We have moved again - now at St Kilda. You can contact us on 0411 105 365. We are in the process of setting up hydroponic and aquaculture displays.

Monday 0930 to 1730
Friday 0930 to 1730
Saturday 0930 to 1230

We are available for consultation and site visits at these times- other times by appointment by email (robin@soladome.com.au)

After 35 years at 44 Chapel Street it was time for a change to a web based operation and to offer guidance based on many years of practical experience.



What technical skill will I require ?

You will need to understand and apply the basics of water quality management, a detailed knowledge of the biology of your cultured species, feeding schedules, system design, construction and management and ability to clean and maintain all the equipment that you are going to use. Good record keeping is another skill required.

What should I grow?

You grow the animals that are required by your market. You will need to supply them to your buyer when and where he wants them, in the sizes and quantities he requires, when he requires them. If the buyer is solvent then he may pay you for your product when you want to be paid. However expect to have to chase the buyer for your money.

You will need to grow the animals for a lower cost than you sell them - otherwise you will be going backwards financially.

What about using my dam to grow yabbies ?

Good idea - as a general rule you will need to stock the dam at the beginning of the season with ten juvenile yabbies per square meter. At the end of the season you should be able to harvest three yabbies per square meter.

The average size might be 75 grams. Farm gate prices are about $ 12.00 per kilogram so you will gross (3 x 0.075 x 12)= $ 2.70 per square meter of dam. You will need 55,555 square meters of dam to get your $ 150,000 gross per year - that is 5.55 hectares of ponds. ( you will also need 555,000 yabbies at the start of the season.

Five hectares of yabby ponds will attract the native herons and cormorants - don't forget that these birds are protected - no shooting - so you might need to look at some protective netting to stop your yabbies being taken. (There are also a lot of walking upright two legged predators so you may need a good dog and electric fence)

How much will it cost to set up a simple system ?

Depends on how simple and what you are trying to achieve. If you want to grow out a species then you will need sufficient animals/plants so that you can gain experience with the production of the species and learn how to manage your system.

As a rough guide about $ 3,000 should allow you to purchase water quality measuring equipment, small tank, pump,filter, biofilter, water heater, aerator and fifty small animals. You need to plan on growing the animals to market size and doing this several times before spending any more money - who knows you may find that it is all far to hard and you would rather be playing cricket with your mates !!!

How does an airlift pump work ?

Air and water are in a tube submerged in water and as this mixture is less dense than the water surrounding the tube the pressure difference forces the air/water mixture to rise inside the tube.

How can I set up a simple back-up to allow for a power failure ?

The one thing that will save a tank full of aquatic animals when the power goes off is injecting oxygen into the water.

Remember that in water 100 percent oxygen saturation is about 10 milligrams of oxygen per litre of water - compare this to air which contains nearly 20% oxygen. In most commercially stocked systems if the power goes off for 15 minutes it is likely that some of the animals will start expiring.

An oxygen bottle with a regulator and flow meter connected to airstones or diffusers in the tanks can be set to deliver the oxygen only when the electic power goes off. A special solenoid valve in the line is normally kept closed whilst electic power is on. If the power goes off the solenoid valve opens and oxygen leaves the oxygen tank and starts bubbling throuth the airstones or diffusers. When the power comes on again the solenoid is held closed and the oxygen flow stops.

How can I make a simple airlift ?

Place a airstone in the bottom of your tank and position a funnel with a tube extending the funnel stalk over the airstone so that the airbubbles are trapped in the funnel and forced up the stalk. The airbubbles and water mixture will rise up the extension of the funnel stalk. If the top end of the funnels stalk is above the water level the air-bubble and water mixture will rise above the water level.

The extension to the funnel stalk should have a ratio of 1 : 50 internal diameter of tube to length of tube. The maximum lift will be half the submerged length of the tube.

How big will my operation have to be so that it can support me?

Depends upon the minimum income you require. Most aquaculture operations require a 24 hour a day committment and for seven days a week. Generally mains electric power is required and you will need a backup generator. The food cost for the aquatic animals will be a major cost, then electricity, depreciation, fingerlings or seed stock. If you work on an average price of $ 10.00 per kilogram for what you produce you will need to produce 15 tonnes per year to gross $ 150,000 - with no accidents or foul-ups you might get $ 15,000 for your efforts after all costs have been deducted. (not much for being on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week)

Can I start in a small way and build up slowly?

Yes, but it will take a long time to get up to a profitable size.