Aquaponic Water Temperature
By: Kevin Schmidt on January 15, 2015
No matter who designs and builds your aquaponics operation, you must focus on desired water temperature. This is one of the most important considerations. As you can imagine, getting to and holding water temperatures at the desired level directly relates to how your tanks are constructed, and/or what ancillary systems you have in place to control water temperatures.
This has been a challenge for us. Originally we utilized outside sump pumps with a covered roof in the beginning of winter thinking that would be okay because the water doesn’t stay in there long. At least that was the theory of our “expert designer” (whom we shall never mention by name).
When we found this didn’t work, we decided to insulate the sides of the tanks. Also, we’ve enclosed the tanks in their own dedicated room in which we utilize an electrical heater. Unfortunately, this uses electricity. However, as of now, it’s our best alternative as low water temperature can kill the fish.
Sometimes a quicker solution is necessary until a better alternative is researched and implemented to keep the system running.
The sump tank room, as we call it now, is nice and toasty. However, it has done little yet to warm up the water. The good thing is that with freezing Texas temps the water hasn’t gotten any colder. Since the water mass is 18,000 gallons, we might have to wait a few weeks to notice a difference.
So, we continued to research how we could get the water temps up and stabilized. My sister, Ashley, researched water heaters for swimming pools. All the ones she found contained copper or nickel, which have a tendency to kill good bacteria in the system. Plus, we didn’t want to incur the additional electrical costs of a pool heater. However, if any of you reading this know of a brand that we might consider, please let us know.
Another idea, if your weather gets really cold, is to install better insulation under the troughs. In our first building, we installed half-inch foam insulated board under the liner believing that would be enough to keep the water warm…but it wasn’t that effective. Our main, original greenhouse has a concrete slab that sucks all the cold into it and transfers it into the troughs. We recommend putting some serious insulation under the liner of the troughs to minimize temperature transfer.
As we build new systems and tanks here at Doodley Dee’s Farm, all space between the new floor and the troughs is being heavily insulated. Yes, it is costing more upfront, but will be well worth it in the long run.
We are currently exploring permaculture water heating techniques using a rocket stove water heater that circulates back into the system. To assist with this process, we’ve built a concrete/cinder block 11 x 11 building to house a double barrel wood heater. The heat from this will blow into the greenhouse, fish room, and sump tank room. This operation is explained in another video and blog.
We hope this helps in your efforts. As always, here at Doodley Dee’s Farm we will share our knowledge with you…please share yours with us!
Here’s to good eating,