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Around October 2014, Myaquaponics was contracted to do a rooftop aquaponics pilot system for Simanye, a company dedicated to helping businesses, communities and the public sector find effective and sustainable solutions for transformation and economic development in South Africa.

The location was the rooftop of a 7 floor building in Jeppestown, Johannesburg. The building is being refurbished into middle class apartments. The idea for the aquaponics system, was to utilize the otherwise unused space on the rooftop, and produce vegetables for the tenants to purchase, and also to supply the local hawkers with fresh produce that they could sell on the streets of Johannesburg.

Craig Leppan, a Myaquaponics co-founder, set about designing and building the system.

Logistics of getting all the equipment up to the roof proved challenging. The elevators in the building are out of order, so it entailed carrying most of the equipment up the stairs, 7 floors up!

The radial flow filters proved too big to fit through the doors, so they had to be hoisted (see image below).

It was decided that the grow beds would be DWC and constructed out of fibreglass. Myaquaponics made use of its own fibreglass commercial grow bed sections, which comprise of sections that can be bolted together to build grow beds of any length. Two 12m long grow beds were built.

Due to the potentially strong winds at these heights, it was decided to build mini-tunnels spanning the length of the grow beds, rather than one large tunnel that could be blown away in a strong gust.

The mini-tunnels over the grow beds have been covered with 50% shade netting.

Two 1500 litre plastic fish tanks were used. Filtration comprises radial flow filters to separate the solids, and bio-filters. The fish tanks and filtration equipment are housed in a plastic lined greenhouse. Around 500 fingerlings have now been added to the fishtanks, comprising tilapia Rendalli, Banded Tilapia and some Red Comets. In the winter, water in the system is being heated using solar evacuated tube hot water tanks. This is to ensure that the tropical tilapia eat and survive during the cold months.

Part of the project involved training of the staff responsible for looking after the system. Below we see Malibongwe, the system's caretaker putting his newly acquired knowledge into practice, and doing some water tests during the first few days of the cycling process.

Below, Malibongwe is busy transplanting the first cellery seedlings onto the floating rafts. Basil and spinach was also planted.

We will be monitoring the system and its progress going forward and we will keep you posted. 

A job well done Craig...

You have to agree however, that this is the AQUAPONICS SYSTEM WITH THE BEST VIEW IN AFRICA!

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