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 Post subject: Bamboo for Aquaponics?
PostPosted: Jun 10th, '19, 15:34 

Joined: Jun 8th, '19, 19:19
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Location: Netherlands

I live in a rooftop apartment in Taipei, Taiwan where I am setting up a small aquaponics system. Aquaponics integrates fish farming with hydroponics. Essentially, you have a fish tank and some other container or series of containers in which to house your plants and growing medium. The water is cycled between the fish tank and the other containers in a closed loop. The fish waste fertilizes the plants and the water is cleaned by the microbes living on the growing medium. Both the plants and fish benefit from this closed cycle.

For my setup, I have repurposed an old wooden bathtub that I will use as my main tank. For my growing containers, I would like to use sections of bamboo. I plan on using a large type of bamboo, cut into one node sections, laid on its side and filled with vermiculite. These sections will each have large holes (5cm diameter) drilled at even intervals for the plant to grow out of. This side will also face up. On the downward side, I will drill a few smaller holes that will allow the water to drain out. Each section will resemble a flute, only with the end nodes remaining in order to retain the water.

I know that I should cure and somehow seal the bamboo that I use. What is the best sealant to use? Bear in mind that their will be about fifty gallons of water recirculating through the bamboo everyday. Fish and vegetables that I will eat will constantly be exposed to anything that leaches off into the water, so a food safe, non-toxic sealant is very important. I was thinking of going with mineral oil.

I have two options for bamboo to use for this project.

Option 1:

A friend of a friend has some kind of connection to a bamboo craftsman in a town south of Taipei. When my friend told him about what I was doing he volunteered to bring me some bamboo. Last weekend, he brought over 8 freshly cut one meter sections of bamboo with a an average 13cm diameter, 55cm between nodes and 1 1/5cm thick walls.

This bamboo is very green and has not undergone any kind of curing. I have read a bit about various curing processes and am concerned that I will not be able to use this bamboo anytime soon. The only space available to me to dry out this bamboo is in a crawlspace just below my roof. The floor of this crawlspace is concrete, is about a foot below a sun drenched metal roof, gets very hot and has almost constant airflow. Alternatively, I could roast the bamboo over embers in a large bbq pit that I have. However, I worry that the temperature would fluctuate too much for this.

While free and exactly the right size for my purposes, I think that I would need to wait months before this bamboo cures. Unless someone can recommend a quick curing solution, I will probably just reserve this bamboo for a later project. Out of curiousity, if I just went ahead and used the bamboo without any further drying or curing, how long would it last? How would the starch levels impact the fish and plants, and vice versa?

Any thoughts about option 1?

Option 2: I can buy bamboo of the same size for about 15 dollars for 9 foot sections from a bamboo farm. This bamboo has already been cured. This was also my original plan, until the guy showed up with all of the free bamboo last weekend. This way, I only need to cut it to the desired lengths, drill the appropriate holes and seal the bamboo. Any thoughts about option 2?

Thanks in advance for you advice!

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