An Aquaponic System in Oakland

Root Simple pal Federico alerted me to an interesting aquaponics project in Oakland, CA created by Eric Maundu. I share with Federico some skepticism when it comes to aquaponics–the concept seems a bit complicated and plastic intensive to me. But Federico thought, and I agree that this project might be simple enough to be practical.

If any of you have experience with aquaponics, let us know what you think.

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9 Comments

  1. that is pretty awesome.
    but what a crazy world we live in, that we actually have to figure out ways of growing food without using any soil because we’ve contaminated the soil.

  2. I have looked at aquaponics from time to time but, if I were to use talapia for their effluent as fertilizer, the cost of heating their water to keep them alive would be prohibitive expensive.

  3. I don’t have experience, but I like how Kellogg and Pettigrew treated the subject in “Toolbox for Sustainable City Living”. They have plans for both an intensive system, resembling the one shown, and an extensive system, with no pumps or tanks but a lot lower stocking density.

    @Max: I’ve read that aquaponics in colder climates usually calls for catfish, unless there’s a pre-existing need for climate control (e.g., a greenhouse to keep warm). Tilapia do fine in Oakland…this winter has been too cold for tomatoes to overwinter, but last winter they did fine.

  4. I’m close to turning my aquaponic system on (for the second time). I’m yet to be successful. A couple observations: it is a steep learning curve-(bell syphons, balancing water quality/chemistry, fish health, plant health, bacteria, nitrification…) the flood and drain system he shows is really cool but takes a lot of trial and error; it is too cold in the winter for tilapia in So Cal without heating (hence the death of my 4 dozen fish); it would probably be good to start small like him-I started with a large system; the output is said to be 10 times the production per square foot as growing in the dirt while using 2-5% of the water as growing in the dirt; fish are highly efficient in turning food to meat compared to beef/chicken/pork; you can create an almost completely closed loop system by growing food for the fish.

  5. If you can build a system to irrigate your garden with gray water, you can build an aquaponics system. There are resources all over, especially on You Tube. Start simple with nothing more than two recycled bathtubs and a plumbing kit for about $160 (which you could probably get cheaper by buying the parts seperately at a home improvement store. The man in the video seems to think automation and computers are cool but none of that is really necessary. There’s a learning curve, I’m sure but then there’s one when it come to planting in dirt.

  6. What an inspiring video! I’m more into vermicomposting, but I wonder how aquaponics compares to composting with worms. This seems automated, which is really convenient!

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