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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Ok, been busy and not around much to comment.

I saw a question about painting blue barrels. I would only paint the outside so I wouldn't have to worry about the paint coming off in the system. There are plastic paints and primers you can use, however, it will still be very easy to cause scratches in the paint. I personally kinda like the bright blue barrels but I suppose you are right that they would fit in better with plastic kids toys rather than a designer living room.
in designing, keep in mind that the barrel cut the long way is going to require a frame or support to hold it without bowing out, that support can take up more space than you might think and will become a huge portion of the visual element.


Then some one was talking about skipping the flush tank on a barrel ponics system. I think the main reason for a flush tank on barrel ponics is where the only pumps available are likely to be rather small flow and continuous run. It can be really hard to get blue barrels balanced with a continual run pump and siphons because the varying volume with depth. I'm not saying it can't be done but many people have struggled with it. It seems that if the pump is set to flow enough water into the barrels to get the siphons to start, then the siphons often won't stop when the barrel is pretty much drained cause there is still enough water flowing in to keep them going and the barrel gets stuck in a perpetually drained flow through state. On the other side, adjust the flow down just a bit so the siphons stop and the barrels wind up in a perpetually flooded flow through state. Hence the idea for the flush tank that would flood the grow beds quickly and then let them finish draining while the flush tank filled again. Now if you are running with stand pipes and timer and a pump that is strong enough to move the volume of the fish tank in say 15 minutes, then skip the whole flush tank and keep it simple.

Finally I saw a question something like, "how big a pump do I need for a 200 gallon fish tank?" Well my answer is always gonna be, however big a pump it takes to move at least that volume at whatever head height you will ask of it in the amount of time the pump will be on each hour. If you will be running the pump constantly, then a 300-500 gallon per hour pump will probably be ok for you. If you will be running only 15 minutes per hour with a timer, then something around 1000 gallons per hour is probably more appropriate. Keep in mind that little tiny pumps that use 1/2" plumbing tend to clog up a bit and need more regular cleaning. 1/2" pipe is on the small side when it comes to aquaponics since bio-slime can build up really thick and will restrict the flow through little pumps. I find shutting off small pumps like that momentarily at least once per day to let them naturally backflush often helps between cleanings.
As far as test kits go.... you can't really go past these ... for accuracy and price...

http://aquariumpharm.com/Products/Product.aspx?ProductID=67
Yep same test kit I use
I prefer lava rock peblbes PH around 7 and lighter than gravel.

Sylvia Bernstein said:
And to continue on with what TCLynx was advising optimally you will have 12" of media in your bed, with the top 1" being kept dry. But, again, for a smaller starter system like yours you could get away with less depth. Best media is a product called Hydroton - light-weight, easy on the hands, holds air and water well. It is pricey, though, and pea gravel works as well.

And, yes, I recommend you start with media based, and consider moving to raft if you decide to go commercial.

Please post a photo when you get setup!
the first 10 goldfish died within a few hours :( likely something in the pond water i got - though the testing did not reveal much

restarted system with tap water - added a chlorine/chloramine removal solution i got from petco and added a new batch of 10 fish. i will add more later. killing them repeatedly is no fun.
48 hours and they are still alive!

should i be feeding these fish once or twice a day?
how long do i wait till i start seeds in the growbed?
also thinking of getting some seedlings, if so, when do i start these?

the timer with flow rate is working fine for the flood and drain so far
How often to feed fish, if you can keep to a consistent schedule, feeding twice a day is fine. Generally you should only feed as much food as the fish will completely consume in 10-15 minutes of course with a brand new system you also need to keep an eye on your ammonia and nitrite tests since you don't want to kill the fish. If ammonia or nitrite start climbing, you need to reduce or stop feeding until the levels become safe again.

As to planting seeds or seedlings. You can do that pretty much any time. However with seedlings, you might want to wait till you actually see the Nitrates show up in your water tests so that you know there will be something to feed the plants. Seeds can be planted any time though since most new seedlings don't need much nutrients right away.
I know Roy was asking about feeding 'goldfish'.

A few days ago, I was reading about feeding tilapia. They eat 'more then' their stomach can hold....the rest by-passes the stomach and is just wasted. They said to wait about 3 hours between feedings, because the stomach would be empty again. Of course, one would want to 'bulk up' quickly, any fish you plan on 'eating.'

Too tired to remeber 'where' I was reading that. I got up early, to see the shuttle take off.
the fish are preferring to stay in the lower part of the tank - mostly close to the submersible pump - is this behavior normal?

i got the goldfish food that petco suggested for small goldfish - terrafin goldfish flakes - feeding twice daily now.
the fish do not seem particularly interested in grabbing the food from the surface as i throw it in - but as the food slowly sinks in they are eating it if the food passes close enough to them.
so what they can eat in 10-15 minutes is a bit confusing for me to judge
- the tank is clear though - i am still in two minds whether the fish is clearing it or the pump is

checking nitrate and nitrite levels every alternate day and things look ok so far.

gonna be a long learning curve but has been fun so far - thanks a lot to everyone for the great advise.
Fish will often tend to hang out where they feel secure. Catfish can be kinda extreme in this liking caves and such. (I just rescued some small catfish fingerlings from the plumbing of my fingerling tank. Looks like I lost one but I rescued 3. Pretty amazing what a fish can managed to fit through and get stuck in!!!!! (the plumbing protective grill I had worked out got knocked out of place. I'll have to work out something better.)
Re: goldfish swimming position (near the bottom) - the water velocity might be a little high. They'll tend to stay out of really high flow areas. the second indicator that I take to come to that conclusion is their avoidance of the top for feeding. I've never had goldfish that didn't grab food from the top. you might want to re-position the water flow (powerhead) into the tank, until they're more comfortable moving around.
Hi Roy, Looking back at a few of your earlier postings, it looks like you've only had this batch for a few days (?) When I bought my goldies and put them in the aquarium inside, it took them a week or so to get 'comfortable' with the new set up.
When I put them outside, it took even longer.
I'm trying to compare the taste/nutrients of vegetables grown in soil vs AP. My gut tells me that roots will absorb a more diverse group of nutrients in a soil garden than in an AP system. I want to know, if I'm eating veggies from an AP system, am I getting the same health benefits? Is there any literature on these comparisons? yet?

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