Aquaponics: A system that combines aquaculture with hydroponics in a symbiotic environment
Document typeBachelor thesis
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The main goal was to design and build an experimental setup where aquaculture is combined with hydroponics in a symbiotic environment in accordance with the wishes of the supervisors. Since this assignment is too complex for one person to do alone, a team of ten students was assigned to bring this project to a successful conclusion. The Hygrow project team aimed to successfully complete the design and construction of a functional and attractive aquaponic setup to present to the stakeholders. This included making a hand-off package to show future students the exact procedures that were carried out to make an aquaponic system. First research has been done. This chapter contains information about key aspects of an aquaponic system. These aspects are aquaponics in general, types of aquaponics, 3D printing aquaponics, hydroponics, aquaculture, parameters, energy supply and insulation. Sustainability and eco-friendliness were taken into account while doing research. After the research, the designs were made. The type of aquaponic system was chosen, it contains deep water culture, nutrient film in towers and media bed in 3Dponics. Energy supply will be generated with renewable energy. The plants that are used are lettuce, swiss chard, spinach, mint, basil and parsley. The best fish to use in an aquaponic system in Finland are trout, perch, sturgeon or carp. In the system are perch that were caught from the sea and African Cichlid from the pet shop because it was impossible to catch more perch. Also shrimps or prawns could be used in the system. To light the plants, the best option is to use addressable LED lights. Next, a wind turbine would be the best option to power the system. And because the aquaponic setup needs to be build in a 20ft container, the insulation is designed. After designing, the building process could start. First the three perch were caught together with local fishermen. After the team started to try and catch more perch themselves, it was decided to buy Malawi Cichlids from the pet shop. Next to the obtained fish, plants were seeded. This went wrong a couple of times due to lights that were not powerful enough. Next, the fish tanks were assembled together with the settling tank and the biofilter tank. After the fish were installed in this system, the deep water culture was added. Above the deep water culture the LED strips were installed. Then the setup was shown to future students that were visiting Technobotnia. After the visit, the team started with mounting all the electronics in a special box. Because, the DIY team finished the basic setup, they could start with building the tower system. Therefore, the water supply needed to be mounted. Also the fish feeder needed to be installed so the team did not have to feed them manually. Lastly the 3Dponics system was built and installed. In the end, a lot of results were accomplished and the aquaponic setup was working on its own. It was a challenge to supply the water to the towers due to pump specifications that were not fit. After a waterpump and an air pump were connected, the water could be pumped two meters high. For a long time, it was not possible to 3D print because the national post was on strike and the university run out of ABS. In the end the team managed to print 110 bioballs. The plants could not grow properly due to poor lighting and some of the plants were infected with a parasite. In the end a few of the seeded plants could be added to the deep water culture system. Some plants that were bought from the plant shop were also put in the deep water culture and they managed to grow more roots in the water and develop more leaves. It was very difficult to adapt the perch to artificial food. At some point they stopped eating but after putting them back with the african cichlids they started to eat the artificial food. Also an automatic fish feeder was installed. The settling tank worked from the beginning. Although the water got cloudy sometimes and needed to be changed. Therefore, the water cloudiness should be monitored and changed every two weeks if necessary. The water evaporation is estimated to be 15 liters per week, therefore this needs to be regularly checked and filled. There was not enough time to obtain results for the hydroponic systems. However, the deep water culture system is working well. When the aquaponic setup is installed in the 20ft container, it is recommended to use insulation material with 150mm thickness. In the end, the project was successfully due to the project goal that was completed. Unfortunately the setup is not completely functioning yet. Therefore, the team recommends the next group to start with obtaining fish as soon as possible. This has been found very difficult and a critical part of the aquaponic setup. It is recommended to use carp because these fish are optimal to be grown in Finland. The second crucial part of the aquaponic system are the plants. It is recommended to start seeding the plants in the beginning of the semester with the right light supply. To filter the system, the settling tank and the biofilter tank with the bioballs are working great. It is recommended to buy extra bioballs but it is not necessary to buy more bacteria since there is still plenty left. Finally for the setup in the 20ft container it is recommended to implement the deep water culture and the vertical towers. The deep water culture is easy to build and maintain and it works good. Next, the vertical towers are preferred because compared to the 3Dponics it is easy to clean and a higher density of plants can be grown. It is important to start building the system as soon as possible because an aquaponic setup cannot be built in a couple of weeks. Lastly, it is recommended to not overuse 3D printing. For many parts it is time consuming and mostly also has higher costs than buying the products from a shop.
Treball desenvolupat en el marc del programa "European Project Semester".
DegreeGRAU EN ENGINYERIA DE DISSENY INDUSTRIAL I DESENVOLUPAMENT DEL PRODUCTE (Pla 2009)
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