Aquaponic Gardening

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I started messing around with tilapia 2006-2010

2010 - the end of july i had to take  my system down

i am currently trying to get a piece of property to set up a scaled system.

basickly i dont have a system that is running

but i want to share my last 4 years with aquaponics

with members.......


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Celery planted directly into stone and the size of their roots when i took them out.


Grew excellent almost 1 meter high look at the roots when I took out...completely had grown my tray full...water stopped flowing


and i had a visiter...

Let me introduce my animal family

Ozzy rules

He had a opperation and this is his armour not to get to stitches.

Then the old man 14 years old


Thank you for sharing this info Francois, you've made an awesome thing!

It really is a pleasure.

 If I can encourage one person to go this road I believe I have made a difference.

If I can say in short I am a totally addicted Aquaponics freak.......  
This i believe is a must for all family's in the future...growing food in their own backyards.

Growing their own food in general, soiled based hydroponics..aquaponics... 

Showing my experience/what i learned with my system through this time is what I am trying to do hear.
To try and get more people into this form of growing don’t need to be a rocket scientists but more the will and passions ...learning the hard way is ok ...was not always nice to except but learning from mistakes only increased experience, but each tought me a lesson. There were times in 2007 (sick fish) that I packed up my big dam and was ready to throw in the towel.
Got advice from somebody and doctored the fish healthy again in smaller dam,  I unpacked my big dam and started again.  This is all based on how i managed this system and how it did during this time.

Wanting to put my experience from day one out there and ...........

Me having rekords of how my system did over this time.

killing two flies one shot...

Lots of photo's and do and don'ts to still post


The checking of water parameters is something I did when I started....regular but as time passes it really only became a thought.

 My ammonia and filter I logged the results of my readings on a graph and that gave me a clear insight to how the filter works. Seeing the graph lines and when what happened when was to me a great help.
My ph in the beginning I also checked with the expensive water testing kit tablets....I then also at the same time used a normal cheap pool ph testing kit. Compared the colours and after getting used to the cheap test colour that was what I used every day and then random checks every few months using expensive tablets.
The way of checking the ph was cheap and to me good enough...showed ph drops/climes and that was good enough for me to do what had to be done.
My water hardness and alkalinity are other water parameters that I maintained. For the hardness I used test kit and alkalinity I did the same as with ph and eventually using my cheap pool alkalinity test kit.

My buffering in my water was good so my ph stayd constand.
I am not saying never check water parameters but saying I never checked on regular bases. I use to do checks when to me things did not look not eating...water colour changes fish in general not responding daily behaviour...all signs of something not good happening.. And this you get used to over time. No better final warning signs.

The fish tells it all.
In my system I regarded my fish as main focus....... lots of fish.

I wanted to grow lots of fish in a little water and that was my aim and still is where I am aiming at.....

The plants grew for the sake of the fish....most all of the lettuces and spinach I have grown fed the worms when needed.
When I had the fish side of things going well and the system running I started taking better care of my plants.

Then I started experimenting with different plants and how they grow in my system.

I then started testing brewed Vermi tea and Vermi casting’s .My system already had lots of worms in my grow trays but having lots of castings from my worm farm I added some castings around the plant roots and brewed tea to spray the plants. This to me was the ultimate. Seeing the way the plant reacts to this form of fertilizer in my system. So coming back to the cost of daily make your own black gold and by using on your plants you are saving money. Your daily running cost comes down and what you are adding does not come from a bottle.

From my fish I use to make a small income selling fingerlings and supplying a few farmers live fish to add  to farmdams.
When things got tough I use to sell my bigger fish.
I once had to move 500 Tilapia to a farm +-100 km away...this was an experience
Never would have imagined it can be so much work.
The keeping the fish alive was the challenge
This was my first experience with moving big fish and keeping them alive. I did a few more of these but changed tactics every time and I was getting better at it.
This to me also opened my eyes to moving fish in a system...not good... fish have to be handled like baby’s.
So to me in a system the fish must be stocked and grown out in the same dam.
Moving fish I always had problems with one or two fish that I injured due to handling.
I found moving fish very difficult when handling a lot of fish.

I took a few days from work and look where i am spending time....silly or what

I spend most of my working days in front of my computer...


3000 sq. meter shade house


build this shade house for a rascus farmer..another one of my projects.



rascus planted in the shade house



will i do it again...i think only for myself.

The wind here in Port Elizabeth is something else.

Having a area of this size covered you have to do maintanance and i find that some seem to think after it has been build it will stand forever, don't ever have to do anything.





Always on top or between the plants



My Tunnel

My frame of the tunnel I made using Ø40 mm PVC pipes and standard fittings.....
With the wind here it stood from 21/04/2008 – 27/10/2010 +- 2 years but I had to do repairs a few times.
Building a tunnel frame this way can work very well when there is no or a little wind in your area ...worked perfect.
PVC pipes were cheap.... The fittings were another story..... Expensive..... and we have too much strongwinds.




My basick structure of poles and 6 mm cables.

The 6 poles was connected with 6 mm cable and these 3 cables and their brace cables was what I relied on to stabilize the flexible PVC pipe frame and the plastic

This is a shot with the pvc pipes in place

  and extra braces down the side of the tunnel pulling the pvc frame down

End details of my cables


Then the plastic

In this tunnel was my dam and plant grow trays...duckweed was outside. Not the best of ideas but I was very green when I thought all this out.

Hi Francois,

And I thought that i loved and was committed to Aquaponics. You truly give me inspiration, through your dedication.

I attended a 2 day hydroponics short course back in 2007 to see how this worked and to get the some of the basics of hydroponics... And to understand the cycle of growing plants better
Before this I had no experience with plants.
These are some plants I grew after the course. These were grown using hydroponic nutrients ready mix..... Add to water. The plants grew well...

I used a geysor tray and poolfilter sand.


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