Bioshelter aquaponics is thriving

Plant tank with edible and useful species

Plant tank with edible and useful species

I haven’t written about the Bioshelter in awhile. There are some exciting things to report.

Clams:
About a month ago I decided to visit a local pond to see if I could find some freshwater clams for our system. To my surprise I found two species, the Eastern Pondmussel, and the Golden Asian Clam.

Both clams are edible and in fact I cooked some up when I got home (For a few minutes in salted water until they opened up). Even though we have both species living very well in our tanks now, the flavor of the golden clam is a lot less “muddy” flavored. So, the pondmussel will be kept as a “pet” but the golden clam will hopefully reproduce and become food in the years ahead.

There is controversy around the golden clam. Being from Asia it was introduced a hundred years ago by the Chinese as an easily grown food source (the clam reproduces very fast). It has now naturalized in many states in the USA, and around the world. The controversy is that it will out-compete the native clams for habitat. I am not a clam scientist, so I don’t know what all of the literature has to say about the destruction the golden clam is causing. What I can report is that the pondmussel seemed to be doing just fine living along side the golden clam in this pond. I would guess that it is possible that the filtering/reproductive power of the golden clam might have helped to clean the water, saving the pondmussel from being polluted to death (the pond I went to was in the middle of Springfield, MA after all). I will report on my success raising this clam in our tanks later in the summer.

Crayfish:
The same trip to the Springfield pond yielded another surprising find, a very large crayfish with eggs attached. I brought that home too and amazingly the baby crayfish hatched! Last night I went to check on the tank, and look at the plankton with a flashlight, and there they were, little lobsters looking back at me. My hope is that they will set up a breeding population and keep reproducing. But, even if they don’t I have another plan.

Today I received a new crayfish species in the mail. Called Marmorkrebs or marbled crayfish, they are the only known crayfish to clone themselves. They are also more friendly to each other then the native species. My hope is to establish a separate colony for the marmorkrebs away from the native crayfish and other fish, but allow the baby crayfish to fall away into the tanks as plankton to feed the fish.

Fish:
We are still waiting on our catfish and I will write about them later (we decided on raising Yellow Bullhead Catfish.) What is exciting right now is that our 25 cent pet store purchased feeder goldfish just reproduced and we have very tiny baby fish swimming around in the bottom tank. This was my hope… by keeping the adult goldfish in a cage upstream, the babies can hatch and swim “down stream” away from the parents hungry mouths to be food for other creatures, hopefully the catfish eventually. I also received my eastern mosquitofish today, Gambusia holbrookiMy hope is that these little livebearing fish will add to the plankton soup, adding more “wild” protein to feed the catfish (less feeding we will need to do).

I will write more about these projects soon…

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