Author Topic: Aquaponics Collaboration of fish and plants - idea  (Read 17207 times)

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thedubman

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Re: Aquaponics Collaboration of fish and plants - idea
« Reply #15 on: November 18, 2010, 05:40:14 PM »
How far down would any 'containmation' reach? how about from under rocks? How deep is the 'soil' on Mars, I guess its pretty variable, but I bet theres a few meters of it at the bottom of old washed down ravines etc..

aozeba

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Re: Aquaponics Collaboration of fish and plants - idea
« Reply #16 on: November 21, 2010, 03:24:07 PM »
aozeba - as much as I love the Idea of algae groving on Mars (now it's nearly 90% sure they will be used on Mars due the fact that there are strains extremely resiliant to radiation that produce more oxygen than syntetic-chemical processes) you have to realize that Algae have nothing to do with aquaponics. In fact - this whole system was designes so that there would be no algae of any kind (this is archieved by using filters, UV-lamps, and mainly - by injecting air into the water). Algae kills fish, lowers fertilizer level, and lowers efficiency of the whole system. So in conclusion, mentioning algae as potential usage on Mars is good, but not in aquaponics topic  :)

Yeah that makes sense, you would want to try to avoid getting live algae into your system. The algae crud will also be useful as compost for generating soil, so I'm sure we could find a use for it even if its not aquaponics.

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Using daphnia for the purpose of creating fish-food is interesting. I've reed some articles about using worms as a fish food. The idea is that many fish can eat them if they are properly prepared (crusted into dust) and worms as a food source for human have less calory-values than fish. So then if worm could be harvested for humans if needed, but if not - they could be prepared and used as a food for fish, which themselves would give us much more calories. It's even more interesting knowing for a fact that we have worm-beds in MCO.

The cool thing about daphnia as a fish food is that there's no need to grind them up or process them, since they are "bite-sized". Of course if you are trying to keep algae out of the system there's a danger of introducing live algae inside the daphnia's guts. So it might be a good idea to dry them out or freeze them or something first. Luckily there's extremely cold and dry air just outside the station!

aozeba

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Re: Aquaponics Collaboration of fish and plants - idea
« Reply #17 on: November 21, 2010, 03:45:02 PM »
I must sadly inform that current studies about mars regolith give no doubt that mars soil cannot be used as a growth medium for plants at any stage.

The problem with this conclusion is that it underestimates the potential of both natural biology and genetic engineering. There are many examples of extremeophile organisms that thrive in crazy environments with the characteristics described here. Obviously none of them have ever tried living on Mars, but I think that through a combination of bacteria, archaea, plants and fungi it is possible to create a viable soil medium from martian regolith and dust.

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Airborne dust and soil could contain trace amounts of hazardous chemicals, including compounds of toxic metals that are known to cause cancer over the long term if inhaled in sufficient quantities. Soil analyses conducted by the Viking missions established maximum possible concentration limits for a few toxic elements based on the detection capabilities of the instruments on the landers (Table 4.2), and Mars Pathfinder measurements established that chromium is present in Mars soil. Although analogous measurements have not been made on airborne dust, soil and dust are commonly assumed to have similar chemical compositions (McSween and Keil, 2000).

There are several examples of plants that concentrate metals in vacuoles (empty spaces between cells) as a means to survive in high metal environments. By researching these plants and either using them as they are or recombining their genomes it should be able to create plants that store a particular metal in their leaves, flowers, or other harvestable parts of the plant. These plants could then be harvested as a usable source of metals, and the leftover plant parts tilled back into the regolith. After a few generations (which could be less than a year if you use fast growing plants), the levels of toxic metals in the soil would be much reduced, and you could move the soil into the next stage.

aozeba

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Re: Aquaponics Collaboration of fish and plants - idea
« Reply #18 on: November 21, 2010, 05:54:13 PM »
Martian soil is full of salts of any kind. They must be removed.
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"We also found a variety of components of salts that we haven't had time to analyze and identify yet, but that include magnesium, sodium, potassium and chloride."

There are two ways to deal with this. One is to try to remove all the salt, the other is to use plants that are salt tolerant or even salt loving. Removing all of the salt would likely take up a huge amount of water, which will be an incredibly valuable resource on mars.

However, many organisms can tolerate huge amounts of salt, and some even require these amounts to survive. Some bacteria do this by storing the salt in special structures (just like with the metals). These could be grown by mixing soil with a little bit of water to make extremely salty water and then harvested, making the mixture less salty with each harvest.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halophile

Humans actually require some amount of salt as well, making NaCl (sodium chloride) a valuable resource. Magnesium is a trace nutrient required by many organisms as well, and potassium is required by just about all plants and animals. So growing salt loving bacteria and harvesting them could yield useful products in its own right, rather than just being a method for cleaning the salt out of the soil.

Another interesting plant that could be grown in high salt soil is Salicornia. Although it can't grow in as salty a soil as the bacteria, it could be the next stage for the soil after the first cleaning. The plant is edible by people and animals, some species yield oil in their seeds, and because it also stores salt in vacuoles it would extract salt from its growth medium and leave it less salty.

Some people in coastal areas are experimenting with using effluent from aquaculture (shrimp mostly) to fertilize Salicornia. So there's even a possibility of salt-water aquaponics being a part of the soil production system!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salicornia

Spartina, a common marsh grass, has special glands that extrude salt from their leaves and can be easily scraped off. You could grow it, scrape the leaves once in a while, and compost the dead plants, leaving you with good organic matter and less salt in the soil.

http://www.dnr.sc.gov/marine/pub/seascience/dynamic.html

So there are many options in terms of plants and bacteria that you can grow in a highly salty soil, and these can be used to get the salt out, allowing you to grow less tolerant plants in subsequent stages. I picture a long greenhouse with different stages, on one end is closer to raw soil and on the other end is soil that we would actually recognize as such.

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The mineral content of Martian soil suggests that it would form a sandy, highly acidic, saline soil if enriched with enough water for plant growth. It typically lacks carbonates (resulting in a high inherent acidity), and no ready sources of carbonates appear available in the northern plains of Mars to enrich Martian soils using in situ resources. Its lack of humus and clays also combine to give it a high water flow rate with poor water retention. These factors make it useless for agricultural purposes in its native state. Untreated Martian soil is likely toxic to most crop plants and unsuitable for plant growth as either a fertilized soil or a hydroponic medium.

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Because of its strong oxidizing power, Martian soil acts like concentrated bleach and could burn rubber and plastics.

Another problem is with soil's pH. It can be turned normal, but that requires to add another compounds and buffers.

Acid is a lot more difficult to deal with, but there are Acidophile organisms as well... there is also the possibility of using ash from some other process, since ash is very basic and could neutralize the soil. You could use the spartina from above to make the ash, but the problem is burning things takes oxygen, which is precious and in short supply on mars.


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There is also a problem of preparing transformation of small rocks, minerals and chemical compounds in situ into SOIL (which from definition is a life-supporting structure, beying alive itself. ).
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Let me just elaborate that the problem isn't with the technology of turning mars-soil into fertile-soil. The problem is how to do it economicly. Today - if we wished to transform 1 T of mars soil, we would have to bring to Mars 1,5 T of chemical compounds and instruments to do so...and that's pointless. We can still make compost tho'...but it'll take many ears before we could gather enough of it.

This is likely to be one of the most important activities for any colony on mars, since without soil things like growing food and making oxygen become hugely expensive industrial processes. Expect soil creation to be a huge, difficult undertaking, but not an impossible one. The good thing about using biology is that you don't have to carry tons and tons of chemicals with you, you can just bring spores or seeds and grow the chemicals you need.

Aquaponics, growing food, making soil, producing oxygen and even mining metals and salts are likely to be tightly connected processes. There are organisms on Earth that can do almost any chemical reaction, and by using some as they are and recombining the genes others we should be able to (relatively) easily make what we need with what we've got. If we try to make a machine for each of these processes individually, though, it will get out of hand pretty fast.

pad69

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Re: Aquaponics Collaboration of fish and plants - idea
« Reply #19 on: November 24, 2010, 11:45:59 AM »
As far as soil goes we will use the Mars dirt but it will have to be contaminated with bacteria to make it work. Soil that can grow food will have to be prepped with worms, bacteria, NPK fertilizer and eventually it will start becomming a growth medium. Compost is our best friend since it will introduce the needed contaminants. Earth dirt in it's simple form is just sand and bits of rock, it's just a holder or binder for the organics.
I want to make the users collect dirt from different areas and make a growth medium for the plants but havent got to that point yet. Worms will be our best friend.
I agree with you on this one.
Murphy's Law applies "Anything that can possibly go wrong, does." or some say it this way "If anything can go wrong, it will.

pad69

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Re: Aquaponics Collaboration of fish and plants - idea
« Reply #20 on: November 24, 2010, 11:48:07 AM »
I have to disagree about the soil. My friends at Ohio State University Agricultural Institute tell me it's quite doable to make Mars soil work. The experiments they have performed with some of the most poisionious soils here on Earth contaminated with large quantities of things like PCB can be converted into usable dirt after a few growth turns of certain types of weeds. They have taken the ground from an old steel mill that has been contaminated for over 100 years with oils and chemicals from the casting processes as well as asbestos etc and proved they can have viable soil in less than 3 years and that dirt is far more poisionious than anything on Mars. I think the technology exists to convert it at no more cost than time and some good weeds.
Again I am sticking with you on this one.
Murphy's Law applies "Anything that can possibly go wrong, does." or some say it this way "If anything can go wrong, it will.

Marco2001

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Re: Aquaponics Collaboration of fish and plants - idea
« Reply #21 on: November 24, 2010, 12:20:10 PM »
pad69 - science doesn't work this way. Whether you like it or dislike it is totaly irrelevent. You must post your logical arguments, and explain your statement in a way that I can check it and eventualy disprove it. That's why I post links and quotes at every post, that you can check.

For instance - I say it's impossible right now to use microbiological remediation of mars soil becouse there are no microosrganism on earth that we know off that can live in mars soil, becouse mars soil consists of hexavalent chromium, oxidants and trace elemements unseen in earth soil. That is why I state that hyper's friend example is useless, becouse as much as toxic the soil is, it's still earth soil.
If you wish to disaprove my statement, the best way would be to find some articles about microorganism tested for purposes of mars-soil bioremediation (personaly I found lot's of articles about that, becouse that was my science project for graduation).
I state that there are no plants that can live in unprepared mars-soil, and that the chemical-purification proces I posted before us, uses so much chemical compounds and machinery to prepare mars-soil for plant bioremediation to change mars-regolith-soil into regular soil, that it's economicaly unreasonable.
I state that using hydroponics has much advantages over soil growth on mars, that its should be used insted - mainly, it needs no soil, the water is in closed loop, the efficiency is greater. Soil (as posted before) could be created from dead plants-leftovers. The process takes lot of time (up to a decade!) but the total biomass is increasing (becouse you fertilize plants using minerals that you find on mars).
 If combined with a fish farm, hydroponics changes into aquaponics which is self-suficient, and is totaly better than soil-plant growth in almost every way. That is why I propose to use aquaponics with a colaboration with normal hydroponics growth insted of adding complicated economicaly-illogical process of mars soil purification just to make soil-plnt cultivation for no apparrent reason. 

Poland here. My time: GMT + 1h
Writing a book about Mars. Any ideas? Type to me.
I'am an Astrobiology/Biology student.

profit004

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Re: Aquaponics Collaboration of fish and plants - idea
« Reply #22 on: November 24, 2010, 02:00:16 PM »
I am still up in the air about how feasable it is to have something grow in martian soil, I did not realise that there were organisms that could thrive in something like the dead sea and that is fairly interesting to me. 

 However I am more wondering if there are organisms that live in a bottle of drain-o.  In order for me to believe that it is possible to use earth based organisms on martian soil I would need to hear of something that can survive in a highly caustic environment like pure wood ashes or lye.  If I can find or see some examples of things like that then I will sign off on the idea it is possible to bioremediate the soil.

* well I suppose it might be possible to generate massive amounts of hydrochloric acid on mars as well now that I think about it...  That would be a good first step to making the soil tolerable.



Marco2001

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Re: Aquaponics Collaboration of fish and plants - idea
« Reply #23 on: November 24, 2010, 02:13:17 PM »
* well I suppose it might be possible to generate massive amounts of hydrochloric acid on mars as well now that I think about it...  That would be a good first step to making the soil tolerable.

But WHY? What's the point in making soil from mars regolith when ther's hydroponics and aquaponics? Why bother?

Poland here. My time: GMT + 1h
Writing a book about Mars. Any ideas? Type to me.
I'am an Astrobiology/Biology student.

profit004

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Re: Aquaponics Collaboration of fish and plants - idea
« Reply #24 on: November 24, 2010, 02:28:28 PM »
Hrm.. Good point..

Why bother indeed...

 Well I suppose there could be reasons like large scale agriculture but yeah I guess it would be completely silly to do it when hydroponics and aquapotics would allow it to occur with far less trouble... I am concerned with their energy use though.  Course generating Hydrochloric acid in volume would require a ton of energy as well *probably way more actually* =/

Yeah.  I see this point and I am giving it to you marco.

profit004

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Re: Aquaponics Collaboration of fish and plants - idea
« Reply #25 on: November 24, 2010, 02:36:19 PM »
Actually now that I think about it, even if a certain plant were discovered that would allow these things in the soil to be neutralized or collected into vacuoles, hydroponics would still be very valuable because you could leech the things from the soil using water and then clear the water through the hydroponic or posibly aquaponic system.

That way you could clean the soil and you would not have to have a plant that could handle the extreme, just as long as you only cleaned it a little at a time. (or added the leechate to the system a little at a time)

That way you could have the benefits of a lightweight hydroponic/aquaponic system with it's immediate setup and availibility and also be prepping soil for low energy use soil based agriculture at the same time

« Last Edit: November 24, 2010, 02:39:26 PM by profit004 »

aozeba

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Re: Aquaponics Collaboration of fish and plants - idea
« Reply #26 on: November 26, 2010, 02:16:20 AM »
* well I suppose it might be possible to generate massive amounts of hydrochloric acid on mars as well now that I think about it...  That would be a good first step to making the soil tolerable.

But WHY? What's the point in making soil from mars regolith when ther's hydroponics and aquaponics? Why bother?

The why bother is a good question. To me it comes down to what your eventual goals are for a mars colony. If your goal is simply to have a mars science station with a few inhabitants, then aquaponics is the way to go, since a system can be brought in already running and it can provide food for the colony.

My vision for mars is something a bit grander, with science stations eventually giving way to permanent settlement with large scale colonies. Most of these would have aquaponics systems to be sure, but there would also be a need (psychological if nothing else) for plants in the soil that can (mostly) take care of themselves. Water is sure to be scarce on mars, so feeding large colonies is going to require a bit of agriculture, and without soil there is no agriculture. So you have to do both, try to make soil out of regolith and in the meantime make the best aquaponics system you can.

Marco2001

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Re: Aquaponics Collaboration of fish and plants - idea
« Reply #27 on: November 26, 2010, 06:28:06 AM »
That seems fairly logical.

Poland here. My time: GMT + 1h
Writing a book about Mars. Any ideas? Type to me.
I'am an Astrobiology/Biology student.

thedubman

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Re: Aquaponics Collaboration of fish and plants - idea
« Reply #28 on: November 26, 2010, 02:31:12 PM »
What about using geneticly engineered 'space plants' which are able to grow in such soil mediums and maybe in turn convert some of the material to something of use- not too far fetched but its a way of explaining the slight problem of 'bad' soil on Mars..

aozeba

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Re: Aquaponics Collaboration of fish and plants - idea
« Reply #29 on: November 29, 2010, 12:30:06 PM »
That's exactly what I've been suggesting, where we combine the genes from many of the plants and bacteria I described and make ourselves some "space plants". Love the name too! I think they should still be inside the habitat, but with soil from the outside, mixed with some of our compost.