Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Aquaponics Update -- October 21, 2014

October 21, 2014 While considering alternatives to the extremely heavy and impractical poured concrete system featured in the last update (pictured left in the image below), several options presented themselves. The first was fiberglass, and these can be found at Bangkok's local JJ Market for 800 Baht (about 25 US Dollars) but would still require fittings, cladding, and of course a planter to complete the system.

The second option was ferrocement. This is a 2.5:1 sand/cement mix applied thinly to a wire mesh frame. This turned out to be easy and cheap to do and the outcome was impressive. One could imagine much larger outdoor projects and it should be noted that entire homes have built using ferrocement, as well as immense water tanks that last virtually forever. All of the concrete and sand used probably didn't cost even 300 Baht (10 US Dollars) and there is still some left over.

Standing about .5 meters high, and .5 meters in diameter, the vessel will hold 25 gallons. The accompanying planter was also created using ferrocement, and though much bigger than the poured cement planter, it is lighter. It was also possible to create a raised drainage outlet inside.

Both systems will be utilized and both will most likely be kept inside and use LED grow lights. Because the ferrocement process is so easy and cheap, the next step will be a container garden for the balcony. There already is a burgeoning concrete container garden growing there due to various test articles ending up there as planters.

Fitting the aquaponic planters with lighting, water pumps and of course biology is the next step. Hopefully in a few months it will be producing herbs and lettuce which we may well sell at the Bangkok Farmer's Market. While we may not sell much there, it will be an opportunity to connect with others interested in urban agriculture and aquaponics and begin building a community around these concepts.

Working with ferrocement and learning to use it as a cheap and easy-to-use building material now opens the doors to a whole range of other projects, including the means of constructing the larger full-sized commercial version of the aquaponics system featured in our original post here. Could a large outdoor tilapia pool be next?

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