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Aquaponics for Developing Countries

Aquaponics for Developing Countries

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Published by kriskee13

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: kriskee13 on Feb 04, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Issue # 38 Aquaponics Journal www.aquaponicsjournal.com 3rd Quarter, 2005
 Some people would say that aquaponics is a bit toocomplicated for application in a developing coun-try. In it’s current form here in the United States,that would probably be true considering that wehave reasonably reliable grid electricity that allowsus a lot of flexibility in design.What if there was no electricity to operate pumps,float switches, timers, etc.? Trips I’ve made toAfrica over the past few years, combined with myobsession with aquaponics got me to thinkingabout how to do this in a remote setting with fewresources and no reliable grid power. I am con-vinced it can be done. My observation in Africa isthat there is lots of maize and cassava but not thatmuch in the way of greens or protein. It is an in-teresting phenomenon to see malnutrition in placeswhere there appears to be lots of food. It would bea huge nutritional benefit to have fresh greens andfish protein in places where these things are nowscarce. It would also be a blessing to be able togrow vegetables throughout the year, even duringthe dry season.My inspiration to develop a low-tech aquaponic sys-tem started when my wife and I attended a confer-ence hosted by Charlie Johnson of Aquaculture In-ternational in Bryson City, NC in 2003. There wesaw a presentation given by a man named Frank McNeely. He was from St. Louis, MO and was do-ing aquaponics in a series of salvaged bathtubs. Hiscreativity got me to thinking of how to build my sys-tem using plastic barrel halves as grow beds. I hadordered the S&S (S&S AquaFarms, West Plaines,Missouri) manual and had read it through. With just enough information and inspiration to be dan-gerous, it was time for the perspiration part of theprogram.
Aquaponics forAquaponics for Developing CountriesDeveloping Countries 
By Travis Hughey
 Left: The “Float Valve” designed by Travis Hugley. Middle: The small aquaponic system upon completion Right: The small aquaponic system with a variety of vegetables growing.
Issue # 38 Aquaponics Journal www.aquaponicsjournal.com 3rd Quarter, 2005
 Later that year we built our first system and gotstarted on this adventure. It is an S&S-based designwith a few of my own modifications to make it eas-ier to maintain and lessexpensive to build. Thefollowing year I wasasked to give a presenta-tion of this system at theAquaculture Internationalconference as well as apresentation of a smallsystem I designed fordemonstration purposes inorphanages and such indeveloping countries.Doing aquaponics in a de-veloping country wouldrequire simplicity, reli-ability and freedom fromthe need for grid power aswell as the need to controlthe flood and drain pa-rameters of the system.This is where the “FloodValve” comes into theequation.The “Flood Valve” is aninvention I came up withto address this problem.There are many schemesto control the flow of wa-ter in aquaponic systems.Those that involve elec-tricity are out of the ques-tion in this scenario sinceit is not always available.Yes, there is solar, but it is many times too expen-sive for the average subsistence farmer to afford.Siphons are another possibility but tend to be limitedin low-flow situations encountered with minimalflow rates. A system appropriate for developingcountries must be adaptable to many situations.My “Flood Valve” can utilize any kind of pumpwhether it is electric, gas or wind driven (or what-ever source one chooses). The only requirement isto pump the water from the fish tank to the “FloodValve.” It will work with flow rates lower than 100gallons per hour.Here’s how it works. Wa-ter is pumped to the “FloodValve” which has a stan-dard toilet valve installedwith an extension on theoverflow pipe. On the sideof the tank there is a smalladjustable siphon that,when the water gets to theset height, starts to fill acounterweight with a smallhole in the bottom.As the siphon fills thecounterweight, it eventuallygets heavy enough to pullopen the flapper on theflush valve and dumps theflood tank to the grow beds.As the water drains fromthe flood tank, the siphonbreaks and the counter-weight starts to empty. Asit gets light enough, theflapper closes and the tank begins filling again. Theflood volume is adjusted bythe height of the small si- 
Papayas and lettuce grown in the small aquaponic systemshown on previous page.

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