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Afishfarmforthegarden

Thereisenoughroom-evenonthetiniestpatchofearth.Thisistheprinciplebehindthe"urbangardening"movementincities.Andthesustainablefishfarmforyourowngarden,developedbystart-upAquaCubes,alsoinvokesthisprinciple.

[Translate to English:] Gründer Aquacubes
AquaCubes

TobiasMckel,LeonieHockandDrBiniamSamuelfoundedthestart-upAquaCubes.

Mini Fish Farm
ClaudiaEulitz,CAU

Theprototypefortheminifishfarmisalreadyfullyoperational,butisbeingcontinuallyoptimised.

Together,LeonieHock,TobiasMckelandDrBiniamSamuelhaveabroadspectrumofskills,rangingfromspatialplanningtoinformationtechnology,rightthroughtoaquaculture.AndalloftheseskillsarereflectedintheAquaCubesproject.Theunderlyingidea:withoutanypriorexperience,allthosewholiketoeathealthyfishcanhaveaminifishfarmintheirowngarden."Itstartsfromtwobytwometres,"explainedTobiasMckel.Attheheartofthesysteminthebasicversionisacube-shapedcontainerthatholdsonecubicmetreofwater,whichenablesproductionof20to25kilogramsoffishperbreedingperiod.Becausethecontainerdevelopedfortheprototypeisalreadyverywellinsulated,andthewatertemperaturecanbecontrolled,uptofourproductioncyclesarepossibleperyear,sothateventhesmallestfishfarmproducesanannualyieldof80to100kilos.

However,tomakethisworkrequiredsomefinesseonthepartoftheofAquaCubesteam."Fishfarmingisnoteasy,"emphasisedLeonieHock,whohasalreadygainedsomeexperiencewithneighbourhoodgardensandotherprojectsrelatedto"productivecities"whileattheInstituteofUrbanandRegionalPlanning(ISR)attheTechnischeUniversittBerlin,andwhofoundedaninter-culturalneighbourhoodgardeninanhonorarycapacity.So,tomakefishfarmingeasy,thegroupharnesseddigitaltechnology.Anappcollectsthedataonwaterquality,regulatesthetemperature,oxygencontentandotheressentialfactors,andalsocarriesouttheautomatedfeeding.

WhileTobiasMckelisprimarilyresponsibleforthisarea,BiniamSamueltakescareofanotherimportantpartofthedesired"all-round,worry-free"package:heidentifiessuitablespeciessuchastroutandtilapia,andensuresthebestpossibleconditionsfortherelevantspecies."Inthisway,optimalfishhygieneandhealthcanbeguaranteed,"heexplained.Inaddition,asalong-termresearchassociateattheSocietyforMarineAquaculture(GMA)inBsum,Samuelisanexpertontheideallivingconditionsforfishinaquacultureoperations.

ThebiggestfishingportinGermanyistheFrankfurtAirport,whereaswithus,fishareproduceddirectlyathome.

TobiasMckel

Thetriosideagainsadditionalcharmthroughitssustainableapproach.Thewatercirculatesthroughaclosed-loopsystem,sothatitneedstobereplacedveryrarely.Andifitdoesneedtobereplaced,thenthedrainedwaterandthenutrientsinitcansimplybeusedforwateringthegarden."Thisissignificantlymoreenvironmentallyfriendlythaninthenormalfishfarmingfacilities,"saidTobiasMckel,andreferredtothenon-existenttransportproblemwithAquaCubes:"ThebiggestfishingportinGermanyistheFrankfurtAirport,whereaswithus,fishareproduceddirectlyathome."

Thestart-uphasalreadypresenteditsprojectonmanyoccasions,includingatthisyear'sHannoverMesse.AndaccordingtoLeonieHock,ithasreceived"loadsofpositiveinterest".Andnotonlythat.SinceApril,thetriofromAquaCubeshavereceivedstart-upfundingthroughtheEXISTprogramme,financedbytheFederalMinistryforEconomicAffairsandEnergy(BMWi)andtheEuropeanSocialFund(ESF).Theirlivelihoods,andtoacertainextentalsothematerialsrequired,aresecuredforoneyear.

However,theclockisticking,andtheyoungcompanyisdoingeverythingitcantomakeitsproductmarket-readybytheendof2019,atthelatest.Theprototypeisconstantlybeingimproved,therearelotsofdiscussionsregardingcooperationwithindustry,andfinancingandmarketingarealsomajorissuesbeingtackled.Hock,MckelandSamuelareextremelygratefulforthesupportreceivedfromtheCentreforEntrepreneurship(ZfE)atKielUniversity.TheZfEprovidedthestart-upwithanexperiencedleadershipcoachinHaukeFu,whohashelpedmanytoavoidhittingtherocks.AlsohelpfulisthefactthattheyoungcompanyhasitspremisesinthebusinessandscienceparkmariCUBEinBsum,andcanthuseasilyaccessexpertisearoundthecornerwhennecessary.

Howmuchthefishfarmforhomeusewillultimatelycost,dependsverymuchonwhatconditionsareachievedintalkswithpotentialsuppliers.Theinitialpricewillcertainlybeinthefour-digitrange,butthisisnotastronomicalwhenconsideringtheexpectedyield,andtheestimatedlifespanofthefarmofatleasttenyears.Inanycase,AquaCubeshopestointerestpotentialclientsinanumberofareas:amongprivatehouseholds,ingastronomy,amongeducationalinstitutionsandalsoinagriculture.BecausethefishfarmsfromBsum,whichinfuturewillalsobeavailablewithavolumeof2.5cubicmetres,canbeextendedonamodularbasistoanysize,andthusprovideanicesidelineforagriculturalbusinesses.

Author:MartinGeist

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