Aquaponics 101 – Fire and Water

Interesting week so far. On the way to P.E. with the Child Bride on Monday, I got a phone call from the manager at my recently completed commercial site, to say that the battery room had just burnt to the ground in about 20 minutes. The shed, the brand new generator, batteries, inverter, solar panels, even the wind turbine, all burnt. Luckily the wind wasn’t blowing too strongly and the greenhouse tunnels were unaffected.

Fortunately Eskom arrived today to install the permanent electricity supply so at least we’ll have power within a day or two. In the mean time we’ve hired a generator and are cycling the system 1hr on and 2hrs off. I have introduced about 40 juveniles and brood females to the brood tank (tank#1) and 80 mixed-sex fingerlings (batch 2008/11A) into tank #2.

I’ve decided to go with this formula and then stock ponds #3 and #4 with male only fingerlings. With my home hatchery going well I should be able to produce about 500 fingerlings from quality brood stock every week and will supply clients with mixed-sex or faster growing male only.

Here are some shots of the initial plant growth at the commercial site.



I also did a water test while I was there. Here is what the results look like.


From this you can see what little effect a mere 100 odd fish have on over 100 000L of water. The Ammonia is almost zero, there are no Nitrites very little Nitrates. The plants are going to need Nitrates urgently, so the answer is to load fish, and quickly. Another problem is that there is a lot of algae in the system. The problem with this is two-fold.

Firstly, algae uses carbon dioxide and secretes oxygen during the day which is good, but unfortunately at night, this reverses and we could have low dissolved oxygen levels. With the very, very low fish stocking densities at present this is not really a problem, but it’s worth bearing in mind for the future.

Secondly, the algae is going to be using the Nitrates just as they become available, so the plants will be at the back of the queue, and will invariably suffer.

The answer here is to shade the fish ponds and the sump and reduce splashing from the spraybars.

On the home front here is a shot of the monster koi pond hole. Tomorrow we’ll be casting the concrete base.


It measures 4m x 3m and slopes down from a depth of 600mm to 1.2m, just slightly smaller than my swimming pool.

Enough for now.



3 thoughts on “Aquaponics 101 – Fire and Water”

  1. Would love to know more about aquaponics (especially commercial viability as I would like to make investment into sustainable (ideally high growth potential) green and organic industry) in South Africa (preferably in Garden Route region) and need more information on suitable fish breed alternatives – preferably indigenous alternatively exotic varieties.

    1. Hi Geoff,

      I will email you privately, but I can say that the only legal (and commercially viable) fresh water fish suitable for Aquaponics in the Garden Route appears to the the O.Mossambicus Tilapia. We may see the Niloticus Tilapia approved some time in the future but I wouldn’t hold my breath.


  2. I am in Southern California and I intend to commercially produce and market wholesome seafood products, primarily shrimp, along with some fish (Tilapia and Barramundi) and organic vegetable crops utilizing the waste from the culture of the shrimp and fish.

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