Showing posts with label gardening. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gardening. Show all posts

February 4, 2022

DIY Combined Aquaponics and Hydroponics Gravity-fed Food and Fish Production System

Let me tell you a little bit about a cool aquaponics and hydroponics food production system that I’ve built on a small scale several times using very simple parts and with great success. A combined aquaponics and hydroponics gravity-fed food and fish production system is just what it sounds like- you grow plants and fish together in one system. There is no dirt or soil for the plants, but instead, they are fed from the water containing fish waste that is recycled through the system. In turn, the nutrients released by the plants and the ecosystem that is created will begin to feed your fish as well as to sustain a healthy oxygenated water environment.


The first DIY aquaponics/ hydroponics system in production.

For the system displayed in the photos, you will need one standard aquarium pump to move the water from the bottom container or holding tank up to the very top container. The system then filters the water through the plants utilizing gravity to move through each catchment level in the system.

For plant growing medium, you can use small stones, pebbles, or the clay hydroponic growing medium. Hydroponic clay growing mediums are expensive so I usually opt to use small stones and pebbles from any standard landscape supply. Use larger stones by the drainage tubes and smaller pebbles in your planting area. Do not use any dirt or sand in your plant beds as this will clog your system and is unnecessary. The plants and pebbles will filter the water adequately and provide an ecosystem for your plants to thrive in.

In the first DIY system built, I used goldfish because they are very hearty fish and I wanted to make sure that I didn’t kill them easily. I’ve built three systems sense and I’m now using catfish because this is a fish I would like to grow and eat myself. Catfish do not require a lot of heating unless it gets to freezing temperatures so in my climate they work well. Tilapia are also a good choice if you can provide heat in the winter and trout is a great choice to grow in colder climates. You might start with goldfish to start your system, but do not grow goldfish with any of these other fish types. Goldfish waste can be toxic to other fish.

Monitor your combined aquaponics and hydroponics system closely for health. Watch for stress points like when you first add the fish and the plants are small or when the plants are large and you harvest the fish it will stress the plants. Look for signs of stressors, such as wilting or sickly plants, cloudy water, dying fish, or too much algae growing. You want some algae and bacteria and a healthy system because this is what will eventually feed your fish. When first starting your system, you will need to feed your fish, but as your system matures, the fish will begin to feed on the algae and particulates created.

Arrange your growing containers with the plants planting bed at the top then have that feed into a containment area in the middle for an overflow, and lastly at the bottom of the gravity-fed system have your fish. Consider paying a little bit more for the plastic irrigation tubing that is meant for drinking water pipes (PVC). You’ll need to slowly add water and run the system for several days without any plants and fish to make sure that your bacteria environment is starting to grow in a healthy way. Do not add any chemicals to the water for the fish, as these chemicals will be absorbed by your plants that you're adding. Also, consider light needs: install an indoor growing lamp over the plants at the top or place everything in front of a sunny window.


Small systems can be built without need for a pump, but water quality must be monitored even more carefully.

A combined Aquaponics and hydroponics gravity-fed food and fish growing system is really not as complicated as it seems. Once you start building your own DIY system and see how the fish and plants feed each other, you’ll be hooked too. The best part is when you begin harvesting your fresh fish and vegetables right from your DIY system. Happy growing!


July 28, 2013

Growing Basil...

My basil has really taken off in the garden and now I'm looking for creative ways to use this delicious herb. I'm growing two types: dark opal basil and the well-known sweet basil type. Their aroma is so strong every time you brush against them or water.

The best use I've found for both basils being grown is to make a pesto. Pesto is made from fresh basil, garlic, parsley, salt, pine nuts (or walnuts), olive oil, and romano (or parmesan) cheese. You can even leave out the cheese and freeze the pesto for a delicious addition or spread anytime. Look at this pesto over mozzarella picture I found:

So simple and so delicious!

July 17, 2013

Plant City Has New Electric Car Charging Station

Last year, you may recall as one of the first hundred in all of Tampa Bay, a Chargepoint electric car charging station was installed at the Dale Mabry campus of Hillsborough Community College in Tampa Florida by the Science cluster:

Now Plant City has its own electric car charging station from Chargepoint! You'll find the charging station and accompanying green curb parking between the new Plant City Courthouse location and the Department of Children and Families (big white building). Check out this environmentally friendly new charging station that is currently FREE to use:

Go to Chargepoint's website to find other stations or to reserve a charging spot:

June 3, 2013

Sun Power with Solar Panels at HCC Brandon Campus

Originally published by Amber C. Lee in Sodexo at HCC's monthly report May 2013:

This month's sustainability focus is all about sun and sun power! Florida, as you probably already know by it's nickname the Sunshine State, has a great resource that is renewable and abundant: solar power. We've discussed how important reducing, reusing, and recycling is to bettering our collective sustainable future and providing better service to our client. Exploring alternative energy sources is important too. HCC has recognized the opportunity of solar power and is already leading Tampa Bay by their example.

Most recently, Plant City campus students installed two solar charging stations as a legacy project so that students, faculty and staff could better enjoy the outdoor spaces on campus and charge their laptops, phones or other electronics using only solar energy.

Last month in May, Sodexo participated in an international event promoting clean energy awareness called “Hands Across the Sand.” As we are all Tampa Bay residents, our bay and ocean are an important resource that continues to be mistreated, misused and polluted. Thousands of concerned citizens joined hands across the beaches of Tampa and the world to represent the need for cleaner energy and visualize our local environment's future, a legacy we all share.

Last year, HCC worked together with TRANE to have a solar panel installed at BR campus that provides less than 1% of the energy used on campus. The solar panel serves as learning tool and visual reminder to all campus visitors of our commitment to cleaner energy. Just last week at the HCC Sustainability Council meeting, TRANE also introduced a online digital energy use monitor to help HCC monitor energy use by campus and by building, making the data more visible and trackable.

HCC also worked previously with Chargepoint to have one of the first 100 electric car charging stations of Tampa Bay installed at Dale Mabry campus (by the Science cluster) and currently does not charge for the energy “fill-up” to electric vehicles. While the energy comes from the regular power grid and not solar, electric cars typically use significantly less energy and give off less pollution from use.

Solar power is an abundant resource that we can be proud HCC has taken a lead in implementing in the Tampa Bay community. What ways can you support alternative energy and how can you reduce your personal consumption? Sometimes it's as easy as turning off the light and opening the blinds.

May 3, 2013

No Action Too Small When It Comes To Sustainability

Originally published by Amber C. Lee in Sodexo at HCC's monthly report April 2013:

Looking back after the conclusion of Earth Month (April), what kind of impact did you have on your campus? Did you make an extra effort to affect your campus and community, even in a small way? Small actions can add up in a big way over time. Sometimes we are waiting for someone else to step up and take lead when we need to be leaders, especially when it comes to sustainability, our work, and the well-being of our community.

For your reference, sustainability at its simplest means making choices with regards to people, the planet, and our economy. Sodexo is already a leader of our industry in sustainable practices and was recognized again last month by DiversityInc with a #1 ranking on the 2013 Top 50 Companies for Diversity List. Diversity and social justice are important principles of sustainable decision making.

Locally Sodexo made a difference last month by volunteering with Feeding America Tampa Bay (formerly Second Harves) for our StopHunger campaign. Sodexo supervisors volunteered a combined 12 hours and helped to bag a huge amount of cooking potatoes for Tampa Bay families in need. Sodexo is committed to ending hunger and famine world-wide through our StopHunger campaign.

Supervisor John Pacheco of the District Offices Campus saw an opportunity to help the environment and improve our image with the client: when he noticed that the mangroves lining the seawall at the walking path were ridden with plastic shopping bags, fishing line and other garbage, John took the initiative to clear a large amount of the waste out. He ended the clean up with a large bin full of waste and a more appealing waterline for the campus.

Keep up the great work, team! Remember that no action is too small to keep us moving in the right direction. To find out more information or comment, please email Amber C. Lee.

March 28, 2013

The "Better Tomorrow Plan"

Originally published by Amber C. Lee in Sodexo at HCC's monthly report March 2013:

Sodexo is a recognized leader in global sustainability. The Better Tomorrow Plan is Sodexo's strategic, progressive journey to address the sustainability issues identified as being important to our business and our stakeholders. The Better Tomorrow Plan outlines 14 key commitments for action and stresses the key importance of dialogue and joint actions with our stakeholders.

So why should the Better Tomorrow Plan be important to you? The nature of our business, which is greater than just janitorial work or dining services, makes us an integral and embedded part of the community in which we serve. Our clients that our business is centered around are also our neighbors, colleagues and friends. The Better Tomorrow Plan impacts our individual job, our clients at HCC, and the Greater Tampa Bay Community.

Who is involved in the Better Tomorrow Plan? Everyone is the short answer. The Better Tomorrow Plan is being implemented in the executive levels of Sodexo, at educational sites like ours, and at all of our over 33,900 locations around the world. Sodexo gives us the unique ability to make an impact globally and locally just by doing our jobs well.

When is this happening? It already has. Implementation of the Better Tomorrow Plan has already began company-wide. Major progress is being made at HCC, with the hiring last semester of Sodexo's Resource Coordinator and the development of several projects, such as the Waste Elimination Station (WES) campus digital inventory & mapping of sustainability features.

Where do I start? As a Sodexo employee, you have a lot to be proud of already, but we need your help. Just this month Sodexo was recognized at the World Economic Forum for its corporate sustainability practices with three awards: Sector Leader, Gold Class, and Sector Mover. Go team.

To find out how you can be an ambassador for Sodexo, contact Amber C. Lee or ask your campus supervisor today.

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