Aquaponics is extremely water wise. And our system is about to get a whole lot wiser. I’ve decided to add a mineralization chamber to the aquaponics system to minimize water loss from clearing filters and hopefully to increase the nutrient density of our crops. Every week or so, I flush the swirl filter and that sludge is sent to the outside and on the ground. For the longest time, I had hoped to use that nutrient rich material for composting, but I think keeping those nutrients in the system is a much better solution. Mineralizing the solids effluent will increase the availability of nutrients in the water, hopefully, raising the nutrient density of the produce and will allow the us to “keep” the water in the system instead of losing it to the ground or a compost pile. This minimizes water loss and water additions, which reduces our reliance on the well or rainwater collection. The system should be able to run solely on rainwater, which would also solve our sodium problem. The well water has 240ppm of sodium and plants like about 40ppm. In the mineralization chamber, the effluent from the filters is aerated and churned to increase the mineralization rate. After about 5-7 days, the mixture is allowed to settle and then the “clear” water on the top is siphoned or pumped back into the system. More effluent is then added to the mineralization chamber and the aeration/pumping begins again. James Ebeling, PhD and author of one of the greatest books ever, Recirculating Aquaculture, was kind enough to give me some advice on adding mineralization to my system. He said that the tank should be no deeper than 3 feet so that the aeration can remain effective in the chamber. I think I am going going to use a 1000 liter tote and see how that goes. These tanks are fairly common and I use them for large batch compost extract brewing. I’m going to use the same set up I use for the extract brewing to use for the mineralization chambers. My plan is to have two tanks although I’m not sure I have enough room. When I “flush” the swirl filter, usually around 100-175 gallons needs to leave the tank so I can adequately clear the pipes going from the fish tanks to the swirl filter. A lot of solids collect in those pipes. Having two tanks gives us the ability to deal with this volume creatively. I may need to use both tanks each time or maybe they can be alternated. It will depend on what method gives the best ability to siphon off the “clear” water to add back into the system. I’ll let you know when they get plumbed into the system. I’ve got some work to do to find the room for two more tanks in the tight fish room.