Aquaponic Gardening

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In acquiring the components for my first system (3 Tote) I have jumped hurdle after hurdle. Now comes media...

A landscaping company down the street has 'crusher run' for $50/yd. (They are considering giving me a better price). From what I can tell this is a 3/4" gravel that is used as a base for roads, parking lots, etc. I will do the pH testing for this but it looks to be a quartz-ish type of stone. Has anyone tried or looked into this? Is this just yet another name for one medium that many use?

Where I am in Rochester, NY:

River Rock - pricey - delivery charge - source is questionable.

Hydroton - yeah right, I have kids who need to eat. (tried giving blood but Rum content was high)

Expanded Shale/slate - nothing around here - shipping makes it cost prohibitive. (N. Carolina)

Lava rock and the like - origin unknown.

Pea Gravel/ round-drainage rock/ other similar rocks - kind of local and available but the sources are questionable and I just don't trust that.

Charcoal - too ambitious and risky at my level.

Politicians bones - very acidic.


Big brains whom I respect immensely, thoughts, comments, dirty looks?


Scott W. Fitzgerald


Fair Port Pictures

Fairport, NY

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If you get 3/4 minus make sure you don't get the stuff for under concrete pads.  I had a couple of tons dropped off last year.  I have to sift everything threw rabbit mesh and then hose it off to prep it for the grow beds.  Very labor consuming.  Save your self some time by getting the cleanest that you can get. Good luck!


Hi scott

Crusher run is what I used in the pilot system I fine...
But make sure to remove all the dust and finer stuff...
Backbreaking but do it right and you want have to redo later like I had to.
I started with a mixture of different size stones ......I used a sift made of wire mesh to get rid of the smaller stages
I started by removing all +- fine - 6 mm stones....then after a few months of testing I removed +-6-16mm stones...later again I did the same exercise and finally ended at all the stones +-22-26 mm….to me the bigger the system the bigger the stones….if I continued with my pilot system I would have stones of 30-40 mm in the system….smaller systems are more manageable so smaller stones can be used but my experience tells me to rather have bigger stones as the media and plant your plants in pots or…

Crusher run or Crush and run is going to vary greatly from place to place (kinda like pea gravel) the name doesn't actually describe the type of rock but what it's used for (pea gravel just describes the size/shape).  So while in one place the cheap crush and run might be just fine for aquaponics, in another location it could be limestone or recycled concrete.  So definitely do the pH testing and beware that the actual type of stone might change from one deliver to the next with something like that so be sure to have a good relationship with the yard so you can ask and they will tell you if it changes.

Now Up in NY I'm sure there has to be a closer source of expanded Shale since I know some one in New England who sells it.  Down here in the South we will use the Expanded Slate since Stalite is in the South.  I will warn that the Stalite requires a bit of an acid rinse or you will be dealing with an elevated pH at first since their kiln process involves the use of hydrated lime so the dust on the media will be alkali and it takes a little bit more than simple rinsing to counteract it all.

My experience in NY says there is lots of rock available, down here in Central FL pretty much all rock other than limestone has to be hauled in by rail.

Thanks everyone. So I tested this crusher and 2 of the 4 rocks had a very very small stream of bubbles coming from one small spot. Does this mean they've failed the fiz test? I kind of thought they would go all crazy in the vinegar. 

As far as the shale - I am really trying to stay local to avoid stupid shipping. I need 6 yards of this stuff to fill three totes. I have found a place that is way down state and I will check to see how much the shipping is.

Even getting everything else on the cheap - grow media is my nemesis.

it is really hard to say on the fiz test sometimes with such a small sample since the crusher run is going to be whatever rocks they run through the crusher so there could be a variety of rocks involved.

I would say soak the rocks in water for a few days to make sure there is no air trapped in any crevices and then do the fiz test again.  The bubbles could just be escaping air but then again there could be some small seams of calcium carbonate in some of the rocks.  How badly it would affect your system will also depend on your source water.

That it good news. It actually stopped after a few minutes. The pile I looked at was pretty uniform to my untrained eye. They told me where they got the rocks from and I hope I can get in touch with that company to get final word on the origin.

oh, and you might go searching for some other aggregate suppliers (like probably the place where the landscape supply company gets it's rocks from) since you can probably get a better price on a big load of something if you go to the places that supply the construction guys, granted you will pay a bit extra to get some one who can deliver it unless you have a truck and dump trailer you can use.  Down here in FL one of the main companies is Conrad Yelvington but it will be a different companies up there.  A company with yards on rail terminals gets really big deliveries which greatly reduces the transport costs (it is the only way to get large loads of heavy stuff without totally breaking the bank since having pallets of media delivered by truck will often cost more than the media.)

Still cannot find any expanded shale or slate suppliers - fooey.

I've found one - Norlite corp in Albany - though the medium is cheaper, the shipping or the drive makes it cost prohibitive. Looks like it is washed round stone (pea gravel) for me.

as long as the stone or pea gravel isn't limestone or marble in your area, ya should be good. 

Ya gravel might be a bit heavy but it does work as media.  Heck, it will support really heavy plants even through major winds better than light weight stuff here will.

anyone ever successfully grow banana trees indoors with only growlights? lol

Uh, I believe I know of some one who used to years ago in his Monolithic Dome Home.  However, it wasn't aquaponic.

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