The basic Speraneo flood and drain aquaponics model is easy to understand, simple to set up – and for those who are able to keep tilapia – relatively straightforward to operate.
In Australia, however, the multi-function role of the media grow beds is at odds with the need of local species (relative to tilapia) for higher water quality.
Local use of a basic flood and drain system requires careful management of the feeding rate and stocking density……and regular grow bed maintenance.
I offered similar advice in an article titled “Optimising an Aquaponics System – Part 1“
Subsequently, Dr Wilson Lennards’s Backyard System Design Tool provided a scientific underpinning for that advice and serves as a welcome alternative to the simplistic guidelines that preceded it.
While all fans of the basic flood and drain model will find the Backyard System Design Tool useful, the Explanatory Notes (that accompany the design tool) hold the key to success with species other than tilapia.
Successful operation of the Speraneo model (in a non-tilapia context) involves:
- Limiting the stocking density to that prescribed by the Design Tool (bearing in mind Dr Lennard’s general recommendation that stocking density be 5 – 15kg/m3).
- Weighing fish to establish an accurate daily feed rate – based on a percentage the fish bodyweight. An ad hoc approach to feeding is not conducive to safe, productive operation.
- Regular grow bed maintenance – beds should be cleaned at intervals of three to six months.
- Regular water quality testing – you can’t manage what you can’t see.
Compliance with this regime should allow for good plant growth and relative safety for your fish.
Of course, the addition of mechanical and supplementary bio-filtration will provide you with even greater productivity and resilience.