Aquaponics 101 – The Big Day

Monday morning dawned, and the minute I heard the first bird, I was up and off to Grahamstown (about 400km away) to fetch the fish. The fish were transported in a 1000L container on a trailer which I had hired. Even empty, the trailer and container proved to be quite heavy for my little 1400 Corsa bakkie.

When I got there we pumped 500L of water from their system into my container and added about 3kg of salt to calm them down a bit. Then the loading began and the fish were moved from their ponds to my container in buckets.


Then the fun began with me struggling against gale force winds back to Knysna, at times right down to 2nd gear up some of the steeper hills, all the time watching nervously in my rear view mirror as the water slopped from one side of the container to the other.

Tilapia have been described as “bullet proof” and I can certainly vouch for that. With all of the loading, transporting and off-loading, we never lost a single fish.

When I arrived home we repeated the procedure with me catching the fish, and the child bride sprinting down to the tunnel and pouring the fish into the pond.

Here is an image of some of the Tilapia in the net before being transported in the bucket. Their average mass is about 105g (juveniles) and they range from 100mm to say 175mm in size.


Being highly traumatised by the trip, they immediately darted to the bottom of the pond and sulked there. I decided not to feed them that night to reduce the stress, but managed to get the following image of them swimming closer to the surface if you approached the pond really slowly and carefully.


Now we wait. I am feeding them very lightly, morning and night, as they produce huge volumes of ammonia after feeding and my biofilters (gravel grow beds) are not quite fully cycled yet. So far I have gem squash, spinach, rocket and strawberries in the grow beds and beans, egg plant and peppers germinating from seed, but I will still need a serious amount of plants to take up the nutrients produced by 450 pooping Tilapia. The spray bars are already getting clogged up so I know that poop is coming through. The plants should really start sprouting now.

Here are some more images of the tunnel from the top and bottom.



Until next time.



14 thoughts on “Aquaponics 101 – The Big Day”

  1. these are great images. what variety of tilapia are you using?

    and your green house… is that just a plastic tarp?

    One issue i’m having is having anough sunlight on my plants. there only get about 3hr. and they need 8. did you check your sun time on your plants?

    again, its looking great!!!

  2. Oreochromis mossambicus. The greenhouse is a 6m x 3m Hobby Tunnel by Richel (France). My sunlight problems are exactly the opposite. Sun is now rising at 4:45AM and setting at 7:30PM !!

    Maybe I should package and send you some of my excess sunlight.

    Be good


  3. Hi Malcolm,
    There are numerous hatcheries and private breeders producing he Red Mossambicus in the Eastern and Western Cape including Stellenbosch University and our own hatchery which will be producing by November. The problem is the transport cost of getting them to Natal (also the stress) The best would be to bring in brood fish and produce your own.

  4. Hi Synaptoman. Great site. Please put me on u’r mailing list. I’ve setup my first 2 experimental blue drum growbeds and the seedlings have reached 2cm above gravel in 10 days. My 60 goldfish from an existing pond is keeping up the ammonia and poop, just feeding them more than before. Now lets just hope this coldfront doesn’t wipe them out. btw I know of 9 (8m x 30m) tunnels that r for sale without the plastic, and in good condition, but I ain’t got space. And they’re closer to U than me. Interested….I’ll pass the cel no on. Thanks for ur info on web.

  5. Hey!! Great blog!! Just what I have been looking for! I just found you site so will read and try to catch up however I really want to know right off— where you are and if my daughters and I could come visit! I bought 32 acres in the Arkansas Ozarks to do just what you are doing and would love us to get to see a working operation!! THANKS!

  6. Hi, It has been great reading. Doing more research re aquarponics, and you used Tilapia, but these spieces are banned in Australia. What other type of fishes can we use that we can eat at the end of the day. tks

  7. Hi Its pest again. In an earlier post you made mention of a small system that you invisaged that worked with a solar pump. I have searched everywhere in south africa for one to no availe do you know of anyone that sells them here. I have found the in america for $69 to $799 converted to rand and delivery cost will be prohibitive. HELP HELP

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