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Table 2 outlines the most important location and infrastructure considerations when designing a new aquaponic system.
AspectDescriptionSite stability and foundationsWater is heavy. Choose stable and level ground for building your aquaponic system. If the ground is not stable, the foundations will be unstable and leaks could occur because of movement of the pipes.Climatic conditions at the locationConsider how to protect the aquaponic system from extreme weather events. Europe is located in a moderate climatic zone characterized by changing seasons with different temperatures and day lengths. Therefore you should consider what to do during periods of low temperature and short daylight. One option is to stop production and start again in the spring; the other is to heat the water and air and provide artificial lighting. On the other hand, extremely high temperatures have to be avoided during summer. You can install shading nets, or paint the outside of the greenhouse with white paint. Good quality greenhouses have automated sprinklers and ventilation devices. Remember that systems with a large water volume are more resistant to overheating than those with a small water volume. Having access to additional water (spring water etc.) for cooling using a heat exchanger can also help. In addition to solar radiation, the fish and electrical components also produce a lot of thermal energy that has to be removed during warm weather.Water and electricity sourcesThere must be a reliable source of electricity and of water of appropriate quality and quantity on the site. The possibility of power cuts also has to be considered. Do you have a backup electricity generator? How will you provide oxygen to the fish? How will you keep them warm/cool? Heat and mass balances have to be calculated during the detailed design stage in order to define the reaction time in such events.Accessibility, entrance, fencesThe location should be accessible for transporting equipment, harvested vegetables and fish. The system should always be accessible for urgent interventions. On the other hand, access by unauthorized persons has to be prevented, because of the risk of infections and disease.Designated work and storage areasWhen designing an aquaponic system one has to consider all the operations and processes that will take place, including storage space for fish food, cleaning material and tools, monitoring equipment and work clothes. A table will be needed for documentation work, and for displaying the operating, maintenance and troubleshooting instructions.
Figure 1: (left) Wind damage on a greenhouse; (b) Shading nets in a greenhouse provide protection from strong sunlight and prevent algae growth (photos: U. Strniša)
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