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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I don’t know about the nutritional values but when comparing tomatoes the AP ones seem to have a sweeter flavor. The shelf life also appears to be longer but maybe I just got lucky
So how did your indoor system turn out? I'm using 2 275 gal totes.

bill garrels said:
for a two hundred gallon tank, what size pump do I need to get?
is it better for a constant flow fill versus fill and drain?
Got my IBC crates and will be cutting, cleaning, and setting up system this weekend.
Want to make sure I have all the right parts.
I get the water testing kit at mcgukins?

All my neighbors are very excited to see our system up and running in the next few months.

Thanks.

BG
As a newbie, my concerns center around the use of Styrofoam, and whether it has a chemical influence on the food being produced, both plants and fish. Styrofoam exposed to sun breaks down into a very fine powder, therefor would tend to spread to everything else around it. If it gets into the lungs during handling, it is my understanding that not only it goes deep, but also that the body has no mechanism to get rid of it, making it in that sense, similar to asbestos. It is also known that the greatest danger of plastics (and Styrofoam?) to the ecosystem is in breaking down into infinitely smaller pieces, eventually to be ingested in some manner into plants, animals and people, hence we all carry some already.

While my comments could come under several headings, as 'skeptic', 'realist', or 'negative', rather I am trying to see solutions, whether painting would work or using other material would be a better answer, as I am hoping to eventually use both of the plant systems. Other than that, my thoughts are to use ferro cement for the tanks, and would appreciate any feedback on that idea.
I would venture that the styrofoam needs to be pained to keep it from degrading in the sun, just to make it last a little longer. I don't really have an answer about the chemical influence of polystyrene. I know there are issues with plasticizers acting like hormones when they get into our bodies and stuff like that. I don't know how bad polystyrene is on that front.

Ferro cement. Be mindful of the pH buffering traits of cement and the possible need for sealing it and the need to find a sealer that won't affect pH, fish, bacteria and also be food/potable water safe.

Every material is going to have pros and cons.

Eric J. Friesen said:
As a newbie, my concerns center around the use of Styrofoam, and whether it has a chemical influence on the food being produced, both plants and fish. Styrofoam exposed to sun breaks down into a very fine powder, therefor would tend to spread to everything else around it. If it gets into the lungs during handling, it is my understanding that not only it goes deep, but also that the body has no mechanism to get rid of it, making it in that sense, similar to asbestos. It is also known that the greatest danger of plastics (and Styrofoam?) to the ecosystem is in breaking down into infinitely smaller pieces, eventually to be ingested in some manner into plants, animals and people, hence we all carry some already.

While my comments could come under several headings, as 'skeptic', 'realist', or 'negative', rather I am trying to see solutions, whether painting would work or using other material would be a better answer, as I am hoping to eventually use both of the plant systems. Other than that, my thoughts are to use ferro cement for the tanks, and would appreciate any feedback on that idea.
With regard to the concrete tanks, I was planning at least a two week soak for curing purposes before changing the water, and washing well with TSP (Tri Sodium Phosphate),followed by rinsing, then monitoring the Ph during the 'breaking in' period,of the whole system, which seems to take a while to get established, regardless. My thoughts are to go with either, or both the three barrel systems in the mean time, http://www.aquaponics.net.au/Chops.html, or,http://www.fastonline.org/content/view/15/29/, just to get started with the process. At this moment there's a four foot deep hole in the ground, waiting for the next move, and much more planning.
sounds like you have done some research into the cement so you are beyond me on that one.
A small system to get started is always a great idea (lets you go though the cycling process and gives you some seed gravel for starting up a larger system.)

Eric J. Friesen said:
With regard to the concrete tanks, I was planning at least a two week soak for curing purposes before changing the water, and washing well with TSP (Tri Sodium Phosphate),followed by rinsing, then monitoring the Ph during the 'breaking in' period,of the whole system, which seems to take a while to get established, regardless. My thoughts are to go with either, or both the three barrel systems in the mean time, http://www.aquaponics.net.au/Chops.html, or,http://www.fastonline.org/content/view/15/29/, just to get started with the process. At this moment there's a four foot deep hole in the ground, waiting for the next move, and much more planning.
I'm planning on building a hoop style greenhouse with metal on the north side almost to the middle. In conjuction I want to dig a pond on the south side of greenhouse and use this to help keep things warm in the winter. The pond will only be 60x8 and about 4or5 ft deep.
Hi Eric and TC. I'm just jumping in on this now so forgive me if I'm missing something, but why Styrofoam? Are you planning a raft system? I'm not a raft grower myself but I've seen them done with a thinner (1/2"?) flexible blue or pink board instead of the old flakey white Styrofoam. Seems much less messy.
White Styrofoam (EPS) is flaky partly because of its density but also because of the ingredients some manufacturers use. In a nutshell, a 1' x 1' x 1' piece of typical EPS weighs 1 lb. where as blueboard, the pink stuff etc. is 2 lb, nominally, these are both extruded products where as EPS is expanded. EPS can also be manufactured to a 2 lb. density which will change its properties to more resemble that of other foam products.

One issue with EPS that has not been mentioned, EPS is often times manufactured with a borate treatment, or similar, which is to fight against bugs, namely termites. As you can imagine, this could be detrimental when using it in a raft system. I plan on using non treated EPS in and around my system. It will be used as a lightweight backfill material around my FT and as part of a raft system.

To end on a positive note, typical white EPS is 100 % recyclable as is most blue or pink boards as well.

Sylvia Bernstein said:
Hi Eric and TC. I'm just jumping in on this now so forgive me if I'm missing something, but why Styrofoam? Are you planning a raft system? I'm not a raft grower myself but I've seen them done with a thinner (1/2"?) flexible blue or pink board instead of the old flakey white Styrofoam. Seems much less messy.
In answer to your question Sylvia, "why Styrofoam", meaning why bring up the subject? In my case it was a sheer reaction to seeing Styrofoam raft materials used in so many existing setups, and being promoted in training packages and so forth, including use as plant containers of various types. Coming from an age of 'converting' the fast food movement away from Styrofoam, being one who can taste the Styrofoam in a cup of coffee, or on a plate of food, someone who is aware that styrene has spread into the bodies of all living things on earth, and that our oceans and shores are being plugged with plastics that don't go away, the particles only getting smaller and more insidious; I was amazed at the acceptance of it's use and incorporation systems that are touted as organic and wholesome - only that - a simple reaction!

My recent, (and short) learning curve, with aquaponics, is due to the fact that I will have about six months worth of time to work on a system in a third world situation, starting Oct/Nov of this year, and a raft system is a definite possibility, if not this year, possibly next, and have the better part of a half acre of land to work with, as well as local labor. Being in Central America, there is a supply of graded volcanic, and also clean graded granite rock available for use in trenches, ditches, trays, or other form of grow beds - leaving the question of cleaning the materials some time further down the road - again the question of raft systems - and of course Styrofoam - because it is available - but it is not meant to be in the sun - (or near food?)

The "thin flexible mats" seen in many of the excellent videos, designed to hold plants, shade the water against algae, and allow for the raising of (some) shrimp in raft systems; are likely made of unicellular foam (plastic), similar to what is used in construction to - separate wood from plastic (1/8" thick); - also used in a thicker form (3/8" to 1/2") to cover and insulate swimming pools. Some of these products are actually designed to be in the sun full time, therefor would not break done as rapidly as styrofoam, even though the Styrofoam could be painted, as suggested in some of the 'package instructions' promoted in some the aquaponics media. These (higher quality) mats would of course need to be ordered from specialty suppliers, are not as readily available at the corner lumber yard, meaning costs would need to be figured out, including shipping.

Seeing as how the property in question for a system has a drop in elevation of about 30", dividing it at the 1/3 mark (of about a 1/4 acre total space), there is an option of a bed system at the lower level, and a raft system (eventually) at the higher level - as a possibility. Because it is in Central America, - money is an object, - wood rots rapidly, and is enjoyed by termites, - as well as a long history working with concrete, most of the parts and pieces would (eventually) be made with (reinforced - ferro) concrete for tanks, later for beds as well, using plastic (yuck!) lined ditches to start with - "yuck" - because any reasoning to do with Styrofoam applies to plastic sheets, including sun exposure - as well as being readily available at the corner store, therefor easy to get.

The learning curve with aquaponics began with two assistants wishing to continue their (temporary) employment, and a vague idea of 'raising fish' - therefor a twelve (or so) foot diameter hole in the ground, four feet deep developed at about the breaking point in the elevation of the land, making it possible to consider draining the (upper) beds directly back into this 'tank' - which could end up (now) being the last one built! The learning curve so far has included reading virtually everything on this site, and every other thing and site available on the net even remotely connected to aquaponics - meaning I'm just beginning to learn; - a long history of gardening, and raising ornamental tropical fish also fits in there somewhere

At the moment am considering the purchase of two reference books, one "Recirculating Aquaculture", the other "Tilpapia", but in trying to find the sources, realize there is a huge body of free info not yet read. -- Normally not very verbose, simply responding to the question of "why styrofoam" - any input is much appreciated
In answer to your question Sylvia, "why Styrofoam", meaning why bring up the subject? In my case it was a sheer reaction to seeing Styrofoam raft materials used in so many existing setups, and being promoted in training packages and so forth, including use as plant containers and trays of various types. Coming from an age of 'converting' the fast food movement away from Styrofoam, being one who can taste the Styrofoam in a cup of coffee, or on a plate of food, someone who is aware that styrene has spread into the bodies of all living things on earth, and that our oceans and shores are being plugged with plastics that don't go away, the particles only getting smaller and more insidious; I was amazed at the acceptance of it's use and incorporation systems that are touted as organic and wholesome - only that -- a simple reaction!

My recent, (and short) learning curve, with aquaponics, is due to the fact that I will have about six months worth of time to work on a system in a third world situation, starting Oct/Nov of this year, and a raft system is a definite possibility, if not this year, possibly next, and have the better part of a half acre of land to work with, as well as local labor. Being in Central America, there is a supply of clean graded volcanic rock, and also clean graded granite rock available for use in trenches, ditches, trays, or other form of grow beds - leaving the question of cleaning the materials some time further down the road - again the question of raft systems arises - and of course the use of Styrofoam, - because it is available, - but it is not meant to be in the sun - (or near food?)

The "thin flexible mats" seen in many of the excellent videos, designed to hold plants, shade the water against algae, and allow for the raising of (some) shrimp in raft systems; are likely made of unicellular foam (plastic), similar to what is used in construction sites to - separate wood from concrete (1/8" thick); - also used in a thicker form (3/8" to 1/2") to cover and insulate swimming pools. Some of these products are actually designed to be in the sun full time, therefor would not break done as rapidly as styrofoam, even though the Styrofoam could be painted, as suggested in some of the 'package instructions' promoted in some the aquaponics media. These (higher quality) mats would of course need to be ordered from specialty suppliers, are not as readily available at the corner lumber yard, meaning costs would need to be figured out, including shipping.

Seeing as how the property in question for a system has a drop in elevation of about 30", dividing it at the 1/3 mark (of about a 1/4 acre total space), there is an option of a bed system at the lower level, and a raft system (eventually) at the higher level - as a possibility. Because it is in Central America, - money is an object, - wood rots rapidly, and is enjoyed by termites, - as well as (my) long history working with concrete, most of the parts and pieces would (eventually) be made with (reinforced - ferro) concrete for tanks, later for beds as well, using plastic (yuck!) lined ditches to start with - "yuck" - because any reasoning to do with Styrofoam also applies to plastic sheets, including sun exposure - as well as being readily available at the corner store, therefor easy to get.

The learning curve with aquaponics began with two assistants wishing to continue their (temporary) employment, and a vague idea of 'raising fish' - therefor a twelve (or so) foot diameter hole in the ground, four feet deep developed at about the breaking point in the elevation of the land, making it possible to consider draining the (upper) beds directly back into this 'tank' - which could end up (now) being the last one built! The learning curve so far has included reading virtually everything on this site, and every other thing and site available on the net even remotely connected to aquaponics - meaning I'm just beginning to learn; - a long history of gardening, and raising ornamental tropical fish also fits in there somewhere

At the moment am considering the purchase of two reference books, one "Recirculating Aquaculture", the other "Tilpapia", but in trying to find the sources, realize there is a huge body of free info not yet read. -- Normally not very verbose, I am simply responding to the question of "why styrofoam" - any further input is much appreciated
In answer to your question Sylvia, "why Styrofoam", meaning why bring up the subject? In my case it was a sheer reaction to seeing Styrofoam raft materials used in so many existing setups, and being promoted in training packages and so forth, including use as plant containers and trays of various types. Coming from an age of 'converting' the fast food movement away from Styrofoam, being one who can taste the Styrofoam in a cup of coffee, or on a plate of food, someone who is aware that styrene has spread into the bodies of all living things on earth, and that our oceans and shores are being plugged with plastics that don't go away, the particles only getting smaller and more insidious; I was amazed at the acceptance of it's use and incorporation in systems that are touted as organic and wholesome - only that -- a simple reaction!

My recent, (and short) learning curve, with aquaponics, is due to the fact that I will have about six months worth of time to work on a system in a third world situation, starting Oct/Nov of this year, and a raft system is a definite possibility, if not this year, possibly next, and have the better part of a half acre of land to work with, as well as local labor. Being in Central America, there is a supply of clean graded volcanic rock, and also clean graded granite rock available for use in trenches, ditches, trays, or other form of grow beds - leaving the question of cleaning the materials some time further down the road - again the question of raft systems arises - and of course the use of Styrofoam, - because it is available, - but it is not meant to be in the sun - (or near food?)

The "thin flexible mats" seen in many of the excellent videos, designed to hold plants, shade the water against algae, and allow for the raising of (some) shrimp in raft systems; are likely made of unicellular foam (plastic), similar to what is used in construction sites to - separate wood from concrete (1/8" thick); - also used in a thicker form (3/8" to 1/2") to cover and insulate swimming pools. Some of these products are actually designed to be in the sun full time, therefor would not break done as rapidly as styrofoam, even though the Styrofoam could be painted, as suggested in some of the 'package instructions' promoted in some the aquaponics media. These (higher quality) mats would of course need to be ordered from specialty suppliers, are not as readily available at the corner lumber yard, meaning costs would need to be figured out, including shipping.

Seeing as how the property in question for a system has a drop in elevation of about 30", dividing it at the 1/3 mark (of about a 1/4 acre total space), there is an option of a bed system at the lower level, and a raft system (eventually) at the higher level - as a possibility. Because it is in Central America, - money is an object, - wood rots rapidly, and is enjoyed by termites, - as well as (my) long history working with concrete, most of the parts and pieces would (eventually) be made with (reinforced - ferro) concrete for tanks, later for beds as well, using plastic (yuck!) lined ditches to start with - "yuck" - because any reasoning to do with Styrofoam also applies to plastic sheets, including sun exposure - as well as being readily available at the corner store, therefor easy to get.

The learning curve with aquaponics began with two assistants wishing to continue their (temporary) employment, and a vague idea of 'raising fish' - therefor a twelve (or so) foot diameter hole in the ground, four feet deep developed at about the breaking point in the elevation of the land, making it possible to consider draining the (upper) beds directly back into this 'tank' - which could end up (now) being the last one built! The learning curve so far has included reading virtually everything on this site, and every other thing and site available on the net even remotely connected to aquaponics - meaning I'm just beginning to learn; - a long history of gardening, and raising ornamental tropical fish also fits in there somewhere

At the moment am considering the purchase of two reference books, one "Recirculating Aquaculture", the other "Tilpapia", but in trying to find the sources, realize there is a huge body of free info not yet read. -- Normally not very verbose, I am simply responding to the question of "why styrofoam" - any further input is much appreciated

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