Hi late to this thread, but new to this board. Let me give you a bit of background. I am a high school agriculture teacher in Northeastern Colorado. I come from a very traditional ag background, having used my own cows to pay for college back in the days of the early 1980's. My teacher training was very conventional, focusing on traditional agriculture and teaching the same things that I had been taught.
Fast forward to around 2000 when I first became aware of aquaponics. I studied the technology, but never pulled together a system. Fast forward until this past January. I looked at my students in my ag program. I have 59 kids going through my classes, of which no more than 12 live on a farm or ranch. The light bulb came on when I realized that even if I taught animal science using cows and sows as a reference, my kids simply were not interested in that. So, aquaponics. I realized it was time.
I found a little philanthropic website called http://www.donorschoose.org
. Quite honestly, it was the simplest 15 minute grant application that I have ever seen. Within 30 days, my little classroom project was funded! I had the resources now to buy a 20 gallon aquarium, a growing light and a small hydroponic grow bed. Well, being an ag teacher, it wasn't long until I had a student weld up a stand to hold the aquarium and stand for a larger growing bed.
We proceeded into the business of killing goldfish! Remember, just because I said I said I studied, doesn't necessarily mean I learned anything. I only knew that nitrogen was what we needed. The first 12 goldfish became 11 before I even got home from the pet store. Within 3 days, our 12 was down to 2. Being a good teacher, I drove for several hours to a larger city and purchased 30 more goldfish from a reputable store. Into the tank they went and soon (well, it took 3 weeks) we were down to 5 fish!
In the meantime, while the goldfish carnage was going on, I went to a Saturday class on aquaponics put on by JD Sawyer at Colorado Aquaponics. It was like the scales came off of my eyes. So, you have to go through the nitrogen cycle? And it is easier if you don't use fish? And you have to test the water? Well, okay, we can start doing that, but the fish are still in the tank.
Rather than test the water, we realized that once we got down to 5 fish, no more were dying. So we watched the fish for a couple of weeks and realized that they were doing very well. So, it was time to set up the grow bed. I grabbed a tote, built a bell siphon and we filled it with washed hydroton (donated by my extension horticulture agent!) and we tried to plumb our pitiful little pump to lift the water to it. It would only lift water about 6 inches. So, off to the internet to find a pump that would work.
The little submersible pump arrived and away we went!
[youtube]<iframe title="YouTube video player" width="480" height="390" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/YCob713aVns" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>[/youtube]
[youtube]<iframe title="YouTube video player" width="480" height="390" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/1efziN9_Y9g" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>[/youtube]
These videos were taken on day 2 of the system being operational. I might add this was about 6 weeks after we started killing goldfish.
We are using this classroom set-up to learn how it all works. We will be setting 3 - 200 gallon tanks in a greenhouse sometime in the next 3 weeks and hope to have the system up and ready to run by June. We have to move the greenhouse from its current shady location on the northeast corner of our building.
Stay tuned for details.