Aquaponic Gardening

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For those in mild climates who don't necessarily need a full greenhouse, lets share some ideas for winter protection that doesn't require a building permit.

Last spring I was forced to remove the "structure" from around my aquaponics system since I didn't have a permit for it (anything overhead other than a clothes line here requires a building permit.)  So this winter I'm going greenhouseless for the first time.  (Even under the greenhouse the water got too cold for tilapia and I know the catfish can survive without.)

Anyway, I'll have to take pictures tomorrow but I pulled some frost blanket over one section of my big system to protect the papaya and tomatoes that are currently heavy with fruit.  I probably won't keep this up all winter but for this first really cold snap I hope to keep the plants happy for just a little while longer.

What are some other methods people are trying to keep plants happy through the winter?

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Since we live in South  FL we are planing to cover the growing beds with

an arch of shade cloth mounted in a pvc pipe the traditional growing bed cover

do you have any product links for those types of shades cloths? I ask around home depot but no one seems to know what I am talking about :)

I live in an agricultural area so I foundit  in an agricultural supply here is the link maybe there's one near you

http://professionalproducts.winfieldsolutions.com/CONTACTUS/default...

My IBC fish tank water is now down to 65 degrees F and the fish are eating very little now.  Ho can I heat the water or insulate the fish tanks? Would the following help?

1. Paint IBC with black enamel paint

2. Wrap IBC with a Pool Blanket or some kind of bubble wrap

3. Plumb into the water line a house water heater

4. Build an insulating wooden cover

I need an inexpensive solution quick.

I thought of catching the breeders and their babies out of the tank and winter them in aquarium indoors, but they move too fast to get many. I don't know if draining the water through the IBC drain valve would hurt the babies. 

Also I need a source for inexpensive large 55-100 gallon aquarium/ tank for indoors.  HELP!  Will appreciate a reply

Conrad

 

a 100 gallon rubbermaid stock tank is usually less than $80 from tractor supply where I live.

 

Simply insulating and covering the tank won't keep the water very warm if you are still pumping through gravel beds that are out in the cold, you would need to keep the area around the gravel beds warm to keep from chilling the water.

 

Make sure any water heater doesn't have any copper that contacts the fish water.  A stainless steel stock tank heater or deicer may be a better way to heat water.

 

I simply did some slow water changes the two winters I hand tilapia by running a hose from the hot water feed to my washing machine out to the system and dribbling hot water into the tank overnight which was just enough to keep the system water in the greenhouse from dropping below 55 F on a few of those really bad freeze nights when it was already cold for a while.  After two winters of messing with all that, I gave up on tilapia as too much trouble.

Winter is coming and we are going to lose some plants and fish, minimized the lost is the key, that is way my head spin all day thinking on a solution that will not brake the bank. geothermic is one of it but my system is raft and expose to the ambient temperature so my plants will die. Up to now the geothermal system that I install is working ok and I think that in a F&G system it will work much better because the rocks will act as an insulter, rock is a very good heat transfer and will absorb the heat from the water, that is way am going bananas looking for options to heat the media as well the water like type of sauna bath. Maintain a temperature balance is the main subject, believe me am working on it

No I don't think a Flood and drain gravel system would work much better if you are trying to retain or gain heat.  Flood and drain gravel will loose lots of heat overnight during winter and it will gain lots of heat during the day in a hot summer.

Rock is a great thermal mass but not an insulator.

 

You are probably better off doing something like a mini hoop house over your raft beds to act as a cold frame for winter.  Grow cool/cold loving plants like kale, cabbage, broccoli, etc for the winter and I hope you are using a native fish that will survive the winter.

Sorry guys, there is no magic bullet for this lil problem of ours.

I've written about this before but I'll remind you again. If you are trying to save money and keep the system going...Heat the root zone and INSULATE all around your tanks, top, sides and bottom. Insulate your pipes. If you still need more insulation layer it with dead air. Don't forget to aerate.

They make IBC tank insulation and heaters. I dont remember the link off the top of mt head but I have seen them. I dont know how economical they are either. They are designed to keep fluids in them heated to optimal temps for industrial use.

Conrad Chin-Yee said:

My IBC fish tank water is now down to 65 degrees F and the fish are eating very little now.  Ho can I heat the water or insulate the fish tanks? Would the following help?

1. Paint IBC with black enamel paint

2. Wrap IBC with a Pool Blanket or some kind of bubble wrap

3. Plumb into the water line a house water heater

4. Build an insulating wooden cover

I need an inexpensive solution quick.

I thought of catching the breeders and their babies out of the tank and winter them in aquarium indoors, but they move too fast to get many. I don't know if draining the water through the IBC drain valve would hurt the babies. 

Also I need a source for inexpensive large 55-100 gallon aquarium/ tank for indoors.  HELP!  Will appreciate a reply

Conrad

 

Where you get the sun.....you could try something like this.

We dont get enough sun here so it isnt viable. But it might do the trick in Florida.

If you are somewhere that is going to experience snow on the ground for extended periods and sub freezing temperatures for more than just a few hours a few nights over the winter, you will probably need some heating and lots of insulation to keep the pipes from freezing.

 

So how are you going to insulate over the grow beds?  If you have raft beds with 2" foam rafts, you are already insulated to an extent.  Gravel beds don't lend so well to this though.

 

I would say the best bet in a mild climate (zone 8 and warmer) would be to simply use seasonally appropriate plants and fish that will survive the cold season.  Some floating row cover should protect most cool weather crops from frost burn on the frost/freeze warning nights and the frost blanket/floating row cover doesn't have the same risks as plastic if you don't get it pulled off in the morning.  See plastic low over the plants will cause scorching of the plants when the sun hits it and it can become way too warm under a low plastic row cover really fast even if it isn't touching the plants.

Maybe try using PVC pipes to make a small hoop house/ tunnel over the grow beds, open at each end depending on how hot you want it.

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