Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

I am in central Texas and built a raft system based on Friendly Aquaponics instructions.

Water temperature is up to 92

ph 7.7

ammonia 0.5

nitrate 10

nitrite barely above 0

Seed starting bed

Plant Problems

Tomatoes originally looked like Iron deficiency and I added iron, then it just started getting light green all over

Pumpkins that are now completely dead

Cucumber with same type issues and it's roots

Okra - left 3 are a week or two older then the ones on right

So any thoughts or ideas on what to do to get this going? I'm looking for a good low cost d.o. meter. I'm also wondering if putting them out in full sun in just frying them.

Views: 2967

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Devoid,  Would your system allow for a media bed somewhere in beteween your fish tanks and rafts?  one of the benefits to a media bed is it acts as a heat exchanger but it has to be in the shade or have shade cloth.  Another way to lower temp is to freeze 2l soda bottles and add them throughout the system to help cool things off.

Devoid, our green house has vents at the top. It was a kit greenhouse and the panels are corrugated plastic. We installed a fan at one end and we have open sliding doors at the other end. Until now we have no humidity buildup. But when the cold weather gets here we may get some moisture build up because we will be keeping it closed up. Because of all the insulation we have around our tanks and the 50/50 greenhouse cover we had up this summer, our tank water never got above 90 which was fine for the Tilapia. I'm more concerned about keeping the water warm enough when it starts to get really cold. They don't like water under 55 degrees. We put up an extra layer of plastic over the greenhouse and have all the vents closed and big submersible heaters in the tanks which will hopefully keep them at around 70 or so. 

My cabbage, lettuce, cucumber, Brussels sprouts, kale and basil are doing well so far. 

Progress with my system
Looks really good Gena

Aloha Devoid and friends

I don't think you'll be able to tell what's happening until you subtract the effects of too much sun. I'm just guessing, but with your water temp at 92 you're probably getting daytime air temps in the low 100's? If so, the plants are definitely getting too much sun, possibly as much as double what they can take.

Install some 40% shade cloth for starters, about three to four feet above the plants; not so close it heats them up (if you're using black shade cloth, not applicable with Aluminet shade cloth or equivalent), then you'll know for sure, because you'll have eliminated too much sun as a cause of the problems.

In addition, the plant symptoms look just like tobacco mosaic virus. It affects all the crops you mention, and we've had our tomatoes (commercial-scale planting, too) wiped out several times. In our case it was interns who lied to us about smoking, smoked anyway, then worked with the tomatoes. We were lucky and didn't lose our lettuce too; although this is possible; the virus will "cross over" and affect other species besides tobacco. We don't allow smokers on the farm, nor on farm tours now; this has just cost us too much money!!

In addition, I've attached a 17-page document on USDA organically certified aquaponics pest control techniques that may be helpful. We've been using all these successfully for at least 2-1/2 years on our USDA organically certified aquaponics systems; there is no conjecture or guessing about whether these treatments are safe for use with fish and plants.

Aloha, Tim Mann, Friendly Aquaponics in Hawaii

Thanks. I'll have to check that out on the pc. The cold weather took care of most pests. Might be some gnats still that are waiting out the cold.

Alex, can you post a picture of your melon house? Where did you order your mini melons from? We've had a harsh winter and an epic struggle with white flies. They don't seem to bother my herb plants all that much but I'm needing to clear out the greenhouse to try and get rid of them. Going to restock with fast growing veggies like melons and squash. 

Alex Veidel said:

I read about mini melons in Urban Farm magazine and I just had to try them. I've got silver-line, minnesota midget, and tigger melons. I started them a few weeks too late this year though, looks like I'll get 10 melons out of the mix. Not bad for the first year of a hugel bed. Only gets better after that!

Gena said:

Alex, I will check into that. This weekend we are running 2 x 4's across the top of the greenhouse to start trellising. Would love to see pics of your melon house. Would like to know what type of mini melons you grew.

You know, the melons were kind of disappointing in the taste department. I'm not sure if that was because they're hybrid or my soil quality was poor...My Dad built the melon house with a cheap plastic that tore up at the end of the season. So, I wouldn't say the project was anything to mimic really :) I'm looking forward to seeing how the hugel bed does this year though.

Oh that's too bad. I really have not had much luck with watermelons but was wanting to try a small variety in the aquaponics greenhouse. Do you remember which issue of Urban Farm the mini melons were in? Will this be your first year with the hugel bed? Had never heard of that but found this site and thought it interesting because he is in the same Texas zone I'm in. Good luck with it!
Alex Veidel said:

You know, the melons were kind of disappointing in the taste department. I'm not sure if that was because they're hybrid or my soil quality was poor...My Dad built the melon house with a cheap plastic that tore up at the end of the season. So, I wouldn't say the project was anything to mimic really :) I'm looking forward to seeing how the hugel bed does this year though.

Aloha Devoid

Apologies for not catching this sooner, I realize all I did was post a canned paper from my wife on pest control. Putting them out in full sun is just frying them. Your August post looks like symptoms of too much heat; in central Texas in August, you need a 20% shade cloth, and maybe even a 30%, to keep the plants from frying.

Also, this could have been exacerbated by a nitrogen deficiency, which is likely if your system was within a couple or even three months of startup in August. When did you put in the inoculant and fish?

Interestingly, you get the same symptoms (yellow and dead older leaves near the bottom of the plant) when the plant takes a hit during a too-cold night. Your setup looks great, the only improvement I could see was that you were using a very low planting density, and could probably easily fit in twice as many (or more) plants of the same species and still get great growth.

If you get stuck or have questions, please feel free to email me directly at; because free email support is a part of the "Friendly" package you purchased. Aloha, Tim...........

@Gena - The mini melons and hugelculture are both in Urban Farm May/June 2013 issue.

Mini Melons -


Early Silver Line




Golden Jenny

Green Machine

Honey Bun

Minnesota Midget

Sleeping Beauty

As for the hugelculture it has some fairly good basic info, that I'm sure you can find online fairly easy.

I was planning to use my downed wood for hugelculture but ended up using it for firewood in the greenhouse instead. I have pure sand out here for top couple of feet so could really use the hugelculture. Thanks for the link you posted, I'm around the same area as you also.

Do you experience the tops of your seedlings just disappearing? It's strange that it will only happen to a single raft of small seedlings and the rafts on either side are fine. It seems once they get the real leaves in a set or two, they're no longer in danger. Not sure if mouse or fungus gnat issue. Having trouble germinating in this cold. Working on tenting the seed beds and adding heat.

@Friendly - Hey Tim, it's Jarred, I was in your recent class at Sand Creek Farm. Be glad you came when you did, it's been getting down into the 20's this whole week. I'm waiting for my 2 inch net cups to come in and drill out the rest of my panels with 2 inch in higher density.

I think I got the fish and all back in April. Unfortunately my notebook got soaked once the greenhouse went up and I lost my old notes.

I poured in the rest of my iron bottle after talking to you and there is definite improvement in the collard and broccoli leaves. It looks kind of odd when one side of the main vain is perfectly green, and the other side of the main vain is still yellowed between smaller veins. I just received my bottle of biomin iron.

I definitely plan on getting more shade cloth this year. I'm thinking I'll suspend it under the greenhouse plastic as I'm afraid it'll rub holes if I lay it over the top. I can roll up the sides two feet and open up the ends. Trying to figure out how to add a ridge vent to it this spring.

Trying to write up some newspaper articles and a paper to hand out to people to see if I can drum up enough interest in an unproven CSA or kickstarter campaign to scrape together a grand or two for spring expansion. I can put in two external troughs the same size as my internal troughs beside the greenhouse, or build one verticalis unit for a little under a grand. I would have the verticalis outside of the greenhouse for the summer. Putting them outdoors would allow me to put more cold tolerant plants in it, and shutting up the greenhouse to extend the warmer crops.

The troughs would allow me to grow the melons and let them trail off to the side. If I let them trail out of the side of the greenhouse then I won't be able to close the sides on colder nights for the other plants. I'm not sure if the mini melons can support the weight of the fruit when trellising up. I'd likely do the two by two rafts so that I can still move the lettuce around.

The verticalis would let me shade more lettuce with less material. I'd have to run numbers about moving it indoors if it's still too much for the lettuce or heats up the water too much in the system. I started looking into strawberry growing after the class was over and found info here and there, but definitely looking forward to the book you are co producing. Is it likely to be out for this spring production? If so, it will definitely sway me into building a verticalis.

For the others, the verticalis can be found in the special newsletters 15-19 here:

Photo from two weeks ago I think. In the foreground is tomatoes, with dinosaur kale to the right of them. Then lettuces going back, to broccoli that has bolted, to collard greens. I put in a wood burning stove for these freezing nights we've been having lately. Next year I'll add a thermal blanket and we won't have a single night near freezing.

Reply to Discussion


© 2024   Created by Sylvia Bernstein.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service