Thursday, 20 April 2017

Aquaponics Explored on PBS

In this episode from 2015, Chris Hartleb, Professor, Department of Biology, UW-Stevens Point, discusses Aquaponics as a sustainable food source for the future.

Friday, 31 March 2017

UV Sterilization in Aquaponics

Aquaponics has beneficial bacteria that allow it to outperform sterile systems. Because of this, UV sterilizers are not generally used. Other negative side effects of UV sterilization include the reduction of micronutrients especially iron, boron and manganese.

"One side effect of the use of UV sterilizers is their effect on a few of the micronutrients.
Mohyuddin (1985) found that the boron and manganese contents in a nutrient solution were
reduced by more than 20% over a period of 24 h of sterilization. The most significant effect
was on iron, which was precipitated as hydrous ferric oxide. Nearly 100% of the iron was
affected." p. 100 - Hydroponic Food Production

Typical UV Disinfection System used in Aquaculture
Here is a collection of studies on the subject:

The effects of nutrient solution sterilization on the growth and yield of hydroponically grown lettuce.
Abstract: Two methods of removing bacteria from hydroponic nutrient solution [ultraviolet (UV) radiation and submicronic filter] were evaluated for efficiency and for their effects on lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) production. Both methods were effective in removing bacteria; but, at high intensity, the ultraviolet sterilizer significantly inhibited the production of plants grown in the treated solution. Bacterial removal by lower intensity UV or a submicronic filter seemed to promote plant growth slightly, but showed no consistent, statistically significant effect.

Integrated Multi-Trophic Recirculating Aquaculture System for Nile Tilapia (Oreochlomis niloticus)
Abstract: Three densities of the sex-reversed male Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus (20, 25, 50 fish/m3) were cultivated in an integrated multi-trophic recirculating aquaculture system (IMRAS) that involves the ecological relationship between several living organisms, i.e., phytoplankton, zooplankton, and aquatic plants. The results indicated that, by providing proper interdependency between various species of living organisms, the concentrations of ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, and phosphate in the system were maintained below dangerous levels for Nile tilapia throughout the cultivation period. The highest wet weight productivity of Nile tilapia of 11 ± 1 kg was achieved at a fish density of 50 fish/m3. The aquatic plants in the treatment tank could effectively uptake the unwanted nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) compounds with the highest removal efficiencies of 9.52% and 11.4%, respectively. The uptake rates of nitrogen and phosphorus by aquatic plants could be ranked from high to low as: Egeria densa > Ceratophyllum demersum > Vallisneria spiralis and Vallisneria americana > Hygrophila difformis. The remaining N was further degraded through nitrification process, whereas the remaining P could well precipitate in the soil sediment in the treatment tank.

Influence of UV Treatment on the Food Safety Status of a Model Aquaponic System
Abstract: Few microbial studies in aquaponics, a growing trend in food production, have been conducted to determine food safety status. The aim of this study was to determine the food safety status and the effectiveness of ultraviolet treatment (15 W, luminous flux of 900 lm) as a food safety intervention in reducing the microbial loads of the water system in a model aquaponic unit growing lettuce, basil, and barramundi (Australian Sea Bass). Sweet basil, bibb lettuce, water samples, and fish swabs were collected throughout the 118-day production period, and microbial analysis was conducted in triplicate for the presence of E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella spp., and the prevalence of aerobic plate counts (APC), coliforms, and fecal coliforms in these systems. Absence of foodborne pathogens was confirmed using ELISA technology and enumeration through petrifilms (coliform/E. coli). A significant increase was observed in aerobic plate counts over the trial period (1 to 3 log10 CFU·mL−1) in the presence and absence of UV (p > 0.05). Ultraviolet treatment did not significantly reduce the APC or coliform counts when compared to the control system samples. Future work should focus on improving the unit design, the evaluation of bio-solid filtration, and other food safety interventions.

Abstract: Aquaponics is an integrated production system where plants grow in a soil-less medium of aquaculture waste. This kind of production is seen as favourable nowadays since waste utilization could increase farm productivity and reduce environmental impacts. This research compared the microbiological quality of aquaponic water under ultraviolet (UV) sterilization and its compliance to international directives on irrigation water uses. An assessment of crop productivity was also carried out to outline differences in productive traits of lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. ‘Verde degli Ortolani’) grown in sterilized and non-sterilized aquaponic systems against a hydroponics floating system supplied with a nutrient solution of 1.6 dS cm-1. Total coliforms under UV disinfection showed counts well below 1 CFU ml-1 and a reduction in microbial loads higher than 99%. Furthermore no Escherichia coli were found in both sterilized and non-sterilized aquaponic systems. No significant differences were recorded for productive traits of lettuce (yield, mean shoot weight, shoot and root dry biomass, leaf area, specific leaf dry weight), suggesting that aquaponics is a valid method to produce vegetables with high hygienic standards.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Beneficial Microbes in Aquaponics

Edit: This article was edited to remove the inaccurate representation of hydroponics as 'sterile'

Even though hydroponic systems use scientifically optimized man-made nutrient solutions, Nick Savidov makes the claim that aquaponic plants are healthier, and more nutrient rich than those from hydroponic production. He says this is possibly because of the complex microbial communities present in aquaponics stimulate root growth and nutrient uptake in ways we still do not fully understand.

A new paper published by the Aquaponics Association delves a bit deeper into this subject. These microorganisms are responsible for nutrient-delivery, disease-suppression, and environmental regulation. The positive results include healthier roots, less spoilage, and more nutritious produce.

Root mass comparison (Nick Savidov 2004)

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Plant Nutrition Videos

Colorado State University
This lecture is a good overview of the macro and micro nutrients plants need and their specific functions.

Melbourne Polytechnic
This lecture includes identification of nutrient deficiencies.

For an overview of managing plant nutrition in Aquaponics, click here ...

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Recirculating Aquaculture is the solution to hunger and climate change

Imagine a world where polluting, resource-intensive cow, pig, and chicken farms are replaced with giant tanks of fast-growing salmon. It might be a strange view of agriculture, but a potential huge shift in how we feed the planet. Read more ...

Growing fish is much more efficient than growing cows, pigs, or chickens.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Aquaponics in PEI

Summerside Makerspace is a shared workspace that is using aquaponics in Summerside, PEI. CBC News recently took notice of this effort. (click here for CBC article). The aquaponics system helps members of the space come together to grow food hopefully for local food banks one day.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Aquaponics for Schools in Canada

SEA TO SKY AQUAPONICS was started in 2016 with the goal of bringing sustainable food production systems to schools across Canada. Their vision is to have aquaponics incorporated into the school curriculum.

Click here for more ...

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Integrated Pest Management App for iPhone and Android

Pocket IPM Greenhouse Scout Mobile App

The Greenhouse Scout mobile app has been designed to help growers manage greenhouse insect pests with:
  1. an easily accessible summary of information on biocontrol of common greenhouse insects,
  2. an interactive interface for collecting scouting data and recording product applications, and
  3. record keeping with a graphical presentation of scouting data.

Created by the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program at Cornell University and GORGES Custom Software Development, Ithaca NY.

Find it at your favorite app store:
Greenhouse Scout on the App Store on iTunes

Greenhouse Scout—Android Apps on Google Play

Cornell's website (original source)

For more information contact:
Betsy Lamb,

Elizabeth Lamb, ornamental IPM coordinator at NYS IPM Program, worked with GORGES Inc. to develop the Greenhouse Scout app.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Greenhouse and Pest Management Seminar

Greenhouse Heating and Lighting and Integrated Pest Management from Noa Fisheries.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Aquaponics in Alberta

A couple of Alberta Aquaponics farms were featured recently in the Calgary Herald.

Aqua Terra Farms - Okotoks


Deepwater Farms - Calgary

Paul Shumlich of Deepwater Farms

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

How a Bell Siphon Works

Here is a cool video showing how a bell siphon works.

Bell siphons are used to flood and drain your media beds for oxygenation. They have several advantages over ebb and flow:

  • easier on the pumps
  • no moving parts
  • no timer required
  • greater amount of oxygenation

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

This Vancouver Island Aquaculture System Produces 5.5 Million Fish per year!

Pentair AES spotlights Marine Harvest Canada – Dalrymple Hatchery. Located in Vancouver Island, British Columbia, this Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) facility produces 600,000 Kilos of Atlantic Salmon Smolt annually (approximately 5.5 million fish).

Lance Page, Manager of Dalrymple Hatchery, gives a brief history of Marine Harvest’s involvement in the aquaculture industry. Lance along with Jordan Smith, an Aquaculture Technician at the farm, provides an overview of the equipment and systems in use as well as the positive effects they’ve had on this facility. Marine Harvest is currently building seven new RAS systems, with construction expected to be completed in 2018.

Pentair Industry Spotlight takes you behind the scenes of Aquaculture. With the industry growing, take a peek into the different farm types, species grown, and most importantly, the people who make it all happen.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

DIY Aquaponics Presentation from NCRAC

North Central Regional Aquaculture Center Video and Slides

Download slides here

Good set of resources from SRAC

The Southern Regional Aquaculture Center (SRAC) is one of five regional aquaculture centers established by Congress. Projects that are developed and funded by SRAC are based on industry needs and are designed to directly impact commercial aquaculture development in the Southern Region.

Aquaponic Publications:
SRAC 5006 - The Economics of Aquaponics
SRAC 5007 - Principles of Small-Scale Aquaponics
SRAC 0454 - RAS and Aquaponics

Relevant RAS (Recirculating Aquaculture) Publications:
SRAC 4502 - Starting a Biofilter
SRAC 0442 - Small Scale Fish Processing
SRAC 0441 - Realities and Potentials of RAS when getting started
SRAC 0451 - RAS Critical Considerations
SRAC 0452 - RAS Management
SRAC 0453 - RAS Design Practices