Aquaponic Gardening

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I have been using diatomaceous earth for slug/snail prevention around my troughs with good success. I then noticed it is also effective at keeping out cut worms and ants. I have been experimenting with it and have found it is very affective at killing a wide range of bugs around my yard. I would like to use it on my long term plants in the system for bug control. I have not found too much info on its use with aquaponics.


Has anybody tried using diatomaceous earth for bug control in an aquaponic system? Will diatomaceous earth harm bacteria or fish?

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AFAIK, DE is an inert substance that controls pests by either damaging their skin/shells, clogging breathing tubes, or by drying them out (slugs/worms/snails).  That should make it a safe alternative for use in your system, as opposed to chemical pesticides.  There would be a concern however if you used red worms, etc in your plant beds.




Some types of DE are recommended for larger animals to use because it rids their body of certain types of parasites. I would imagine fish would have very little to worry about from the DE unless you use way way way too much. Worms are said to be immune from the effects of DE but I have never tested it myself. DE's killing effects are mainly for anything with an exoskeleton. This does include many types of soil fauna but not fungi, bacteria, or other super small non-exoskeleton organisms.

Hi Chris,

Looks like you're the first one to try this! I guess that if you maintain the courage to run a full trial, your report will give much needed information on the use of DE in AP. As there are inherent risk you should test away from you full system with an isolated AP setup.

I am going to try a table top model with DE. I had some plants in it and the PH held to 7. Now I am trying it with the fish and plants and will keep a eye on it and let you know.
i, for one, think it will work fine. however, finding DE without additives will be a challenge, (as will the price.)
I was able to easily find food grade DE at a cost of $42 for 50 lbs. I haven't found anything negative about it in the system yet so I am tempted to try. I will try it on my micro system and barrels first before trying on the bigger systems.

you might want to checkout the company first but 50lbs for 27$ food grade

Thanks for the link. I'm in the middle of the Pacific and am a little more limited on local resources. Shipping here usually doubles the cost of special orders.
So far so good with the table top run. I received it from a company called AXIS. The price is around $.25 per pound. I am using the larger size. What I have been told is they mine it then kiln fire it. It was a little dusty but it rinsed just fine.

Debra Colvin said:
i, for one, think it will work fine. however, finding DE without additives will be a challenge, (as will the price.)

DE is good stuff.  I use it inside and outside the house as a natural insecticide.  I only treat the exterior perimeter and porches of the house because DE will kill every insect and there are many that I would like to have.  It will kill your pollinators and beneficial insects as well as the bad ones.


I have read that it is fossilized, tiny shells that physically cut and slice the exterior membrane of any insect that comes in contact with it.  Persons should not breath DE because it can do the same thing to the inside of our lungs.  I have read that it is safe for fish, so maybe when it is water soluable it dulls the razor sharp edges of the fossilized shells.


Additionally, I add food grade DE to dog food with water and my dogs seem to do very well with it.  I have also read that large scale agriculture uses DE in the huge grain storage units as a food safe, natural insecticide.  

I also have eaten DE and have read about people who eat a tablespoon every day and swear it has saved their lives and cured crazy diseases.

My opinion is that I like DE, and if it doesn't hurt the fish or change the pH, it might be good in the water.  I wouldn't use too much around the yard because it will kill good insects as well as bad ones and everyone likes to see butterflies and dragonfiles.

We use DE in the bottoms of our food bins for our farm animals as well as the nesting boxes of our hens.  It keeps everything nice and dry, free from molds / mildew and keeps the micro bad critters out.  Be careful not to breathe the dust as it is a very fine particle and can cause lung damage - silica something, which also means be careful with how it is used around your animals as well.  Good stuff!
I have been looking into using DE for my chickens. I found that it is cheap to purchase off the internet but as usual expensive to ship because of the weight. You can get food grade DE from you local feedstores at a very good price. Also don't buy anything but food grade DE. They have some that is for swimming pool filters this is not the same. Filter grade DE goes through a process that makes it bad for you.

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