Aquaponic Gardening

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I got a good deal on an aquaponics system and jumped in with 2 feet all in a matter of days thinking i can feed my family organic, GMO free "perfect" food.  i thought the fish would be better than farm raised cuz who knows what they put in that stuff and even better than fish from the ocean cuz of the nuclear waiste, mercury... found in the ocean.  now with the totes and plastics and all else there is to learn, reading about people finding dead fish in their tanks...  i'm worried about the safety about AP systems.   the system im buying had nice looking fish and veggies growing and the gentleman is selling it cuz he's moving so i'm not too worried about it but it's plastic (totes bought from tank n barrel for $120 and he cut them...) so i'm somewhat concerned.  the one i'm really concerned with is the free tote my friend has that doesn't say food grade and she knows nothing about it accept that the previous owner was going to or tried to do APs with them.  i am looking into covering it with a pond liner and using it to bring the water with the bacteria in it home and the fish and then pump it back into the original tote the fish are in now, then if i like APs add that tote on to the system since it just has 2 garden beds and we're a family of 5 that juice and eat lots of veggies.

anyone know of the differences in nutrition of APs, risks of leaching, even in food grade totes in the heat of AZ, and ocean fish/farm raised.  what do they keep farm raised fish in anyway?  cement with a pond liner?  farm raised fish must get hormones and things that at least we know we won't be getting.  i want to feel good about this purchase, that im still benefiting my family's health.  any thoughts appreciated.  i'm trying to pull this all off before saturday!  thx!

 

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Hi Kim,

The fact that they are already being used to grow fish/veggies means that there is not much of a chance of any leaching of highly toxic chemicals, but anyway, you're going with a liner, so that's extra safety. The fish feed is prepared to very high standards( metals removed etc.) and is manufactured from ocean caught fish. So all these lovely minerals and fatty acids in the feed goes to your fish, veggies and then to your plate

Harold, thanks for your reassurance!  any tips on where to buy tilapia food while u mention it?  we are in the east valley.  thx! 

Harold Sukhbir said:

Hi Kim,

The fact that they are already being used to grow fish/veggies means that there is not much of a chance of any leaching of highly toxic chemicals, but anyway, you're going with a liner, so that's extra safety. The fish feed is prepared to very high standards( metals removed etc.) and is manufactured from ocean caught fish. So all these lovely minerals and fatty acids in the feed goes to your fish, veggies and then to your plate

we're those folks who buy a system before reading a book about it!   got a good deal on a used system and the guy is moving so we grabbed it.  book is on the way but there's no way i'll get it before this weekend.  i'm also finding the info on line is mixed and not as much of it as i would've hoped.  im really hoping i don't kill the fish as i've been told the 4 breeders i have can be worth $100-$150/pair and I'd have to wait another several mths to get fish to eat.  nonetheless, i'll just do my best with it. 

for cycling the tank, do u mind telling me how long that typically takes?  good to know, i wouldn't have done that likely.  i would've prob been in a rush to get them out of the little fishtanks we have for their temporary stay before putting them in the big tank. 

i'm not clear on what u meant by the goldfish- is adding goldfish a way to test the water or did i misunderstand; why would people be putting little goldfish in their systems?

thx!



Randall Wimbish said:

And I would like to add, there are many reasons people find dead fish in their tanks. First of all you need to know about aquarium management first off. There is a little science to it.

  Lots of people have not cycled the system before adding fish.

     And the organic pest control things that you put on your veggies that will kill your fish. Neem extract is one.   Organic does not always mean safe.   Some of the most deadly things on earth are organic.

  People buy cheap feeder gold fish to cycle a system the ask why the fish died.  I cycled a couple of systems this way but the books told me to expect casualties.

 People over feed the fish and crash the bio filter.

 People jump into Aquaponics with out ever even reading a book about it .

And then there is the miscalculations on things we add to the system to enhance the production.

Fish are however the least expensive thing in Aquaponics.

I think TClynxs said "Aquaponics doesn't do windows" but the results are amazing.

There is an arizona group on this site.  Possibly someone near you can keep your fish alive while you get your system up and running.  

Otherwise, put the fish in a tank/cooler with an aerator and don't feed them.  Test the water periodically, daily, if necessary and do water changes when needed (ammonia/nitrite levels will dictate).  You can keep them like this for weeks, if necessary, until your system is ready.  

See the cycling forum topics and do some reading there.

Good luck - tilapiare rugged so you may do well. 

as to farm raised VS your aquaponics, you'll probably have more confidence in the food you produce since you know what they've been fed, etc.  it's fun - you'll enjoy it.  arizona is a great place to do it too since water is scarce there.  

well, i'm in trouble, then (well, the fish r), cuz i decided against the free tote i had to carry water-didn't want to take the risk of what was previously in it so i'm left with a new recycling bin and a few totes/coolers.  could it be better to leave the fish in a small (2 10 gallon) fishtanks with 75% of the bacteria water while i cycle the system or will they be less happy in those small tanks?  thx! glad i found this site and hope my book comes in the mail ASAP!

Randall Wimbish said:

I think most people here do a fishless cycle by adding ammonia to the water until the nitrification bacteria get established before adding fish.  Others put cheap sacrificial feeder goldfish in the tank and let them produce the ammonia until the bacteria gets established. the fact that you are going to get cycled water and bring it with you will help.  Cycleing from scratch can take up to a couple of months but I have heard claims of people that did it in a couple of weeks.

George, u just answered my last question i put out there (and others).  thx!  they can live without eating for weeks?  good to know!  i was told this was an arizona AP forum so was confused when i saw others from other states-i'll go figure that out.  i'd like to go to the store to get some items to start preparing the water i have offgassing now.  any suggestions what i should buy and what kind of store?  pet store?  pond store?  can i use a pool ph tester?  thx, again!

George said:

There is an arizona group on this site.  Possibly someone near you can keep your fish alive while you get your system up and running.  

Otherwise, put the fish in a tank/cooler with an aerator and don't feed them.  Test the water periodically, daily, if necessary and do water changes when needed (ammonia/nitrite levels will dictate).  You can keep them like this for weeks, if necessary, until your system is ready.  

See the cycling forum topics and do some reading there.

Good luck - tilapiare rugged so you may do well. 

awsome.  Randall.  do u know how many goldfish per gallon?  seems easier to use ammonia.  do u know if there are benefits to getting goldfish (other than the kids will like to watch those?    do u know if i can use both at the same time?  i'll put ammonia (and possibly goldfish) on my list!

Randall Wimbish said:

I think most people here do a fishless cycle by adding ammonia to the water until the nitrification bacteria get established before adding fish.  Others put cheap sacrificial feeder goldfish in the tank and let them produce the ammonia until the bacteria gets established. the fact that you are going to get cycled water and bring it with you will help.  Cycleing from scratch can take up to a couple of months but I have heard claims of people that did it in a couple of weeks.

don't add ammonia to the system if it has fish in it..

ammonia is used to "fishless cycle" the system - that is, kickstarting the nitrification process..

since your system is used, if the media doesn't dry out during transport, you'll be pretty close to cycled when you fill the tank, but.. and here's a big but.. if you use chlorinated water to fill the system and start running the water immediately through the media, you'll kill off much of the bacteria.. and it could take weeks to cycle back up..

get some tap water (if thats what you'll use to fill the system) out in the sun as soon as you can

if you can''t, get the system put together, splash a little water on the media, and let the water sit in the ft at least overnight before turning on the pump

thx, that's very helpful!  does this sound like a good plan?:

transport the fish to my 2 10 gallon fish tanks that i have had off-gassing in the garage all week, i will be able to add 1/2 with the good bacteria water they are in now (or all of it possibly and not add so much to the 260 gallon tank that will be their hom outdoors.  get a fishtank pump and don't feed them for a mth or so while i am cycling the 260 gallon tank?  or i had someone offer to house the fish for me while i cycle the tank.  which is ideal?  i could go to petsmart today to get some goldfish if that would help for the little tanks.  if i did that do i not feed the goldfish, too, then add the tilapia with the goldfish (if they make it til sunday)?  thx!  Kim

Kim,

I would suggest reaching out to Dee Goodno for ecological labs products specifically developed for hydroponics and aquaponics.  I had a real hard time stabalizing my system until I started treating it with the eco labs producs.  I recommend Dee (woa4@msn.com) only because while she was being flooded out in CO, she was more worried about getting my order placed than protecting her own systems.

Western Outdoor Aquatics Inc 
8105 West I-25 Frontage Road, Unit #2
Frederick, Co.  80516 
303 485 7216 local
1 800 651 2559
http://www.westernpond.com

In any case, use of the eco labs producs (all certified orgainic) has stablized my systems and Dee is a wealth of knowledge.

 

thx for the info Robert!  I appreciate it.

Robert J said:

Kim,

I would suggest reaching out to Dee Goodno for ecological labs products specifically developed for hydroponics and aquaponics.  I had a real hard time stabalizing my system until I started treating it with the eco labs producs.  I recommend Dee (woa4@msn.com) only because while she was being flooded out in CO, she was more worried about getting my order placed than protecting her own systems.

Western Outdoor Aquatics Inc 
8105 West I-25 Frontage Road, Unit #2
Frederick, Co.  80516 
303 485 7216 local
1 800 651 2559
http://www.westernpond.com

In any case, use of the eco labs producs (all certified orgainic) has stablized my systems and Dee is a wealth of knowledge.

 

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