Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

Hey everyone,

 

I was recently wondering how aquaponics stacked up to other organic nutrients that are commonly used in hydroponics. So I decided, why not run a few tests and see for myself. This is more for my own curiosity, but I hope you all enjoy and feel free to get involved. I will be open to any suggestions or recommendations. All ideas, love, and hate are welcome! Enjoy!

 

The Contestants:

#1) Regular tap water (control)

#2) Aquaponic water (I have 30 tilapia in 275 gallons supporting this challenger)

#3) Aquaponic water w/ Organicare Seaplex foliar spray (same fish source)

#4) General Organics BioThrive Grow/Bloom

#5) Roots Organic Buddha Grow/Bloom

#6) Advanced Nutrients Mother Earth Super Tea Grow/Bloom

 

The Plant:

Habenero Pepper from seed through full maturity (100 days expected)... I wished to take clones from the same plant, but couldn't locate a good donor so seeds have to do.

 

The Setup:

6 DWC 5-gallon buckets. (water changes weekly or a consistent time between 7-10 days)

Vegetative state- 600 watt MH in 6inch reflector

Flower state- 1000 watt HPS in 6inch reflector

Indoor grow

 

The Winner:

You Decided! I'll give updates both in pictures and videos and let you judge for yourself. 

 

 

Want anything else, just ask!

We are waiting for the seeds to sprout and action should start within the next 2 weeks

 

 

**Non-fruiting ONC coming soon**

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That's excellent to hear. I have heard of similar outcomes from developed systems and it just amazes me. Right now I have a cherry tomato and an eggplant that are doing beautiful during fruiting without any nutrient source than my tilapia. I think most of these companies make you think that your plants will die without buying and using the "combo" products. I can see how a giant plant might benefit a little more from a potassium and phosphorus source, but love how aquaponic systems aren't restricted by it. I have also found good luck with some compost teas.

Back when I did hydroponics it was common to use one mix for the vegetative stage then switch to a higher phosphorus lower nitrogen mix for fruiting but the also made a more generalized mix for those who wanted to grow a little of everything (and were running it all as one big system.)

 

In Aquaponics the limiting element for fruiting plants is more often potassium rather than phosphorus but luckily The abundant phosphorus doesn't seem to inhibit vegetative growth and the ample nitrogen doesn't usually seem to be limiting the fruiting once a good dose of potassium is provided to a system in the right temperature range for the flowering plants in question.

 

 

TC,

Thank you for the info. I have heard of many cases of potassium deficiencies (yellow leaves) on here. I'm glad you have the knowledge to accurately compare hydroponics to aquaponics. It's much appreciated

Well I don't know how "accurate" I really am.  I've only done either on a home/hobby scale so far.  Only just getting ready to step into commercial aquaponics a bit later this season.

 

The biggest tricks with Aquaponics are getting everything balanced right without "over thinking it all" most issues are more to do with water chemistry locking something out so making changes in an AP system is generally best done on a slow, one thing at a time approach rather than changing half a dozen things at once and not knowing what actually worked if anything did.

This along the lines as what I was thinking if you could compare the results of a recurculating aquaponics system that adds in the seaweed extracts andmaybe chelated iron when needed etc ..... All organic inputs that agree with fish.Compare that to growing the same type plant in a hydro system with hydro organic nutrients.
This all reminds me of a question I have about whether you can foliar feed tomatoes etc in an aquaponic system?

TCLynx said:

Is there a way to connect your "#2 Aquaponic water" bucket up with the system as a recirculating part?  Seeing as aquaponics is really meant as a recirculating system and simply taking water from it to grow plants isn't going to quite provide the same favorable result as recirculating in a complete system.

 

I would also venture that the DWC may not show in as good a light as a media bed for Aquaponics.  I've noticed that several people say they get deficiencies in their raft plants while their media bed plants are doing just fine.  I have seen this in my own system even where the plants in the NFT and raft bed are looking poorly of iron deficiency while the media bed plants are still looking pretty good.

 

Anyway, will be interested to see the results in any case.

What if you foliar spray the bat guano in the aquaponic system? Would that hurt the fish ?

RupertofOZ said:

"bat or sea bird guano"... so highly phosphorus then.... could very well cause algael problems...

what do you use to add " a good dose of potassium" ?

TCLynx said:

Back when I did hydroponics it was common to use one mix for the vegetative stage then switch to a higher phosphorus lower nitrogen mix for fruiting but the also made a more generalized mix for those who wanted to grow a little of everything (and were running it all as one big system.)

 

In Aquaponics the limiting element for fruiting plants is more often potassium rather than phosphorus but luckily The abundant phosphorus doesn't seem to inhibit vegetative growth and the ample nitrogen doesn't usually seem to be limiting the fruiting once a good dose of potassium is provided to a system in the right temperature range for the flowering plants in question.

 

 

The fungicide eco rose is 94% potassium bicarbonate, or you can just buy the pure stuff from a chemist (pure potassium bicarbonate that is).  Not sure what else is on the market.  I use pure potassium bicarb as a buffer (alkalinity) and fungicide but not as a blooming or fruiting supplement.  Perhaps other organic foliar sprays are also high in potassium but I do not really go into supplementation with that.  There is a trace element substitute available in Sout Africa that I add and that is pretty much it.

Jane said:
what do you use to add " a good dose of potassium" ?

TCLynx said:

Back when I did hydroponics it was common to use one mix for the vegetative stage then switch to a higher phosphorus lower nitrogen mix for fruiting but the also made a more generalized mix for those who wanted to grow a little of everything (and were running it all as one big system.)

 

In Aquaponics the limiting element for fruiting plants is more often potassium rather than phosphorus but luckily The abundant phosphorus doesn't seem to inhibit vegetative growth and the ample nitrogen doesn't usually seem to be limiting the fruiting once a good dose of potassium is provided to a system in the right temperature range for the flowering plants in question.

 

 

@Jane

I highly recommend foliar spraying in an aquaponic system, especially a new one. I would stick to pre-made foliar spray mixes or seaweed extracts though. Bat Guano would be hard to intake for the plants through foliar spraying and might do more harm than good. Its really hard to spray as well, it clogs up most misters. Some foliar sprays have soluble potash in them as well.

Seaweed extract is what I usually use for the dose of potassium as well as the other trace elements but I'm also now using potassium bicarbonate as a buffer in my 300 gallon system as well as the newer tower system.  You can get potassium bicarbonate from beer and wine making supply shops.

 

Foliar feeding is great for aquaponic plants if you have the time/patience.  But I would also recommend caution with the bat guano since I think it's pretty strong stuff and would probably spike the ammonia if you were to allow too much to get into the aquaponics system water.

 

Wood ashes will also be a possible source of potassium and useful to adjust pH up BUT  CAUTION wood ashes are strong stuff too.  Soaking wood ashes is how they used to make Lye so do some careful testing to figure out appropriate doses so as not to change your system pH too fast.

TCL - I have a seashell/coral product on hand that I give chickens - do you know of any advantages of using potassium bicarbonate over that for buffer?  At what rate do you apply the seaweed extract?

TCLynx said:

Seaweed extract is what I usually use for the dose of potassium as well as the other trace elements but I'm also now using potassium bicarbonate as a buffer in my 300 gallon system as well as the newer tower s

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