Aquaponic Gardening

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I have decided to convert my store into aquaponics.  It looked so easy.  The plants start to grow so fast.  Then they wilt.  LOL.  I would really be happy if i could get some good info.  We got the ph down from about 9 to 6.8 on average.  Am i to have a filter on these systems?  Please send lots of advice. 

 

Can you grow in a building with lots of windows?

 

Thanks

 

 

Tom

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Hi Tom, Some plants like lettuce can grow with less light. Otherwise you might need to supplement with electric lighting. Best Wishes

How close does the light need to be and can i use 4 foot fluorescent?

How close does the light need to be?  Can i use 4 foot Fluorescent fixtures?

steve said:

Hi Tom, Some plants like lettuce can grow with less light. Otherwise you might need to supplement with electric lighting. Best Wishes

I'd think the fixtures would work. Some bulbs are better than others, also more power consuming. Maybe one of the experts can help I'm just a newbie and have no experience in use of lights. Or maybe a search of electric lights on this site?

The south east part of my building is windows.  Yes the system is growing.

 

 

Hi Tom, It depends on which fluoros you decide to use. The old T-12's I'd forgo. The T-8's you need to keep withing 2" (two inches) from the tops of your plants. T-5's (the most expensive way to go) you have a bit more wiggle room. With any fluorescent lighting keep in mind that you need to change out every single tube after about 6 months as PAR (Photo-synthetically Active Radiation) will degrade to the point of plant un-usabillity (even though to your human eyes they'll "look" just as bright as the day you bought them). These costs quickly add up in an operation such as yours. Watt per Watt, lumen per lumen, there is still no lighting that is more cost effective than HID lighting. Metal Halide if your doing non fruiting/flowering non SDP's (short day plants). Day neutral plants like peppers, tom's, cucumbers will still be good to go even with MH (metal Halides). 

Also with fluoros your fixtures will need to be so close to your plants that any natural light coming in from windows will in all likley-hood be blocked. Put it down on paper, do the math, weigh the different pro's and con's and see what you come up with...

What your pre-filtering set up did you decide to use before the water goes to your NFT's? 

Tom Parsons said:

How close does the light need to be and can i use 4 foot fluorescent?

You can post pictures directly into the posts using the image button (top of the text box next to the link button.)

Like this

Yes you need filtration between the fish tanks and the NFT pipes.

You also need lots more light.  Indoors, even with windows, you won't grow much more than house plants without more supplemental lighting, and a lot of it.  Vlad's advise is good.

I have not used any filtering at this point.  I am new to this.  Please explain.



Vlad Jovanovic said:

Hi Tom, It depends on which fluoros you decide to use. The old T-12's I'd forgo. The T-8's you need to keep withing 2" (two inches) from the tops of your plants. T-5's (the most expensive way to go) you have a bit more wiggle room. With any fluorescent lighting keep in mind that you need to change out every single tube after about 6 months as PAR (Photo-synthetically Active Radiation) will degrade to the point of plant un-usabillity (even though to your human eyes they'll "look" just as bright as the day you bought them). These costs quickly add up in an operation such as yours. Watt per Watt, lumen per lumen, there is still no lighting that is more cost effective than HID lighting. Metal Halide if your doing non fruiting/flowering non SDP's (short day plants). Day neutral plants like peppers, tom's, cucumbers will still be good to go even with MH (metal Halides). 

Also with fluoros your fixtures will need to be so close to your plants that any natural light coming in from windows will in all likley-hood be blocked. Put it down on paper, do the math, weigh the different pro's and con's and see what you come up with...

What your pre-filtering set up did you decide to use before the water goes to your NFT's? 

Tom Parsons said:

How close does the light need to be and can i use 4 foot fluorescent?

Aquaponics requires three major components.

1-Fish

2-Plants

3-Bacteria for bio-filtration (in addition to bio-filtration solids filtration is needed to keep the fish waste from building up on plant roots and suffocating them in NFT or Raft culture.)

#3 is probably the most important part for aquaponics since a system can get alone without 1 or 2 for a period of time but if number 3 doesn't exist the aquaponics system just won't work at all.

If you simply pump fish water directly from fish tanks into NFT tubes you are likely to have issues with gunk build up that will start stinking and causing poor growth with the plants.  Also NFT doesn't necessarily provide enough surface area for bio-filtration to convert the ammonia from fish waste into plant nutrient to keep the water quality high for the fish without some sort of extra filtration.

The Rules of thumb page might help you some though it is geared for media bed aquaponics

Thanks TC for the 1,2,3 breakdown. Sometimes it's the simple stuff. By the way Tom, what a great setup you have. I hope you get it going in the right direction.

Tom, sorry I didn't catch your last IM...I think you asked about draining a media bed into a sump and then pumping to the NFT channels? That would be a step in the right direction (as well as 'killing two birds with one stone' i.e bio-filtration as well as some solids removal), but I think you need to put some thought into sizing the media bed, and a proper fish stocking density for that to work. You may find that it works well at first but if the bed is too small to handle the fish load, after a while you might need additional filtration (maybe either mechanical filtration, or another media bed), or less fish if you have the nitrates to spare.

I know it's a major pain, but you should try to pre-wash/rinse your media this time

I still suggest getting Sylvia's book to get a handle on the some of the basics.

And you might want to get those concrete blocks out of that water or you'll probably pay the price in forever high pH.

Also, you mentioned tomatoes, and I gotta tell ya NFT is about the worst technique for tom's. Especially without really good filtration (but really even with it can be a pain). The root mass is just massive with tom's and you may find that the roots get brown and gunky and the plant withers before it even gets to finish flowering. Tom's would be better in a mature media bed, or hell, even in a mature raft with some support for the plant. Even if your filtration is pristine you might encounter root blockage and O2 problems at the root-zone with tom's in the type of NFT channels you have.

NFT is great for short term leafy greens, lettuce, basil etc... 

Did the test kit you ordered come in yet?

Here is a decent article on NFT by the renowned (AP)  Dr. Wilson Lennard...http://www.aquaponicsjournal.com/docs/articles/A-New-Look-at-NFT-Aq...

Bio-filtration oldie but goodie...by Rebecca Nelson from Nelson and Pade...http://www.aquaponicsjournal.com/docs/articles/Aquaponic-Equipment-...

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