Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

Are you trying to figure out what pump type you should get?  A special part for a siphon?  AC/DC aerator? Something to use for a grow bed?  Post your questions here and get help from other members.  

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Hi there, I'm wondering if anyone has experience with a good automatic fish feeder? I have two full-size IBC totes as fish tanks (will need two feeders, so hoping to find something not too expensive).

Thanks!

I've done much research into fish feeders and none of them are perfect.

The best I've managed to find is

Automatic fish and pet feeders for aquaponics

Again, they are not perfect.  They do not seal to keep all moisture/humidity out and it is possible for rodents to try to climb up the feed shoot and start chewing on the auger and get at the feed.  They won't keep bugs/ants out of the feed either.

The really good thing about these feeders is they are auger feeders and so move a fairly precise amount of food based on how long you let the timer run and the timers can be set right down to the second unlike most pet feeders which will usually feed too much for a fish tank.

The medium and large feeders also have an additional agitator up in the feed hopper to help keep the feed from getting wedged up out of the reach of the auger.

Automatic feeders are dangerous for a few reasons.

1-it is easy to mess up when setting the timers (ever mis-set an alarm clock for pm instead of am?)

2-the feeders can't take things like temperature, weather, stressful events etc when they feed, they simply feed for as long as they are set to.  This is dangerous because if you have the feed set appropriately for certain conditions and then you go away for a week and a freak cold spell comes through, the feeder may be feeding far too much for the temperature.  I know this is dangerous, I killed a whole tank of fish this way.

3-if you get lazy and let the feeder do the feeding and don't go observe how much the fish are actually eating to keep it closely adjusted to the appropriate amount, you can easily miss a water quality problem until it's too late.  If you carefully observe how your fish are eating on a daily basis you will be far more likely to notice when they go off their tucker and you may figure out why before it turns into a disaster.

Thanks for the recommendation - I'll put that feeder on my wish list (may have to wait a little while after spending cash on a back-up aeration system recently). I'm usually here watching my system, but I go away for weekends often enough that I thought a feeder would make sense. The system is in a greenhouse and keeps a pretty steady temperature as well with the fan on a thermostat. But thanks for sharing your concerns and learnings, I'd love to avoid any unnecessary disasters!

 My wife and I are currently planning our second system which will be inside a greenhouse with about 100 ft2 of grow bed space. For our beds, I plan to build a frame from square steel tubing and the beds from recycled crate planks (pine).  I'm considering using recycled billboard tarps instead of much more expensive EPDM pond liners. I'm interested to know if anyone has tried this and how it worked out. The site i'm looking at purchasing from is http://www.billboardtarps.com. Thanks in advance, your experience and opinions, they are appreciated!  

@Jay Mottz - I have not used it, but I have felt it and I believe it will be a great product to use.

It's very strong, and I think it may be the same as the pond liner I'm currently using from Home Depot.

What I liked about the tarps is that you can order them in white.   That's so much better than black.

I realize that the recycled tarp is less expensive, and if that's a significant factor then go for it.  But this is something you really don't want to leak.   I thought the new tarp was priced very well. 

The tarps in the link provided.. clearly state that they have been "anti-mildew" treated...

 

Don't use them... they'll kill your fish...

I think the tarps themselves are mildew resistant, but many people have used them with no problems. 

Tough, Tear Resistant, 15-17 mil thick, Waterproof, 13-16 oz per sq. yd, Anti-UV, Vinyl, Anti-Mildew, 3-Ply Material

I'd use the back side if I were to buy a used tarp.

I'd bet my bottom dollar.. that if they're "mildew resistant"..... and they'd want to be.... then they've been trated with an "anit-mildew" treatment...

I've never heard of any one using them????

Billboard vinyl has been used by many including TCLynx and the white liner Vlad is using looks like it too may be billboard vinyl.

I think TCL uses "Duraskrim"

 

Yep there's a couple of people who have said that they were using them... or thinking of doing so... and two of your links state just that...and nothing more was heard...

 

Both Vlad, and TCL advise NOT using them....

 

Vlad said...

 

Hmm...there have been some rather "passionate" discussions on that topic...In a practical sense, many used billboard liners will be damaged enough by the time you get them to leak. While many will not. On the passionate debate side...you have the leaching toxicity issues...And NOT just from the inks (which is what most folks latch onto). Having worked a a billboard print shop in the US a while back, there are horrible, horrible known and dangerous toxins that are used to prep the bilboard liners (most so that certain inks will adhere better). This is why I quit that place after 4 months (I had started getting into silk screening t-shirts at the time and got the job figuring I could learn some stuff. That and the fact that the photo-emulsion fluid that they threw away at the end of just one shift would last me many months $$$

Personally, I'd never use the stuff. I didn't get into AP because it is a cheap way to grow food, but rather it seems a good way to grow quality food free of many toxins, pesticides, herbicides etc...I would not wish to replace one group of toxins in my food with another (potentially worse)group of toxins.

This is just my personal, biased opinion though. We all need to make our own choices. Hopefully they will be informedchoices, and not based solely on the dollars...

This goes double if anyone but the AP operator/owner/constructor themselves will be consuming food grown from the system. For me this includes Family, neighbors, or customers...I just could notfeel right about it.

That being said, if you were building such a system for yourself only, at least have the sense to turn the print side down! I think I remember reading somewhere of folks wanting to do the opposite because they liked the 'perty colors'  their billboard liner had.

 

 

TCL said...

The billboard liners are hit and miss.  You might get lucky and get one that doesn't leak but then again, they are often old and brittle with age and small abrasions and pinholes are likely.  Using multiple layers doesn't help.

 

And then there are the possible leaching issues

I did try to use one once.  It leaked.  And after further thought, I don't like flexible PVC for use in growing my food.

The liners I use now are Duraskrim as Rupe says.  They are polyethylene and fiber reinforced so they don't stretch the way EPDM would when being used to build beds the way I do now (I don't use lumber near my liner anymore, I live in termite territory.)

 

Justin and I will be using testing it.  I've always come forth with everything I learn through experimentation, and this will be no different.   If the fish die we will let you know.  If we die we will not say anything.

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