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Japan Aquaponics

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About Japan Aquaponics

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    Hi there everyone,

    My name is Aragon and I am a huge fan of aquaponics and am now looking to really promote this in Japan (where I live). As far as I am aware there are a few people talking about aquaponics in Japan, but nobody has a decent sized system up and running.

    After the recent earthquake and Tsunami though, myself and a few others have gotten together to try and promote aquaponics to those devastated communities and to introduce them to this fantastic system.

    We are in the process of setting up a working, demonstration system at the moment and we hope to be able to use this to show people what is achievable.

    Japan Aquaponics
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    Aquaponics, Gardening, Self-Sustainability

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    Japan, Tokyo and Chiba

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  1. Hey Gary, I had no idea that it cost so much to host the forum... so can only say thanks for providing the resource. You should do whatever necessary to cover your costs... I'm sure that people would completely understand. Thanks again Gary.
  2. Hey Caca, thanks for the feedback and really happy you like it. As for the brothel colour.... it grows on you (especially if you are in a certain type of mood!) Next time I get up there we are adding either a simple pull-down blinds system to cover the upper 2 thirds of the system, or we might even put doors on the whole thing. Both growbeds have overflows at the back that will drain down to the fish tank if anything goes wrong - so should be ok there. More worried about if another earthquake hits... it now has earthquake thingies on top of it that go up to the ceiling to help steady it if that does happen!
  3. Firstly, thanks to Gary for sending me a new password reset for the 2nd time - I promise not to lock myself out again! (Takes me back to my teenage years.) I was hoping to show a new system that we made for a community learning centre in Northern Japan. This had been set up in Minamisanriku, a town that had been practically wiped off the map by last year's earthquake and tsunami - and which has a close connection with Australia as many Australian government officials had visited the area and had been supporting the residents here. With the support of the Australia and New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Japan and several other groups, we were able to build a small aquaponics unit to demonstrate how aquaponics works. We were told that we only had a space the size of a wardrobe... and so that is exactly what we went with! We used a heavily modified IKEA wardrobe as the frame for the system - it needed a lot of extra support, but other than that it seemed a perfect size. We wanted to try to show a couple of different types of aquaponics and originally I tried to design something that had a media-bed, a floating raft and NFT - but there just wasn't enough room to have all three so we settled on a media bed and a floating raft. The design itself is very simple as we were asked to make it so that it could be easily used by the local children. With this in mind we tried to design the system with components that could be really easily found locally... so expect to see yoghurt pots instead of hydroponic net pots! The fish tank is 220litres and the water is pumped from here up to the top growbed. We use a ball-valve bypass in order to control the flow of water to the top and to ensure that there is additional aeration and water flow in the fish tank. This fish tank has been decorated for the sake of the children and it is checked regularly to make sure that no solids are hiding out and building up anywhere! The pipe to the pump is flexipipe so it is easy to check and clean the pump. There is a little pullout shelf about the fish tank for the kids to store the food and things like that. There is also a fixed shelf at the back that holds the aerator. The tank itself has two circular aeration stones in it. There are a dozen or so small fish in the tank which may be a little too much so we are watching ammonia levels carefully. Some children want to have their own little systems so we can take fish out of here if necessary. There is also a heater now in the tank as it gets pretty cold in northern Japan! So the water goes from here up to the top growbed which is a media-filled bed. The media used was relatively small lava stone so that the children can easily plant in it. We are running this on a constant flood with the water an inch or so below the level of the lava stone as per usual. Currently they are growing baby leafy greens in here - just sprinkling the seeds over the top. They harvest every three weeks at the moment. From here the water drains out to a really simple filter system to pick up any fine solids. This was made from a standard kitchen container that was attached to the outflow. In the bottom of the container is an upside down stainless steel mesh (usually used in the sink) and sitting on top of this are 4 layers of filter pads that have been cut down to size. The water flows easily through this simple filter and then exits to the raft system The raft system (DWC is easier to type so will say that... even though it is not that deep!) is just the standard container filled with water as you would expect. The water enters on the front left of the DWC and exits at the back right. The DWC has two oxygen pipes running down the centre of it to provide additional aeration to the plant roots. The raft is a standard blue board cut down to size. We used yoghurt pots for this system as they are very easy to replace if necessary... we just used a small soldering iron to cut out holes in the bottom and sides of the pots. We have also included a seedling area on the right of the raft. This is just a standard seedling tray cut down and so it allows them to grow the main bunch of lettuce (11) whilst getting the next crop ready to go. The media is just either small lava rock or small hydroton pebbles. From here the water just drains back to the fish tank as you would expect. We have tried to make it so that the return water and the water from the ball-valve bypass help to push solid waste over to the pump. We were very lucky for this project as we were given a 50% discount on some LED growlights for the system. These are really nice lights that have a low power draw - but which provide a really great light spectrum. When turned on it looks a bit like a plant brothel or something like that, but can't be helped!! This was the first ever crop after three weeks in the top system. One idea is that the children have been designing labels for a project and they are going to ask local restaurants to buy the lettuce from them that they grow. This will more than pay for the system and will a little money left over for other projects. We really want to encourage this so that the children get something tangible out of the system, as well as the educational benefits. If anyone is interested, here are some photos of the town as it looks today: It is amazing how little has been actually done towards rebuilding and reconstruction. There are a number of reasons, but one significant one is that the land in this area has dropped by almost 1m in some places! You can see how far the sea comes in these days, and so this poses big problems for infrastructure. But slowly we hope that things will improve and we will all keep supporting as best we can. Many countries have helped out - but certainly in this town there have been some strong links forged with Australia in particular and we know of several projects that are being supported by Ozzies and Kiwis. Final picture is my cheeky daughter and I on the train home after a long, and brilliant weekend installing the system and meeting with fantastic local people. So this is our little system, we hope you like it and would love to hear any feedback, thoughts or questions.
  4. Last Friday, Japan Aquaponics installed their first school system in Yokohama International School - much to the delight of the Year 4 kids who helped us to put it all together and set everything up! YIS already has a small system running in their cafeteria courtesy of another one of our first client... their chef... and because of that, about a month ago we visited the school and gave a series of classes to about 100 of the children and staff. http://www.japan-aquaponics.com/yis-news.html The school decided that they wanted their own system as it would fit in perfectly with their living cycles currculum, and so taking into consideration size requirements we hand-built a system for their school. It is in prime display immediately in front of you (and the window) as you come up the stairs and so will undoubtedly generate a lot of interest from the children! This is a 220 litre fish tank, with a 180 litre growbed, running on a very simple timed flood and drain cycle, but which can easily be changed to a bell siphon as part of the children's science classes. We will be updating their webpage as the project develops, and will include all the details of water quality, plants, water additions etc etc... as well as new photos of course. Please do take a look and tell us what you think! http://www.japan-aquaponics.com/yis-news.html
  5. Looks good. This is the normal system that I imagined. Have you had any issues with the water flying into the DWC/Sump at high speed? How has this affected the plants? Also, how do the water levels in the DWC look when the media bed is filling?
  6. Hi there, Thanks for the reply and nice work on the videos. I am not sure that these are quite what I was thinking of - I think that it is not too difficult to integrate a media bed with the DWC if there is a big height difference so that the media bed can drain, but then the DWC are at a much lower level, and/or the fish tank has to start pretty high up. Nor would it be difficult to integrate the media bed if it was just on a constant flow cycle - but I really would like to have the media bed work on a flood and drain cycle in order to increase aeration. I am trying to think about a system that is as efficient as possible. Could media grow beds drain directly into the DWC bed for example - or would the pressure be too much for plant roots? If so, then is there another way to buffer the outflow for example? I like your system ideas though, they look very good and so thank you for replying.
  7. Hi there, I was wondering if anyone has experimented with hybrid aquaponics systems - specifically I am interested in the experience of anyone that has considered a system with: • The fish tank at the highest point • Gravity fed to one or more Grow beds • Gravity fed to one or more DWC beds • Return to the Fish tank via a sump My real interest is in how people would have the water move from the media-filled grow bed to the DWC beds without a big drop in height of the system. I am assuming that if the media-filled grow bed is being drained via a traditional siphon, then we are going to need quite a drop to allow for that - and that would mean that there would be quite a height difference between the media bed (and/or sump) and the DWC beds. I am not sure if I have explained this very well - but if anyone has idea about how to integrate the media bed as efficiently as possible with a DWC bed, and ideally allowing the whole system to remain gravity fed... and can it be done without large height differences across the system? I would love to hear people's ideas.
  8. Hi there, I had similar problems in the past and the issue with "leggy" plants is as has been noted - usually lack of sufficient light. Your growlights look to be quite far above the plants and so you could try moving that down to within a few inches of the new seedlings.
  9. The pump finally arrived for this little system and so I finished off the plumbing to include a simple ball valve the returns water straight to the tank and allows me to regulate the flow into the growbed so that we can make sure the siphon works properly. Now the fish get more aerated water, and they seem to enjoy surfing the siphon water when it crashes down! [/img]
  10. Today we went to the store to buy some fish and my daughter saw a tank full of tiny little goldfish all looking a bit sad. The man explained that these were much smaller than the others and so they sold them very cheap so that they could be used as food for bigger fish.... my daughter was horrified and insisted that instead of the fish I meant to buy,... that we rescue many of these ones instead. I am now the dubious owner of 25 tiny little sacrificial goldfish... and the increasingly proud father of one compassionate little buddhist daughter!
  11. ...yup... not going to be helpful everywhere for sure!... but for some areas this would be good... and away from the house definitely!
  12. I came across this article and I thought it might interest some of you on this forum. I had seen Gary's discussion about wicking beds and this is what made me think that you may like this too: (This was also practiced very successfuly by Sepp Holzer on his mountain farm in Austria)........... Hugelkultur is nothing more than making raised garden beds filled with rotten wood. This makes for raised garden beds loaded with organic material, nutrients, air pockets for the roots of what you plant, etc. As the years pass, the deep soil of your raised garden bed becomes incredibly rich and loaded with soil life. As the wood shrinks, it makes more tiny air pockets - so your hugelkultur becomes sort of self tilling. The first few years, the composting process will slightly warm your soil giving you a slightly longer growing season. The woody matter helps to keep nutrient excess from passing into the ground water - and then refeeding that to your garden plants later. Plus, by holding SO much water, hugelkultur could be part of a system for growing garden crops in the desert with no irrigation. I do think there are some considerations to keep in mind. For example, I don't think I would use cedar. Cedar lasts so long because it is loaded with natural pesticides/herbicides/anti-fungal/anti-microbial (remember, good soil has lots of fungal and microbial stuff). Not a good mix for tomatoes or melons, eh? Black locust, black cherry, black walnut? These woods have issues. Black locust won't rot - I think because it is so dense. Black walnut is very toxic to most plants, and cherry is toxic to animals, but it might be okay when it rots - but I wouldn't use it until I had done the research. Known excellent woods are: alders, apple, cottonwood, poplar, willow (dry) and birch. I suspect maples would be really good too, but am not certain. Super rotten wood is better than slightly aged wood. The best woods are even better when they have been cut the same day (this allows you to "seed" the wood with your choice of fungus - ****ake mushrooms perhaps?). Another thing to keep in mind is that wood is high in carbon and will consume nitrogen to do the compost thing. This could lock up the nitrogen and take it away from your growies. But well rotted wood doesn't do this so much. If the wood is far enough along, it may have already taken in sooooo much nitrogen, that it is now putting it out! Pine and fir will have some levels of tanins in them, but I'm guessing that most of that will be gone when the wood has been dead for a few years. http://www.richsoil.com/hugelkultur/
  13. Cheers Pugo, It was designed to be simple so that children can use it in schools (+plus cheap to put together and maintain) I like the name, maybe "The Tokyo Herb Express" and work up in size to the Vegetable name!
  14. Please do take a look at our new website:


    Hi there everyone,

    My name is Aragon and I am a huge fan of aquaponics and am now looking to really promote this in Japan (where I live). As far as I am aware there are a few people talking about aquaponics in Japan, but nobody has a decent sized system up and running.

    After the recent earthquake and Tsunami though, myself and a few others have gotten together to try and promote aquaponics to those devastated communities and to introduce them to this fantastic system.

    We are in the process of setting up a working, demonstration system at the moment and we hope to be able to use this to show people what is achievable.

  15. Drip irrigation is indeed one method of using water more effectively in agriculture, as well as systems like wicking beds, and using Olla pots which are likely to be even more efficient than the more conventional drip irrigation systems. http://www.dripirrigationzone.com/olla-terracotta-pots-for-effective-drip-watering-system/ One issue with any such irrigation scheme like these, is that some water is inevitably wasted into the ground as not all of it will ever be absorbed solely by the plants themselves... there will always be wasted water. In aquaponics, all water is recirculated and so this waste does not occur on the scale of any conventional agricultural methods, and so I would argue that it would be even more water effective than drip irrigation. Also note that in some areas where soil is not capable of supporting life then the matter of drip irrigation becomes largely academic unless it is used in connection with a soil-less agricultural system. You are right though that we need to think of more creative solutions to increased demands on food production and a dwindling supply of water, and any solutions that use water more effectively should be applauded.
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