Thursday, June 17, 2010

Progress On The Home Aquaculture Front

Okay, I noticed that the last time I posted about constructing the aquaculture canopy roof, I bored a few of you to tears.

Too much "here's how I nailed this part" and, "...and then I clamped it like this."

I felt ya.

I am always thinking of my regular readers when I post something here at PF, but ...
...when it comes to home aquaculture, I am also posting for that person who is not a reader of Pure Florida (the HORROR!), but is interested in small scale recirculating aquaculture systems (aka RAS).

There's a lot of large scale, high tech, high investment commercial scale stuff out there, but less of the small system info. The Aussies have a really neat Aquaponics forum and there are some Youtube videos available, but it's not like looking up "tomato gardening at home" and getting flooded with info.

So I picture this person wanting to try some backyard fishfarming and searching the internet for how to do it small and on the cheap. She googles the topic and up pops some of these PF aquaculture posts.

She reads one or two of these posts on home RAS construction, shakes back her thick mane of (insert color preference here) hair and thinks, "Hey this guy ain't right, but he does know how to construct inexpensive home fish farms."

And another backyard aquaculturist is born.
That's how I picture it anyway.

Are you still there?
If so, check out this prawn from the RAS at school.
To be honest, this is the biggest prawn in the system, a young blue claw dominant male who still has lots of growing to do, but ain't he pretty?
There are a lot of big, but not THIS big yet shrimp in the tank right now, so things are going smoothly.

Last night, around 9:30 pm, I stopped in to feed them on the way home from Tampa and found that the power was out at the school.
I called the power company and they were not aware of it, but they would send a crew out. Apparently storms had moved through earlier and they were really busy.

I stayed with the shrimp until 1:00 am, scooping and pouring water from a bucket to areate the tank and then went home.
The shrimp are reported to be fine this morning so I will begin moving them here today instead of kayaking on the Gulf of Florida like I had planned.

That power scare was enough to accelerate my shrimp moving plans.

Now back to the home system overview so far...

The canopy cover over the tank is supported by a cattle panel that I cut in half. The cattle panel supports a tarp to keep rain and leaves out of the tank. Cutting the panel produced some sharp edges that would quickly shred a tarp though, so I bought a few foam swimming noodles and utilized them to cushion the sharp ends where I cut the wire.

I built a shelf to support the barrel bio filter and hung a perforated bucket from it to keep the pump submerged, but not on the bottom where it could get clogged from stuff that settled out of the water column.

The filter bucket wears a mesh bag to keep junk and small shrimp from being sucked in. The top will be screened off too.

The tank holds 700 gallons of water and the pump can move about 750 gallons per hour so there will be good turnover through the filter. The pump also uses UV lights to sterilize the water as it passes through (UV light kills microcritters).
The barrel filter will be full of clean shell, bioballs, and broken pvc pipe bits. The purpose of that is to give the denitrifying bacteria a place to adhere to so they can cleanse the water of nitrates as the water trickles through the barrel.
(Nitrates are coming from animal waste and uneaten food, If they build up to dangerous levels, you lose your livestock. Nitrobacter bacteria convert them to harmless nitrites and the world is good.)

Wake up!
The video below is a short tour of the still incomplete system . It's not narrated, so here's the main idea.
It starts with a look inside a reddish barrel. I'm popping a cap off the U-shaped pipe and allowing a siphon to flow. The water filling the red barrel is coming from the main tank.
This barrel will be filled with netting to slow and settle out fish waste and uneaten food bits.
That's not shown in the video, plus the second, return pipe is not shown.
More on that later ... you're welcome.
The rest of the video is just a snapshot of the system running. The system is functional right now, but is really about 90% complete. It's enough for you to get the idea.
I will update with more pics and a narrated video when it's JUSSSSSSST RIGHT.
I think you've probably had enough Rube Goldberg Aquanerd stuff for one post.


LaDivaCucina said...

That shrimp is a beauty! How lucky that you just happened to stop by the school? I learn a lot from your posts. Funny how us bloggers supply something of use to each other (even if sometimes its just pretty photos or funny stories!)

Have a great weekend FC!

Anonymous said...

So how many shrimp(s) do you think you can braise uh I mean raise in a season? (Thunder has taught me too well) Say congrats to JR and thanks for the picture!

Sayre said...

That's interesting and fairly complicated. Just goes to show you how much work it is for man to duplicate the systems of nature!

Thunder Dave said...

Nice shrimp!
I'll have to check out the system next time I'm down there!

(I bet you thought I was going to say something about how to prepare the shrimp for dining purposes didn't you?)

Bill said...

Aquanerd? Really? I'm impressed by the amazing things you do with our language. But you know I always have been. Now when do we get to eat some shrimps? Is that really easier than casting a net in the St. Johns?

Thanks for sharing.


amarkonmywall said...

Fascinating. Riveting. I hung on every word. As soon as the house is finished I plan to move on to a RAS. Can I expect this to be a cash crop or will there be just enough for us to saute with garlic and butter?

Dani said...

Yep, riveting. ;)

Floridacracker said...

True! I agree with you, we do learn a lot from each other's blogs. And yes, I feel pretty lucky to have dropped in at the right time.
I have since moved a portion of the shrimp to my home system. Have a delicious weekend also!

Braise... wacka wacka! LOL! How many is what I will be trying to determine. They are territorial so crowding them requires creativity.
I'll keep you posted as I discover the answers for myself! Enjoyed the visit with your beau.

Exactly. All the subtle bioreactions that happen in a pond or stream must be recreated here and very efficiently or you lose your crop.
I just love it though.

Definitely! You will need to check it out. Lightnin took care of the food reference for you!

Why thank you sir.
Easier? More reliable maybe? This really is a pilot project. Economy of scale it is not.
And remember... later this year, oil will reach the marshes in your area and shrimping on the St. Johns may be just a memory.

God, I love your enthusiasm! Thank you.
This particular crop will probably be a garlic and butter sorta crop. If I can breed them, new vistas open up.
You might be interested in some turnkey type small RAS's. They are about as pricey as a really good oven/range, but without the RubeG. aspect.
I bet you could grow the heck out of some trout up there in the hills of Norcalina.

You're just messing with me aren't ya? LOL!

Dani said...

Yeah, just havin' a little fun.