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It’s fish and vegies at Perth City Farm

It’s fish and vegies at Perth City Farm

Story and photos by Russ Grayson

THE SMART FOLK over at Perth City Farm has found a way to enjoy some tasty fish with the vegetables they grow. This they do through an aquaponic system — an integrated vegetable/fish production unit that yields Australian freshwater fish.

The system circulates water — and the nutrients it picks up — through a series of raised vegetable beds and, finally, into a fish tank. The water and nutrients are then recirculated back through the vegetable beds. The plants and fish benefit from the circulated nutrients, although the fish may need some supplementary feed.

Perth City Farm’s system consists of three round, galvanised iron beds and a deeper galvanised iron tank for the fish. The beds are filled with an organic growing medium. The city farmers have installed interpretive signage so that visitors understand what goes on in the system.

Aquaponic systems offer a source of urban protein. They may require a little tweaking to get them working efficiently, and the right species of freshwater fish must be chosen for the climate.

DIFFICULTY: High. Needs technical knowledge of construction, pisciculture (small-scale fish farming), and control of water.

EFFECTIVENESS: Effective is properly managed. Potential as a source of urban protein and vegetables in small spaces. Commercial potential to supply fresh food markets.

SCALABILITY: Good. Can be scaled up in size and replicated based on successful models.

REPLICABILITY: Good potential. Requires knowledge/advice on the design and management of the technology.

Commercial versions of the technology are available on the market for home or community garden deployment.

MAINTENANCE SCALE:
Materials: Low. The electric pump will require skilled maintenance.
Skills: High — manual skills for construction; electrical skills/electrician to wire up pump; basic horticultural and fish management skills to operate biological component of the technology.

The stepped vegetable production beds drain into the fish production tank in Perth City Farm’s aquaponic system.
Water from the fish tank is moved back to circulate into the vegetable beds.
The vegetable production beds.

Comments (8)

  • rheanna
    13/06/2010 at 6:06 am Reply

    What type of fish are you keeping in the tank? and where did you buy them from? We are looking for edible fish to do a similar thing with.

  • Adrian
    26/10/2010 at 5:08 am Reply

    I’ve just got mine recently setup. I got barramundi in my tank since summer is coming up. If you are too lazy to build one for your self, google backyard aquaponics and they sell the whole thing. Fish can be aquired from Golden Ponds. They are located over at Baldivis.
    Silver Perch is also a good all year round fish although the growth rate is slightly slower
    Rainbow Trout is a good winter fish
    I stock 20-25 fish per grow bed (approx 70-80 plants)
    Hope this helps. Buzz me a mail at adrianchuah[at]hotmail.com if u got more questions. Sorry for the late response, I just happen to stumble accross your question by accident

  • alan
    05/02/2012 at 2:07 pm Reply

    Try spangled perch they breed in enclosures are omnivorus and tolarate massive changes in water temp PH range environmental pollution salinity and taste very nice once they reach a decent size though they are bony.
    Some irrasponsible sod has let em loose in perth and can be caught from many southern perth lakes and riverways.
    I have a small breeding group atm for my own aquaponic setup im making soon.

  • Carolyn
    17/07/2012 at 12:38 am Reply

    Silver Perch are good in an aquaponics system because, even though they are slow maturing, you can keep different sizes all together so you will have a continuous supply. Barramundi and Rainbow Trout will eat smaller fish and are seasonal. My son and I are setting a system up with two tanks. The bigger one will have Silver Perch year round and the smaller one will alternate Barramundi and Rainbow Trout. If you give Backyard Aqauponics a ring they should be able to give you a list of places in Perth that sell fingerlings.

  • Aaron
    04/10/2012 at 11:11 pm Reply

    Alan I am desparately trying to source some spangled perch to stock some slightly saline ponds I have on my farm in the Eastern Wheatbelt. Can you point me where I can buy these fish? Many thanks info@sandalwoodresources.com.au

  • Alan
    29/11/2012 at 5:05 pm Reply

    Persuant to Aarons request, please seek approval from the W.A fisheries first before introducing any fish into water bodies anywhere lest you help facilitate the spread to Non Native (to the south west anyway) fish which are becoming an increasing problem to our high pressured delicate waterways. One would not wish to be held cupable legally or morally of damages to our increasingly fragile environment.

  • Aaron
    15/02/2013 at 11:53 pm Reply

    Not surprising WA Fisheries have informed me Spangled Perch are a no go species. Guess we stick with the silver perch.

  • Murray Hallam
    15/11/2017 at 3:57 pm Reply

    I am really happy to say it’s an interesting post to read. Grow fish with the vegetables is a great idea. Keep it up.

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