The idea behind the Fish Food Project is that while aquaponics is an amazing way to grow food, it still requires fish food. Most fish foods are made of fish meal, which is not very sustainable. What if we can make our own fish food with stuff from the ranch? How many things can be added to the loop?
Starting with water and barley seed, we produce barley fodder to feed horses, rabbits, chickens, and pigs. The 80% digestibility, vitamins and pH balancing properties make fodder a great supplement to other feed sources like hay. Some horse owners even use fodder exclusively.
Feeding the manure from the horses to the worms and black soldier fly larvae, we can produce both a protein source and also vermicastings. The Black Soldier Fly Larvae are strictly a protein source and may be a seasonal supplement, but there is a good chance that we can establish a small colony that can over winter. We are still trying to get the romance going between adult soldier flies. It seems we can raise them to maturity just fine. There’s just no love in the air to produce offspring as of yet.
The spirulina is grown using aquaponics water instead of agricultural fertilizers. We add some baking soda, sea salt and potassium hydroxide to raise the pH alkalinity, salinity, and pH so that the spirulina will grow, but other algaes won’t. Bubbling in the tanks are airstones with the airpumps located right next door in the wormery. Worms and compost produce CO2 and we utilize this surplus carbon dioxide to double the growth of the spirulina by letting the air pumps draw from the wormery.
The worms, larvae and spirulina will be fed to the fish in pellet form with a lipid(some sort of fat from ranch), a carbohydrate (barley flour from the barley grains) and mineral additive to essentially close the biological loop in our aquaponics system. If we can produce beyond our needs for the fish, we will provide extra feed to supplement the pigs and chickens in whatever form and mix they prefer.
The Aquaponic systems produce vegetables and fish protein to be sold off the ranch. The remaining fish parts can be fed to the pigs, chickens and soldier flies. I suppose if we raised our own barley, we could close the loop on this whole system!