James and William are retro-fitting an existing aquaponic system to improve water flow in the media bed. Without the extended pipes, one side of the bed would not have adequate water circulation. This could lead to poor water conditions.
In the background we see a hydroponic media bed already growing large amounts of basil and tomatoes. This is because we are still far from an adequate stock of fish to produce enough waste/fertilizer in the aquaponic system, whereas in hydroponics the appropriate nutrients can be dosed immediately.
In the hydroponic system, James’ and William’s improved water circulation is not as important because there is not nearly as much organic material to risk foul conditions. It’s important to understand the trade-offs between aquaponics, hydroponics, traditional soil agriculture, and other growing methods.
For IDEA Public Charter School, the aquaponic system is an invaluable STEM education tool to teach students about the ecosystem of fish, plants and bacteria. But it is important to note that depending on circumstances, aquaponics is not the answer for every growing situation.
What: Rooting DC Urban Agriculture Expo
When: Saturday, March 3, 9:00am – 4:00pm
Where: Wilson HS, 3950 Chesapeake St NW, Washington, DC
Why: Sustaining a happy life on Earth!
Anacostia Aquaponics will have our Hootie 2.0 Indoor Aquaponic System set up and running in the Vendor Showroom, goldfish and all. [Barring any technical catastrophes]
Anacostia Aquaponics Director Brian Filipowich will present “Aquaponics in Washington DC” at 10:00am in Room 205. There are many many GREAT presentations all day long! See Rooting DC Schedule
It’s always a great time, and there’s lots of foodtrucks, hope to see you there!
Last week we challenged the IDEA PCS garden club students:
If you can move this entire aquaponic system upstairs to the green room during your 1-hour lunch break, we upgrade to pizza for lunch next week. By the way: all the fish have to survive the move; the system has to be back up and running; and you have to move all the water too (we wouldn’t want to shock our bacteria with new water!)
The students succeeded, great teamwork.
Now onto the next goal: grow $200 of produce with this same aquaponic system by the end of the school year… we’re gonna need some bigger fishies than these goldfish, not to be koi 😉 [foreshadowing]
The Hootie 1.0 Indoor Aquaponic System was able to grow a string bean with only about 100 grams of ornamental goldfish powering the train.
This string bean was just a test to see if we could grow a decent fruiting vegetable with this 29-gallon system. (Fruiting plants like string beans require more nutrients and are generally harder to grow well). Ultimately, this system is best suited to grow seven or eight quick-growing herbs and lettuces at a time because of the small-ish fish tank and wide media growbed.
We were happy to see that – despite its diminutive size – it was a crunchy and tasty little bean!
The Hootie 2.0 Indoor Aquaponic System is equipped with lighting and improved water circulation. Once that system gets to decent fish capacity maybe we’ll try another fruiting veggie… any requests?
From the Aquaponics Association-
The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) voted 8 to 7 last week to reject proposals that would have banned aquaponics and hydroponics from organic eligibility. The Board did vote to ban aeroponics.
The Aquaponics Association applauds the NOSB’s decision. Aquaponics embodies exactly what consumers expect in their organic produce:
- No synthetic pesticides or chemicals;
- Resource-efficient and planet-friendly; and
- A thriving, diverse microbial root ecosystem.
The NOSB’s decision will usher in a host of benefits to our food system. Aquaponics gives us the ability to eat fresh, local produce even in dense urban areas and arid climates. The organic label will allow commercial aquaponic growers to supply retailers the most local organic food possible.
Aquaponics employs closed-loop, recirculating systems of fish and plants. These systems use over 90% less water than soil farming; do not emit harmful agriculture discharge; and use the minimum resources necessary to grow vibrant, healthy crops.
For consumers, the NOSB’s decision will lead to more accessible, affordable produce as more aquaponic growers enter the organic market. Aquaponics will also foster local economic growth with year-round food production jobs that can never be outsourced.
In short, the NOSB’s decision is a big WIN for our environment, our health, and our economy.
“Urban farming company Kappa Farms will invest $865,000 and hire 21 people to open an aquaponics operation in Sterling.” (VA)
“According to the office of Governor Terry McAuliffe, the company will build a closed-loop nutrient cycle aquaponics facility which will produce certified organic baby lettuces and arugula using water and nutrients derived from fish waste. The company will produce more than $7 million worth Virginia-grown lettuces over the next three years, which it will then sell to customers and restaurants in the Washington, DC, metro area.”
Full article on Loudonnow.com: Kappa Farms to open Loudon Aquaponics Facility —
Here swim tilapia in the Bertie Backus Urban Food Hub aquaponic system in Northeast Washington, DC. These tilapia are about 6 inches long and reside in one of the six 650-gallon tanks at the Backus system.
The water is very clear due to the use of a 100 micron “drum filter” and 50 micron “tank filter”.
Bertie Backus is one of four Urban Food Hubs constructed and operated by the University of the District of Columbia. UDC also operates aquaponic systems at the Van Ness, P.R. Harris College, and East Capitol Urban Farm food hubs.
The Van Ness aquaponic system was started earliest of the four. We first stocked fish in April, 2017. It’s been successfully growing basil, lettuces, and tomatoes with fish food as the ONLY nutritional input for about 6 months now. After working out initial kinks, water quality parameters are consistently excellent and the fish grow about an inch per month.
Anacostia Aquaponics worked with UDC during the initiation process of these systems from March through September, 2017. It was a great learning experience.
With appropriate management and resources, UDC’s Urban Food Hub aquaponic systems should continually improve and grow lots of fresh, healthy food for Washington, DC residents.
We had a great discussion at Iona Senior Services this week about aquaponics and our new Hootie 2.0 Aquaponic System.
The Hootie 2.0 has been running for a few months and has been growing lots of parsely and watercress (startin’ easy, ya know?) This week we added 4 bigger goldfish so it’s time to graduate to basil and some denser greens, ahhh milestones….
The fish all have names, the parsely is used in group meals, and the residents enjoy feeding the fish. We’re going to work with the chef to figure out how to use the watercress.
Residents and staff asked many great questions about how an aquaponic system functions, and how aquaponics will fit in our evolving food system.
More learning and growing in our future 🙂
Georgetown student Sarah Harper is constructing an aquaponics system in the Maker Hub space of the university library.
She constructed a model out of Legos, and said that this helped her visualize how the system would work.
It will have a 40-gallon fish tank, and cycle water up to a hydroponic grow tray. The tray will be filled with hydroponic media, and net pots to hold individual plants.
Anacostia Aquaponics helped Sarah with the project as part of our Partnership Program. We’ll check back in once they have fish and plants growing.
Great job Sarah!
Here’s a pic from a recent UDC volunteer day at the P.R. Harris Food Hub near the southern tip of DC.
Volunteers and staff have disconnected the grow-trough drain lines so that the pipes can be cleaned to prevent clogging, and the troughs can be removed and rinsed.
The P.R. Harris hydroponic greenhouse uses this A-frame design to hold grow-troughs vertically and make the most of our limited urban space, while ensuring that plants still receive enough light.
Next to the P.R. Harris hydroponic greenhouse is the aquaponic greenhouse. The aquaponic system is still undergoing mechanical improvements before it is functional. Stay tuned!