my little pond

Discussion in 'Hydroponics & Aquaponics' started by stevo, Jun 14, 2013.

  1. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member

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    I built a little pond using pine sleepers and a 3m x 4m pond liner. This is a bit of an experiment on a small scale. It's about 1300L. I have one of those small solar fountain pumps 200Lph, and also a small 240v pump (500Lph) on a timer that turns on and off throughout the day. I am getting a 12v pump to hopefully replace the 240v pump. I prefer 12v stuff because i can run it from my little off grid system. The pumps are to keep the water aerated.

    My first plan is a micro Crayfish Farm. I have a couple of Crayfish in there at the moment, just to see if i can keep them alive before i get carried away with trying to grow more.

    Crayfish tend to breed more when the water is warmer, and i could use a 240v fish tank heater, but i always have to go about things the wrong way first. I built a small parabolic water heater which was a bit half a*sed so it wasn't effective, and it hasn't helped having limited sunny days lately! I do have a small 30L evacuated tube water heater so i might try that next. It's probably not that important to heat the water, it's just an added extra really.

    Some basic info about Redclaw Crayfish - redclaws are native to North Queensland, and are considered a pest in my area (south east Qld) and most other areas. They have invaded our dams, Somerset and others, lots of people trap them for eating, when you catch them in dams you have to keep everything catch, you are not allowed to return any, no matter how small because they are considered a pest.

    Eating? They are great when boiled or bbqd. They are fairly tastless because they are a fresh water creature, you will have to add a fair bit of salt when boiled, and garlic and salt is great when done on the bbq. When boiling, you would cook just the short tail section. For the bbq, you can cut the crayfish down the center and stick them straight on the bbq.

    I don't expect to be breeding huge amounts from a small 1300L pond but it will be an interesting experiment. I can imagine having a few people over for a bbq, walking over and plucking a few out of the pond, preparing them and straight on the bbq.

    Note: if the crayfish fail, it might be a spa? or add some plants and fish.

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  2. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Your pond is excellent - nice neat build too. Would have been good in our Showcase section so we could rate it ;)

    I never knew Redclaw Crayfish was a pest - had no idea... Spent half my childhood fishing for crayfish in the rain, hail, and shine (Toowoomba). Definitely good eating I reckon but I agree salty water is a must when boiling.

    It looks pretty solid, did you use wood screws to join the sleepers together and any internal posts etc - I can't quite see?

    Like you say it could be used for several different things if the crayfish fail. Well done.
     
  3. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member

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    I didn't realise i could submit stuff to the Showcase thing. We go to Somerset and BP dam near Murgon for fishing and wakeboarding, and always put some traps out for Redclaws. I used Batten Screws, they have an indented hex head. There's a couple of vertical bits of wood to keep the sleepers in line, but really it's all just sitting there by itself. I made the top flat sleepers like that so it prevents the Redclaws getting out, they overhang on the inside. It's also good to sit on.

    I have put some structure in there to create places for them to hide. There's a big upside down bucket and lots of pvc pipes and a couple of big bits of wood.
    [​IMG]
     
  4. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    That's a good pic too - it should work perfect for crays you'd think (although I wouldn't know) but the places I've caught them, like in crappy little water holes, I'd imagine your spa would be the Hilton for yabbies! What do you feed them?

    I found a crayfish in my backyard last year when I was digging a shallow trench to divert some water past my chook pen. I actually dug him up and I put it in my duck pond but guess what? The ducks ate him lol :p

    I'm keen to see how you go with this - seriously thinking of copying your build. I could have a BBQ with home-grown yabbies and quail :)
     
  5. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member

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    They like places to hide and because it's a small pond i have to try increase the size/surface area by adding structure. I'm not sure how many i'll be able to have in this size because they tend to kill each other. This is kind of stage one. If this starts to work i'll make another one or get a couple of tanks for the small ones, depending on available space. To breed them you'd eventually need a couple more ponds or a big tank so the babies can be seperated as the big ones will eat them.

    If you're interested, depends how you want to go about it, you'll need a pond liner. Pond liner is generaly about $40 per metre (and standard width is 4m). You can buy it per metre from a large roll if you're doing large areas. I was going to get 3m x 4m which would be $120, but they also sell 3m x 4m already packaged for $80. I ended up cutting almost a metre off one end. Try to make the pond fairly deep but with structure that rises up so they can move around up and down. My bits of wood rise out of the water in the middle so if they're feeling crazy they can get out of the water, but it's in the middle like an island so they can't get out the sides.

    I put a thin layer of sand under it to stop it getting holes on sharp rocks etc and absorbs slight impact from inside.
    You could start with something like this for R&D for a couple of years, and if you got keen (because you have some land) you could dig a large shallow V shaped trench and fence it with a plastic sheild at the base (so they can't crawl away) (crayfish farms use long trenches instead of dams to create more suitable area. The crayfish will move from shallow water to deep water depending on the temprature. ... oops i'm getting carried away now :cheers:

    I try different things for food. I have some fish food/flakes, i throw some chook pellets in there, try anything but not too much, if they're not interested in it i take it back out, i tried brocolli but they didn't touch it. When we go trapping them, we've used Sunlight Soap, Rockmellon, Fruit Salad, boiled potato, and it all works. You have to be carefull not to just chuck everything in to the pond because if they don't or can't eat it all then it just turns the water to crap and they'll die. I think the Crayfish farms use some kind of pellets.

    ahh you've outdone me by a quail... ok i need to add something else to my farm now :twothumbsup:
     
  6. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Gee, that's very interesting - you've done your research on how to keep them that's for sure. We used to use a little piece of meat at the end of a line to catch them individually with a net as you drew the line in and scooped from behind whilst they were still holding on - it was a really good sport as a kid. Naturally, pots would be better out on a big dam catching for dinner. I would have never thought to use soap! Or, fruit salad...

    I probably could do a trench. That's a good idea. :thumbsup: Just have to keep my ducks out of it lol.

    Still, I've always wanted a pond... so many projects! :D
     
  7. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member

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    I'be had Crayfish as pets before, not that they make good pets, but i had some in a fish tank to look at. Because we trap them i've learnt a little bit about them over the years. I kind of wanted a pond too, but it really needed a purpose. My sister inlaw is building up a Aquaponics thing and will have some kind of fish to create poo to feed the plants etc. and then i think you eat the fish after a few years? I figured Crayfish might be easier. Only problem is you can't put any decorative waterplants in, the crayfish will eat them.

    Build two trenches, one for the ducks. Have you got plenty of water tanks? to keep the water up to the trenches? Probably have to research the soil types to consider water loss, or use a big long pond liner etc.

    Lots of different projects is good!, i'll have to add some more of my little projects. Hopefully one for the homebrew at some stage when i get a kit. I can be a bit all over the place with my projects, i'll walk around the back yard and see a vacant area or a pile of steel and decide i have to build something and then make up some reason why. :rolleyes:
     
  8. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I made the mistake by putting water plants in my duck pond - just to pretty it up - what was I thinking ,the ducks smashed and ate them within a day :facepalm:

    Yeah, I've got a bore with one main tank and a smaller one. But, I also have aggie pipe (closed trench) draining excess water from my orchard running down the hill to where the trenches would be positioned and it's almost always running. So, I wouldn't have an issue keeping water in the ponds/trench.

    If I made the trench big enough the ducks and yabbies might be able to co-exist?

    Definitely add more of your projects when you get the chance - that'd be good.
     
  9. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member

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    Sounds like your ducks might eat all the Crayfish! Would the ducks make a mess of the water, too much poo for Crayfish to live in?
     
  10. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Yeah you might be right, but if I made the trench big enough perhaps it would have enough water to be ok - not sure to be honest. I was contemplating a mini dam at one stage specifically for the ducks but I decided against it because I could just see myself having all sorts of trouble trying to put them back into their pen of an afternoon and them sitting in the middle of the dam. A long thin (2 mtr wide) trench would be easier for me to get them if needed.

    The crayfish should be able to hide from the ducks in a trench/dam don't you think? Or, would they get eaten?
     
  11. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member

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    I reckon once the ducks know that the crayfish are there they'll have a great time hunting them :) .. you could try see how it goes, and make changes along the way. You might need to work out a depth to keep the crayfish happy at a summer temprature and they might dictate the width, according to the slope in?

    Here's some websites, I know they're large scale, but they have some userfull info even for small ponds if people wanted to find out more. I might add more as i come across them.
    http://www.queenslandredclaw.org/
    http://www.aquaverde.com.au/
    http://www.cheraxpark.com.au/
     
  12. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    It's a BIG industry isn't it! I don't see a lot of Red Claw on QLD menus (perhaps I don't get out enough).

    Going from those sites you linked, a small dam would probably be the go down the bottom of my joint. Aquaverde don't seem to be too recommending on small aquaponic setups - saying they are not ideal, especially for juvenile... But, is fine once the crayfish gets a bit older. I guess your trialing that theory now - see how you go. And, see if they breed.

    Or, could your pond be used as a temp holding tank? You could trap a whole heap and then keep live what you don't eat for later?
     
  13. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member

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    already on to that :)

    and yeah, i have never actuualy seen redclaw for sale as food, but i don't get out much either :)
     
  14. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member

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    PS. they'll get by in one pond, but will be less successfull. I think i'll need to get a heater actually, they'll be getting down to 10 degrees soon, too cold for me!
     
  15. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    We use
    We (my Grandfather and I) used to fish for them at Lightening Ridge NSW in the opel puddling dams and through winter the water was freezing!

    I always remember how large the crayfish were in that area compared with the dams in my area back home and how timid they were making them quite hard to catch by hand line and net. I'd reel them in slowly and then just as I saw the bait and two beady eyes they'd bugger off before the net could be scooped from behind. I don't know why my Grandfather never used traps :think:
     
  16. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member

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    yeah a fella i know said he saw some huge ones when he was out near Emerald. I've never tried the meat on a string but i'll try it in my pond :cheers:

    I may have done a bad thing today, i bought three little Australian Bass, once i had them and was driving up the road i realised that they might eat the baby crayfish when they get bigger, ohwell, just another thing that will eat the babies besides the big crayfish eating them... oops... i might have to build another pond or tank soon to start separating everything, ohwell.. :popcorn:
     
  17. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    LOL... convert it to an aquaponic fish setup then :thumbsup: at least you have options :)
     
  18. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member

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    I've had a couple of deaths since the start of the project. A couple of Crayfish and more recent an Australian Bass. I'm not really down about it, it's kind of good because it makes you research and learn. This is the whole point of starting something new. It might sound nasty but the creatures i have in there are for testing the system out so i can learn and work out what i'm doing and then i can get it all right and then i can start to work on building numbers.

    I thought there may be sonething wrong with the water, weird levels etc, so i took a water sample to Smiths Aquarium http://www.smithsaquarium.com.au/ who test it for free (i'm sure all Aquariums could do the same?) They did all the tests in front of me and explained different things as they went.

    The fella said my water tested ok and couldn't really give cause for the deaths. It's possible the deaths are temperature or air related. He said it'd be very hard to heat the water while it's outside and uncovered which i understand.

    I have two pumps, one is solar (only runs when sun is out) and one is 240v. The 240v is on a timer and turns on and off through out the day. He suggested that the pump draws in all the crap when running and when it turns off it then just spits all the crap back out, which is bad. I didn't think about that.

    It's interesting to talk to people who know what they're talking about..... so i have a few things to work on. I don't plan on getting too serious with increasing numbers until summer so my plan is to work and build the system for a few months. :cheers:
     
  19. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member

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    Temperature: the water has been getting down to 11 degrees. Crayfish don't really like that and i was concerned that could be the cause of death, so i bought a 300watt heater, suitable to 600 - 1000L, but because it's outside and uncovered i think it had no chance. It just spun the electricity meter around really fast. .. i turned it off after a couple of days. I think it did raise it two degrees,
    it's now at 14 degrees. I think i might have to cop the low degrees.

    I still want to set up some kind of offgrid 12v pump / running through a long black pvc tube over the roof to heat water. I'm working on that.
    Even if cold temperatures aren't the cause of death, the higher temps will help with increasing population growth in the future.
     
  20. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Interesting problem but one many aquaponic setup face I guess. Sounds like you're on the right track to get the heating sorted. The pvc tubing sounds like a good low cost method (if only the bloody sun would come out in our part of the world) :mad: Feels like England :p

    There is a tendency to unfortunately lose a few critters when trying out any new setup - at least you don't have to buy the crayfish to get more.
     
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