Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

First, I would like to thank you for allowing my membership. I'm still learning how to navigate this forum so I'm sure that the questions that I'm going to ask have been asked many times...sorry. I just finished setting my system; I have a 150 Gal Rubbermaid fish tank and (2) 40 Gal media growbeds sitting above my FT.  My system is setup in my basement with grow lights, (2) FT heaters, (2) aerators in the FT. (1) is Batt backup. My media is hydrocorn. I put some herb plants in my growbeds... Rosemary, Parsley and oregano. They didn't do so well, so I added some maxicrop liquid seaweed to my Ft. the recommended dose I think was 1 qt. to 250 Gal. My water turned brown which I expected. I think it was to late for my herb plants. I have lettuce ( Arugula, Redina ) and herbs ( Dill, Basil,Tarragon) that I started with jiffy seed starter in jiffy peat pots and they are thriving. I put my peat pots into my growbed about 1-2 inches down so I don't have to water them. my question is if the peat/potting soil leaches into my Ft, could that hurt my future fish? Will my FT water brown color dissipate soon? (It's been about 3 days since I added it) My PH, Temp etc. is good. Is it OK to introduce fish ? I plan on using inexpensive Goldfish. Should I add aeration to my growbeds? I've read a few books on aquaponics and read numerous blogs and all I'm getting is confused. You guys and Gals must know by now that I'm definitely a newbie. I would greatly appreciate any advice as I don't want to introduce fish just to have them die. Thanks    

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No, you don't need to aerate your growbeds; yes the brown color in your water should clear up. I don't think small amounts of potting soil or peat moss will harm your fish. Have you cycled your system or are you planning on cycling with fish?

Hi Alex. Thank you for the reply. I'd like to get to cycle it with fish but I was concerned about the maxicrop in my water.  My system isn't that big as I only have a 150 gal Ft and only 80 gal of grow bed. I was told that I should have more grow bed but this system is in my basement and I lack space so my grow beds are over the top of my FT. This is a project that my son Kenny , who is 5 years old and I did together. So far it has been a great experience for us both. We call it "Kennys Victory Garden. I will post pictures in the future. This is a wonderful forum and I've learned so much just reading as much as I can on here. I appreciate any advice that I can get... Thank you again

Generally, you should have 1:1 volume of grow bed to fish tank size minimum.  You can expand to 4 times the amount of grow bed volume as the fish tank volume.  150 gallon fish tank is a good starting point to avoid fast swings in water quality.  

That said, you have very little filter capacity for your fish tank.  So, stock fish lightly to avoid too much nutrients created by the fish.   Measure ammonia levels regularly.  You can reduce ammonia by feeding fish less or circulating the water through the media beds more often, or both.

Plant your media beds heavily to consume the nutrients.  Vine plants like cucumbers add a lot of plant for little grow bed area if you let them hang over the side.  Tomatoes are heavy feeders as well but transporate a lot of water and have very dense and large root balls.  Keep tomatoes away from siphons.   Tomatoes also do well in float tanks.

If it took days to clear up the water, you are not circulating the water fast enough.   Size your pump to change the total water volume at least twice an hour.   Be sure to measure water output of the pump in your system.  The height water is pumped dramatically decreases the amount of water pumped.  

Congratulations on the start of a great adventure.  I'm very happy my father taught me gardening.  Most folks don't know what a vine ripened tomato tastes like.

Hi Jim.

I'm working on that 1:1 ratio but that's not going to happen 'til I get my greenhouse built and my system out of my basement. I only have 10 fish in my FT and I keep a close eye on my ammonia levels  and all is sat for now. I know what you mean by keeping plants away from the syphons. I think it was my stringbeans; my syphon in that one tank wasn't shutting off properly and upon diagnoses I found that the little cup at the bottom of my syphon tube was full of roots and partially going up into my syhon tube. Once I cleaned it out, it worked fine again. Vine ripened tomatoes are to die for as is pretty much any veggie fresh out of the garden. I'm designing a greenhouse to add to the southern side of my house and I will have access from inside and out. My house is a split level so approx. 4' is underground so my greenhouse will be the same. Ive been doing quite a bit of research on the aspects of cold weather greenhouses on this site and other sites and I want to grow year round so on my north side of my greenhouse I will be incorporating some form of mass to absorb heat . I'm thinking of stacking water barrels  and also my woodstove for my house is just on the inside wall next to my greenhouse so I thought of putting in louvered vents with a thermostat that if my greenhouse gets to cold , I could pump out some heat from my stove. I also have a hot water coil on my woodstove that produces all my domestic hot water at approx. 80-100 gal a day so I thought of doing another coil for the other side  and putting a section of baseboard in my greenhouse. I have a few options to consider. I wanted to start construction this year but a last minute surgery  kind of postponed it . I'm healing now and the Dr said I have a lifting restriction of 15 Lbs. I can't do much of anything and I normally cut my cordwood, all my own yard work and such. Ive watched my grass grow and that was pretty exciting...Lol. I love this site. There are just so many great ideas that I just can't build my system fast enough. Take care Jim


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