In Search of an Aquaponics fish feeder
This starts my saga in search of an Aquaponics fish feeder solution. Having looked in catalogs for feeders that are used at fish farms, I decided most of them were way to $$ so I thought to search for cheaper solutions. First I ordered a koi feeder off e-bay. It is the little plastic container hanging on the left. It has a spring and a PVC cap that keep the feed in the container and the fish are supposed to pull on a bit of zip tie with the end melted to get feed to drop to them. I never did manage to get my fish to try pulling on the bit of zip tie.
Next I got the camo metal bucket game demand feeder. The big plastic yellow rod with the ball on the end is meant to be licked by dear to get food to drop out. I thought perhaps the catfish would bump the yellow ball and get feed to drop. Unfortunately the hopper is not well designed and the feed falls out too easy even when nothing hits the ball and the fish never really learned to use it anyway.
Moving on to the tan feeder in the picture on the right. There are definite improvements here in that the hopper slopes down to the feed outlet which keeps from having lots of feed that gets caught in the corners. Second, this one is automatic and it has a solar panel to charge the batteries. It will only feed at dawn and dusk which was fine for catfish but maybe not for all fish. Alas, it failed my test as a fish feeder in that the smallest amount of feed it will dispense is still too much for many aquaponics situations. Also, it’s designed to fling the feed out in all directions, by cutting open a juice jug and making a sort of shield around the spinner device, this problem was reduced though the feed striking the jug does make a racket. Unfortunately, the biggest problem I had with this feeder was that raccoons would attempt to access the feed and by shaking the whole feeders, feed would drop out even though it wasn’t activated.
So the search goes on (there are some good notes coming, this quest did start almost 3 years ago) I will say that all three of those feeders have been re-purposed to feeding ducks and chickens (and often squirrels.)
An Aquaponics fish feeder should be able adjustable to supply very small portions of food up through much larger portions and should be able to do multiple feedings a day. It should also be suitable to the environment it will be used in and be able to hold at least a week’s worth of feed. Aquaponics fish feeder candidates should be able to handle very small pellet feed up though 3/8″ pellets without spilling extra feed or getting bound up.
There are still more attributes I would like to see in an aquaponics fish feeder but the above should at least get us started.
For those who wish to go read the detail version check out my original system thread. BYAP System Thread Pages 37-40 (April 27-May 23, 2008) are the time frame for this Blog post.