Aquaponic Gardening

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I have my one IBC system already set up.  It seems to be doing well, although it's still cycling of course.

I'm already adding to it.  I cut up another IBC vertically to get two bigger grow beds out of it for a total of 3 growing beds.  They are stepped so that I can let gravity drain from the top one on down to the lowest one.  The top one will be farthest from the tank and pump, so I was thinking...

What do you think of using a 3 inch pipe to carry the water to the far bed and turn that pipe into a grow bed itself?  I'm thinking 2 inch wholes which would accommodate net baskets for growing strawberries.

Does anybody see a reason I should reconsider this before I spend the money?



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NFT pipes should only be fed well filtered water so I do not recommend sticking strawberry plants into a pipe that is running water directly from the fish tank to the grow bed.  It would just cause a stinky mess of fish poop around your plant roots.

go for it.  i'd recommend 4" though and see if you can get ahold of the hybrid internally-corrugated HDPE drain pipe that is white on the outside and black on the inside.  it is lighter, easier to cut, and has some slight insulation built into it.

it won't cost you much and you'll learn a lot.....and you'll likely grow a bunch of yummy strawberries!

this is all assuming that you were describing the return line from the sump back to the fish tank.  you'll still get some solids buildup, but it will look and smell just like potting soil!

Yeah, if your gonna do it, use the 4" pipe. It will help mitigate the speed at which your system water comes pouring out of your 2" net pot holes if root mass blockage becomes a problem (less likely to happen with 4" pipe)...

Though a nice big fat root mass may not ever have a chance to develop depending on your stocking densitiy (fish solids) and no pre filtering the NFT pipe...

I understood the pipe in question is coming from the last bed back to the FT though..?

Be aware that in all likelihood over a period of time, the first bed in your cascade may need to be cleaned sooner than your other two as it is catching the brunt of your solids. (Rather than being equally distributed among the three).

i thought for all aq systems you should use a bio filter before it goes to any plant beds since the nuts are in the water not solids or is that just preference ?i prefer it for filter, quality of water is the main thing to maintain right you cant filter out nitrates can you ?


    Media bed aquaponics, the plant bed itself is the solids and bio-filter all in one.  All other types of plant beds (raft, NFT etc) require pre-filtering for all but the lowest of density systems.  NFT especially needs really well filtered water or you just get a mess around the roots of your struggling stunted plants and if you don't have any other filtration you will probably have poor water quality and dieing fish too.

But media bed aquaponics and zipgrow towers are the filtration at the same time as being the plant space and we really want to keep the solids in those set ups since it allows for more plants to grow using less fish food.

Will in many instances the plant beds are the bio-filter. 

The nutes are in the water yes, but they are also locked up in the solids as well. With the addition of oxygen and microbial activity these are mineralised into plant usable nutes. Worms in the beds really help to further break down solids and aid in both further mineralization of those solids (releasing their nutrient potential) as well as mechanically keeping the beds from clogging up with solids and creating anoxic/anaerobic zones.

Yes, you can filter out nitrates if you should need/want to.

Here's some kale that grew too big for my 4" nft.  This was in January so there's not a lot of leaf growth.  Notice how much fishpoo-soil is caught up in the roots.....and that I have aquatic snails in my system from some aquarium plants in the fish tanks.  I know they're supposedly not safe, but they are to the tanks and tubes what the worms are to the beds.  =)

thanks i love this site you guys have sooo much info i learn something everytime i come here thats good for me thanks

Averan, are those pics from fishwater flowing through nft with no media or swirl? Just curious.  I have some snails in my tanks too, and I love having them in the FT, don't know if they've migrating to the media.  The new Friendly newsletter has an article on snails.  I love how they never confess to any wrongdoing, it's always some wayward student who does the evil without their knowledge.  I know, sorry, way off topic.


fish tank overflows to sump/settling.

sump pumped to nft and media which drain to the fish tanks.

no swirl filter.

my snails are awesome little workers!  they eat up any excess food, keep the algae in check and seem to love eating whatever bio-gunk they can find in the nft and media.

they used to clog up my pump filter, but now i found a better one that they can't plug up.

Those roots really don't look that bad, though I dare say that a good percentage of that mass is no longer able to function the way nature intended it to.

I guess once again, like so many things, it comes down to what the operator wants/desires. If you want to stick a few short term crops (or even longer term cultivars) and don't really care a whole lot how they do or how quickly they do it, ( or if they're even able to stick it out til the end of their natural life cycle) that's fine. But if you want/need a longer term cultivar to come even close to fulfilling it's true nature-given genetic potential as a species...then I'm sorry, you're just going to have to provide that plant with better environmental conditions.

Don't take that as a swipe, because it's not. I understand and respect your approach Averan. I have systems, or spaces where I just set something up and then just let nature do Her thing. And I'm often real happy and amazed with that. But then I have others (usually driven by the need to sell, trade or barter, or sometimes just curiosity) where I try as best as I know how, to utilize all that we humans have come to know (about how and why a certain thing grows) in order to provide as near(er) to optimum conditions as I am able to, or can afford.

And neither one is either 'right' or 'wrong'...

Vlad, just because I experimented with growing kale in the middle of winter with no greenhouse in a 4" NFT pipe does not mean that the experiment was successful or that I would recommend anyone else do it.  I am not a moron and I recommend people only grow short-term crops in NFT.

My photo is to show others what happens when you try to grow slower long-term crops so that they won't repeat my mistake.  Got it?  ;)

My primary point to the OP is that he should just go for it.  Making mistakes is part of the learning process and he doesn't have much to lose by trying.

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