Aquaponic Gardening

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Last weekend we put up the lighting and grow towers for our in home aquaponics set up.  We live in Phoenix and I just couldn't decide where to put a big outdoor pond system, so we went with a smaller trial indoors.  I really wanted spinach and lettuce in the summer and it's too hot to grow them outdoors.  Well, it's been almost a week since we 'finished' the towers - at least there were little seedlings in them and it looked like this on Sunday (June 24th):

(BTW, that is a 14" solar tube on the ceiling and it does not provide near enough light to grow edible plant, houseplants are happy but not lettuce).  Anyway, this was the size of the seedlings last Sunday as I gently placed them in the towers (note the lengths taken to keep the expanded clay balls out of the way):

This is what the same seedlings look like today - 6 days later:

They are growing really well, I think.  Here are some more pictures of the grow towers:

In these shots you can see the two of the towers empty into the mint gravel bowl.  The gravel was hopefully going to act as a settling tank for solid waste that gets through the towers.  Eventually I plan to introduce red wigglers.  In the next picture you can see I'm using the gravel bowl to root cuttings besides mint - see if you can spot the Stevia:

I've also got a floating raft in the top tank with some lettuce and duckweed:

I'm not sure how well the roots will do just hanging in the tank, but It's an experiment right?  Here is a picture with the roots in the background of the guppies:

And this is what the top tank looks like now.  I had a chance to arrange and plant it more than you saw in the first photos, so it's coming together nicely.  So much fun to watch!

Then a shot of the two tanks together:

And finally of the two baby goldfish in the bottom tank:

So that's it for now.  I will keep you all posted on the growth of the tower plants.  I'm pretty encouraged by the results so far.  These tanks were fishless cycled, until mossies took up residence. The fish are so small, I'm thinking about adding a tiny bit if hydroponic solution to give the plants a boost, or maybe just get some more fish.  Before fish were added, I put in a pretty good dose of seaweed extract fertilizer, so there are more nutrients in the water than just what a handful of guppies, pleco and baby goldfish would produce.  Also I got a few cherry shrimp for the top tank, they are hard to find!  I was surprised my camera phone could zoom in so well:

I know, the photo quality is terrible, but this was zoomed in a lot!

I posted some of the in-progress photos on the Valley Permaculture Alliance website, but wanted to share this with you all since I've learned so much from this community.  Hopefully this is the beginning of paying it forward for the next guys!  :)

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