I'm throwing this out there for discussion, spawned by a recent blog, but something on my mind since first being interested in AP.  NO PUMPS. Can it happen, and how?

Why? Well, 'cause if we didn't need pumps or electricity we probably wouldn't use them, and AP might truly join the ranks as a sustainable food production method, and applicable to feeding the poor, saving the world, yada yada...and at the heart of it all, I'm cheap and lazy. I find personal victory in reaching the end goal faster, smarter, easier, cheaper than "how it normally done".

The only thing that comes to mind is a wicking bed of some sort. And I need to consult my book of wild ideas before I open my mouth.

Now I won't be a stickler about including some pumps using waste energy, or some low-tech mechanics, or human power, but try to avoid solar PV and windmill electricity (not that they are not excellent, but they are being done and discussed elsewhere).

link to blog: http://community.theaquaponicsource.com/profiles/blogs/a-no-pump-sy...

Pics, sketches, links, etc are always nice. Happy brainstorming.

Jon

Tags: cheap, easy, human-powered, man-powered, off-grid, pumpless, sustainable

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Fish need filtration and aeration...

Plants need aeration and nutrients for growth...

Aquaponics relies on fish to produce the nutrients...

If you can't reliably filter and aerate your aquaponics system... the fish will die... so will the plants...

Reckon you can do it without a pump??....

 

Sure you could drive a small system by using hand watering.. a bucket for instance.... but you can grow a small soil vege plot the same way.... and millions do....

But those methods haven't solved world poverty,.... have they....

 

And forget the "aquaponics is going to feed the world" mantra... it's bullocks....

 

Unreliable power an/or water sources.... and even if available... what.. to grow some lettuce and herbs....

 

The "poor" peoples of the world exist primarily on grains... ever seen a grain producing aquaponics system... one big enough to feed a family??

Since you are just throwing wacky ideas out there...lets not forget Magnetic Motors, Perpetual Motion Machines and now pump free aquaponics. All will be coming soon for a very long time!

Damn... does that mean I'll need to get a new model tin foil hat...

Tidal Aquaponics! Totally pump free and on a massive scale! It really can feed the world! Massive flood and drain! ;)

Ha Ha, I'm with you Rupe and Jonathan. In retrospect, I worded the OP poorly, as I specifically did not want to imply that the purpose here was to feed the masses, save the world, or walk on water. And your comments convey your belief that pumps are 100% necessary in AP. Point taken, and agreed... as AP is presently designed. But there is certainly room for some design modification which could yield some improvement on energy consumption, without sacrificing everything we enjoy about AP, I think.

For instance, Rupe:

Fish need filtration and aeration...True, and nature does it in every body of water without pumps. Wind, tides, waves, transpiration, evaporation and rainfall, movement of fish, aerobic and anaerobic bacterial breakdown, and withdrawal of nutrients by fish, plants, algae, and a host of little critters. Perhaps we can draw on more of mother nature's methods, and not just the aerobic transformation of ammonia to nitrate?

Plants need aeration and nutrients for growth...Indeed, and how those things get supplied is conventionally by pumps. But how much could be done by capillary attraction and osmosis? My dirt garden needs those same things, and it doesn't need a pump. Maybe dirt is what's missing in AP to make it less dependent on pumps, considering it's nutrient buffering ability, oxygen retention, and capillary wicking.

Aquaponics relies on fish to produce the nutrients...

If you can't reliably filter and aerate your aquaponics system... the fish will die... so will the plants...

Reckon you can do it without a pump??....I reckon it's worth the effort to try. Or at least ponder, and perhaps a pump of non-conventional origin will arise. And reliable? That's half the reason I want to get away from the standard electric pump in the first place. All my major AP losses have been a result of the unreliable nature of the grid, electrical transmission, pumps and blockages. Perhaps there's another way, and maybe even a better way.

To over-simplify, and I'm not stating it is AP in the sense we are used to, but I have already had a tank that produced fish and plants without a pump. Last summer I got a batch of 500 Sacramento Blackfish (local native minnow family that gets to 24" and 3 lbs, mine were about 6"). In my typical lack of prep, I filled a shallow 8' wading pool with well water, and dropped the fish in, added some duckweed, a potted willow, and some random potted pond plants. NO PUMPS. The following day a wind storm filled the thing half full with leaves, mostly oak. I tried to clean it out, but each scoop of leaves had the blackfish thrashing and damaging themselves on the sharp leaves, so I let it be. Not wanting to add feed to a pile of rotting leaves (even more ammonia in an un-cycled tank), I ignored the pool for about a month, at which point the mosquitoes and duckweed were out of control. I added some tilapia, and the mosquitos and duckweed disappeared. Point here is: the system didn't just idle, it thrived. The water was teeming with micro-organisms, worms, daphnia, scuds, etc, and had I planted some semi-aquatic edible plants (watercress), I could have harvested both fish and plants from a system that had neither pumps nor prepared feed. Could this nature-like system have been expanded without pumps? I think so. Could some form of water movement outside the realm of an electric water pump been used to expand some veggie growbeds? I think so. Could a dozen wicking beds been added to it to grow whatever your heart desires? Sure. How about some growbeds that are flooded with nutrient-rich effluent by way of an SLO, that do not drain and return, but drain by transpiration and are flooded again when ready? I have seen a solar water-heater that circulates be convection. The warming of the water in the collection tank causes it to be less dense than the cool intake, causing sufficient flow. Could the cold intake be at the bottom of the fishtank and the warm outflow go the head end of a constant flood bed? I don't see why not. You get me? There is ground to be broken here, let's break it.

Jon,  I just got done picking and weighing over 300lbs of tomatoes and now need to go sell them, so I'm strapped for time. But, the first thing that comes to mind is...well sure, if what you are wanting to do is to create a (mostly) 'hands free' eco-system, that may grow some stuff at times , sure there are probably a host of ways to try to go about it. Especially if you have a 'sprawling expanse' of space to work with (living in a nice and mild climate probably helps).

But, if we're talking about pump less AP as a mode of even semi-stable (let alone intensive) agricultural food production...

I'd have to talk to the "AP is a gift from the grace of god" guy, for some ideas on that one...

Gotta go...Sorry I wasn't much help...

 

Ah well...

Congrats on your toms. Post a pic (or did you already send me your camera?)

Hey, someone got a gov grant to study shrimp on a treadmill. (really, look it up) Perhaps we can harness all that wasted fish energy and train them to pump their own water instead of just swimming in circles all the time. Trout are athletes after all:-)

Bet you never thought of that!!

Pumpless aquaponics is a cinch - in an open loop system....

Unfortunately I live in a desert - no year round running streams to tap into to divert a little water into the pond, then into the growbed then back into the stream...

this should work! if you rember in the 1800s water wheels needed high mooving water current to rotate the water wheel to saw lumber or grind grains effectively. so they built short dams across the river and on one bank at the dam they had a channel and the water wheel. now if you were to uas the small dams and apply them to a above ground aquaduct(concreet manmad river) and you grow the fish between 2 dams  to keep the fish contained and grow your plants (DWC) in the out gowing stream of nutrient rich water it would work!

the only problem you'd have with aquaducts is they are run by the government. but this would be an aquaponic system and would work 100% with out power!  this is not a system that could go in your back yard unless you have a creek or stream in your back yard.

sorry for the history lesson i was trying to give you all a mental picture of what i was thinking of!

I think the main issue that is argued which really is against the purpose of the discussion is "what is aquaponics?" It causes too much debate on the real subject than necessary. 

Most define it as one or all of the following:

A closed loop traditional hydroponic system fueled primarily by fish waste tied into the system.

A hybrid culture of animals/animal waste and plant production. (closed loop or open water(treatment) system, or both)

A self contained meta-ecosystem manged strictly by balance, human inputs, and human outputs.

The first I think is almost not possible without a pump of some kind. A pump is a pump even if fueled by natural input (thermal/solar) Can it be done is the interesting question i think this thread is about.

The second is it possible to fuel as a waste byproduct from system A to B. I think this is a great way to improve on current culture systems and make them more efficient even if not ideal. I did see a youtube which I cant find now, of a agriculture pen in a  slow edie current bay which had a fish pen, below it a sea cucumber farm on the sea floor and a kelp farm up current from the fish to utilize the additional nitrogen in the water from the fish. I dont know if that was aquaponics but it sure was cool.

Thirdly, Carey Ma is the pro at small ecosystems on this forum. I think really understanding/complimenting/assisting in what he is doing is the best way to go about "the big picture". I think this is the discussion for him to inspire others or even recruit some minions for his experiments. 

Wow ..... 

but how to do that ? 

I'm really interested with free electricity AP.

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