Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

A. Simon  Posted these questions to me. 

First, I thought I wanted to do hydroponics and ordered the Vertigro system with EVERYTHING included. When it got here, (Caribbean) I found that the hydroponic system would need more monitoring than I could do...as I travel and it was a little complicated for my roommate. The system has been sitting in storage until I bumped into aquaponics and your experience with tranferring your Vertigro system. 


As I'm sure you experienced, my system came with a lot of cocouts...which I see you say doesn't work. Is there any good way of adapting, until I have used up the core. As I can't afford to buy anything else and the expense of shipping overseas. 


 


Just a few quick questions:


1. How did you update your system to flow back to the tanks?

I tried many the Vertigro recirculation pots and it didn't allow enough flow. I eventually moved to what Ih have now which is hanging stacks over DWC float beds.  You can see many pictures of my systems and the current hanging stacks on my photo albums.  You can do this with pvc and I suppose it could be done with bamboo.  


2. Are there any suggestions you would give me through trial and error?

I tried many different medias.  Coir fiber is too dense. I finally settled on Coir chips - Med. They should be available in your area. I put some plastic filter material in the bottom of the pots.  I am now changing over to large coir chips instead. I flow to all of my stacks through a indexing valve.  On for 15 mins off for 15 mins then it flows to the fish tanks then off. So it flows through the stacks 15 out of every hour. My whole system runs on one danner 18 pump. You can see pictures of this also. 


3. Do you think you vegetable yields are as good or better than when you were hydroponic?

The answer so far is NO. I think for many reasons.  Controlling my PH has been  a problem.  I think I have this fixed.  I do believe I can get the production up to the level I had with inorganic hydroponics. I will also be adding some iron. My system is a research design. I am developing a no-filter low density high production per sq ft greenhouse. 

 


Any help or advice you may give would be greatly appreciated.

Take a good look at the pics and read what I have written about the vertigro stacks. 

 

 

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Replies to This Discussion

I set up shortly after Mike (we live just a few miles apart) also using a Vertigro base. I have one row on recycling pots and another over a growbed filled with Hydroton.

 

My observations - The recycling pots are a pain and I'll be updating that row with a second growbed later this year. Those will hang the same as Mikes.

 

With Vertigro - you can get away with coir fiber for about a year to 18 months. I actually just dumpped my last stack with it yesterday. The chips are much easier to deal with.

 

Mike's setup is much larger than mine - he has six to seven rows where I have two rows (10 stacks total, 7 baskets per stack). So I have not needed an index valve. My suggestion for piping is 1" minimum diameter (if I did it again, I'd go 1.5"). Forget the microdrip tubes - they clog constantly. Just use t-joints as Mike does.

 

The pump is not as important as the airpump. I'm using one 70-lpm pump into a large rubber air mister (Mike has the same). However I want to add a second pump for redundancy running off a separate circuit. I have already had one fish kill due to a popped circuit. 

 

Like Mike, I'm not getting the production that I did with Hydroponics. Honestly, aquaponics is more work in my opinion as the fish need more monitoring. If I have another large kill from air issues or whatever, I may go back to recirculating hydroponics just using the setup as I have it sans fish.

 

Like Mike, I've had iron issues and have to add chelated iron to my setup. It may just be the area where we live as we both use well water.

 

Things that made my life easier?

The hangers Mike found at Lowes; aluminum twist-ties for fences; Chain-link fence posts and crossbars for freestanding frames. A very understanding wife.

(FYI I live not too far from Mike and Ron) As to the issues with high pH well water.  If you can collect rain water for top ups of the system, the pH will actually wind up much lower and require buffering back up.  This has been my experience when dealing with the high pH limestone aquifer here in FL.  Not all people in our area have the same problem though.

Thanks for the info, Ron. I really wanted to hear from "Vertigro" people before I got started. I have the 250 pot system so I am going to use to tracks for hydroponics and experiment with the third for aquaponics. 

I did worry about the clogging and will definitely take your suggestion of bigger tubing, I happen to have some already. 

 

Do you find that the production is significantly less with aquaponics or is just a little. I see the added benefit in aquaponics, having fish to eat ;), but I do find that hydroponics seems a little easier. Again, I only know that in theory too. That is why I am trying to pick the brains of all you experts. 

 

I will certainly keep you up to date with my progress, with pics!

Best!



Ron Thompson said:

I set up shortly after Mike (we live just a few miles apart) also using a Vertigro base. I have one row on recycling pots and another over a growbed filled with Hydroton.

 

My observations - The recycling pots are a pain and I'll be updating that row with a second growbed later this year. Those will hang the same as Mikes.

 

With Vertigro - you can get away with coir fiber for about a year to 18 months. I actually just dumpped my last stack with it yesterday. The chips are much easier to deal with.

 

Mike's setup is much larger than mine - he has six to seven rows where I have two rows (10 stacks total, 7 baskets per stack). So I have not needed an index valve. My suggestion for piping is 1" minimum diameter (if I did it again, I'd go 1.5"). Forget the microdrip tubes - they clog constantly. Just use t-joints as Mike does.

 

The pump is not as important as the airpump. I'm using one 70-lpm pump into a large rubber air mister (Mike has the same). However I want to add a second pump for redundancy running off a separate circuit. I have already had one fish kill due to a popped circuit. 

 

Like Mike, I'm not getting the production that I did with Hydroponics. Honestly, aquaponics is more work in my opinion as the fish need more monitoring. If I have another large kill from air issues or whatever, I may go back to recirculating hydroponics just using the setup as I have it sans fish.

 

Like Mike, I've had iron issues and have to add chelated iron to my setup. It may just be the area where we live as we both use well water.

 

Things that made my life easier?

The hangers Mike found at Lowes; aluminum twist-ties for fences; Chain-link fence posts and crossbars for freestanding frames. A very understanding wife.

I just ran out and took a sample, straight from the cistern. The water is reading 6 for pH, so it seems it is quite acidy. Does that sound right? Do you think that will be a constant problem? FYI, I live in the Caribbean. 

 

Thanks

TCLynx said:

(FYI I live not too far from Mike and Ron) As to the issues with high pH well water.  If you can collect rain water for top ups of the system, the pH will actually wind up much lower and require buffering back up.  This has been my experience when dealing with the high pH limestone aquifer here in FL.  Not all people in our area have the same problem though.

I saw a significant decline in my pepper and tomato production (I am about to give up on tomatoes - I have had 3 fruit this year on eight plants). Lettuce is about the same while herbs and some oddball items (pineapple, aloe, chard, etc) seem to do well. Strawberry plants grew well but had low fruit production.

 

Where are you at in Caribbean?

 

 



A. Simon said:

Thanks for the info, Ron. I really wanted to hear from "Vertigro" people before I got started. I have the 250 pot system so I am going to use to tracks for hydroponics and experiment with the third for aquaponics. 

I did worry about the clogging and will definitely take your suggestion of bigger tubing, I happen to have some already. 

 

Do you find that the production is significantly less with aquaponics or is just a little. I see the added benefit in aquaponics, having fish to eat, but I do find that hydroponics seems a little easier. Again, I only know that in theory too. That is why I am trying to pick the brains of all you experts. 

 

I will certainly keep you up to date with my progress, with pics!

Best!



Ron Thompson said:

I set up shortly after Mike (we live just a few miles apart) also using a Vertigro base. I have one row on recycling pots and another over a growbed filled with Hydroton.

 

My observations - The recycling pots are a pain and I'll be updating that row with a second growbed later this year. Those will hang the same as Mikes.

 

With Vertigro - you can get away with coir fiber for about a year to 18 months. I actually just dumpped my last stack with it yesterday. The chips are much easier to deal with.

 

Mike's setup is much larger than mine - he has six to seven rows where I have two rows (10 stacks total, 7 baskets per stack). So I have not needed an index valve. My suggestion for piping is 1" minimum diameter (if I did it again, I'd go 1.5"). Forget the microdrip tubes - they clog constantly. Just use t-joints as Mike does.

 

The pump is not as important as the airpump. I'm using one 70-lpm pump into a large rubber air mister (Mike has the same). However I want to add a second pump for redundancy running off a separate circuit. I have already had one fish kill due to a popped circuit. 

 

Like Mike, I'm not getting the production that I did with Hydroponics. Honestly, aquaponics is more work in my opinion as the fish need more monitoring. If I have another large kill from air issues or whatever, I may go back to recirculating hydroponics just using the setup as I have it sans fish.

 

Like Mike, I've had iron issues and have to add chelated iron to my setup. It may just be the area where we live as we both use well water.

 

Things that made my life easier?

The hangers Mike found at Lowes; aluminum twist-ties for fences; Chain-link fence posts and crossbars for freestanding frames. A very understanding wife.

A pH of six for your source water is not a huge problem, it just means you will need to do some regular buffering of the system.

Is your source water rain water?

Wow! That is a substantial drop, Ron. I will in Antigua!

Ron Thompson said:

I saw a significant decline in my pepper and tomato production (I am about to give up on tomatoes - I have had 3 fruit this year on eight plants). Lettuce is about the same while herbs and some oddball items (pineapple, aloe, chard, etc) seem to do well. Strawberry plants grew well but had low fruit production.

 

Where are you at in Caribbean?

 

 



A. Simon said:

Thanks for the info, Ron. I really wanted to hear from "Vertigro" people before I got started. I have the 250 pot system so I am going to use to tracks for hydroponics and experiment with the third for aquaponics. 

I did worry about the clogging and will definitely take your suggestion of bigger tubing, I happen to have some already. 

 

Do you find that the production is significantly less with aquaponics or is just a little. I see the added benefit in aquaponics, having fish to eat, but I do find that hydroponics seems a little easier. Again, I only know that in theory too. That is why I am trying to pick the brains of all you experts. 

 

I will certainly keep you up to date with my progress, with pics!

Best!



Ron Thompson said:

I set up shortly after Mike (we live just a few miles apart) also using a Vertigro base. I have one row on recycling pots and another over a growbed filled with Hydroton.

 

My observations - The recycling pots are a pain and I'll be updating that row with a second growbed later this year. Those will hang the same as Mikes.

 

With Vertigro - you can get away with coir fiber for about a year to 18 months. I actually just dumpped my last stack with it yesterday. The chips are much easier to deal with.

 

Mike's setup is much larger than mine - he has six to seven rows where I have two rows (10 stacks total, 7 baskets per stack). So I have not needed an index valve. My suggestion for piping is 1" minimum diameter (if I did it again, I'd go 1.5"). Forget the microdrip tubes - they clog constantly. Just use t-joints as Mike does.

 

The pump is not as important as the airpump. I'm using one 70-lpm pump into a large rubber air mister (Mike has the same). However I want to add a second pump for redundancy running off a separate circuit. I have already had one fish kill due to a popped circuit. 

 

Like Mike, I'm not getting the production that I did with Hydroponics. Honestly, aquaponics is more work in my opinion as the fish need more monitoring. If I have another large kill from air issues or whatever, I may go back to recirculating hydroponics just using the setup as I have it sans fish.

 

Like Mike, I've had iron issues and have to add chelated iron to my setup. It may just be the area where we live as we both use well water.

 

Things that made my life easier?

The hangers Mike found at Lowes; aluminum twist-ties for fences; Chain-link fence posts and crossbars for freestanding frames. A very understanding wife.

Oh, okay. Yes, my source is rain water, it's caught in a cistern.

TCLynx said:

A pH of six for your source water is not a huge problem, it just means you will need to do some regular buffering of the system.

Is your source water rain water?

Calcium carbonate for helping buffer the water is easy but you will probably want to alternate that with a potassium bicarbonate or perhaps alternate potassium hydroxide with calcium hydroxide but those are more caustic so one must be more careful with them.

Or I've been looking at using wood ashes very carefully to help provide potassium as well as keep pH up but that one will need some careful testing to see what works while not being dangerous to the fish.  (Leaching wood ashes is how people used to make old fashion Lye or potassium hydroxide.)

Thanks TCLynx, I'm going to look into calcium carbonate...hopefully I can find it here.
Calcium carbonate.  (garden lime, egg shells, sea shells, chicken grit.)  I usually put some chicken grit limestone chips in a paint strainer bag so I can easily take it out of the system if the pH is staying too high.
Oh, yes. You did mention this before. I have access to sea shell and egg shells. Sounds good and cheap :)

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