Our proudest achievement here at Rhibafarms is a fully functional commercial aquaponics system. What is aquaponics you ask. Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics. We are raising fish and growing food in the same water, replicating a natural ecosystem much like what is found in nature. The fish, Tilapia in our case, live and grow in a tank. The mineral rich water from this tank is then channeled out to a growing area for plants. The plants soak up nutrients that are harmful to fish and in turn cleanse the water making it healthy for the fish and return it to the tank. Of course it’s not as simple as that, but we will leave the chemistry lesson for another time. A major challenge running a system like this in Arizona is the extreme summer heat. The Rhibafarms team are pioneers of desert aquaponics. We have cultivated a vast amount of knowledge earned the hard way through trial and error. It has been one of our most rewarding endeavours.
Currently we have two uniquely different systems. The first being our trough system at the urban farm in Chandler, AZ. Shown below, the trough system utilizes a series of flowing water troughs with the plants growing in floating rafts right on the water.
We are also in the process of developing a new hybrid aquaponics system at our Gilbert ranch house. Our aquaponics system at the ranch works on the same principals as the trough system but implemented in a few different ways. The new system is larger in scale, instead of a tank for the fish, we have dug a full pond. The fish we are using in this system are native Blue Gill and Catfish. We are also introducing soil into the mix. Here is how it works: we have several storage tanks placed near our garden areas. Water from the pond flows to the tanks via pipe and once the water reaches a certain level in the tank, it flows back to the pond. This allows us to have constant moving water. The gardens are watered from the tanks and the pond is replenished from our irrigation ditch every couple of weeks. In addition to this we are going to be building another trough system on the site as well. See the graphic below for a quick overview on how the ranch’s system works.
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