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PostPosted: May 9th, '19, 02:17 
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Hello! I'm Barb, a retiree who spends about 4.5-5 months near Seattle, May thru October and the same amount of time in Southern Arizona, October thru April. We live and travel in a small Class C motorhome. "We" includes me, a 68 yo female; Sena, a 22 yo capuchin monkey; and Lily, an 8 yo Maltese/Yorkie.

The weather decides when we leave each location and how fast we travel. My goal is to stay in shorts and T shirt weather and avoid having to run any air conditioners.

In Seattle I park in my daughter's back yard. I don’t do a lot of gardening there due to my late arrival. This year I plan to plant a good sized asparagus bed and play with fast growin veggies and perineal flowers grown in soil.

In Arizona I have an acre of desert with a 40’ high cube shipping container, but no utilities. My plan is to build out part of the container as a tiny home, capture rainwater from a tin roof with solar panels attached that I’ll install on the container. I'm planning to store the water in 4-6 IBC totes and build a simple hoop greenhouse on the south side of the container. There is a pea gravel quarry only 10 miles away so aquaponics seems more doable than trying to amend the desert sand for gardening. I do have access to potable water and a 55 gallon water barrel that I can tow with my Smart Car.

I became interested in aquaponics over 30 years ago, but never had the time or space to implement it. Now that I'm retired and a land owner my only limiting factor is financial. I'm looking for ways to limit the costs. I LOVE a challenge and enjoy finding new ways to do things.

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PostPosted: May 9th, '19, 19:33 
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Hey Barb, It would certainly be a challenge to try and keep a system going while not being there 50% of the time. Perhaps a worm/compost tea hydroponic type system might be best, fish don't do so well if you are away for many months at a time, unless it's a fairly self sufficient pond style setup

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PostPosted: May 11th, '19, 12:02 
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I'm actually wanting to harvest and shut down the system for the 6 months I'll not be in Arizona. Are there crops and fish/prawns that will be ready for harvest that quick? I know that getting beneficial bacteria established in aquariums is important, so I assume the same is true in a pea gravel grow bed. With aquariums your can buy substrates that are already seeded with bacteria. Is the same true in aquaponics? Any suggestions?

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PostPosted: May 13th, '19, 01:05 
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Tilapia can reach harvest size in 6 months, are easy to raise and like warm water, so probably your best bet. If you can get your water temps to 31-36ºC they should do well. You'll need all male fingerlings, they grow twice as fast. Good feed and feeding regime wil obviously increase your chances of decent sized fish.

Establishing a bacterial colony shouldn't be too hard and could probably be done on the move; with a bucket full of cycled media ready to go, starting with fingerlings and keeping an eye on the ammonia, nitrite and nitrate levels and I think you should be OK. Cycling happens faster in warmer conditions.


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PostPosted: May 19th, '19, 09:38 
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Tilapia are illegal in Australia... so I can't comment on growth rates. But some people over here buy advanced trout fingerlings in winter and barramundi in summer- growing each of them to eating size. Perhaps barramundi aren't available over your way :dontknow:

as for crops... leafy greens and herbs are great in aquaponics... you'll get multiple crops in a 6 month period. They grow like crazy in a healthy system. Corn grows well in my system and is fairly fast to crop too - I like it because it doesn't really shade the leafy greens that are growing under it. Pretty much anything grows in aquaponics... though root vegetables not so well.

Do you have someone who could cast an occasional eye over your Arizona system in winter? I found I was able to keep a system cycled over our winter (similar temps to southern Arizona), with no fish or plants, by running the pump once or twice a day on a timer. And you could have someone add a little ammonia (or source of) every few weeks. The nitrates will creep up a bit... but that's not a major problem.

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PostPosted: May 21st, '19, 07:14 
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Thanks for the advice Dave! Ammonia infusions are a great idea. I didn’t think anything could survive hot Arizona summers, but I imagine shaded bacteria could. Shading would also help slow down evaporation. I know a few people I could pay with fish and produce that would check on my system when I'm gone.

So below the equator do you refer to the hot part of the year as winter or summer? I'm confused. I'm in Arizona from October until April. That's the cooler part of the year, our winter. Summer is usually 110*F or hotter.

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PostPosted: May 21st, '19, 15:38 
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Oops... that's my typo above. I should have said "your Arizona system in summer".

So no need for confusion. We also have summer when it's hot and winter when it's cold.

I googled for temperature range in Southern Arizona and it looked much the same as where I am. Up to low 30's (90 in your numbers). I'm guessing there are a range of climate zones in the area.

Anyway, it gets much hotter in plenty of parts of Australia... where I think aquaponics works OK.

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