The Japanese have a word called “kaizen.” It simply means “change for better” or continuous improvement. Hundreds of business/management books have been written about this philosophy and it is the heart of Toyota’s famous production system. So in undertaking this little aquaponics project I try to continuously improve, treating mistakes and errors as learning points which I then use to improve the system.
The fish were distressed and a few died. The system developed anaerobic conditions because of poor solids management. Basically the fish waste and feed remains were not being properly handled. As these solids decomposed they used up most of the oxygen in the tanks leading to fish death. Also a lot of ammonia was released into the system further compounding the problem. The problem was further compounded when the biological filter was no longer effective and could not remove excess ammonia because some of the nitrifying bacterial had died off.
This called for a complete redesign of the system. I installed something called a swirl filter. A swirl filter is simply a tank (the blue one in the picture) where the water from the fish tank slowly rotates and any solids drop to the bottom where they are then drained off.
Also the tomatoes were hit with a fungal infection which spread to some of the fish. I had to remove all the tomatoes unfortunately and performed a complete water change. I also had to clean the gravel using a water jet to remove all anaerobic zones.
I also bought a water test kit. This way I can monitor the quality of water. Testing the water using the kit brings back memories of O-level chemistry and it is quite easy to do!
If you have children setting up an aquaponics system is the perfect way to practically teach your children some valuable life skills; Your kids get to learn about biology; aquaculture; plumbing; electricity; chemistry; project management; economics; marketing; nutrition; cost management; crop management; hydroponics; carpentry; physics; problem solving; perseverance; entrepreneurship; the list is endless.
In doing this little project your children can acquire knowledge equivalent to several degrees and diplomas!
If you own a school or are a parent why not suggest such a simple project to compliment the theory and cramming currently happening in our schools?