Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

Yesterday I was at the Maximum Yield Indoor Gardening Trade show.  It is almost entirely geared at hydroponic equipment and supplies.  I came across a vendor named Clear Water Organics whose primary business is growing Rainbow Trout.  The reason why the were there is that they have come up with a product from their waste stream that they are calling simply "Aquaponics".  It is bagged fish poo from the trout farm that has been dried for two weeks (they claim this "removes the ammonia so there is no need for cycling") then they add fish emulsion.  They say that using this instead of a hydroponic fertilizer makes your system an aquaponic system vs a hydroponic system.   Hmmm...

 

Aside from an obvious definitional problem - aquaponics is a living ecosystem, not just a way of growing plants with fish poo - what other pros and cons do you guys see with this?  I like that they are recycling their waste stream, but I'm pretty skeptical that without a bacteria base to mineralize the organic material and make it available to the plants you are just going to wind up with a smelly mess.  

 

What is your opinion?

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Did you get a sample bag of their product?  I would say test it in a small set up and see if pumping their fish poo around a small fishless system and run some water tests to see what happens will be the quickest way to know.

 

As to if it's aquaponics well, I suppose that would depend on if anyone wants to spend the money to take that battle to court to make them change the name, probably a hard and costly battle and who knows if it would be worth it.

 

I expect any "hydroponics" system that has any ammonia in the fertilizer mixture is having some nitrogen cycling happening, since most hydro guys are not testing for ammonia and nitrite they probably never know.  Now I expect most "organic or organicish" hydroponics requires an ecosystem of sorts to function, now if their dried fishpoo/fish emulsion fertilizer really turns hydroponics into aquaponics without requiring a cycle up period well that is probably a matter of semantics since if there are no fish in the system, are they even watching for the cycle up?  And if the dried fish poo came from a recirculating system of sorts, some of the nitrification will have been happening in there and I wouldn't be shocked if there is some nitrate already there and some bacteria starter included too in both the dried poo and fish emulsion that the plants if started small will react to it like a pretty good fertilizer while they wait for more of the stuff to be mineralized.

 

We may never know until some one tests it out to see what happens and reports back.

Hi Sylvia,

Fish poo or rehydrated fish poo is still fish poo. For sure it'll change the existing AP ratios by adding more waste to our systems.It's like increasing your fish load, so i guess it can work if you wanted to grow less fish in your system by adding the extra waste, but how will you measure the input? You'd have to raise a one pound fish, extract all the waste,dry it,and weigh it, arrive at a daily ratio, and then you calculate a daily dose of dried poo. Although in Ap, with the rule of thumb ratios, i really don't see the necessity here.

However if the cost is reasonable you might consider purchasing some and using it,if you have soil gardens.

TC, they weren't giving out samples and it is a new product so I'm not sure where to even find it now.  In my past life at AeroGrow we tested a bunch of organic hydroponic fertilizers and for the most part they created very smelly messes.  They key problem here is there is no bacteria in a typical hydro system, so there is nothing to take the poo, break it down, and make it available to the plants...it just sits there and rots.  I honestly don't even need to test to assert that this is what will happen when you dump concentrated fish poo into a sterile hydro system.  The companies assertion is because there is no ammonia there is no need to cycle up.  

Good point, Harold.  How can you possibly measure how much of this stuff to use?  but, yes, I think it would make great soil garden fertilizer!  I think they are just trying to jump on the aquaponics bandwagon and sell something 'sexier' than another dirt fertilizer.  IMHO

 

I agree Sylvia that if you dump dried fish poo into a "sterile" hydro system that is will make a mess.

 

I also know of people who have experimented with the "organic" hydro and if the shift is made to allow for a bio-filter (shift away from sterile) and avoid the clogging issues with bio-slime then I suppose something like this could work but it would definitely be more complex than simply dumping this stuff into a sterile hydro system and calling it aquaponics.

 

I definitely wouldn't recommend adding it to a populated aquaponics system.  I suppose one might use it in a fishless system or call is fish-poo-ponics.

 

I'm fairly certain that the claim that the ammonia is gone so it doesn't require cycle up is "bunk".

If there is no ammonia then where will the plants get their nitrogen long term?  And if it's just cause the free ammonia has escaped then actually a longer cycle up will be necessary as the solids slowly break down to provide ammonia later, though again they are probably expecting that people might not notice this.

 

Yea, bandwagon jumpers.  Aquaponics is a catchy new idea to many people.

I think we should coin a new term.  Instead of "aqua-shysters" who clearly have malicious intent perhaps this a new category "aqua-jumpers" who are probably just ignorant and trying to jump on the bandwagon of the marketing power of aquaponics.
Yea, sounds about right
Can't we all get along? 

Sylvia/TCLynx
My experience with using the fish poo on plants planted in soil and in potplants...
never harmed/burned the plants ...i used directly from sump onto plants and as much as you like.
comparing worm casting and fish poo was easy...fish poo...my plants showed this to me.
execelent fertilyser...good produck to market
me thinking

 

Yep, as I said it would be great a plant fertililzer in a dirt environment where there are lots of microbes, worms, bugs, etc. to break it down and convert to a mineralized form that is accessible to the plants.  The problem comes in when you have a totally sterile, hydroponic environment where those things aren't breaking down the organic matter.  Turns yucky!
Do you think there is a possibility for hydroponic application with some type of add-on mechanical filtration? With the right O2 levels and frequent turnover of filtered waste? The cost of dried poo because of abundant availability(aquaculture farms), should be low and should be looked into to create some kind of spin off industry with hydroponics,aquaponics and soil based agriculture.
poo-ponics
They should just call it fish manure.

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