Aquaponic Gardening

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DIY Heater, build your own 2000 watt heater for $20 ***DONT USE COPPER OR NICKEL ELEMENTS!

submersible virsion... http://community.theaquaponicsource.com/forum/topics/diy-heater-sub... ...this how-to has the link for the stainless elements.

After many variations, this is the simplest heater I've been able to build. I had to come up with this last year while waiting for my $600 heater to be built and delivered. when it finally arrived, I just left it in the box and continued to use the home built unit.

DO NOT USE THE COPPER ELEMENT FROM HOME DEPOT!  YOU MUST ORDER A STAINLESS STEEEL ELEMENT.   ....This is a 2000 watt element from Home Depot, a 1-1/2" to 1" reducer, a 1-1/2" uniseal, and a fitting with net pots to keep the fish off the element. I found that a heavy duty timer works for a thermostat. I run it for 15 mins on the hour to keep my 150 gallon tank toasty. this would be adjusted according to your needs. i have used this on as much as 600 gallons, but would recommend going to the 240 volt, 4000 watt for anything over 400 gallon. Note - the 2" net pots slip right onto a male threaded 1-1/2" nipple.

The top pipe is optional, i like to keep it as tall as the water level will allow. This will create a convective flow of water across the element. Works great!

here is the newer version...

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the swirl filter should keep the bubbles at bay. keep us posted.

The copper pennies did seem to kill off all of the (unwanted) snails in our aquarium; so that might be a consideration if you have snails, crayfish, or possibly even scuds that you want to keep alive?

David - WI said:

We have a 15 gallon freshwater aquarium at home and I got so tired of hearing about copper that I cleaned off 5 or 6 pennies with vinegar until they shined beautifully; then dropped them into the fish tank about 8 weeks ago.

We haven't lost any fish, but the unwanted snails seem to die off pretty quickly.

I imagine there are fish that are hyper-sensitive to copper, but I think the "danger" is drastically exaggerated; there are some interesting stories here: Copper in aquaculture

Hi David,

The article you gave applies to nets used for ocean farmed fish which will not be the same in the case of farmed. AP is a closed loop recirculating system. The metals stay within the system and build upon themselves.. Then there is the problem of bio-magnification of metals in marine environments for fish. Metals are magnified sometimes up to a thousand times from the ambient levels within fish. This will be fine for the fish(so it may seem) but poses a real danger to the next predator in line, which are humans! You can find many studies done about this phenomenon in farmed fish by a simple search.

David - WI said:

We have a 15 gallon freshwater aquarium at home and I got so tired of hearing about copper that I cleaned off 5 or 6 pennies with vinegar until they shined beautifully; then dropped them into the fish tank about 8 weeks ago.

We haven't lost any fish, but the unwanted snails seem to die off pretty quickly.

I imagine there are fish that are hyper-sensitive to copper, but I think the "danger" is drastically exaggerated; there are some interesting stories here: Copper in aquaculture

Like I said, I'm willing to bet that the plants in an aquaponic system will uptake any "excess" copper... and the plants/fruits/vegetables are being constantly removed; so there isn't going to be any huge accumulation in anything I eat.

I have mixed feelings about the over exaggeration of the copper / zinc argument
..but ask you this one question.. why not just play it safe and use a stainless unit?

FTR - we have not used powdered Iron (Sprint 330) in over a year because of the fear of iron toxicity accumulation in the fish... look into the EDTA chelation, this is more of a real concern to me than the copper and zinc,, remember, its not that it kills the fish right away, or ever.. its that it builds up in them, then it builds up in YOU! its accumulative, and if you plan to eat your fish, it may take years... but then you cant remember your own name, and want to blame it on everything around you in the world.. but how sad would it be if it was your awesome food growing system that made you... well, brain dead.

Yeah, sure... but copper and zinc are both essential nutrients that the bodies of healthy people easily regulate.  The multi-vitamins that I take actually contain copper, iron, and zinc.

Copper is also commonly used to control aquatic parasites like Ich; so I'm not even convinced that having a small amount of copper in the water of an aquaponic system would be a bad thing; it may prevent a lot more problems than it causes; especially if you have relatively high stocking densities.

Copper is also an essential nutrient for plants, so your vegetables have to get it somehow... it's removed from the system when they are harvested and has to be replenished either from the fish food, the water, or some supplement.

Copper (Cu)
  • Important for reproductive growth.
  • Aids in root metabolism and helps in the utilization of proteins. 

Nutrient link

@David - I tend to agree with you.  Aquaponics is not aquaculture. 

This is also pretty interesting:

In the fishes analyzed Fe accumulation was the maximum in all the organs but its highest value of 12.65 µg/g was significantly observed in the Gills of Synodentis budgetti (p <0.05), the liver of Tilapia zilli was second while the flesh of Heterotis niloticus shows the least value. From the result of this study, the tissues accumulation was observed in the order of gills > liver > stomach > kidney > bones > flesh. The gills of all the fish tend to accumulate significant high levels of heavy metal than other tissues.

Click: source

I was wrong about the copper pennies controlling the snails... what I thought were dead snails on the bottom of the tank were actually a new kind of snail, I guess.  Now we have copper pennies, fish, snails on the side of the tank and odd little snails all over the fake gravel in the bottom of the tank (and crawling across the pennies).

We're gone need a bigger pennie!

I love this!  I have been trying to find a heater(s) for our system that wont break the bank.  How many of these would you recommend to heat a 300 gallon tank?

http://207.150.195.88/pages/full_width/94/Heater-Sizing

Kym roberts-Hardesty said:

I love this!  I have been trying to find a heater(s) for our system that wont break the bank.  How many of these would you recommend to heat a 300 gallon tank?

Kym, 5500 watts at 240v is plenty for a 300 gallon.  be sure to get a controller, it will boil 300 gallons if left unchecked.

happy heating

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