Aquaponic Gardening

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"Gravel Pit Self Reclaiming Aquaponics System"I knew When I ordered the book that there must be more to Aquaponic Gardening than using waste water from my fish tank,

and am enjoying getting started reading it! Especially since what I've learned about so far has confirmed what I decided would happen by my pumping water to flood irrigate from the free flowing liner-less pond in my gravel pit onto the gravel surface. I was sure this was a success of some kind despite of a huge increase of string algae (I must have 10,000 Japanese Trap Door Snails in there now from this) as the orchard grass which could barely grow there before filled in nice and thick with it getting 5 feet tall in places, and I was right the cottonwood trees growing in a stand next to the pond has taken off quite well now from having fish in there.

Now that I know my fish will do well and that the filtration system works,,,so to speak, can't wait find out/or figure out from the book and this forum what more to do, I will begin adding more fish (I spent around $10 on them to begin with, common goldfish and rosy red minnows as a test) I want to add Koi and edible fish of some kind, not sure how many goldfish I have now, but there appears to be plenty of minnows and snails to support many fish without extra feed, though the hoards of water boatman bugs have been scared off or eaten and only a few remain. I also have Water Sedge plants (quick former of peat) and bulrush plants (a wetland edible) ordered for spring planting along with quite a few of my spring planting trees that are on order being ones that will do well in the swampy condition/while making a nice wind break, so I should have a good start on my filtering of the water!

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The Tilapia will winter kill.  But I will add more the next year for a couple years, can't hurt as almost all my Bass, and Hybrids are dead now. I will be growing 1000's of Tilapia by then.  My first tank under construction is 11,750 Gallons or 20' Dia by 5' Deep.  And I need to fill it first.

Larry Dale Smith said:

First off Bill, thanks for your concern, is always good to have a second pair of eyes looking at what one is doing. 

These are shrub willow I put in and they are quite a distance from the pond and in my grow bed that drains back into the pond, also I have bigger concern from the cottonwoods already growing next to the pond but they act as a two way valve by taking water out when there is plenty and putting back in when it is say for example August around here that means it is hot and humid but no rain yet the water level goes up more than down as the cottonwoods take water out of the air to grow. 

Evergreens might not be good right next to your pond, but those are excellent at putting water in the ground when a distance is kept so they don't suck the pond dry. 

The DNR is probably right, once the trees are big enough to leach the water it is too late as they say the water will run out past the roots, live tree roots slow water moving through the soil and the trees may actually be keeping more water in than they take out, so cutting the trees is a bad idea as you may have a different problem causing the water loss.

Tilapia are more of a tropical tank food source and I don't think they will survive in a pond that gets ice on it as well as I would try to get the algae under control before putting more fish in, start by getting some trap door snails and keep the string algae raked out of the pond and try using it as mulch for the trees to keep them from leaching as much water out. 

I don't think the Sand-hill Cranes would be scared of as small of birds as Great Horned Owl or Herons besides of that I've not seen the cranes go near the pond just pecking at the ground and I want them around to keep the grasshoppers in low numbers later on, I hear they like to eat frogs but only when there are not enough bugs to go around. 

I've only seen a handful of Muskrats around here in my whole life and don't believe we even have any Groundhogs around this is more of Rock-chuck territory I've seen plenty of those off in the forest service but not around here local. Then again if I put out predator decoys such as Coyote they would probable attract bullets! Not much good to get rid of one problem to have another! 

Thanks for your input though it doesn't seem to be relevant right now it will be good stuff for me to keep in mind later on! 

I don't think the muskrats would dig through the gravel even if there are some around I don't know about.

You might also try draining the pond and putting a liner in, but I'm not sure what kind of liner you could get that would be muskrat proof,,,,,which reminds me, maybe the muskrats are eating the fish instead of them winter killing? Are you finding them floating in the spring?

It's been storming and I haven't seen the sand-hills, but the sun is out now so maybe they will be back, not sure what they would do to the fish population but they have stayed away from the pond so far.

I've been ordering seeds, I must stop I always take on to much! 

Now that I think of it the muskrats may be tunneling off some of the water as well. 

A dog that could catch and kill them would be good defense. 

Good thinking with the bed spring rake, if all else fails you can switch the pond to being an irrigation sump or pump the water into your tanks for fish. 

My Freshwater Clams I ordered to filter the pond water by eating algae and harmful bacteria came Thursday, and I assume they are all alive since they all disappeared into the gravel sides of the pond. Still been seeing the Sand-hill Cranes most days, and good thing because I've begun seeing grasshoppers out and about! 

I planted a willow that gets 5 to 8 feet tall and 5 to 6 feet wide, it is a weeping pussy willow "tree", it is on the newest line I put on the pump, first thing I tried putting on this line. 

I got my Chicks Thursday too, 5 Americana 6 Rode Islands Reds. Cute little buggers aren't they?

Got 2 Barred Rocks as well 5 days later, still got all 13, keeping them in a chicken tractor till I get the coop built. 

I put spirilina in their water, seemed to keep them from getting sick other than one that ate to many grasshoppers once. 

The smallest of the 14 week olds is at least 5 pounds yet they run like crazy and fly to sit on the gate when I let them out and the gate is 4 1/2 feet tall. At least they don't go out of the fenced in area till I turn them out after grasshoppers in the evening while the new dog is kept in the house or on the leash. 

The pond water has been to low to pump for some time due to the cottonwoods drinking more than they are putting in, but about as soon as the neigbor is done haying they'll flood irrigate bringing up the surrounding water table and increasing the humidity both of which will raise the pond level.

The fish have been hiding again, have mostly only seen the bass which seem to still be doing well and growing nicely.

Sure have been seeing lots of snakes here this summer, no rattlers yet but am sure they must be around as they hide well.

I almost said that the water seems to be staying clean but I am glad I didn't as when I was gust going for a soak I noticed it is starting to need pumping and it is probably time for a new healthy bacteria boost, seems to be on-going with the bacteia though each treatment goes on working for a longer time.

I've seen birds flying over, such as a Green Heron, probably why the fish have been hiding, the frogs are starting to come back out of hidding, so if nothing comes around the fish should too.

I've seen sandhill cranes recently as well, they helped the neigbor out with eating his share of the grasshoppers before they make it over here after the haying goes on.

They are finnishing up the baleing, just have to wait a few more days for the bales to cure and get removed, then they should be turning the water out.

Every time we get a hot day the cottonwoods pull most of the waste out of the pond without dropping the water level in it, it is the only good part about the high humidity I have here in August, due to all the cottonwoods near my place that are along the river where they can drink freely, one has grown about 9 feet already but is one that came back from a stump last year. 

I would rather I could ude the fish waste to grow edibles, but that has not been paning out in my experimental project as of yet, and a free shelter belt providing: windbreak, shade, humidity control, firewood, and leaf mold will go along way for being able to become self sustaining here. 

The cottonwood that I estimate has grown about 9 feet already had grown about 4 or 5 feet by the end of July (by that time my cottonwood saplings down there have grown about 1/4 of what they do for the year, and though I doubt it will actually grow 16 to 20 feet this year, who knows! 

The re-growing from a stump will likely make it blow down again, but not till it's big enough for firewood, I usually prefer better wood than cottonwood for firewood, but free is free, just have to cut it and besides the wood from my stand burns more compleatly than most cottonwood leaving very little ash and seems to give more heat, very little need to add hotter burning wood to get max useage out of it!

After speanding much of the summer with the bass out on the prowl now all fish are hidding like they were in the spring.

I tried to get a measurement on the cottonwood today, it is only a bit over 6 feet to maybe 7 feet of new growth, should have known that looking up at it makes it look taller, should still maybe put out a good bunch more growth though. Kind of like people used to look up at my dad and think he was the tallest man in the world, looking up at a healthy sapling makes it almost look as tall as a developed tree. 

I finally got enough water table to run the pump and ran it last tuesday, was keeping fresh from bits of rain, then we got a good storm that raised it up 3 inches, now is refilled + 1 extra inch or more after pumping and will be ready for pumping again at the 1 week cycle that works best for keeping clean and refilling + fertilization levels of my willow bushes etc.

I have only seen a few fish, many must be hidding still as I've hardly seen any dead floaters (all minnows) of birds that would be much threat.

I found the local feed and grain store carries good quality fish food in #50 bags, making it under a dollar a pound compaired to the $2-$10/# where I had beengetting it and that was not as good of food, was only eaten by minnows. 

I've been getting the invasion of the water boat-man bugs in the pond, should be keeping the Koi and Bass well fed due to the large numbers of them so I'm only needing to feed ever few days. 

My chickens have done a wonderful job of keeping the grasshoppers under control, and between that and the extra time with frost free days I've been getting I should get a good harvest of tomatoes and winter squash, maybe even a pumpkin or two! 

I've been eating lots of pullet eggs as well as yellow summer squash, has been good for my weight while keeping rid of my hunger pains + keeping me well norished. 

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