Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

"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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Hi Larry,
I looked through the posts and didn't find the size of Your pond.  What size is it?
Might I suggest that You lift Your pump to the upper 1/3 of the pond, then have the return swirl the water.
The duck muck will settle to the bottom and decompose, adding to the fish food.  By swirling the return water
You will have a natural uplifting of clean water to the pump and clean water to Your grow beds, if You do use them.  I have never cleaned my pond.  I just let the muck settle and pump the water off of the top.
This gives me the added safety of never pumping the pond dry, should I have  major pipe break in my system.

On another note, I have had a lot of wind on my pond and the floats have not capsized.  I don't have ducks swimming with them, but the floats could be designed to withstand them around.  The size and depth of Your pond would dictate the design. 

The pond is usually about 15 feet by 35 feet with additional aquifer I estimate may usually be up to 45 feet by 80 feet at it's biggest dimentions (although in 2011 it measured 100 feet by 200 feet pond surface), I already try to take the top third, half at most unless it's really dirty (which can get reall bad on the 1 day a week I take off from pumping to let refill) and then 2/3 at most (my pump will start taking up air instead of water at about 8 inches. 

The duck muck does settle, but is eaten by freshwater clams and aquatic snails so no need to let decompose, only clogs the foot valve when other debrie colects as well or when a whole mounded pile tries to go through at once. 

No way of changing whether or not the water swirls, just gravity feeds throught the gravel bar, does swirl enough I supose as the muck only takes a few days at most to decompose enough to loose most of its stickiness. 

No, no actuall grow beds, just grow areas in the gravel on the slab of rock underneith, the fish waste helps dehumidify heavy damp air that settles in the gravel pit returning water to the soil. 

No fear of pipe breakage running mine dry, would just be less distance for water to run back. 

You mignt think you planters have with stood lots of wind, but planters like that sometimes blow clean away around where I live. 

At any rate my experimenting is going like clockwork fixing the place up and revegetating it. 

String algea is starting to come back, makes sence I supose since the pond stayed green with smaller algea all week despite all the pumping, should be a good bunch big enough for the ducks to gobble down soon. 

I really smelled like fish after getting in to clean the foot valve and chill a spell today, must be getting close to breeding season for the bass I asume, all fish are staying out of sight but I know they are in there, just hiding from the ducks! 

I'm greatful for only a few mosquitoes around here, the fish are doing their job like crazy! 

Frogs are going crazy too, I suppose they may have something to do with the mosquito control as well. 

Warm today, near 90 degrees, should get the grass jumpstarted, and looked this evening like it had! 

Super glad I finally fixed the tractor so I can mow with it, still plenty of hand mowing to do around here for some exercise. 

Flies were congregating at the pond once again today and I chuckled once again, they will be gone by morning! 

Counting the days till the neigbor cuts hay, should be less than a month away, bugs will move in like crazy (especially grasshoppers for the birds) some will be fish food others will be bird food and all the more fertilizer basicaly free for the taking and a much wanted reduction in chicken and duck feed as a bonus! 

Just so's long as the garden gets kept from getting eaten, I will enjoy the atack of the bugs! 

Other than flies, which I had to put out a trap for, the bugs are well under control.

If the more of the flies would have gone down to the pond would have been no need for the fly trap as all that go there get gulped down by the bass. 

The new pullets are adapting well to outdoors and are ridding my yard of the smaller bugs that the adult chickens won't bother with catching much. 

The pullet chickens are also ridding the yard of cheat grass, which I suppose is good since the rest of the chickens won't touch the stuff and it is a big fire hazzard. 

Very much hoping to get a duck egg or two before my sister and her kids go home later this week, I so much want them to try them and don't know how to get some to them safely without making them wait a very long time till they are here again. 

So very glad my sister has been able to eat chicken eggs again, she has an alergy and usually can't touch the things. 

Water has been getting only pumped 4 times a week recently, watering has seemed to be doing as much harm as good, very humid year due to a warm winter making warm earth and rains evaporating off, wouldn't hurt anything but for the bacterial funguses this multipies, which watering makes worse for aflicted plants. 



Paul Smith said:

Hi Larry,
I looked through the posts and didn't find the size of Your pond.  What size is it?
Might I suggest that You lift Your pump to the upper 1/3 of the pond, then have the return swirl the water.
The duck muck will settle to the bottom and decompose, adding to the fish food.  By swirling the return water
You will have a natural uplifting of clean water to the pump and clean water to Your grow beds, if You do use them.  I have never cleaned my pond.  I just let the muck settle and pump the water off of the top.
This gives me the added safety of never pumping the pond dry, should I have  major pipe break in my system.

On another note, I have had a lot of wind on my pond and the floats have not capsized.  I don't have ducks swimming with them, but the floats could be designed to withstand them around.  The size and depth of Your pond would dictate the design. 

I keep forgetting, after the worst of the build up of fish waste from over winter got suctioned out it soon was getting low enough water to not pump as often which accomidates trying letting the waste decompose more, seems to be working but will need to keep changing what I do with the seasons. Or maybe the water will stay warmer over winters and more aerobic with bacteria to even things out? Will have to wait and see! 

My place is doing well, trees/bushes need to be to let their leaves drop, so I've been working on watering the ryegrass in the gravel pit, greening one area after another out there with the water and fertilizer.

My ducks have been laying eggs last few weeks.

The ducks sure did get the grasshoppers under control!

My chickens have only been laying a few eggs but the replacers are growing lots and will be laying tons of eggs before I know it.

Judging by the size of the air bubble blurps from bass catching bugs and going back down, the bass must be growing good as well.

All this season the bass have been hiding so well I haven't seen any, but just have seen their air bubble blurps and know the flies and mosquitoes dissapear in a big hurry when they find the pond.

The duck eggs ahve also been doing a good job of treating my IBS and my carpal tunnel is healed, so I'm doing better than I have in many years.

I got given an old garden shed that will be a good coversion project for me transforming it into a better home for my ducks.

The ducks finally started laying their eggs on the bank part of the time, still have to look for more of them in the pond though.

2 mornings ago, I had just gotten done running the pump when a pair of heron were investigating my pond, the ducks were hiding under a tree but very noisy when 1 landed on the bank, this time I didn't have the privilage of seeing one steal a fish but have in past vivits previous years, this is the first I've seen of them since I put clay pipes and plastic pipes in the pond for my fish to hide in so I guess the pipes must work.

The heron with their: knoby joints, bony wings and bodies, overall gangly akward apearance, and long slender head kind of reminded me of magnificent but horrifying teredactyls in the gloom of early morning light.

The fish food has been disapearing much faster now, and the ducks don't seem to like snitching it when I put it out so even though I rarely see a fish, there must be plenty.

Judging by the size of the air bubble when the bass surface to catch a bug, the bass must have mouths as big as a soft ball, the bass are very sneaky and only come up for a bug behind me or when I'm watching at dusk or in rain storm when I can't actually see them, so I only hear them surface and catch a glimpse of an air bubble from them.

The ducks and fish have been generating a large amount of muck to suction out with the pump, and between that and the extra warm fall we have here in Montana, greening the gravel pit for grasses to store extra energy for spring is a sinch!

The ducks went right back to laying the eggs in the pond, and it's been to cold to wade in after them.

The fish had been investigating me when I was in there before cooler weather, they would come up and tickle the back of my leg and zoom away when I moved a bit.

There has been ice on the past few mornings, but got warm enough durring the day to run the pump, just have to drain the lines when done.

I surmise the bass have been eating at least some of the duck eggs, or I would have floaters by now I think.

The garden shed almost got ruined when I put it where I wanted it and the wind came up and blew it over and likely should have colapsed it but didn't.

I repositioned it near where it blew to, and put a new floor in it with rocks weighting it down inside the new floor, seems pretty stable now.

I got a few straw bales from my sister-in-laws store that were left-over from Haloween decorations, I used one for bedding in the chicken coops plus one in the garden shed for beding for the ducks and have one more left for futer use.

I think maybe I can put some of the straw in the pond for over the winter cleansing, but surmise the ducks will eat it quick as a wink if I do.

Getting more and more excited for spring so I can see the more full results from the good soak I was able to give the irrigation site this fall, is sure lush and green for this time of year and should make a wondeful stand next years growing season.

I've been stocking the house with new houseplants for fresher air to help keep me from geting sick along with the duck eggs, seems to be working for the most part.

For about a week or so, the pond was pretty murky and I was concerned about the combination of that and not being able to run the pump daily to let the water table raise for winter, but seemed to turn out self correcting, the ducks quit leaving as many droppings in there, and the water rose while the muck broke down more from being left at the same time as the cooler temperatures cleansed and purified the bacteria content naturaly.

I'm not getting any eggs from my ducks now that the pond is frozen over, they seem to need the vitality from the fish to produce them since there isn't much forage around the pond, but the forage is increasing thanks to the duck droppings.

I've been packing buckets of water to the ducks, kind of treacherous in the snow, have to do so most every day snow or shine.

I got some barley straw that works good scattered for bedding, or left whole bale for ducks foraging while snow is on the ground.

Waiting for spring thaw to come so I can run the pump some times becomes impatient, but of course that is utter futillity.

Currently hoping for warm enough weather to at least melt the snow so the level in the pond goes up wheather any of the ice opens up or not.

The barley straw is being good foder as well as bedding for the ducks.

The straw also had a good bunch make it through the ice with the last thawing of snow, water flooded over the ice and barley straw then new ice formed on top of that but let the lower level melt out from underneith, should help keep the water clean this winter.

I got a few hay bales this time, I put 1 in each chicken coop as edible bedding and the third near the straw bales the ducks have for fodder/wind shelter for them to munch on.

In the midst of the last snow thaw, I think I saw some bass, maybe even a bunch, through the crystal clear ice and water before the fry hid in the mud and the adults ziped away in an inky murk.

It took a few seconds to figure out what they were as they looked like pebbles in piles, and I don't have pebles that looked like that in my pond.

As I starred to see what I was looking at for real a split second was all it took for send them into hiding, blinked one they were replaced with brown muddy water, blinked again and there was a white-ish inky murk, and of course when it cleared just an apearant to be empty pond.

Short winter I think we are having is dragging slowly by.

Still at least 6 inches of snow from what we got a month back.

I hope the grass is growing good under the snow, especialy the annual rye on the hill behind my house and the winter rye in the garden as well as maybe the fescue and other lawn seeds I put out this fall.

The water level in the pond is creeping up much faster than the snow on top is shrinking as it normally does this time of winter, and I know despite the extra cold we have been having that thaw will come early and I sure hope to see some of the fish to see how they have been growing.

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