Aquaponics Workshop Schedule 2017

Growing Power Aquaponics Workshop Program

February through June 2017

Aquaponics classroom sessions are presented by University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences and sponsored by the National and Wisconsin Sea Grant Programs on Fridays at the School of Freshwater Sciences at 600 E. Greenfield Ave., Milwaukee, WI. Refer to dates on Growing Power’s website announcement.

Workshop/Classroom session times will be 8:30 am – 11:30 pm: Lunch 11:30-12:30 pm:

Workshop sessions will reconvene from 12:30 pm – 4:00 pm

Room 1099 or 3080 (dependent on class size)

Hands-on Aquaponic System Demonstrations are presented by Growing Power staff on Saturdays and Sundays at the Growing Power farm at 5500 W. Silver Spring Dr., Milwaukee, WI.



Presenter: Fred Binkowski, Wisconsin Sea Grant Aquaculture Specialist, Senior Scientist and Director, Great Lakes Aquaculture Center, UWM-SFS

There is currently a grass-root resurgence of interest in commercial scale local food production that emphasizes home or urban community-based farming. Urban aquaculture and aquaponics provides local production of food, ensuring the ultimate state of freshness and avoids the shipment of food from regional and national sources as well as distant regions of the world where production practices and the unregulated use of pesticide and chemical additives for preservation and storage are of concern. State-of-the-art urban aquaculture/aquaponics promotes the use of integrated, fish and vegetable/plant food production systems that utilize green technology, water reuse, minimal effluent discharge, and energy and freshwater conservation. Urban aquaculture/aquaponics may be a perfect catalyst for urban revitalization and provides several advantages for economic development such as: involving new people and potential investors, creating jobs where unemployment levels are high, and improving the quality of life and the environment.

In a natural aquaponic rearing system, like those used at “Growing Power”, there are three living components that the operator must keep in balance to be successful: the plant crop, the fish crop, and the microbial community that breaks down waste in the system, helping to maintain water quality by converting toxic wastes to forms usable by the plant crop. The water quality of an aquaculture/aquaponic system is monitored using a water chemistry measuring and analysis approach. Each of the three living components must be kept in balance as the crops grow. This workshop will be concerned with the fish and their needs and how they relate to the other living components such as the plants and the bacterial community. Additionally, these three components are supported by the physical system including fish tank, plant beds, substrates, filters, aeration, and water recirculation.

Friday 8:30 -9:30 am

System Water Chemistry

Presenter: Robert Paddock, Senior Scientist and Assistant Dean of Facilities and Marine Operations, UWM-SFS

Successful urban aquaponics involves keeping high densities of fish healthy over long periods of time. Good water quality is critical to the health of the fish and the success of the aquaponics effort and is controlled through maintaining proper oxygen levels in the water, keeping pH within a specified range and removing ammonia and solids from the water. This presentation will look at these parameters, how they affect the health of the fish, how they interact and how they are controlled.

Providing the fish with an environment conducive to optimal growth is the objective of a good water quality management program. Aquaponic system operators have a great number of tools at their disposal to predict, detect, and resolve water quality problems in systems that treat and reuse water. Careful monitoring and organized recording of vital water quality parameters is essential.

Water quality topics that will be covered in the workshop include:

  • Temperature
  • Dissolved Oxygen
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • pH
  • Total Ammonia-Nitrogen
  • Un-ionized Ammonia
  • Nitrites-Nitrates
  • Total Alkalinity
  • Turbidity
  • Chlorine

Friday 9:30 -10:30 am

Aquatic Microbiology

Presenter: Ryan Newton, Professor, UWM School of Freshwater Sciences

  • Nitrifying Microorganisms
  • Substrates
  • Bacteria life history (environmental requirements)
  • Important water chemistry parameters: pH, oxygen, NH3, NO2, NO3, CO2, hardness, alkalinity.
  • Monitoring and measuring instrumentation
  • Analysis
  • Upper and lower limits related to aquatic organisms and optimal conditions.
  • Commonly occurring fish pathogens
  • Diseases prevention/biosecurity

Friday 10:30 am – 11:30 pm

Aquaponic System Design, Material Selection, and Construction

Presenter: Ben Wiedenman, Aquaponics Research Specialist, UW-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences and Lead Aquatic Biologist, Rose Innovations, Milwaukee, WI

For an aquaponics system, in-ground and above-ground raceway construction and support components are the most common approach. However, for some species of fish, above-ground tanks such as round and oval are preferred based on swimming behavior patterns of the fish. Plant growing system construction and materials would include natural or artificial lighting, specialized substrates, ventilation/air temperature control, water temperature control, pumps and plumbing design. An important aspect of an aquaponic system is to balance the integration of fish and plants to maximize production. This model represents the natural approach (Growing Power of Milwaukee, Wisconsin). Hybridized aquaponics would include adding mechanical components (clarifier and biofilter) to the natural aquaponic system with the goal of increasing production.

Lunch Break: 11:30 – 12:30 pm

Friday 12:30 – 1:30 pm

Aquaponic Horticulture: Botany for Beginners & Plant Husbandry Techniques

Presenter: Jessica Grow, Research Specialist, Great Lakes Aquaculture Center, UWM-School of Freshwater Sciences

Growing plants in an aquaponic setting brings about new and unique components to consider, beyond the traditional soil-based growing methods. In this discussion, we’ll cover basic plant biology and husbandry, and how it specifically relates to this delicately balanced system of fish, plants, and microbes. Topics will include nutritional requirements and availability, deficiency/toxicity issues, supplemental lighting options, common pest/disease identification, integrated pest management techniques, companion planting, and succession planting.

Friday 1:30 – 2:30 pm

Fish Feed and Feeding Management

Presenter: Dong-Fang Deng, Fish Nutritionist and Senior Scientist, UWM-School of Freshwater Sciences

Important elements related to fish nutrition include matching the diet with the species being raised (protein, lipids, energy etc.), cost, availability, impact on water quality, shelf life, system compatibility (such as use in integrated systems and RAS technology). Feed management is an important aspect to the nutrition program which includes diet selection for coldwater, coolwater, and warmwater fish, feed frequency, ration size as a function of temperature and age of the fish, and environmental conditions (such as tank shape, lighting, water flow, etc.). Optimal feed management is key to a profitable aquaculture operation because feed cost usually accounts for 40-60% of production costs in aquaculture. This presentation will provide a general guideline on 1) managing feed to maintain its quality and shelf life; 2) selection criteria for the optimal feed for a targeted species; 3) feeding for maximum growth and minimum waste production; and 4) improved product quality through feed management.

Friday 2:30 – 3:30 pm

Fishery Biology

Presenters: Fred Binkowski, Wisconsin Sea Grant Aquaculture Specialist, Senior Scientist and Director, Great Lakes Aquaculture Center, UWM School of Freshwater Sciences

Jeff Nuese, Researcher and Assistant Director, Great Lakes Aquaculture Center, UWM School of Freshwater Sciences

This workshop will consist of primarily a classroom presentation which will include a PowerPoint presentation and a Q&A session. The vertically integrated approach will be described and discussed which includes broodstock development, reproduction, early life stage culture (eggs, sac fry, larvae, post-larvae) and fingerlings to adult grow-out. Broodstock development will be described as it relates to geographic strain selection and genetic selection. Spawning techniques will include monitoring the gonadal maturation (both males and females), and selecting the appropriate timing for artificial fertilization including egg processing. Incubation techniques will be discussed as a function of water temperature, disinfection, and incubation apparatus to maximize hatching success. Temperature is an important parameter in all husbandry categories. A temperature range from 5oC (41oF) to 22oC (72oF) is standard for a vertically integrated fish aquaculture operation.

Early life stage feeding will utilize live foods from the onset of first feeding and then will transfer to commercial feeds. The production, management and presentation of live feeds are critical to the success of feeding sac-fry through the post-larval stage of fin fish. At the fingerling stage, husbandry techniques become less complex and survival rates usually are in excess of 90% of fingerlings to adult sized fish. Grow-out husbandry techniques and feed requirements have been standardized for most freshwater fin fish in commercial aquaponic operations. Yellow perch will be the target species of this presentation. However, we will also provide information on alternative fin fish species for aquaponic systems. This will include life history descriptions for bluegills (bream), hybrid bluegills, crappies, walleye, hybrid walleye, etc.

Aquaponics System Demonstration presented by Growing Power Staff (Sat. & Sun.)

This workshop presentation will include information on design, material selection, construction, and operation of both natural and hybridized aquaponic systems. Additionally, a hands-on demonstration will be conducted including the complete set-up of a natural aquaponic system. Students will have the opportunity to either learn or test their skills in blueprint interpretation, engineering, carpentry, plumbing, etc. The aquaponics team will also discuss the routine maintenance issues related to these systems and describe the pathway of water circulation in the system.

The aquaponics workshop team will provide information on plant substrates and plant selection. An important aspect related to aquaponic systems is the biosecurity of these systems. A discussion on this topic will address important issues like preventive hygiene measures and sanitation related to the general health of the biological system. As a follow-up to the water chemistry session that you attended on Friday, you will review the important chemical parameters associated with an aquaponic system, such as oxygen, pH, ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate. These chemical elements are critical to the success of an aquaponic system as it relates to both plant and fin fish health. Water chemistry is also important to the successful production of these systems. Marketing issues will also be discussed which is essential for providing a good quality product for the consumer in your community.

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