Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

this is a site for the aspiring aquapon to post their questions and have them answered by the more experienced members.  No question is too basic!  This is a great opportunity to tap into advice from some of the most experienced growers in the country.  Go for it!

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Raft would be when you take a piece of styrofoam blueboard and cut holes in it where the plants in net pots would sit.  The foam board floats on the water as a raft and the plant roots hang down into the water.  Raft systems either need to be ultra low density on the fish or they need extra filtration.  Additional aeration is generally recommended under the plant rafts.

 

Flood and drain gravel beds provide filtration and are appropriate to growing all sorts of plants on a backyard scale.

 

The green water may tend to use up nutrients you might rather use for growing veggies but if you can shade your water heavily for a period of time after you get the gavel beds hooked up, you might avoid the cost of a UV clarifier.  The bigger danger with green water is that the algae could use up all the dissolved oxygen and leave your fish dead in the wee hours of the morning.

hi there all,

i just started a system with 2 small "plants on walls" panels (sunny side for strawberries and mint, shade side for bromelaids,etc):

http://www.plantsonwalls.com/florafelt.html

This is suspended above a 20 Gallon fish tank. 

I rinsed the roots, but there is minimal dirt around the plants.

We are growing pothos, mint, strawberries, and a few various bromelaids.

No one on here seems to be doing this- how does this change the rules? 

Do I still need a filter or sump tank?

Any other recommendations?

 

Thanks for your time!

Robin

Well, it is hard for me to know how much filtration you are getting from your set up.  How much water are you flowing through it and how much of the media is being wetted?  I usually base stocking density on the volume of flood and drain grow bed for media based systems and it can be hard to know how to figure this for a vertical system especially when the water can tend to channel and not wet the media evenly throughout.

 

So I guess you will be having to figure out and write the rules for your set up since you are the first I've herd of using this particular product for aquaponics.  Do you have any pictures of your set up?

 

Sump tanks are only needed when water level fluctuations would be an issue or when you want to keep the pump out of the fish tank.

 

The felt those are made from might work as surface area for your bio filter along with any media in the pockets. Cool experiment. Good luck Robin

yeah! that's what i was hoping! do you think it might!?- although i was worried that i might still need a sump tank with some sort of floating plants ( duckweed? water chrysanthemum? in order to help with the nitrogen fixation process?.

Thanks, R

The way the system works I have just have a regular little 20 Gallon tank pump (sorry can't remember watts right now) which pumps through a pencil size black tube up 3 feet to the tops which are connected to two soaker hose which saturate the back of the medium.  My dissapointmen so far has been that the water dripping down off the bottom has not been enough to aerate the water sufficiently that I could get rid of the air pump bubbler.  I'll post some videos on my profile tonight.  Thanks for the input!!

TCLynx said:

Well, it is hard for me to know how much filtration you are getting from your set up.  How much water are you flowing through it and how much of the media is being wetted?  I usually base stocking density on the volume of flood and drain grow bed for media based systems and it can be hard to know how to figure this for a vertical system especially when the water can tend to channel and not wet the media evenly throughout.

 

So I guess you will be having to figure out and write the rules for your set up since you are the first I've herd of using this particular product for aquaponics.  Do you have any pictures of your set up?

 

Sump tanks are only needed when water level fluctuations would be an issue or when you want to keep the pump out of the fish tank.

 

You will need to do lots of water testing to keep track of the water quality to know if you are getting enough filtration.  The Pencil size tubing and the soaker hose are likely to be your biggest problem since as the system starts to cycle up they are likely to clog with bio-slime and fish poo.  You might need to upgrade to 1/2" PVC and drill holes along a piece of PVC to go on top and spread the water along the top of your "wall" You may also find that your little pump will more more water if you give it a larger pipe to work through, just might need an adapter to upsize.  And perhaps then you will see enough water movement for aeration, however you probably should keep using the air pump too.
All great advice! Thank you! These are things I felt intuitively, so thanks for confirming them! It is so great to join this forum and get all this input.

Has the research been done on the nutritional values between vegetables grown organically in soil or AP?  I would be very interested to know, also if I use a compost or worm tea as well would I have to divert the runoff from that or could it go back into the tank?  

I just realized this was an ongoing discussion, please pardon my interruption while I learn how to navigate this website.

Many people use worms directly in media beds and hence the system already gets an ongoing worm tea as part of the system.  I would caution that using compost or large amounts of worm tea could possibly put an excess load on the filtration capacity of a system so one needs to be aware of this.  Extra organics added to the systems can also use up dissolved oxygen so care should be taken.

 

As to if tissue samples have been tested between organic and AP to compare, I kinda doubt it.  First you would need to run side by side tests growing the exact same variety of veggies in as close as possible to the same conditions to get anywhere close to an accurate comparison.  Then there is the fact that even among organic produce, there is going to be a variation between one farm and another so I far you will have quite the challenge proving that one type of growing system produces more nutritious food than another type.  That said, I can only base this on personal observation and not lab testing, but My plants are going very well in my aquaponics system and I seem to be managing very well against pests and weather with my systems once they are mature which leads me to believe that aquaponics grows strong plants and therefore I would expect the produce from them to be of high quality.  And then there is the fresh factor, you can get much fresher than pick and eat right from your own yard.  Most grocery store produce (even organic) has traveled a long way before you get to buy it and therefore loses much nutrition.

I agree organically grown at home is the best way to get your veggies!  I had read a book a few years ago on supercharging your garden soil to get the most vitamins and nutrients out of your produce, and one thing it had mentioned was that too much nitrogen rich fertilizers would create great growth and large produce, but that the vitamin content would suffer.  Have you ever heard anything like that?  

TCLynx said:

Many people use worms directly in media beds and hence the system already gets an ongoing worm tea as part of the system.  I would caution that using compost or large amounts of worm tea could possibly put an excess load on the filtration capacity of a system so one needs to be aware of this.  Extra organics added to the systems can also use up dissolved oxygen so care should be taken.

 

As to if tissue samples have been tested between organic and AP to compare, I kinda doubt it.  First you would need to run side by side tests growing the exact same variety of veggies in as close as possible to the same conditions to get anywhere close to an accurate comparison.  Then there is the fact that even among organic produce, there is going to be a variation between one farm and another so I far you will have quite the challenge proving that one type of growing system produces more nutritious food than another type.  That said, I can only base this on personal observation and not lab testing, but My plants are going very well in my aquaponics system and I seem to be managing very well against pests and weather with my systems once they are mature which leads me to believe that aquaponics grows strong plants and therefore I would expect the produce from them to be of high quality.  And then there is the fresh factor, you can get much fresher than pick and eat right from your own yard.  Most grocery store produce (even organic) has traveled a long way before you get to buy it and therefore loses much nutrition.

Yes, plants getting too much nitrogen can have imbalanced growth as well as perhaps not getting as good a balance of nutrients.  And the soil or media the plants grow in will have an effect on the nutrients the plants take up.  This is why certain kinds of plants will only have that special taste if they were grown in a particular soil.  Aquaponics may well suffer for some of the trace and micro nutrients for the first season as the system is still building up a balance of all the needed nutrients and maturing while the heteratrophic bacteria and worms get started breaking down the solids in to plant usable forms for the more complete nutrition.  Aquaponics definitely gets better with age.

 

And aquaponics much like organic gardening you don't fertilize the plants.  In organic gardening you build or feed your soil and the soil takes care of the plants.  In aquaponics you feed the fish and promote your bio-filter and the filter feeds your plants as well as taking care of water quality for the fish.  It is all a balance and observing the system while learning where to step in and make modifications and when to stand back and let nature take care of it's self.

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