Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

I use a bell siphon on my outdoor aquaponic system and I'm wondering how often I should flood and drain the growbed. Is there a general rule of thumb?

With my pump, the bed fills up in about 12 minutes and then drains in about 3. I initially had the pump going continuously (24/7) but I was concerned that the plants might be getting too much water. Specifically, my peppers started getting some yellow leaves w/ small black spots.

In my indoor aquaponic system, I have the beds flood for 15 minutes every hour during the daylight and my peppers do great. So I decided to do the same for the outside system and I installed a 15 minute timer and now have it flooding just once per hour (about 15 minutes) during the daylight. Plants seem to be doing well, but there's a little yellowing still on some leaves that I'm concerned could spread if I don't get the flooding right.

So is this enough flooding? Too little? Should continous flooding and draining 24/7 work?

Some notes about my outdoor system, for what it's worth:

  • I cycled tank using pure ammonia
  • Nitrate is at about 80ppm
  • Plants were started in established indoor aquaponic system then transplanted outside at seedling stage
  • Fish were put in tank and plants transplanted about 2.5 weeks ago
  • pH is between about 7.5-8
  • Using expanded shale media

Thanks!

Patrick

Views: 1466

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I don't think the frequency of flood and drain is what is causing yellowing leaves.  There are systems I know of that run continuous flood and as long as the water flow is enough and there is enough aeration most plants do fine with it.

 

More likely you are seeing some sign of deficiency.  Can you tell us more about the yellowing leaves?  Is it the older leaves or new growth showing the yellowing?  Is it the whole leave yellowing or are the veins staying green longer?

 

Have you dosed with any seaweed extract or chelated iron?  What kind of fish/how many and what kind of fish food?  How big is the system?

 

My first guess is Iron deficiency with the pH up between 7.5-8.  A dose of chelated iron can help and as the system matures you should see the pH come down.  Iron Def usually looks like new leaves yellowing but the veins stay green.

 

I worry with systems that don't pump overnight since the fish still need filtration and aeration so if you system has very many fish you may run into problems having the pump off overnight as summer goes on (warmer water, bigger fish can use up aeration and build up more ammonia going overnight without filtration.)

With the spots I think you also might have an insect or disease issue that has less to do with aquaponics and more to do with something that is attacking your outdoor plants that isn't in your indoor environment. Might be worth a Google search...

Thanks for the fast responses. The yellowing is happening on the older leaves. In the case of the peppers, it's worked its way from the bottom of the plant upwards. The leaves start at a deep green and turn a yellowy brown with a few blackish spots. The yellowing seems to happen evenly, so the vein didn't stay greener longer.  The cucumbers look good, but compared to the squash all their leaves are a lot lighter green.

 

I have a 160 gallon tank with about 80 comet goldfish, about 1-3 inches.Attached are about 85 gallons of growbed (12" deep).

 

From your information and a little Googling, my guess is that the peppers got hit with some type of disease (we did have a very wet start to season here while system was on the continuous flood and drain too) but that I do have iron deficiency in general too. I think that iron deficiency makes sense because I didn't have the fish in the system until the plants went in. So while there is plenty of nitrate, there's not many trace nutrients like iron built up, plus pH is a little high making it difficult to absorb what is there. I will probably grab some chelated iron today and I might just replace the pepper plants because it sounds like they might have an infection.

 

Thoughts?

 

And good idea on running the pump during the night for aeration/filtration. I'll probably put it on at least for a few cycles at night. Thanks!

I run two systems with five small grow beds pumping  24/7 each, with a 40 gallon fish tank and my plants are doing very well. I am new to this  so just giving my observations. I notice the yellowing of leaves with dark spots on my conventional organic garden that you speak of , and guess its a disease of some sort(or nutrient issue). I converted my systems from hydroponics adding feeder gold fish(25 each) and noticed some yellowing. I added a small amount of hydroponics nutrients and the leaves turned green. Seems like trial and error are working. good luck..LLoyd

The first season in an aquaponics system can be a bit hit and miss as to what will thrive and what might be better off just pulling out.

 

I will caution about using hydroponic nutrients in with fish since the salt levels can build up if you do that and there are things in hydroponic nutrients that would be detrimental to fish if used too much (zinc, copper etc.)

Your plan sounds like a good one, Patrick.  Painful to get rid of plants, isn't it?  I am transitioning our greenhouse from our original AquaBundance systems that have been in there for a year now to a new design we are doing final testing on and yesterday we removed most of the plants.  I've been battling a white fly issue in the greenhouse, so this was good news as far as that problem is concerned.  There were several young plants, and candidates for cuttings, however, that I thought I could save after letting them soak in the fish tank for a few hours to drown the bugs.  But then the gal who is working with us now, Joanne, who I knew from working with her at my prior job at AeroGrow was a super sleuth when it comes to bugs inspected all the plants and found spider mite eggs on EVERY ONE OF THEM so she threw them all out!  Then she very kindly lectured me on when to get rid of plants when they start getting so old they are vulnerable (I take it as a source of pride that most of the plants in there were over a year old...she doesnt' see it that way ;-) So painful!!
not sure if this will be helpful, but if it is only the lower leaves, it may be a deficiency of nutrients? i only say this because my plats are doing the same thing...i had a 32 year college horticulture professor take a look and he explained how the plants will use all the energy and nutrients it has to grow its new upper leaves, while neglecting the lower older ones, therefore they begin to turn yellowish or even like mine, get crisp edges....this is a question im trying to solve right now...so good luck!
from observing my traditional tomatoes in the ground , they seem to do the same things. still getting good fruit from them, for whatever its worth..

Aaron Flora said:
not sure if this will be helpful, but if it is only the lower leaves, it may be a deficiency of nutrients? i only say this because my plats are doing the same thing...i had a 32 year college horticulture professor take a look and he explained how the plants will use all the energy and nutrients it has to grow its new upper leaves, while neglecting the lower older ones, therefore they begin to turn yellowish or even like mine, get crisp edges....this is a question im trying to solve right now...so good luck!
Thanks everyone. Aaron, if you get any leads, let us know!
Worm casting tea will fix a lot of the micro nutrient problems in newer systems. I always notice a big difference in mottling, spotting and edge crisping of leaves after adding some tea.  I would guess that any compost tea will do the same.

Just be careful about over doing the nutrients, though...even worm tea.  Since this is a closed loop system what the plants don't take up will remain in the system and not wash away like it would in soil.  

 

Hey Richard, are you settled in your new home now?  Setting up AP systems there?

Not yet, our new home closes in 2 days, and we will be moving near the end of the month.  The new system may take a little while to start, I have a little bigger plans this time :)

Reply to Discussion

RSS

© 2020   Created by Sylvia Bernstein.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service