Monday, April 29, 2013

Codman system, Month 1 update!

Here's a video update of month one of our operational 120 gallon system indoor aquaponics system!

Very quickly, the Codman system has shown that it will yield the best results of any PC WApU yet - a true testament to the research that Productive Collective and you as Gateway students have contributed.

One thing we're noticing is that the bigger the system, the more stable it is and the more productive. Having over 20 fish in the tank really increases the nutrients and this thing is flying. Another aspect is access to natural light - something that we really don't have on other sites.

In particular, Codman has proved to be an excellent site - We have made a great connection with biology instructor Ed Yoo and librarian Lisa Graustein - who are equally invested in the project at this point.

Thanks so much for your great work - keep pushing towards the end of the semester!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Codman system ready for prime time!

Seedlings are transferred to rock wool blocks and are receiving initial nutrients from our aquaponics system in Davis Square.

The Codman system is showing a good base of ammonia (fish waste in green),  decreasing nitrite levels (bacteria 1 in purple), and increasing nitrate levels (plant food in red)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Seedling prep

Took trip to GYO Stuff in Cambridge today to check in on our seedlings - Here's a shot of the basil and lettuce - ready to be transplanted. The Seedlings are growing in a rock wool plug that we will place into the larger 3" 'gro-blocks' and burry those into hydroton pots! There are a few steps to cure the blocks - so I've attached a diagram found on the products website.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Codman System is Cycling - Plants Await

Hi Gateway crew - I have been to Codman a few times this week to make sure our tilapia arrived safely, connect the lamps, and test the plumbing.

The students and faculty are thrilled and can't wait to help out with the project. So many people have asked two basic questions: what is this, and who did this! I think we should make an informative poster for them - perhaps something similar to your presentation to the other Codman Gateway team?

Last time is was there, I snapped a picture of a water test - you can see that our Nitrites have spiked and that Nitrate is forming as well - so both types of bacteria are establishing themselves in the tank.

I called the supplier for our seedlings and we will have upwards of 70 available by Friday.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Aquaponics Gardening- Step by Step Guide to Raising vegatables and fish together -by Sylvia Bernstein (Reactions from Chapters 7 and 12)

 After reading Chapter 7 and 12, I started find answers to my own question, like why would you prefer clay pebbles rather than gravel in the planting beds? What kind of plants do you needs to grow in and aquaponics system? What materials to use and where to find them them?
      Chapter 7 mentions the requirements when it comes to small system to big system.  I thought it was interesting you can figure out the size of grow beds and fish tanks from a one to one ratio it will eventually become a 1:2 once the system matures. This ratio also requires how much you feed the fish. If the the protein contents in feed increase then the waste in pounds a fish produces. The kind of fish is important to think about, Omnivorous fish has a lower protein compared to carnivorous fish. 
    Chapter 12 is mainly about plants. It mentions the unique ways of growing plants, starting plants, healthy plants, understanding pH levels and bug control. At first I really didn't understand what ph level was until I read the chart on page 165.  pH level of 6.8-7.0 is recommend because its the most common nutrients deficiency in aquaponics. The planting beds recommend clay pebbles because gravel weight more than twice gravel does allowing less force on the plant bed structure.

Chapters 10 and 11

It seemed easy to say that an aquaponics system needed fish, water, and plants but the more I read on, the more complicated the process seems to get. The specific care needs for the plants and fish make sense, but the water is what surprised me the most. The chemistry moves past the simple bond between hydrogen and oxygen to pH and beyond. Given our knowledge, as architects, about room temperature and psychometrics, it makes sense that water temperature might also have comparable considerations, I just never thought of it that way. The amount of oxygen water can hold is not only affected by temperature, but also by altitude and barometric pressure. "Oxygen is more easily dissolved into wear at low altitudes than at high altitudes, because of atmospheric pressure is higher at lower altitudes," according to Sylvia Bernstein. It was interesting to read about the different oxygen requirements of the fish based on their native environments, which related back to the importance of temperature and pressure.

Perhaps what I found most interesting about this set of readings was Sylivia's question of, "To eat or not to eat?" It seems that making every other decision at the beginning of the project is critical, but with this one you can change your mind. I enjoyed the personal story she included about her initial intentions to eat the fish and how that decision may have changed over time. We don't necessarily think about the killing and eating of animals, we usually just think about the eating part. When faced with the task of having to do the killing ourselves, that distinct line becomes more blurry. This is especially true for scenarios when we have grown and bonded with the animals as Sylvia did with her fish.

chapters ten and eleven

These two chapters helped me greatly when working on our diagrams for the presentation. I was able to get a lot of details about the water, the fish and how the two work together. Reading about koi vs. Goldfish vs. Tilapia really makes me think that aquaponics could be a huge movement once it becomes more of a 'thing' over here in Boston, especially in schools. I was also starting to wonder if there was a way to place the plants immediately in the tank instead of using pipes to transfer water. I know we're installing the raft system on top of our tank but how will this plants turn out compared to the ones on the shelves? Maybe we can even set up a system at the BAC? I'm not sure if that would even be possible but it's worth a thought right?