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All over the world, there has been an increase in community integration of aquaponics, especially in many US states. Traditional farmers, gardeners and ordinary people worldwide have made the transition to aquaponics in response to the increasing amount of harmful substances put into our food supplies.


Here in the US, only 10 percent of the farmed fish we eat is produced domestically. China produces 62 percent of the farm-raised fish in the world today.


Both aquaculture (the rearing of aquatic animals or the cultivation of aquatic plants for food) and hydroponics (the process of growing plants in sand, gravel, or liquid, with added nutrients but without soil) have some down sides. Hydroponics requires expensive nutrients to feed the plants, and requires periodic flushing of the systems which can lead to waste disposal. Re-circulating aquaculture needs to have excess nutrients removed from the system, normally this means that a percentage of the water is removed, generally on a daily basis. When we look at combining the two, these negative aspects are turned into positives. Which is called Aquaponics!


Aquaponics is a combination of traditional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as fish, prawns, & crustacea’s in tanks) and hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. Aquaponics is a system for farming fish and plants together in a mutually beneficial cycle. Fish produce wastes that turn into nitrates and ammonia. These aren't good for the fish if they build up too much, but they're great fertilizer for plants. As the plants suck up these nutrients, they purify the water, which is good for the fish. Along with the fish and their waste, microbes play an important role to the nutrition of the plants. These beneficial bacteria gather in the spaces between the roots of the plant and converts the fish waste and the solids into substances the plants can use to grow. The result is a perfect collaboration between aquaculture and gardening. Another huge benefit of aquaponic growing is that it grows 100% chemical free, all natural produce. If any chemical or synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers are used, the fish could die, effectively killing your system generator! Even most approved organic pesticides would kill our fish. Even traditional organic farms need to supplement their soil with fertilizers. These fertilizers can be bad for the over health of the soil and watershed.


Quite high stocking densities of fish can be grown in an aquaponic system, and because of the recirculating nature of the systems very little water is used. When choosing fish for an aquaponic system it helps to look at the environment the system will operate in as well as what infrastructure will compensate for temperature fluctuations. The environment is going to dictate, to a large degree, the kinds of fish and/or crustaceans you are going to be able to raise. Some aquaponics fish thrive in cold water, while others do well only in warm water. Be sure you choose a species of fish that is hardy and adaptable for your individual indoor or outdoor conditions (adding water heaters or chillers to your tank is always an option). When it comes to mixing the variety of species in your aquaponic system, be aware that some species of fish can cohabitate while others prefer a monospecies environment. When cohabiting, be sure to choose fish with the same requirements for temperature and water conditions. With many types on aquaponic fish available you must put some thought into the purpose of the fish. Some fish are raised in aquaponics for the purpose of eating, and some simply just to correlate with the plants. Koi and Goldfish are not considered a good fish for eating, so for those looking to harvest not only plants, but fish as well from your aquaponics system might be better off with a different fish such as Tilapia, Catfish, Bluegill, Bass or a crustacean such as the RedClaw Crayfish or Prawns. You don’t have to incorporate edible fish in your aquaponics systems. Vegetarians or those who prefer not to harvest their own protein may want to consider Koi. In practice, tilapia are the most popular fish for home and commercial projects that are intended to raise edible fish because it is a warm water fish species that can tolerate crowding and changing water conditions.


The amount of sunlight, ambient temperature, rainfall and wind are all crucial factors in producing a healthy plant. If you decide to grow outdoors, choose varieties of vegetables that will grow best in your climate. In addition, most areas will require the use of a greenhouse, or you can always grow indoors. Growbeds filled with a media such as gravel or expanded clay pebbles are a common method of growing plants in an aquaponic system, but there are many different methods that can be used. Unlike traditional aquaculture and gardening, aquaponics allows you to plant crops at any time of the year. The types of food you can grow can vary just as much as any other farming method. With an aquaponics system, your ability to grow edible plants is limited only by your own desire to do so. The system does most of the labor that would be required of you in an ordinary in-ground growing operation. When done correctly, you should be able to maintain a constantly rotating supply of organic, pesticide-free vegetables that can carry on indefinitely in a properly maintained system. There is a huge list of successful plants tested in Aquaponics that basically includes anything that grows well above soil and loves to have their roots wet. Plants such as lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, and leafy green vegetables thrive really well in the aquaponics system. Aquaponics also can grow more produce compared to produce grown conventionally in the ground. Vegetables usually grow significantly faster, and at three to four times the density, without ever depleting the nutrients.


Cold Tolerant Species:


Koi


Can survive in temperatures ranging from 35-85°F

Optimal temperatures range from 55-77°F

Channel Catfish

Can survive in temperatures ranging from just above freezing - 100

Optimal temperatures range from 75-86

Bluegill


Can survive in temperatures ranging from 39-90

Optimal temperatures range from 60-80

Largemouth Bass


Can survive in temperatures ranging from 60-96

Optimal temperatures range from 65-75

Tropical Species:


Tilapia


Can survive in temperatures ranging from 55-100

Optimal temperatures range from 60-85

RedClaw Crayfish


Can survive in temperatures ranging from 55-95

Optimal temperatures range from 77-90

Prawns


Can survive in temperatures ranging from 57-105

Optimal temperatures range from 78-88


Why raise Red Claw Crayfish?


“Seafood”


Red claw crayfish are the ultimate in local, sustainable, healthy, nutritious, premium “seafood”. They are:

delicious (and stunning on a plate)

low in sodium

low in cholesterol

low in fat

contain no heavy metals (unlike ocean lobsters)

and are organic, depending upon what you feed them!

Aquaponics


In our opinion, any aquaponic system running at a minimum of 70 degrees that does not contain red claw crayfish is missing a huge opportunity.


Not only will the red claw produce a delicious additional crop alongside your fish and vegetables, but the waste they produce during regular molting will enrich the water with minerals that will send your crop production in to overdrive. Please note that we do not recommend stocking red claw crayfish and aquaponics fish in the same tank, unless they are separated by a grill or mesh as red claw crayfish are very vulnerable when they moult. They will grow to table size in around 9-12 months.

Our own trials have not only produced faster and larger plant growth, but the plants have produced substantially more flowers leading to higher yields. We like to call this “lobsterponics”.


Red claw do well in water temperatures from 55 – 95 (ideally 80), grow fast and breed well in most circumstances. As long as the water is kept moving and aerated then there should be no issues.


Aquarium


If you have an aquarium then you should have a red claw crayfish! These magnificent crustaceans make a great centerpiece for any aqauarium and will provide hours of interesting viewing for aquarium enthusiasts.


They will happily coexist with small aquarium minnow fish and pleco, but please do not put them alongside predator type fish as they are vulnerable when molting.


Sales

Red Claw Crayfish juveniles, adults and breeding colonies can be sourced directly from our website year round - www.liveaquaponics.com