Aquaponic Gardening

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I live on the Ga SC border near Augusta.  I am having a very difficult time finding expanded shale.  I am not keen on using crushed granite.  Is there another type of media I could use that will be safe?  I have found some places that have river rock, but my concern is that it will be to heavy. 

PLEASE, ANY SUGGESTIONS are welcome. I have never done a aquasystem before, and want to make sure i do it right. 

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If you own a pickup truck, you can haul Stalite (Carolina Stalite, I think).  Call them.  See media topics in this forum for other ideas.



Thanks, I called a guy at a rock quarry and he told me about a pile of expanded (some kind of rock) it is very light weight, and it passed a vinegar test (where i put into vinegar and see if it bubbles).  My only concern is that it is pretty small media.  

I will call that Stalite and see what I can find. 

HA! that is what it is, what I found at an old construction site.  Would I just drill smaller holes in the bell syphon?   This makes me happy because it is free!

I live in Western Washington and I too I’m having a hard time, I will beef up the beds and use pea gravel. It less tan ten bucks a yard, nobody sells expanded shale out here.  

Just posting this info for others.   I am making the switch to much larger grow beds and hydroton like products are going to be about $800!   That's out.      I came to the forum and found that folks are using expanded shale.   I found a place here in Indiana.  $87 a ton which is about 2 cubic yards.      They sell to the public.  Going to borrow a pickup and head over.  I'll post again on my results.     

5 old grow beds were 24"x36" x 8" deep plastic mason tubs. 

3 new homemade 16"x72" x 15" deep dura-skrim lined (from Sylvia, of course)  were going to be very expensive to fill with anything from the hydro shop.         

If I can fill those maybe 3/4 with expanded shale for 50 bucks, then use my old hydroton, i'm in! 

I used hydrocorn...It's like hydroton but quite a bit cheaper.

I have some hydrocorn too from when the hydroton ran out.    I like it but my new huge beds ( ok, maybe they are just too big ) will take lots and lots of those $64 bags to fill.       My small tubs worked great for 2 years but I wanted to see if I could get better indoor tomatoes and peppers with 15" deep gb's.   I'll be sure to post about the setup when it's up and running.    I just learned about expanded shale today and am excited to try it out.

Wow. I don't remember what size bag but I paid 1/2 that. I bought mine from Blue Seal up here in Rochester,NH

Update on the expanded shale.    It is awesome!!!     Seems about same weight as hydroton.  Very light.      I  went over to  in Moorsville, IN and they scooped just under a ton into the pickup bed for 80 bucks. 

I was able to carry it easily into the basement project room in 5 gallon buckets.  Didn't take too much effort really and is easy to handle with bare hands.   There are a few points here and there but overall the stones are smooth. I don't fear it will poke through the duraskrim on its own.  Stones are bigger than hydroton and hydrocorn but as you can see the plants look very comfy. 

3 new homemade 16"x72" x 15" deep dura-skrim lined grow beds.       Here are some pictures.   Direct seeding lettuce worked great.    Haven't seen the kale.  Seeds may have disappeared into the water.    The rooting sponges worked for the tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro.


Is the expanded shale still working well for you? What size did you get? The Brooklyn shale, or the north coast shale. I am interested in getting some shale for a new system I want to build

The expanded shale is just plain awesome.  It hasn't broken down at all. Not one bit.  I have been using it for nearly a year inside ( pictured ) and outside in a couple of different setups.   It looks like the day I got it.   It is PH neutral.  It is easy to stir up in between plantings.   What I like most about it is how light it is and easy to work with bare hands.  I was a bit nervous about the duraskrim liners getting holes but have had no leaks.   This system has been self sufficient for nearly a year now.    I don't know whether it is brooklyn or northcoast.    I got it from .   The L size Haydite.    80 bucks for a pickup truck load compared to 80 per bag of hydroton at the hydroponic store.  

Thanks so much for the info. I am new to aquaponics. This will be my first system. I am 2 hrs. away from Indianapolis. I only need enough for 4 half barrel grow beds right now but I am trying to keep costs down. I am building in my basement and hate to think about packing heavy gravel up and down those stairs. They show 2 sizes available. One is 1/4"-3/4". The other size is 1/3"-1". I am thinking the bigger size will be the one to get? What would you suggest? Thanks.

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