting photos. The photos were mixed of course, and in the mix were these missing aquaculture shots. Serendipity Baby!!
I thought I had lost them!
I was raising a fish called Tilapia. When I was doing this, they were mostly unknown and unseen in the market place. Today, they are common in any market. They are delicious, but they are also an exotic species and I had to have a permit from the state of Florida to possess and culture live tilapia.
Okay, to make a short story long and almost totally unbearable ...
Here's how this Goldbergian system worked:
The corrugated tank on the left is the main fish culture tank.
The metal tank on the right had some fish, but had contained potted iris and cattails to aid in filtration. It was mostly populated with younger tilapia produced by my original stock.
This was an emergency winter harvest, the plants were dormant and not shown in this photo. A hard freeze the night before had stunned the tropical tilapia and it was time to harvest anyway.
The taller barrel in the foreground is a settling tank. Water flows by siphon effect from the big culture tank to the bottom of this barrel. The barrel is filled with that bird netting you put over berry plants to keep the birds out. Here it is serving to slow the upwelling of water and allow fish wastes to settle to the bottom of the barrel.
From the first barrel, the now cleaner water flows by pipe to the second barrel, where there is even more netting ... and a pump. The pump sends water from the second barrel to the top of the blue barrel sitting on the wooden support.
Are you paying attention?
The blue barrel is full of scallop, oyster, and clam shells. Growing on the shells are beneficial bacteria that feed on the nitrates produced by the fish. As the water trickles and splashes over the shells, the bacteria change the harmful nitrates to harmless nitrites and everyone is happier because of it.
The now cleaner, more oxygenated water flows back into the tanks.
This was the short version with a few details left out. You can thank me later.
You can see from the harvest that the system worked and even though my new system will be a little less complicated, you can't leave out any of the major components above and expect success with recirculating aquaculture.
You also don't have to have a high tech lab setting with expensive equipment to grow enough fish for an entire family.
When the new system is up and running, I'll share it with you.