Aquaponic Gardening

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This is the place for comments on and any discussion of the "Rules of Thumb" document on the home page.

I can't promise that I'll make suggested changes - this has been through some strong vetting already - but I'm certainly open to hearing your thoughts and suggestions...or maybe just sharing that you find it useful!

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Wish I had this a month ago :P
Nice, concise document!

You mention the timer flood/drain method, but not the autosiphon/bell siphon method. Seems it would be good to at least mention autosiphon, since a good autosiphon system can consume much less energy and have a lower initial cost.
Hi meg. I agree that siphons are great. We didn't include them because the goal of this document is to get to the simplest set of instructions possible for success. It came down to timers being easier to set up than a siphon. 

Meg Stout said:
Nice, concise document! You mention the timer flood/drain method, but not the autosiphon/bell siphon method. Seems it would be good to at least mention autosiphon, since a good autosiphon system can consume much less energy and have a lower initial cost.
Good job Sylvia. This helps me and I know it will help all the new people out there who are just thinking about aquaponics. They should be able to chance it and come out with good results
Oh, another question (though not necessarily a change to this document). On the fishless cycling suggestion, what are the main objections to cycling with fish other than your eventual crop? Is it just fear of getting a batch of diseased feeders?

I ask since my former feeders have been happily and healthily living in my mini aquaponics units for months now. And since my daughter dumped one of the feeders into my new system, it seems to be doing well...
Sure takes away the ambiguity surrounding AP. It's really difficult to get clear concise direction all in one place. Great service Sylvia!
Thanks for that, Raychel


Raychel A Watkins said:
Good job Sylvia. This helps me and I know it will help all the new people out there who are just thinking about aquaponics. They should be able to chance it and come out with good results
thanks, Harold


Harold Sukhbir said:
Sure takes away the ambiguity surrounding AP. It's really difficult to get clear concise direction all in one place. Great service Sylvia!
Meg, fishless cycling has a few major advantages. First, there is much less stress involved (for you and the fish) because you are not trying to keep anybody alive during the process. Because of this, you need be much less concerned about pH since the pH must only be kept in a range that facilitates cycling without consideration for the safety of the fish.

Second, because you can elevate the ammonia concentration to a much higher level than would be safe for fish, you can cycle your system in much less time (generally 10 days to 3 weeks versus 4 to 6 weeks when you cycle with fish) and end up with a more robust bacteria base once you are cycled. The practical result of this is that you can fully stock your tank once cycling is complete, versus gradually increasing the stocking levels as is recommended when cycling with fish. This is especially beneficial to those who are growing aggressive or carnivorous fish because they are less likely to attack each other if everyone is introduced to the tank at the same time.

Finally, you can more precisely control how much ammonia is added to your system during the process. For example, if you see that your ammonia level is creeping up to 10 ppm, but no nitrites have shown up yet, just stop adding ammonia for a few days and let the bacteria catch up. You can’t do this with fish!



Meg Stout said:
Oh, another question (though not necessarily a change to this document). On the fishless cycling suggestion, what are the main objections to cycling with fish other than your eventual crop? Is it just fear of getting a batch of diseased feeders?

I ask since my former feeders have been happily and healthily living in my mini aquaponics units for months now. And since my daughter dumped one of the feeders into my new system, it seems to be doing well...
Thanks! I think a brief synopsis of why fishless cycling is beneficial would help in the document. Like:

Fishless Cycling will develop a robust bacteria base and allow you to fully stocked your fish tank in a couple of weeks (the traditional method of using feeder fish takes over a month and risks introduction of disease).

Similarly under flood drain, you might mention something like: You should flood, then drain your grow beds. The draining action pulls oxygen through the grow beds. The least complicated way to achieve a reliable flood drain system is using a timer.



Sylvia Bernstein said:
Meg, fishless cycling has a few major advantages. First, there is much less stress involved (for you and the fish) because you are not trying to keep anybody alive during the process. Because of this, you need be much less concerned about pH since the pH must only be kept in a range that facilitates cycling without consideration for the safety of the fish.

Second, because you can elevate the ammonia concentration to a much higher level than would be safe for fish, you can cycle your system in much less time (generally 10 days to 3 weeks versus 4 to 6 weeks when you cycle with fish) and end up with a more robust bacteria base once you are cycled. The practical result of this is that you can fully stock your tank once cycling is complete, versus gradually increasing the stocking levels as is recommended when cycling with fish. This is especially beneficial to those who are growing aggressive or carnivorous fish because they are less likely to attack each other if everyone is introduced to the tank at the same time.

Finally, you can more precisely control how much ammonia is added to your system during the process. For example, if you see that your ammonia level is creeping up to 10 ppm, but no nitrites have shown up yet, just stop adding ammonia for a few days and let the bacteria catch up. You can’t do this with fish!

Great points, Meg. I'll do that!
Very helpful for me, with my start up project. Thank you for this effort to help us beginners. I do have a few questions....
--You talk about the importance of testing the ph, but not how to test it??
--We are to add plants once we have system cycling, should these be plants we already have started in other beds that are well established, or can we just start seeding the beds??
--Temperture is important for this eviroment we are creating, is there any Rules of Thumb for that??

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