Sustainability Ingredients

Pyropia tenera, also known as gim or nori, is a red algal species in the genus Pyropia. The specific name, tenera, means “delicate” and alludes to its small size. It typically grows to lengths between 20 and 50 cm. Today, nori (Porphyra spp., eg, Porphyra teneraPorphyra pseudolinearis, and Porphyra yezoensis) is one of the most ubiquitous of the seaweeds used for human consumption in East Asia. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, nori is among the most nutritious seaweeds, with a protein content of 30–50 percent, and about 75 percent of that is digestible. Sugars are low (0.1 percent), and the vitamin content very high, with significant amounts of Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, niacin and folic acid, but the shelf life of vitamin C can be short in the dried product. Red seaweeds have the highest protein content, which can reach 47% for Porphyra tenera (Fujiwara-Arasaki et al., 1984). Porphyra is a coldwater seaweed that grows in cold, shallow seawater. More specifically, it belongs to red algae phylum of laver species, comprising approximately 70 species. It grows in the intertidal zone, typically between the upper intertidal zone and the splash zone in cold waters of temperate oceans. In East Asia, it is used to produce the sea vegetable products nori (in Japan) and gim (in Korea). There are considered to be 60 to 70 species of Porphyra worldwide and seven in the British Isles where it has been traditionally used to produce edible sea vegetables on the Irish Sea coast.

facilities can range from fully automated glasshouses with computer controls for watering, lighting and ventilation. Another possibility would be an investigation into the use of supplementary lighting for growing lettuce under a hydroponic system.

Exhaust emission levels of NOx and PM from diesel engines when fueled with pure biodiesel, or biodiesel blends, relative to operation with fossil diesel fuel has received significant interest, with an impact of biodiesel molecular composition apparent on the emitted levels of both pollutants. During combustion, rates of NOx formation, and PM production and oxidation, are strongly influenced by in-cylinder temperatures, which (in addition to engine operating conditions) are dictated by the duration of fuel ignition delay and the extent of the premixed burn fraction. This therefore presents an opportunity to optimize the molecular composition of future fuels for reduced emissions levels, especially in the context of fuel production from photo-synthetic micro-organisms (such as micro-algae) which can be modified through means of metabolic engineering to produce a wide range of hydrocarbon and oxygenate molecules.

A photobioreactor is a bioreactor that utilizes a light source to cultivate phototrophic microorganisms. These organisms use photosynthesis to generate biomass from light and carbon dioxide and include plants, mosses, macroalgae, microalgae, cyanobacteria and purple bacteria. Within the artificial environment of a photobioreactor, specific conditions are carefully controlled for respective species. Thus, a photobioreactor allows much higher growth rates and purity levels than anywhere in nature or habitats similar to nature. Hypothetically, phototropic biomass could be derived from nutrient-rich wastewater and flue gas carbon dioxide in a photobioreactor.

Duckweed, or water lens, are flowering aquatic plants which float on or just beneath the surface of still or slow-moving bodies of fresh water and wetlands. Also known as “bayroot”, they arose from within the arum or aroid family (Araceae), so often are classified as the subfamily Lemnoideae within the Araceae. Other classifications, particularly those created prior to the end of the 20th century, place them as a separate family, Lemnaceae. These plants are very simple, lacking an obvious stem or leaves. The greater part of each plant is a small organized “thallus” or “frond” structure only a few cells thick, often with air pockets (aerenchyma) that allow it to float on or just under the water surface. Depending on the species, each plant may have no root or may have one or more simple rootlets.

The greenback cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii stomias) is the easternmost subspecies of cutthroat trout. The greenback cutthroat, once widespread in the Arkansas and South Platte River drainages of Eastern Colorado and Southeast Wyoming, today occupies less than 1% of its historical range. It is currently listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. It was adopted as the state fish of Colorado on March 15, 1994 replacing the unofficial rainbow trout. Although the greenback cutthroat was considered extinct by the 1930s, in 1957 a population was discovered in Rocky Mountain National Park in the Big Thompson River, a tributary of the South Platte. In 2012, a genetic study that compared DNA samples both from modern populations and historical samples dating back to the 19th century revealed that the only remaining population of pure greenback cutthroat trout is found in a 4-mile (6.4 km) stretch of Bear Creek, a tributary of the Arkansas River.

Cutthroat trout are opportunistic feeders. Stream-resident cutthroat trout primarily feed on larval, pupal and adult forms of aquatic insects (typically caddisflies, stoneflies, mayflies and aquatic dipterans), and adult forms of terrestrial insects (typically ants, beetles, grasshoppers and crickets) that fall into the water, fish eggs, small fish, along with crayfish, shrimp and other crustaceans. As they grow the proportion of fish consumed increases in most populations. In saltwater estuaries and along beaches, Coastal cutthroat trout feed on small fish such as sculpins, sand lance, salmon fry and herring. They also consume shrimp, small squid and krill. In fresh water they consume the same diet as stream resident trout—aquatic insects and crustaceans, amphibians, earthworms, small fish and fish eggs. Looking for an aquaponics fish that thrives in cooler water? Trout may fit the bill. They thrive in temperatures ranging in the 50s and 60s, making them ideal for cool environments. This species of fish has a high food conversion ratio and grow quickly, although it may take up to 16 months to fully mature. In addition, trout are a desirable food source, loaded with protein and omega fatty acids. Because trout thrive in cold water, some aquaponics enthusiasts alternate between raising tilapia during warmer months and trout during cooler months. Trout are also a popular aquaponics fish to raise in indoor garages and basements. It should be noted that trout are not as adaptable as some other fish, as they require pristine water and high dissolved oxygen levels to thrive. Close monitoring of pH levels is also important. Another possible downside is less plants choices.  Because recirculating cold water may harm certain plants, be sure to pick hardier plants varieties. With that said, raising trout may be too much effort for some, but the payoff at the dinner table makes this species a popular aquaponics fish.

Some populations of Mountain Whitefish Prosopium williamsoni, a widely distributed native Rocky Mountain salmonid, have experienced catastrophic declines while other populations remain robust. To assess the possibility that the declines have arisen from climate‐related factors, several experiments were conducted to determine the upper thermal tolerances of embryos and fry and the effects of temperature on growth. Hatching of eggs was measured at 5.7, 6.4, 8.4, and 10.4°C (three replicates each). Survival and growth of fry were measured for 33 d at 5.7, 8.2, 11.8, 16.5, 19.1, 22.2, and 25.2°C (three replicates each). Mean hatching success was 96.7% (SD, 2.9) at 5.7°C, 98.3% (2.9) at 6.4°C, 90.0% (8.7) at 8.4°C and 38.3% (10.4) at 10.4°C. The ultimate upper incipient lethal temperature for fry was 23.6°C (95% CI, 23.5–23.7°C) after 7 d, which decreased with time to 22.6°C (22.1–23.0°C) after 33 d. The critical thermal maximum was 26.7°C (SD, 0.8) for fry acclimated to 13.4°C. The temperature for maximum growth was 13.8°C (95% CI, 10.8–16.8°C). Growth rates above and below the temperature for maximum growth decreased sharply to about 40% of the maximum at 5.7°C and 22.2°C. Based on these experimental data, the criteria for the protection of Mountain Whitefish fry are 21.6°C for acute water temperature and 16.8°C for chronic water temperature. The acute criterion for reproduction—based on the maximum temperature for successful incubation—is 8.4°C. The low upper thermal tolerance of Mountain Whitefish relative to those of other salmonids suggests that they will be very vulnerable to the increasing stream temperatures resulting from climate change.

Largemouth, smallmouth, and striped bass are another top aquaponics fish.  However, this species is less adaptable to unfavorable conditions compared to others. Conditions must be closely monitored to ensure pristine water, and proper oxygen and pH levels.  In addition, bass will not tolerate bright light or a poor feeding regime. Another downside is the long wait period to mature. Largemouth bass can take up to 18 months to reach its full size. Striped bass typically mature faster. The upside to using bass as your aquaponics fish is that they are edible and fairly easy to acquire locally. Young fingerlings can be trained to feed on pellet food, but are otherwise generally carnivorous.  If you don’t mind the daily monitoring of your aquaponics system, bass are a viable and rewarding aquaponics fish.

In marine environments, coho salmon feed on a variety of fish species, squid, and even jellyfish. In Lake Michigan, adult coho diet is dominated by small alewife. The coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch; Karuk: achvuun) is a species of anadromous fish in the salmon family, one of the several species of Pacific salmon. Coho salmon are also known as silver salmon or “silvers”. The scientific species name is based on the Russian common name kizhuch (кижуч).

Freshwater coho salmon is the first—and only—farmed salmon to get a Super Green rating. Most other farmed salmon still falls on Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch “avoid” list for a few reasons. The majority of farms use open net pens in the ocean, where crowded salmon are easily infected with parasites, may be treated with antibiotics and can spread disease to wild fish (one reason Alaska has banned salmon farms). Also, it can take as much as three pounds of wild fish to raise one pound of salmon. An increasing number of farms, however, use closed freshwater pens (aka recirculating aquaculture systems), reducing the adverse environmental impacts. Look for “land-based” or “tank-based” at the fish counter. All salmon is a healthy source of omega-3s—one 3-ounce serving delivers 700 to 1,800 milligrams.

The alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) is an anadromous species of herring found in North America. It is one of the “typical” North American shads, attributed to the subgenus Pomolobus of the genus Alosa. As an adult it is a marine species found in the northern West Atlantic Ocean, moving into estuaries before swimming upstream to breed in freshwater habitats, but some populations live entirely in fresh water. It is best known for its invasion of the Great Lakes by using the Welland Canal to bypass Niagara Falls. Here, its population surged, peaking between the 1950s and 1980s

While not considered a fish per se, crustaceans offer aquaponics hobbyist another choice to add to their system. And it doesn’t have to be a matter of either/or. Crustaceans – such as freshwater prawn, crayfish, mussels, oysters, and even lobsters – can either be added to aquaponics system alongside fish or within their own separate tank. They like eating dead organic plant matter at the bottom of the aquarium, so feeding crustaceans is a simple task. They also help to keep aquariums clean. Mussels are very popular aquaponics crustacean because they are able to grow within grow beds, as well as inside fish tanks. They are filter-feeders, naturally helping to keep the tank water clean. In Australia, yabby and red claw crayfish are popular aquaponics crustaceans. Crabs, shrimp, and lobster are also viable for aquaponics. Fish are prone to attack and eat crustaceans, so many aquaponics hobbyists separate larger fish from these creatures. Others raise crustaceans as food for fish. All and all, crustaceans certainly add a new dimension to aquaponics and are worthy of consideration.

Freshwater snails are some of the most common invertebrates in home aquarium systems. They come in a variety of sizes, ranging from pea sized to the giant apple snail. Most snails will happily eat the algae in your tank and not bother the other inhabitants. Snails are hermaphrodites, this means that they can reproduce as both a male and a female. If your tank has an excess of food your snails will feed and then reproduce very quickly. Snails lay eggs, lots of eggs. Ideally your snails will reproduce and you will have a self populating food source.

Freshwater shrimps are quickly becoming a popular choice for home aquariums. Shrimp tend to not be too picky about what they eat. However, that doesn’t mean you can feed them whatever or just have them eat whatever you are feeding your fish. Shrimp, like nearly all animals, need a balanced diet filled with nutrients that they need to grow and live a healthy life. You can get invertebrate food at your local pet store that has been specifically formulated for shrimp. Most species of shrimp will be fine with one feeding each day, and they will be just fine if they miss a day or two of feeding if they are normally well fed. One thing you need to watch out for with shrimp is the fish you keep them with. That’s right there are freshwater fish that will eat your shrimp. Generally a good rule to live by with fish keeping is that if they can fit it into their mouths’ then they will eat it, or at least try to.

Most aquaculture efforts have concentrated on the Giant Malaysian Prawn, Macrobrachium rosenbergii, which is a native of southern Asia. They have a short growing season (June 1st-September 15th) that fits in well with other farm activities, require little labor (20 minutes/day feeding and one long harvest day), and occupy underutilized existing water resources. Pond water pH levels can be very critical to successful shrimp culture, as it has been demonstrated that pH>10 may cause significant mortalities. Shrimp need a pelleted feed. Some farmers feed a sinking catfish feed. At the research center, we used a commercially available shrimp feed that was 38% protein. Shrimp were fed twice a day, but some farmers prefer to feed at dusk, since shrimp are nocturnal animals.

The most popular ‘freshwater’ crab for home aquariums is the fiddler crab, sometimes you will see it listed as the mini crab. One thing hobbyist need to keep in mind with these crabs is that they are not completely aquatic nor are they freshwater. This means that they will need some salt in their water and access to the surface of your tank. It also means that they can live out of water. I have heard many stories about these little crabs being master escape artists. Since these little guys are found in marshy areas they are considered to be brackish. Adding a little salt to your tank can greatly improve their quality of life and longevity.

Just like with other freshwater crustaceans you can get food from them at your local pet store. It is possible that these little crabs could eat fish, but only if the fish was small and slow enough and the crab was large and fast enough. Honestly, I consider it very unlikely that they will eat their fishy tank mates.

Red-clawed crabs do their best in a tank arranged just for them. A 10-gallon aquarium, half full, makes a great crab vivarium. Sandy substrate works better than gravel. The crabs should have perches above the waterline. Aquarium driftwood sticking out of the water makes a great perch. Additionally, crabs may get supplemental nutrition from eating bits of the wood. Last but not least, a tight-fitting lid is critical to keep these crabs from escaping and winding up desiccated. These crabs come from a very wide geographic range. As such, they do well in a variety of conditions. They have a tropical distribution, and do their best at temperatures of 68 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Red-clawed crabs prefer a pH of 7.4 to 8.2. Despite some debate on the matter, these crabs do their best in brackish water. This means water with 1 tablespoon of salt per gallon. This should be aquarium salt or kosher salt, not table salt. Part of the red-clawed crab’s adaptation to such a huge area is their ability to eat a wide variety of foods. Red-clawed crabs will eat just about anything. This includes shredding aquarium plants and slow-moving fish. Shrimp pellets and other sinking prepared foods make a great staple food. These foods are available at most pet shops.

The Southern European crab, Potamon fluviatile, has been eaten by people since Roman times. Potamon fluviatile is a freshwater crab found in or near wooded streams, rivers and lakes in Southern Europe. It is an omnivore with broad ecological tolerances, and adults typically reach 50 mm (2 in) in size during their 10–12 year lifespan. They inhabit burrows and are aggressive, apparently outcompeting native crayfish.

The Red Claw crayfish is a new and very promising aquaculture species. The Red Claw is very similar to the native American species, except that it grows to a HUGE size, almost to that of a lobster! This is a species with considerable potential for commercial culture. The features that made it suitable for aquaculture and the aquarium are its ability to withstand low oxygen levels and warm water associated with the tropics. Australian RedClaw, Cherax quadricarinatus, is a tropical freshwater crayfish native to Australia. They are often called “freshwater lobsters” for their physical resemblance and large size. They are valued as both a food source and as an ornamental species.

C. quadricarinatus is farmed commercially in Queensland and the Northern Territory, and is harvested at between 35–130 grams (1.2–4.6 oz). C. quadricarinatus is a sought-after product with a delicate crustacean flavour. They are both non-aggressive in nature and highly fertile, and can therefore be bred in large numbers in captivity. Time to sexual maturity, and therefore harvest size, is somewhere between six and twelve months in optimal farmed conditions.

Freshwater clams can be an excellent addition to your non-invertebrate eating tank. They will help clean and filter tank water, which helps to keep it clear. Like all bivalves freshwater clams are filter feeders. They will use the excess food and detritus in the water column as their food source. However, if you fear that this is not enough for your clams you can supplement with invertebrate food from the pet store.

Clams will often bury themselves in whatever substrate you have in your tank. Also, like all invertebrates, freshwater and saltwater, freshwater clams are very sensitive to copper. If you are treating your tank with copper based medication for any reason you need to remove all of your invertebrates. Only once you are sure that you have removed all traces of copper from your tank should you replace your invertebrates.

to the detriment of many native species of fish. In an effort to control them biologically, Pacific salmon were introduced, only partially successfully. As a marine fish, the alewife is a US National Marine Fisheries Service “Species of Concern”.

Crustaceans form a large, diverse arthropod taxon which includes such familiar animals as crabs, lobsters, crayfish, shrimp, krill, woodlice, and barnacles. The crustacean group is usually treated as a subphylum, and thanks to recent molecular studies it is now well accepted that the crustacean group is paraphyletic, and comprises all animals in the Pancrustacea clade other than hexapods. Some crustaceans are more closely related to insects and other hexapods than they are to certain other crustaceans.

Elliptio is a genus of medium- to large-sized freshwater mussels, aquatic bivalve mollusks in the family Unionidae, commonly known as the unionids, freshwater mussels or naiads.

Northern Riffleshell, Orange-Foot Pimpleback, Monkeyface, White Heelsplitter and Purple Wartyback.

Molluscs are the largest marine phylum, comprising about 23% of all the named marine organisms. Numerous molluscs also live in freshwater and terrestrial habitats. They are highly diverse, not just in size and in anatomical structure, but also in behaviour and in habitat. The phylum is typically divided into 8 or 9 taxonomic classes, of which two are entirely extinct. Cephalopod molluscs, such as squid, cuttlefish and octopus, are among the most neurologically advanced of all invertebrates—and either the giant squid or the colossal squid is the largest known invertebrate species. The gastropods (snails and slugs) are by far the most numerous molluscs in terms of classified species, and account for 80% of the total.

Freshwater molluscs are those members of the Phylum Mollusca which live in freshwater habitats, both lotic (flowing water) such as rivers, streams, canals, springs, and cave streams (stygobite species) and lentic (still water) such as lakes, ponds (including temporary or vernal ponds), and ditches. The two major classes of molluscs have representatives in freshwater: the gastropods (snails) and the bivalves (freshwater mussels and clams.) It appears that the other classes within the Phylum Mollusca -the cephalopods, scaphopods, polyplacophorans, etc. – never made the transition from a fully marine environment to a freshwater environment.

Artemia is a genus of aquatic crustaceans also known as brine shrimp. Artemia, the only genus in the family Artemiidae, has changed little externally since the Triassic period. The first historical record of the existence of Artemia dates back to the first half of the 10th century AD from Urmia Lake, Iran, with an example called by an Iranian geographer an “aquatic dog”, although the first unambiguous record is the report and drawings made by Schlösser in 1757 of animals from Lymington, England. Artemia populations are found worldwide in inland saltwater lakes, but not in oceans. Artemia are able to avoid cohabiting with most types of predators, such as fish, by their ability to live in waters of very high salinity (up to 25%).

Fish farm owners search for a cost-effective, easy to use, and available food that is preferred by the fish. From cysts, brine shrimp nauplii can readily be used to feed fish and crustacean larvae just after one-day incubation. Instar I (the nauplii that just hatched and with large yolk reserves in their body) and instar II nauplii (the nauplii after first moult and with functional digestive tracts) are more widely used in aquaculture, because they are easy for operation, rich in nutrients, and small, which makes them suitable for feeding fish and crustacean larvae live or after drying.

Spirulina is another option to feed the brine shrimp. Begin harvesting the brine shrimp after 8 days. Of course, if you are raising brine shrimp purely for pleasure, you do not have to harvest them, but after 8 days, the adults are large enough to catch with a net and feed to other fish.

Turn off the circulation system. After about 10 minutes, the empty cysts shells will float to the surface, and unhatched cysts will sink to the bottom. Now, you can more easily catch the live brine shrimp. Shine a flashlight where you want them to herd. All of the brine shrimp will flock to the light, so they will be easy to catch with the fish net.

The larvae and adults are considered neither pests nor vectors. Instead, black soldier fly larvae play a similar role to that of redworms as essential decomposers in breaking down organic substrates and returning nutrients to the soil. Black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) are an excellent source of sustainable protein for aquaculture, animal feed, and pet and human nutrition. The larvae have voracious appetites and can be used for composting household food scraps and agricultural waste products. Black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) are used to compost waste or convert the waste into animal feed. The harvested pupae and prepupae are eaten by poultry, fish, pigs, lizards, turtles; even dogs. The wastes include fresh manure, food wastes of both animal and vegetable origin. Fly larvae are among the most efficient animals at converting feed into biomass. Aside from the protein production, fly larvae also produce another valuable resource called frass. Fly larvae frass is a granulated and odorless residue that can be used as organic fertilizer. Black soldier fly larvae are edible to humans. The larvae are highly efficient in converting proteins, containing up to 42% of protein, much calcium and many amino acids. In 432 hours, 1 gram of black soldier fly eggs turns into 2.4 kilograms of protein.Which means there are more than 45000 eggs in 1g of eggs. They thus can be a source of protein for human consumption. The prepupal weight, bioconversion and FCR results surpass those from previous studies into BSFL management of swine, chicken manure and municipal organic waste. This suggests that the use of BSFL could provide a solution to the health problems associated with poor sanitation and inadequate human waste management in developing countries. 

Within as little as two weeks of hatching, black soldier fly larvae will grow to 15,000 times their size. Their digestive systems naturally destroy harmful bacteria that might be present in their food. They break apart and consume waste so quickly and efficiently that no odour is produced. Black soldier fly larvae grow so fast because they are able to eat over twice their own body weight every day.

black soldier fly larvae fatten up before metamorphising into flies. They build up huge amounts of fat (energy) to burn off as fuel when they’re adults. the adults don’t eat. They don’t even have functioning mouths. the only feed they need is food manufacturing runoff. They don’t even need fresh water, as the moisture of the food is enough for them.

Crickets (also known as “true crickets”), of the family Gryllidae, are insects related to bush crickets, and, more distantly, to grasshoppers. The Gryllidae have mainly cylindrical bodies, round heads, and long antennae. Behind the head is a smooth, robust pronotum. The abdomen ends in a pair of long cerci (spikes); females have a long, cylindrical ovipositor. The hind legs have enlarged femora (thighs), providing power for jumping. The front wings are adapted as tough, leathery elytra (wing covers), and some crickets chirp by rubbing parts of these together. The hind wings are membranous and folded when not in use for flight; many species, however, are flightless. The largest members of the family are the bull crickets, Brachytrupes, which are up to 5 cm (2 in) long. Captive crickets are omnivorous; when deprived of their natural diet, they accept a wide range of organic foodstuffs. Some species are completely herbivorous, feeding on flowers, fruit, and leaves, with ground-based species consuming seedlings, grasses, pieces of leaf, and the shoots of young plants. Others are more predatory and include in their diet invertebrate eggs, larvae, pupae, moulting insects, scale insects, and aphids. Many are scavengers and consume various organic remains, decaying plants, seedlings, and fungi. In captivity, many species have been successfully reared on a diet of ground, commercial dry dog food, supplemented with lettuce and aphids. Crickets have relatively powerful jaws, and several species have been known to bite humans.

An atmospheric water generator (AWG) is a device that extracts water from humid ambient air. Water vapor in the air can be extracted by condensation – cooling the air below its dew point, exposing the air to desiccants, or by reducing the air pressure. Unlike a dehumidifier, an AWG is designed to render the water potable. AWGs are useful where pure drinking water is difficult or impossible to obtain, because there is almost always a small amount of water in the air that can be extracted. The two primary techniques in use are cooling and desiccants. The extraction of atmospheric water may not be free of cost, because significant input of energy is required to drive some AWG processes. Certain traditional AWG methods are completely passive, relying on natural temperature differences, and requiring no external energy source. Research has also developed AWG technologies to produce useful yields of water at a reduced (but non-zero) energy cost. Biomimicry studies have shown the Stenocara gracilipes has the natural ability to perform this task.

The average four person single family home uses over 20,000 gallons of water monthly.  Over half of which is used for landscape irrigation; think about that, clean drinking water being sprayed on dirt!  The same family uses nearly 3,000 gallons of water per month to flush toilets, Recycling systems reduce families municipal water usage by 50% to 70% with a similar reduction in their water bill.  Of greater importance is the fact the family is doing their utmost to preserve one of our most important natural resources! By using our systems water becomes a reusable asset rather than a one time commodity.  Take long relaxing showers without feeling guilty, safe in the knowledge that the water you’re using today will irrigate your lawn and garden tomorrow!

Gray Water is the generic term given to water from showers, bathtubs, laundry and bathroom sinks in your home. Properly treated this water can now be recycled and reused for landscape irrigation and flushing toilets. The average family of four living in a warm climate zone uses over 25,000 gallons of water monthly! Over half of which is used for landscape irrigation; clean drinking water being sprayed on dirt! The same family can use 3,800 gallons to flush toilets; units reduce municipal water use by 50% to 70%

Rainwater harvesting is collecting the run-off from a structure or other impervious surface in order to store it for later use. Traditionally, this involves harvesting the rain from a roof. The rain will collect in gutters that channel the water into downspouts and then into some sort of storage vessel. Rainwater collection systems can be as simple as collecting rain in a rain barrel or as elaborate as harvesting rainwater into large cisterns to supply your entire household demand.

Rainwater Capture’s a great idea but there are challenges. First, it’s raining, irrigation needs are nil so captured water needs to be stored; and the more the better. 1 inch of rain on a 3,000 sq. ft. roof yields 1,869 gallons. You could easily capture 10,000 gallons or more and store it for reuse on the proverbial ‘sunny day’.

Aquaponics refers to any system that combines conventional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as snails, fish, crayfish or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. In normal aquaculture, excretions from the animals being raised can accumulate in the water, increasing toxicity. In an aquaponic system, water from an aquaculture system is fed to a hydroponic system where the by-products are broken down by nitrifying bacteria initially into nitrites and subsequently into nitrates that are utilized by the plants as nutrients. The water is then recirculated back to the aquaculture system. As existing hydroponic and aquaculture farming techniques form the basis for all aquaponic systems, the size, complexity, and types of foods grown in an aquaponic system can vary as much as any system found in either distinct farming discipline.

Eisenia fetida (older spelling: foetida), known under various common names such as redwormbrandling wormpanfish wormtrout wormtiger wormred wiggler wormred californian earth worm, etc., is a species of earthworm adapted to decaying organic material. These worms thrive in rotting vegetation, compost, and manure. They are epigean, rarely found in soil. In this trait they resemble Lumbricus rubellus. They have groups of bristles (called setae) on each segment that move in and out to grip nearby surfaces as the worms stretch and contract their muscles to push themselves forward or backward. Eisenia fetida worms are used for vermicomposting of both domestic and industrial organic waste. They are native to Europe, but have been introduced (both intentionally and unintentionally) to every other continent except Antarctica.

Worms are an incredible asset to any media based aquaponics system. Worms naturally adjust their population to match the conditions within their environment and as soon as those conditions no longer support additional worms they slow down or stop reproducing. Here are just some of the roles worms play in an aquaponics system:

  1. They break down the solid waste from the fish, and excess roots and other materials that plants slough off, and make them more bio-available to the plants through their excrement: vermicompost. This additional metabolic layer in media based systems is what allow media growers to avoid both the requirement to filter out solid waste AND the requirement to frequently clean out their grow beds. A 12″ (300 mm) deep grow bed with a healthy population of worms will probably only need to be cleaned out every five years or so, if then.
  2. Vermicompost, and the ‘tea’ that results from soaking vermicompost in highly oxygenated water (the exact condition found in an aquaponics ebb and flow grow bed), have been studied extensively by the Soil Ecology Lab at Ohio State University. Their studies have concluded that vermicompost and the corresponding ‘tea’ are tremendously beneficial because they:
    1. Suppress plant disease including Pythium, Rhizoctonia, Plectosporium, and Verticillium
    2. Suppress plant parasitic nematode
    3. Suppress plant insect pests, including tomato hornworms, mealy bugs, spider mites and aphids
  3. Besides helping battle plant diseases, worms have also been shown to mitigate pathogens that affect humans. An April 15, 2010 article in the Journal of Environmental Protection titled ‘Earthworms: Charles Darwin’s Unheralded Soldiers of Mankind‘ stated “The earthworms also release coelomic fluids that have anti-bacterial properties that destroy all pathogens in the waste biomass. They produce ‘antibiotics’ that kill the pathogenic organisms in the waste and soil where they inhabit and render it virtually sterile. It was reported that the removal of pathogens, faecal coliforms (E. coli), Salmonella spp., enteric viruses and helminth ova from sewage and sludge appear to be much more rapid when they are processed by E. fetida. Of all E. coli and Salmonella are greatly reduced.”

Because fish are cold blooded creatures, their waste cannot contain E. coli – that is reserved for warm-blooded creatures only. In fact, the only way that these pathogens can be present in your aquaponics system is if they are introduced from an external source. In a recently issued, drama-filled newsletter, an aquaponics company that specializes in DWC (raft-based) growing and training associated the introduction of worms to a media bed with the introduction of compost that may contain un-decomposed manure which might contain E. coli.

The species A. maxima and A. plaetensis were once classified in the genus Spirulina. The common name, spirulina, refers to the dried biomass of A. platensis, which belongs to photosynthetic bacteria that cover the groups Cyanobacteria and Prochlorophyta. Scientifically, a distinction exists between spirulina and the genus Arthrospira. Species of Arthrospira have been isolated from alkaline brackish and saline waters in tropical and subtropical regions. Among the various species included in the genus ArthrospiraA. platensis is the most widely distributed and is mainly found in Africa, but also in Asia. A. maxima is believed to be found in California and Mexico. The term spirulina remains in use for historical reasons.

Chlorella vulgaris is seen as a promising source of bioenergy. It may be a good alternative to the current biofuel crops, like soybean, corn or rapeseed, as it is more productive and do not compete with food production. It can produce large amount of lipids, up to 20 times more than any other crop, which have a suitable profile for biodiesel production. This microalgae also contains high amount of starch, good enough for the production of bioethanol.

The proteins content of C. Vulgaris varies from 42 to 58% of its biomass dry weight. These proteins are considered as having a good nutritional quality compared to the standard profile for human nutrition of the World Health Organisation and Food and Agricultural Organisation, as the algae synthesize essential and non-essential amino-acids. The algae also contains lipids (5-40% of the dry mass), carbohydrates (12-55% dry weight) and pigments with among others chlorophyll, reaching 1-2 % of the dry weight. C. vulgaris contains also some minerals and vitamins important for human nutrition. C. vulgaris is marketed as dietary supplement, additive, as colourant or food emulsion. They are all in the form of capsules, extracts, tablets or powder. They are consumed in Japan as a medical treatment. C. vulgaris has demonstrated some anti-tumor and immune-modulating characteristics. However, despite its high nutritious protein content and its potentially health benefits, C. vulgaris is not yet widely incorporated in food products. The main reason for this is its dark green color and its smell, which is close to that of fish.

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