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'Jaws' - Toga's Aquaponic System

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Hi Gary,

Total cost of the solar gear was approx $1750, excluding dud batteries that were $30ea.

During sunny days the system powers the aquaponics, shed computers, garden lights, asst power tools (as required)... and the beer fridge. When its constantly rainy (80% of last 6 months) it still generates enough power to run the AP during the day, then manual switch to mains power for the night, as I dont want any drama's overnight.

Cheers

Joe

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Hi All

Ive been out of action for most of the winter, im back on my feet again and making some more progress.

As originally planned, I needed to drastically alter the filter arrangement to deal with the addition of the 2nd set of grow beds. This filter alteration will now accommodate the next planned extension to the system, a 300 hole 'hydro style' configuration.

The 2nd set of grow beds are now online and growth is fantastic.

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Construction has begun on the shade cloth frames as well as a new chicken house to go next to grow beds.

Ive updated my blog with more details and a couple other posts.

My next post will be my DIY Rocket BBQ.

Cheers

Joe

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G'day Joe,

Good to hear from you, mate!

The vegetables are looking good.

The first few squadrons of insects have arrived at our place so our wicking beds are starting to look a bit patchy.

Looking forward to seeing the rocket BBQ.

Gary

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Hi All,

My Rocket BBQ is 99% done and has been christened.... and it worked brilliantly !

To finish it off I need to fill the insulation box with ash and paint the whole thing.

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The big test is next week when I attempt to cook a Festive Seafood Rocket BBQ Feast. Stay tuned for more pics.

Details & more pics are on my blog now.

Cheers

Joe

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Hi Joe,

How do you reconcile the rapid combustion and intense heat that happens in a rocket stove with a BBQ? Are you relying on the initial burst of intense fire to heat up a substrate that you subsequently cook on?

Gary

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Hi Gary,

As with a RMH the main utilization of heat is based on the hot gases produced and not the flames.

After a 5 min warm up the Rocket BBQ required only a small amount of attention to keep a nice cooking temp.

A laser thermometer was used to find that at the internal base of the burn chamber was hovering around 500C and the cooking plate 200C. With the bbq plates removed and the hood lowered a testing temp of 380C was seen on the hoods inbuilt thermometer, thus creating more than usable oven temp's.

As stated in so much of the available online references, we found that small twigs & branches of less than 15mm diameter produced the best combination of heat production & burn time duration. The create of larger diameter branches (15-30mm) in pic above was not used for cooking.

The pictures on my blog of the 'first test bbq' used less than 1 milk create of twigs to cook a meal for 8 people.

Cheers

Joe

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Thanks ande,

I don't profess to be an expert or particularly knowledgeable about any one thing in particular. I am just enjoying learning different things from many different places, then try to whack some dodgy bits-n-pieces together hoping to create a bit of food & fun along the way.

Which brings me to my next post... and subsequent problem to be addressed in the future -

I tackled the biggest of my foreseen problems with my system layout, harvesting the livestock.

My grow out tanks are long & narrow (5mtrs x 1mtr x 1mtr) with 4mtr grow beds setting on top. This meant that access was limited to a 70cm gap at one end with a 30cm gap at the other end for feeding.

The idea was to fill an empty IBC to hold the fish for purging. So I pumped water from the grow out tank into it and a spare kiddies swimming pool as not to waste water. When the water was down to 30cm deep it was time to jump in, crawl around and hand select the largest silver perch for our upcoming Aquaponics Seafood Feast to be cooked on the Rocket BBQ.

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A total of approx 20-25 fish averaging 450 grams (the largest being 650g) were selected and placed into the IBC for purging & easy 'final harvest' over the festive season. Estimated total harvest is 12-15kgs.

A couple weeks ago the decision was made to harvest all of they Red Claw Crayfish that were in the 2nd grow out tank. Growth was slow & unimpressive in my mind. From a starting qty of 1 mature pair & 200 juvinille crays, a total of 80 crayfish were harvested with a total weight of just under 7kgs.

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Cheers

Joe

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Hi Joe,

While my own experience of rectangular tanks (2 metres long by 1.2 metres wide) has been less that exciting, I've always been intrigued by the possibilities of something longer (like yours) set up as a raceway.

Your tank has clearly worked for you......those are nice silver perch......and 4 metres of growing space on top of the tank is great, too.

I'd like to grow Redclaw or yabbies.....but the consensus is that doing so in tanks is a labour of love. Mind you, 7kg of Redclaw is not to be sneezed at. Do you think that you could expand your production by creating some vertical "habitat" - so that more of your tank (than just the area of the bottom) is available for the crayfish to occupy? This was an idea that Paul V put to me some time back. If I recall correctly, we were talking back then about using mesh onion sacks suspended in the tanks so that the crayfish occupied more of the tank.

Anyway, I'd have been very happy to help eat your silver perch and redclaw freshly cooked on your rocket BBQ - it doesn't get much better than that.

Gary

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Thanks Gary,

Over all I am very pleased with the first 12 months of this system, considering how little attention I was able to give it due to ongoing illness.

The silver perch have been fantastic with only the original 3 casualties at start up. A very unregimented feeding scheme, no water changes only sump top ups and little other in the lines of input. As you can see, they alone will be a great number of feeds over the summer and will only continue to grow.

On the other hand, the crayfish.

I did have the tub full of old trawler netting to give them maximum protection and territory. I found this to have some major draw backs. Visual inspection of they cray fish was all but impossible. The netting completely stopped any sort of circulation and acted like a huge filter, requiring removal and cleaning 4 times during the year. Each time I removed the netting it would deposit 1 inch of silt across the entire bottom, only adding to the clean up process.

*Edit* In the tub I also had about 12-15 pieces of old drift wood ive used for years, my thought was that this may add another form of organic biofilm for they crayfish to graze on. It also contributed to the mess. **

Yes, they were a labour of love .... and I am greatly looking forward to enjoying the fruits of that labour.

On a litre per litre basis the fish won hands down.

I will restock the 2nd tub with more fingerlings next year.

Cheers

Joe

Edited by Toga
*Edit* Noted in post (see edit history)

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Hi,

Just like the old saying goes, there are many ways to skin a cat... and almost as many ways to clean your fish.

Whole fish with head on / head off, scaled whole, fillets....

I thought I would share my technique for a quick & clean fish cleaning.

Start with plenty of bench space on / near the sink, a nice sharp knife & a container handy for the innards & heads.

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Give the fish a quick wash down as this removes most of the body slime and makes it a little easier to handle safely.

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Start you first cut from the vent and slice up the belly to the chest, cut from vet to rear of belly also.

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(Continued next post as maximum of 6 pics per post .... )

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Place tip of knife near the lower edge of the gills & above pelvic fins. Pierce down through the whole body and cut cleanly behind the pelvic fin.

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Flip the fish over and place tip of knife behind the gill covers & above the pectoral fin. Cut down through the back bone to the top of the head.

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At this stage wedge your fingers into this cut to slightly separate the head.

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(Continued......)

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Hold fish over your waste container and finish the cut to sever the head from the body, most of the innards will simply fall out attached to the head.

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Use your knife to scrape away remaining loose innards.

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Inside the body cavity you will see the swim bladder attached along the backbone.

Gently cut & scrape along the backbone to help loosen the swim bladder lining away.

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Pull away remaining lining and repeat as needed to remove the final bits.

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(Continued.....)

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One final rinse and Presto !

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Phew.... 6 down & 16 to go !

As silver perch have very small scales I did not bother to scale the fish. If you wish to scale your fish, that would probably be best done as step 1.

Cheers

Joe

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A couple weeks ago the decision was made to harvest all of they Red Claw Crayfish that were in the 2nd grow out tank. Growth was slow & unimpressive in my mind. From a starting qty of 1 mature pair & 200 juvinille crays, a total of 80 crayfish were harvested with a total weight of just under 7kgs.

crayfish2.jpg

Nicely done Joe. A little more habitat will go a long way with those redclaw.

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Thanks Paul,

Im not totally dissatisfied with the cray's.

I feel more that my conditions, situation & system layout didnt make things any easier. Quite the opposite.

I knew the crays would need heaps of real estate, with their proneness to cannibalization during molting if underfed. That is why I added literally 3 cubic meters of trawler netting & couple dozen pieces of driftwood into their 5000ltr tub. The netting & timber completely stopped a good, even circulation.

As 95% of the top is covered by a huge grow bed, I had only a small area at each end for access. It made feeding them a bit of a problem, as far as the food would not spread evenly without a bit of circulation, 80% of each feeding would be contained within 10% of total area. Just like fish, the large cray fish would then guard, defend and hog the lions share of food. Small crays did not have much chance.

I knew, and stated 8 months ago that more input - pumps, aeration & labour was required to maximize the cray fish return.

Like every one, wishing to keep power consumption down to a minimum and to keep the system 'simple', we choose not to add extra pumps / aeration.

If we do choose to stock crayfish again these issues will need to be addressed.

With your vast experience with crayfish, im sure you have a tonne of stories & can attest to the ongoing cycle of chasing the balance of 'input for return'.

They were great for the 'novelty & different' factor.... and we really enjoyed them for our feast (post & pics tonight)....

We will how ever, be restocking that grow out tub with fingerlings this time round.

Cheers

Joe

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With your vast experience with crayfish, im sure you have a tonne of stories & can attest to the ongoing cycle of chasing the balance of 'input for return'.

I put together 3 keys to growing crayfish in tanks on my site here. The hide tip with the pots will help greatly.

3 Simple Keys to Growing Freshwater Crayfish in Tanks | Earthan Group Pty Ltd

Regards

Paul

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Hi,

Well, this is the day ive been waiting for ! The ultimate test of taste. To savor some of the spoils of 12 months effort. It was going to be a busy day.

50kgs of ice arrived at 9am, it was time to begin the final harvest.

I made up an ice slurry in the tub containing the purged crayfish, after I had drained their water, and placed it near the IBC containing the fish. I had the fish running on a separate pond filter that I had very professionally installed on top for easy removal.

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16 silver perch were added into the ice slurry already containing the crayfish, it was soon time to begin processing the harvest.

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Processing the harvest was a bit of a task, as per previous post. It was now time to dress & wrap our lovely fresh perch & crays. I had made a fish dressing & crayfish marinade the previous night.

Yummmo !

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Continued ....

Edited by Toga (see edit history)

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After cleaning up I headed back out to the system & gardens and grabbed a heap more fresh veggies to make salads for our feast.

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Another moment in time I was greatly looking forward to, it was time to pre heat the Rocket BBQ to bake our fish.

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I have now used the RBBQ many times including a small baked dinner. I was feeling confidant and getting use to how much fuel was needed to keep a nice 200c.

Pop the fish in and close the lid, give them a flip in 15mins and leave them for another 15mins in the rocket oven. Time for the marinated red claws.

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Mate, this is smelling awesome by now I have to tell you! Look at those colours!

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Continued ...

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Not much left to do now except plate up and enjoy !

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After a total taste sensation packed meal it was time to pop the pie in the rocket oven.

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Serve it with custard & cream and toast a Happy New Year to All !

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I am truly blessed by all the beautiful people in my life and am grateful for the opportunities & experiences of 2012.

May you all have a safe, fun, loving, learning, sharing & caring 2013 !!

Aquaponic & Garden Ingredients used to create our feast -

Silver Perch, Red Claw Crayfish, Leeks, Spring Onions, Shallots, Ginger, Turmeric, Galangal, Mini Basil, 4 types of chilli's - Hungarian Yellow, Black Velvet, Birds Eye & Green Cayenne, Yellow Squash, Zucchini, Green & Red Capsicum, Celery, Cherry & Roma Tomatoes, Beetroot, 3 types of Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme, Coriander, Peppermint, 4 types of lettuce, Rainbow Chard, Lemon Grass, Dill, Kaffir Lime & Lemon.

Cheers

Joe

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Hi Toga,

Thanks very much for posting all your meal preperation tips and so concisely too...I appreciate that

Looks absolutely fantastic

You have to be happy with that

Yum...

Rrrrr.... just a question... where did you get those pie seeds from?

Very well done....

Cheers.

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