Aquaponic Gardening

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Hi everyone!  I'm in the process of mentally setting up my first aquaponics system.  My husband finally let me have a goldfish tank if I put in in the basement (since I have multiple tank syndrome).  Then he said, "Hey wouldn't it be neat if we could grow food from it?"  He watched one those episodes of Doomsday Preppers and thought it was neat.  While we can't grow much off of a 29 gallon tank, as an engineer I couldn't pass up the though of dabbling in something new for fun.  I'm a bit stumped on lighting though...

It seems like HID is the best way to go from my research.  Can I run one safely in a basement?  Can anyone recommend what I should get for a 2.5 x 2 ft grow bed (I read I should need about 250 watts for this size grow bed if that accurate)?  I'd like it to be semi affordable if that's possible; I just have no idea what I am looking for!  Also, if I plan on doing a combination of fruits and vegetation, is one spectrum bulb better over another in this case?  

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you have SOOOOO many choices, the only thing I will say is you will suprised what you can grow off a 29 gallon tank.

You might look at Lowes for their mortor mixing tubs for a grow bed.  I am using 4 of them on one side of my system and they sem to be a great size.  You will get hooked!

ACTUALLY that's EXACTLY what I plan on using!  Thanks :)  

Bob Terrell said:

you have SOOOOO many choices, the only thing I will say is you will suprised what you can grow off a 29 gallon tank.

You might look at Lowes for their mortor mixing tubs for a grow bed.  I am using 4 of them on one side of my system and they sem to be a great size.  You will get hooked!

Thank you!  How hot would you say this gets?  My husband is nervous with it near the basement ceiling.  

Randall Wimbish said:

HID bulbs get really hot, maybe even hot enough to start a fire if allowed to touch a combustible. However, a gentle cooling fan will do the trick, and the good news is that the heat from the basement will eventually go upstairs to warm your toes.

I personally like CMH bulbs, available here:
Bulbs are $35, and ballast kits are $69. Unfortunately, 250W are the same price as 400w, so suit yourself there.
I do have cold toes, so that might be a plus! Haha! Hmm, that does make me nervous. I started reading about needing good ventilation, etc. When you say gentle cooling fan, does that mean any small fan do, as long as it disperses heat? As much as I want to use HID, I might just stick with T5HOs for the sheer safety factor...I don't want to burn my house down for a fun project gone wrong; I couldn't live with myself and that risk might be to great.

What safety factor would that be Heather? I've used many an HID rig inside my house with no problems ever.

Even with (or especially with) T5HO's a fan is a good idea, since yout T5's generally need to be placed closer to your plants. Whether florous or HID, some cross ventilation (or a small oscillating fan) is a real good idea for a number of reasons. Humidity, respiration, fungal pathogens, as well as the gentle breeze mimics the wind and gives the stalks a work out (resulting in a structurally stronger plant)...

I've only used one kind of HID setup. This grow light by Hydrofarm is pretty nice, although I'm currently using the 400w and have never tried the 250. You can convert between MH and HPS bulbs at any time. Plus the ballast is included in the fixture, so it's pretty easy to setup. And my plants are lookin' pretty happy! Last I checked, Hydro Galaxy had these the cheapest. It looks like if you order today, you get free shipping :)

With a little common sence they are safe. I have been runing two 1000 watt and one 400 watt for years now threw out the house. They can put off some heat, and that's good for us. When considering your purchas think about an air cooled hood. Also consider a switchable ballast you will like it as an option.

Wow, am I missing something here? A 2' x 2.5' grow bed and we are talking HID? Go to Lowes or the equal and just buy a standard fluorescent grow light. 400w or 1000w HID? Really? Nice electric bill. Not to mention I think the smallest HID would cook the veggies before they are ready

By the way keep in mind that all the above contain mercury and if a bulb breaks you will be throwing away your entire system. That includes the use of the new PL bulbs that have been forced upon us. I would not ever use them in your greenhouse without a strong protective enclosure. I can just picture throwing out our entire 2000 gal, 5 FT and 10 GB system because of just one of those toxic bulbs getting smacked by a pipe or something. I don't recall reading this warning on the forum but I may be wrong, I'm sticking to old fashioned tungsten bulbs for general GH lighting for now. Soon to be ILLEGAL. Give me a break. At least I won't have to call in Hazmat if one gets broken. Very GREEN indeed.

Jim...I think you're talking apples and oranges (or as they say here, 'grandmothers and frogs'). Barring the sun, HID's are still the most efficient and cheapest artificial lighting that a grower can purchase, use and maintain. The topic has been done to death on a gazzilion other threads here, penny per penny, Watt per Watt, lumen per lumen, replacement bulb per replacement I'm not gonna get into it here. (We all know how to use the "search" field). 

Mercury is realistically only a potential problem with fluoro's. Which is why I wont ever use them above any GB's...Hence the HID's. (Which have a protected metal mesh encased in glass, then yet another protected glass layer...making mercury contamination highly improbable. Such is not the case with fluorescent lighting. I've written about this a number of times here on this forum...And is just one more strike against fluorescent lighting (when used to grow plants...and grow them in an AP or otherwise bio-ponic system) 

Did you mean CFL bulbs that have been forced upon us? CFL's absolutely suck ass at growing plants, whereas PL-lighting has, in my experience, proved quite adequate (still neither cheaper nor more cost effective than HID's though...properly sized).

HID's are the way to go...In every term imaginable. Safety, cost to own/run, energy efficiency per lumen, plant performance, maintenance etc...

2' x 2.5' really is a small area, certainly doesn't warrant 1000Watts, or even 400 (but no-one was really even suggesting that) but one that still needs to be properly lighted.

You, don't need "two spectrums" of light, unless you plan on growing a plant that exhibits photoperiodic traits...Like marijuana. Tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, peppers and many other flowering/fruiting common edible cultivars are not photoperiodic, so there is no real need to switch to HPS foe flowering/fruiting cycles. They'll do just fine with MH light. Though a full spectrum CMH bulb with a magnetic switchable ballast would be the way to go to cover all your bases and give you the most versatility for your dollars.  

Ah Jim, I totally agree with you on the mercury subject, and lament the loss of the tungsten light. However, there are some facts you are omitting in your argument.

You recommend fluoro's in lieu of HID, and that just doesn't add up. As Vlad mentioned, it has been covered a lot, but fluoro's contain mercury as well, cost more to buy/maintain, put out more heat and less light per watt, and are in every way inferior as grow lights. The real truth is that HID lights contain their mercury, and can be recycled properly, and fluoros do not. I have accidentally broken countless fluoro's in my day, and never ever have I broken both bulb and arc-tube of an HID.

It takes roughly 10 times the wattage in tungsten to equal HID, meaning that to equal the grow potential of a single 400 HPS you would need to stack 4000 watts of incandescent lights over that 2' x 2.5' area "Nice electric bill"? Yes, actually, HID's produce the smallest electric bill of the lot for the purpose, last the longest, and contribute less mercury to the environment than even good old tungsten lights! What! Absurd! Well, here is an angle you may have never considered:

"I share your frustration that there isn't a national infrastructure for the proper recycling of this product," says Wendy Reed, who manages EPA's Energy Star program. That programs gives the compact bulbs its "energy star" seal of approval.

She says that even though fluorescent bulbs contain mercury, using them contributes less mercury to the environment than using regular incandescent bulbs. That's because they use less electricity — and coal-fired power plants are the biggest source of mercury emissions in the air."

So comparing "grandmothers to frogs", HID's (and hopefully LED's at some point in the near future), are cheaper, better for the grow, and better for the environment than tungsten or fluoro's.

I do belive Congress  has pulled the requirement for the CFL bulbs, so we should be able to get the old standard for many years to come.

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