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  1. Just thought I would post a quick thank you to @kellenw and crew. Looking great guys!
  2. I used Allied Aqua's media for a project back in September based on a recommendation from Kellen. I've used Kaldnes and MB3 in the past and this was the first time using Allied's. The Allied media proved to be a hell of a value and I'll be using it in all my bio filter projects going forward. I've already used it for a couple smaller projects since my first try with equally good results. The surface area for the price can't be beat by any other brand I'm aware of.
  3. If it's pure sodium bicarbonate the brand shouldn't matter. It's all the same.
  4. Potassium Permanganate works really well too, but it'll kill the nitrifying bacteria.
  5. The practice of growing fish and plants together existed long before the word aquaponics was coined and it was simply called integrated aquaculture.
  6. Sounds like the chap has no idea how to design a proper RAS. It looks like he also has no clue that aquaponics is in fact integrated aquaculture. When people have a very limited understanding of the biological and chemical processes that go on in aquaculture systems they often wrongly assume that aquaponics is magic in some way when it is not magic at all. It is just removing nitrate based nitrogen. That is it. 10% daily water changes? Only with a poorly designed system. A RAS setup costs more than an AP system? Wrong again.
  7. I don't participate in any forums whose owners sell kits or commercial aquaponics courses. They're all full of it. If I was a betting man I'd wager that's the same issue that Rupe has with those other forums.
  8. I couldn't agree more EG. Professionals know this to be an undeniable truth.
  9. Hope Rupe joins up. He's a good fit here. He's got some real world experience in commercial hydroponics too. He's not just an aquaponics convert. Rupe's got a solid understanding of the science.
  10. There is nothing wrong with starting small for learning purposes but you have to realize it will take years to build up to large enough scale that it really begins to pay off. I've seen a lot of aquaculture operations that were a real mess because they started small and just kept adding on and tinkering with ideas.... making plumbing a nightmare and layout chaotic and difficult to work in.... and inefficient.... and less profitable than they would have been with proper planning and design from the very beginning. In my opinion it is best to start a real commercial system as a reasonably large sized system that is capable of delivering some tangible revenue from its very first harvest. Best done using owner's personal cash, but even taking on a loan these days is not a bad idea. Interest rates are the lowest they will probably be for our lifetime. If you can't pull in enough profit to cover a loan payment its not really a viable commercial system to start with. Properly designed and managed systems make money, but you have to know what you're doing. Trying to use fish to replace hydro isn't a good idea as I've already stated. Grow fish. Use plants to capture your excess nitrogen production and turn it into a net gain instead of a net cost.
  11. Water is usually scarce and expensive where electricity is unreliable or doesn't exist. Not a common place to locate a commercial operation. Maybe a small subsistence system would be built in such a bad location but not commercial. A small subsistence system like for a local isolated village has different goals than a commercial operation anyway and that is not the topic of discussion on this thread. They still have to make production cost effective though but like I said not what the focus is in this thread. Commercial systems that are built in places with unreliable or non-existent utilities have almost no chance of making it. Site selection is a very important part of starting a commercial project. In most of the developed world water costs $1.50-8.00 per 1000 gallons in USD out of a house tap. Water volume of Hydroponic systems is between about 1/5 and 1/15 of aquaponics systems with the same number of holes depending on design. The cost to completely dump and refill even a 200,000 gallon hydro operation is only $1600 at the highest cost I gave per 1000 gallons and that is an enormous operation with very expensive water. An aquaponics system with the same number of holes would have to be 5 to 15 times the number of gallons of the hydro system and has water replacement needs too. Hydro operations don't dump all the water in the operation at once anyway since they have many separate systems in different phases of growth. An operation that size would almost always have a well or spring on site for water needs too unless in an urban location. Water costs are not a significant operating cost in hydro. If water is reclaimed on site the cost can be reduced even more. No. In the case of water scarcity hydro still wins. Water can be reclaimed and then recycled in hydro operations too. Simple reverse osmosis systems. Impossible. And if you have a bad site location with bad access to required supplies and resources that cause extremely high transportation costs it doesn't matter if it's fish food or dry fertilizer salts. You will probably be sunk either way. The only difference is that it will take you longer to lose everything under a hydro operation in a bad situation like that. At least the fertilizer salts can be stockpiled but fish food spoils so has to be bought in smaller lots. By mass, dry fertilizer salts have more than 100 times the total NPK and trace minerals of fish food. Fish food has more carbohydrates than anything else in it. Carbohydrates are exactly what the name sounds like carbo - hydrates. Carbon and water. C H and O. A little bit of carbohydrates are beneficial to plants and also help certain bacteria but most of it is waste. You are paying to transport a lot of waste in fish food. The transportation costs of 20 minutes vs 1 hour are not significant to tip the scale in favor of fish food vs dry fertilizer salts. Since you can't stockpile fish food like you can fertilizer salts transportation costs are probably a lot more for your more frequent 20 minute drive for small batches of fish food than the very infrequent drive for large volumes of fertilizer salts. I think you are missing the big picture.
  12. It does indeed. I can't say if Sand Creek is successful or not without seeing their financials but I agree with you that the integration and diversification helps lower their risk. It looks like they are mainly a dairy cattle operation and that is where most revenue comes from if you don't count seminar and tour revenue. I would guess that tours and seminars are the source of profitability for the aquaponics part of their business since it looks like they are repackaging FAP information and selling commercial aquaponics seminars at US$1500, other short courses US$100-200 and farm tours at US$15/25. I wonder if they pay royalties to FAP for the use and resale of their materials. I don't begrudge this Sand Creek outfit. If their aquaponics operation really is profitable though I would expect they would be focused on expanding that and not teaching new competitors how to take present or future market share from them. I have met Jim many times in the past. I have a lot of respect for him. Jim will tell you that proper aquaponics systems are run as separate units. Standard RAS with hydroponics connected. His new business partner Wilson Lennard agrees with that too. Lennard has publicly called systems without dedicated mechanical and bio filtration "rubbish" many times. Lennard once called the FAP design "poop" during a small group conversation. Most people consider these two chaps as the go to experts in aquaponics. I would agree with that. They have a lot of competition when the field is expanded to include integrated aquaculture professionals though. Still they are very smart men. I don't consider the FAP system "poop" but it has a lot of room for improvement and is not what I would consider an practical commercial design. Lennard and Rakocy believe the same thing.
  13. Aquaponic systems that run low fish densities using plants like lettuce for the main source of income are not competitive with hydroponic systems. This is a fact. Fish food costs a lot more than fertilizer salts and fish sales do not make up the difference in these kind of systems. Electricity costs are higher vs hydro. Labor costs are higher vs hydro. Equipment costs are a lot more vs hydro. You can't compete. If you want to grow plants on fish food leave the fish out and just throw the fish food in your reservoir. I'm joking here but seriously, putting fish food through a fish gut doesnt make it magical. Its an input and the bacteria don't care if it comes from the pellet or fish butts and gills. Its all the same to them and to the plants. At least you would be saving on labor cost, equipment cost and electricity cost this way. And once you wake up and see fish food source of NPK and trace mineral costs a hell of a lot more than fertilizer salts you will be well on your way to seeing the truth. FAP style systems ain't competitive with hydro... Ain't competive with RAS... And ain't magic. If you still refuse that fact after sinking all that money in to a broke system you'll probably start growing illegal cannabis to try and get your money back like Tim and Susanne got busted for at their own Friendly Aquaponics Farm. People still line up to learn about their broke system though. I'd guess they've run at least a couple thousand people through their seminars and not a one of their students are making money with it unless they're ripping off the FAP material and selling it like a pyramid scam. The only vocal supporters of FAP systems are people reselling their work. Never hear of a successful one on its own merit but hear many admit it didn't work after they lost their money trying. Just think how many more there are than we hear about. Most people don't like to publicly admit when they failed. Its our nature. Sounds like the only people making money on this deal are the ones selling the impossible dream. Aquaponic systems start making financial sense when they are focused on fish production as the main source of income and use plants as a secondary income. These kind of systems are built like proper RAS should be. Solids filters. Bio filters. Just with a hydro add-on to soak up nutrients and turn it into extra money. Not only are they competitive with standard RAS operations they usually out perform them. That relieves competitive pressure from hydro on the plant sales and you can sell the plants at prices comparable to hydro prices or even undercut them because you dont have the same costs to recapture since the fish make the money. RAS operations were making money long before integrated aquaculture went and got a fancy name.
  14. Is Sylvia still _teaching_ commercial aquaponics courses?
  15. They had no idea what they were doing. I know a handful of people who worked with them and they all told me they told the founders that their model had very little chance to succeed. They went forward anyway.