Saturday, July 9, 2016

Aquaponic Test V3.0 & A Crowded Coop/Run

The tweaking and toying process of discovering what works best for
our aquaponic grow tower system (hydroponic - chemicals + fish = aquaponic) has begun.  We've added another layer to our fish tank to eliminate the leaking of the original liner, attached secondary filtration systems to the water delivery system to eliminate particulate that was plugging the lines, finessed the water cycling composition (ph/nitrate/nitrites/ammonia/nitrogen), re-engineered the water delivery system from flexible irrigation tubing to hard PVC with tower by tower ball valves and finally added a third row of 2" net pots to almost every vertical tower tube to facilitate more obstructions in the water flow and better distribute the nutrient rich water.

We took a hit a couple times over the past months, losing a couple
towers of seedlings (80 plants in all) due to feed lines plugging.
The suspended solids combined with an algae bloom was the culprit. One and five gallon paint strainer nets to the rescue.  Rubber banded on the outflow of the gutter and enveloping the pump housing revealed that we had water saturated with suspended solids.  The difference in two days of filtering and several cleanings is quite dramatic.  The next step will be to transfer the fish into a 250 gallon water tote and use the current tank as the reserve sump tank.  A two tank set up will not only allow ample water

backup but facilitate the creation of a swirl filter in between the two for further water filtration and suspended solids removal.  The swirl filters are designed with a bleed valve that expels the trapped solids for application to garden soil.  The fish poo slurry is one of the best organic fertilizers and the nutrients are like magic growth juice to maturing plants.
The additional raised beds are producing well.  We've turned over and harvested the first round of snow peas and spicy radishes.  Carrots are developing nicely protected from the sun by the big leaves of our zucchini / squash plants.  The beans, watermelon, spaghetti squash are coming along although I believe I might have gone overboard with the concentrated planting.  They are growing up the chicken hoop house nicely though.

We hatched out 30 Black Copper Maran / Easter Egger crosses which hopefully give us hens that will lay green eggs.  The math follows this equation.  30 chicks * 50% male / female = 15 (possibly) laying hens and 15 chicken dinners. My hopes are to turn over 5-6 of our existing flock and replace with the new additions.

That'll leave about 9 or so that I'll sell to pay for the feed to get them to 25 weeks.  Twenty five weeks is the about the time where chicken maturity level reveals male/female and egg production begins. The really neat thing about this type of cross are the egg possibilities.  Black copper marans produce dark chocolate / mahogany spotted colored eggs, easter eggers produce dark to light blue eggs.  When the breeds are combined, maran colored eggs, easter egger eggs and / or a hybrid cross green colored eggs are possible.  More interesting is the fact that although the egg might have a green exterior, when cracked the interior reveals a dark brown shell.  Because of the timing of color deposition, the green egg is actually a brown egg with a blue over coat!

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