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Arkaponics adventure
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Author:  arkaponics [ Mar 9th, '16, 03:28 ]
Post subject:  Arkaponics adventure

Hey everyone,

I've been lurking in here for a little while, finally registered today so I could contribute my story and maybe someone could learn something from it. I started a company called Arkaponics (http://www.arkaponics.com) about 2 years ago to bring commercial aquaponics to central Arkansas. I had a good job and a dream so I left the work force to pursue my passion for aquaponics.

I projected that I could make a living off of a 2000 sf of DWC growing area, with 1000 lbs of catfish in 4 - 1,250 gal tanks. This would require 2 - 24x100' hoop houses that I self built. Lesson #1, always make sure you have time to finish securing greenhouse plastic properly before leaving for the day, or else a surprise rain may create pockets of water and collapse it for you.

I wanted to be frugal and also sustainable, so I incorporated bamboo as my side support for the growing area, rather than 2x12s, it worked pretty well, but I would not recommend using them and won't do it again. One tall bamboo support bowed too much eventually and led to Lesson #2 always have a sump tank to pump from. My pump was in the fish tank which worked until the bow in my grow area got low enough that it leaked out which caused my fish tank to completely dry up and a total fish kill.

This led to Lesson #3 always discharge your pump above the water level. On the day I discovered the leak and the dead fish I grabbed some lettuce and headed to the farmer's market that morning. Before leaving I naturally unplugged the pump so it wouldn't continue to run dry. But I had discharged my pump below the water level to reduce splashing and noise. Once the pump was off this created a siphon which nearly emptied my grow area and flooded the dead fish.


After these errors in was around August and lettuce was bolting, I was out of money, and needed to go back to work. With the loss of time and a 20 minute drive to get to my farm, I let things go and that was the end of my commercial experience. I am starting a new small indoor system to experiment with indoor growing with the hope of slowing expanding back into the commercial arena again. But this time slower and wiser.

Please let me know of any questions you have and I'll be happy to share any of my experience. I wanted to share my pictures, but apparently they are too large to attach to this post. Check them out at http://www.facebook.com/arkaponics

Author:  mr water [ Mar 13th, '16, 10:15 ]
Post subject:  Re: Arkaponics adventure

What a time that must have been for you!
It seems sad to let the dream go, do you plan in starting up when time and money allows? I imagine there was alot of capital already investing.

Very Interesting setup :)

Sent from my SM-G920I using Tapatalk

Author:  Damian [ Mar 14th, '16, 17:12 ]
Post subject:  Re: Arkaponics adventure

Ouch. How did you calculate the size system you needed?

Author:  rininger85 [ Mar 14th, '16, 20:09 ]
Post subject:  Re: Arkaponics adventure

welcome! Sorry to hear about your learning experiences... appreciate the input though as I head in to building my first system. I'm not sure that I would want to go quite as big as you did, but reading through your webpage I find myself in a similar situation, I'm a mechanical engineer who is tired of the day to day grind and wanting to simplify life/find something more fulfilling than my current career (although I don't really see myself quitting the day to day grind any time soon if at all, I just want to become more self sufficient for our food source so I have one less thing to worry about if I found myself in lack of employment...) and if we have extras then maybe look at making a small amount of money on the side selling our extras... but who knows I've already got the 'bug' and I haven't even started yet...

Author:  Deuem [ Mar 14th, '16, 22:07 ]
Post subject:  Re: Arkaponics adventure

Might I suggest to get an alarm you can program to call you if it sees certain problems. Mine had 3 numbers it would call if it was not answered.

Author:  arkaponics [ Mar 16th, '16, 02:37 ]
Post subject:  Re: Arkaponics adventure

mr water wrote:
What a time that must have been for you!
It seems sad to let the dream go, do you plan in starting up when time and money allows? I imagine there was alot of capital already investing.

Very Interesting setup :)

Sent from my SM-G920I using Tapatalk



It was quite an adventure. And yes I do plan to start back up more slowly and wisely that I did before. I've got the bug, I can't quit, its too exciting to be on what I feel is the start of the future of locally produced food systems.

Author:  arkaponics [ Mar 16th, '16, 03:15 ]
Post subject:  Re: Arkaponics adventure

Damian wrote:
Ouch. How did you calculate the size system you needed?



I created a spreadsheet that used information I had researched. Worked backwards starting with grow area surface (2016 sf) to figure out how much fish feed I need to supply (0.2 oz/sf = 25.2 lb/day), and how many pounds of fish I'd need (2.5% of body weight daily = 1008 lbs of fish), then how much volume to support that many fish (5 gallon/lb = 5040 gals).

Author:  arkaponics [ Mar 16th, '16, 03:19 ]
Post subject:  Re: Arkaponics adventure

Deuem wrote:
Might I suggest to get an alarm you can program to call you if it sees certain problems. Mine had 3 numbers it would call if it was not answered.


I remember looking into a dialer for power outages but never got around to it. And I agree that if you want to have a professional, reliable set up it would be worth investing in other alarms, (water level, DO, power failure, intrusion, and temperature come to mind), especially if you're a one-man show.

Author:  Deuem [ Mar 16th, '16, 09:37 ]
Post subject:  Re: Arkaponics adventure

Hello, The 5 gallons per pound is the same number I came up with as a rule of thumb. I am looking for a much smaller fish that might only use 1 gallon per pound or less. Any ideas? Small but good to eat, just eat more. Like sardines.

Author:  Damian [ Mar 16th, '16, 10:28 ]
Post subject:  Re: Arkaponics adventure

arkaponics wrote:
Damian wrote:
Ouch. How did you calculate the size system you needed?



I created a spreadsheet that used information I had researched. Worked backwards starting with grow area surface (2016 sf) to figure out how much fish feed I need to supply (0.2 oz/sf = 25.2 lb/day), and how many pounds of fish I'd need (2.5% of body weight daily = 1008 lbs of fish), then how much volume to support that many fish (5 gallon/lb = 5040 gals).



I think it is best to work backwards from the available labor hours each week also because that really will be your most phicialy limiting factor and then design based on the two view points. I am assuming that 2016 sf is the total area available.

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