Maximizing Production Efficiency in a Three-Stage Integrated Agriculture System Using Taro, Tilapia, Aquatic Plants and Fancy Guppies

Final Report for FW05-312

Project Type: Professional + Producer
Funds awarded in 2005: $9,951.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: Western
State: Guam
Principal Investigator:
Dr. L. Robert (Bob) Barber, Jr.
University of Guam Cooperative Extension Service
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Project Information

Abstract:

Demonstration of recirculating system for the production of tilapia, leafy salad greens, kang kong and live bearing aquarium fish. The system is based on six 1,600 gallon tanks for tilapia in a green water culture system, with phytoplankton and "Bio-floc" for biological filtration. Water from these tanks is circulated through two filtration troughs in which kang kong and leafy salad greens are grown. These plants filter sediments, consume the nutrients from the fish waste, and provide an additional income stream for the system. Small aquarium fish are grown in the troughs to control mosquitoes, and sold to pet stores.

Introduction

Tank-based recirculating aquaculture systems are used from tilapia production on many tropical islands where environmental constrants prevent prevent tilapia production in ponds. These sytems are resource intensive. One method to increase the profits from these systems is to incorporate additional enterprises into the system. This project brings additional income streams into the system by using an aquaponic component (leafy greens, and Kang kong) as its biological and chemical filtration system and by raising live bearing aquarium fish in these filters in addition to the Tilapia in the primary tanks.

Project Objectives:

Design, Build and Operate the Aquaculture System,
Design, Build and Operate Hydroponic Filter System.
Conduct a Field Day
Beyond Project Term, Document Fish and Plant Yields, and refine aquaponic methods of tropical lettuce production.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Frank Cruz

Research

Materials and methods:

The project utilized the expertise of the farmer, a retired horticulturist, to imporve on the design of the hydro/aquaponics portion of previously demonstrated aquaponic systems on Guam. The system serves as a demonstration that will over time provide cost and return data that can be shared with our islands producers. The farmer and the ag professional consulted and worked together on every aspect of system design and installation. Where additional expertise was needed the ag. professional brought additional University faculty in to consult on system design.

Research results and discussion:

A new low cost design for aquaponic tanks to serve as biological and chemical filters for recirculating aquaculture systems was developed and is being demonstrated for local producers to see. This design reduces the labor needed for lettuce production in these sytems though increased height and use of flats for growout in the system. Leafy greens are a very high demand crop on our islands so we anticipate producer adoption of this technology in conjunction with tilapia production.

Participation Summary

Educational & Outreach Activities

Participation Summary:

Education/outreach description:

While the project time frame is over, the professional and producer will continue with the project over the next year during this period we will:
Refine lettuce production in the tropics by growing in flats in this modified hydroponic/aquaponics trough system.
Hold Field Day/Workshop between March and May 2009.
Post Project Report/publication on six-month production cycle yields.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

In the first year ordered tanks and many materials for the system. The PI retired in September of 2007.
The first step under new project management was to appoint and have approved by Western SARE a new PI.
The second step was to write a letter of project status, apply for and receive a no cost extension.
The third step was to revisit the economic assumptions of the project and modify the project to shift from taro (a low value, long cycle crop) to leafy salad greens (a very high value, short cycle crop) and to incorporate kang kong as part of the filtration component of the project.
The fourth step was to develop a set of designs based on the materials purchased, and purchase the additional needed materials for the system.
The fifth step was setting up the tanks, aeration, plumbing and stocking the tanks.
The sixth step was installing the hydroponic/filtration troughs and stocking with Kang kong, then planted a Banana /Papaya filter field, these tasks completed the basic system.
Finally we submitted this, our final report.

Recommendations:

Potential Contributions

On-going farmer-operated demonstration of an improved, low cost hydroponic/aquaponic system for tropical leafy greens production. Senior retired Horticulturist committed to improving and demonstrating this system.
On-going farmer-operated demonstration of small (9,600 gallon, 1,200 lb year) tilapia production unit using plants for filtration.
Site to be utilized by at least two Western SARE Ag Professional trainings in 2009.

Future Recommendations

When looking at duplicating the concepts utilized in this system, one change is recommended. Instead of a series of 6 small tanks the system would be more efficient if 2 or 3 larger (12-15 foot diameter) tanks were utilized. This would significantly reduce the fixed cost (tanks) for the tilapia production portion of the project.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.