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Question:How to change hydroponic to aquaponic system & is it possible for it to be a non-recirculating system?

Hello All,

 

I have a 250 pot Vertigro hydroponic system that I was interested in converting to an aquaponic system. First, I must say, I am a novice and please excuse my ignorance up front ;) I live in the Caribbean and had the hydro system shipped to me, so I can't discard it, so I thought I would repurpose.

 

1. Can I use this system as an aquaponic system and does anyone have any suggestions on how I would do that with the best results?

 

2. I wanted the system to be non-recirculating. I read that the coconut coir (included in the system) may color the water, although it does not affect the fish, it isn't pretty. Is this possible?

 

3. If the system is non-recirculating, what percentage of water can be used daily as not to interrupt the fish tanks settling and becoming mature (bacteria, etc)? The system is estimated to use around 50 gallons of water a day, which I would then top up. Well, that was my hope. :)

 

Any suggestions or help that you could provide would be GREATLY appreciated!!!!

 

BEST!

A...

 

 

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Hi Simon,

A great place to learn is on the left hand side of the home page, what is AP and particularly the rules of thumb doc. AP(aquaponics) by nature is recirculating. Water flows(pumped) from the FT(FishTank) into the media beds(your case Virtigro) and returns to the FT. The water from the FT goes to the media, is cleaned of toxins and returned to the fish. The toxins in the media is used for growing plants. In your case you can fit a FT with a pump in it into the ground, pump the water to the top of your grow system and return it, through pipes back to the FT(Recirculating)

You'll have to cycle the system before stocking fish and you can read(The rules) to find out the ratios of water/fish/media etc. Search the work Fishless Cycling in the search bar to learn more. As you progress, keep posting here for guidance.

Hi Harold, 

Thanks a ton for the info! You made things that seemed so difficult to me, so simple. I couldn't think how I could "easily" adapt the system. I'll check out your reading suggestions now. Thanks for keeping the door open for future guidance. I'll keep everyone up to date. It should be an interesting ride ;)


Best

There are some people here who use vertigrow with their aquaponics.

 

The coir does pose some problems depending on the type.  Some is fine like peat and will break down fast and others are more like bark chips and will last longer.  It depends on the particular product you use as to how much it will discolor the water.  Good mature AP water will have a amber to tea colored tint even if you don't use coir.

 

Aquaponics is a recirculating method.  If you were to set up a small aquaculture system for your fish, you could then use the water that is removed for that daily in the vertigrow set up but it wouldn't really be Aquaponics since you would be wasting that amount of water daily rather than recirculating it.  It would just be Aquaculture side by side with a Hydroponic system that used the waste water from the Aquaculture before discarding it.

Hi TCLynx,

True, I do understand what you are saying, it wouldn't quite be aquaponics. Coming from thinking hydroponics, I was just scared to just fully jump into AP, especially because I have no idea how it will work out with my vertigro. If the vegetables would thrive. I guess I just have to jump in. 

The coir seems to be fine. Unfortunately, I bought the full system with a year worth of coir and hydro supplies...yikes! It makes me feel better that the fish won't be affected by the coloring. 

 

Thanks a ton for the input! 

TCLynx said:

There are some people here who use vertigrow with their aquaponics.

 

The coir does pose some problems depending on the type.  Some is fine like peat and will break down fast and others are more like bark chips and will last longer.  It depends on the particular product you use as to how much it will discolor the water.  Good mature AP water will have a amber to tea colored tint even if you don't use coir.

 

Aquaponics is a recirculating method.  If you were to set up a small aquaculture system for your fish, you could then use the water that is removed for that daily in the vertigrow set up but it wouldn't really be Aquaponics since you would be wasting that amount of water daily rather than recirculating it.  It would just be Aquaculture side by side with a Hydroponic system that used the waste water from the Aquaculture before discarding it.

Be aware that coir has a acidic pH ... and along with the naturally pH trend of the nitrification process.... will probably trend your pH down to the low "sixes"....

 

Not a great problem... and a "virtue" in terms of nutrient uptake... as any hydroponicist will no doubt agree...

 

But it will require greater monitoring.. and almost certainly pH buffering adjustment...

 

Another factor to consider is the water retention of coir... indeed it is most suited to "drip" or intermittent flood cycles...

 

Otherwise it may actually become too wet... and cause potential root rot problems...

I do have PH up and down, so hopefully that will be a "quick fix" to that issue. I did think of the water retention issue, as it is meant to be dripped and not flooded. 

I have two things I was thinking:

1. Add some rocks (I'll research which ones) and make it half coir half rock

2. I could keep the flows short, but water more often. I live in the Caribbean, it's pretty hot here. 

 

Do these solutions make any sense to you? I appreciate the input!

RupertofOZ said:

Be aware that coir has a acidic pH ... and along with the naturally pH trend of the nitrification process.... will probably trend your pH down to the low "sixes"....

 

Not a great problem... and a "virtue" in terms of nutrient uptake... as any hydroponicist will no doubt agree...

 

But it will require greater monitoring.. and almost certainly pH buffering adjustment...

 

Another factor to consider is the water retention of coir... indeed it is most suited to "drip" or intermittent flood cycles...

 

Otherwise it may actually become too wet... and cause potential root rot problems...

Hi Simon,

If you have been using the coir for some time already PH may not be an issue for you. I've used coir with 6.6 PH, so there's the source to consider as well. You can test some in a bucket of system water for PH level. Please be careful with the PH down product. Some of these products contain sulphur and lime which are non compatible to AP. I have used coconut chips found inland, not coastal, and found their PH low. I gathered them myself and chipped the up but you can use a small automatic mulcher if you want to DIY. For alternative media, river pebbles or imported hydroton can be used. See here  http://aquaponicscommunity.com/forum/categories/media-topics/listFo...

Cosmo over in the Vertical Aquaponics Group has been experimenting with different media for his Vertigrow towers.

 

In the pH up/down products, you will want to look at the ingredients carefully and check to see if they will work for your situation.  Had one member here using a General Hydroponics pH down product that was adding huge amounts of ammonia to his system and also contained citric acid which wasn't a good thing since the citric acid can inhibit bacteria growth.

 

As far as raising pH, that is usually very easy.  Lime is one of the things people often use, as is calcium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide (The hydroxides being caustic and you have to be very careful handling them as well as careful not to change the pH too much too fast.)  Danger with lime is that it is slow acting and you may be tempted to add too much and then wind up bringing the pH up too high but then you can't easily "take it back out"  So if one wants to use calcium carbonate as the means of bringing up pH, I would recommend using chicken grit in a mesh bag that you can take back out of the water when you need to.

Wow, since I live in the Caribbean, I can certainly find coconuts. I have SO much coir, I think I'm forced to work with it for some time. Thinking of adding river pebbles, as you suggested, to the bottom to help with drainage. I'm going to get started now...very, very nervous. I don't know if folks would be interested, but I will post pics of the process. Thank u!

Harold Sukhbir said:

Hi Simon,

If you have been using the coir for some time already PH may not be an issue for you. I've used coir with 6.6 PH, so there's the source to consider as well. You can test some in a bucket of system water for PH level. Please be careful with the PH down product. Some of these products contain sulphur and lime which are non compatible to AP. I have used coconut chips found inland, not coastal, and found their PH low. I gathered them myself and chipped the up but you can use a small automatic mulcher if you want to DIY. For alternative media, river pebbles or imported hydroton can be used. See here  http://aquaponicscommunity.com/forum/categories/media-topics/listFo...

Yes, I sent him a message...would love to pick his brain. As for my luck, yes, I purchased the General Hydroponic ph up and down. The chicken grit sound like and interesting and easy idea...I will research it more. I will keep all updated on my progress. I know you guys are FAR more advanced than m, but if nothing, it will be something to laugh at. Best!

TCLynx said:

Cosmo over in the Vertical Aquaponics Group has been experimenting with different media for his Vertigrow towers.

 

In the pH up/down products, you will want to look at the ingredients carefully and check to see if they will work for your situation.  Had one member here using a General Hydroponics pH down product that was adding huge amounts of ammonia to his system and also contained citric acid which wasn't a good thing since the citric acid can inhibit bacteria growth.

 

As far as raising pH, that is usually very easy.  Lime is one of the things people often use, as is calcium hydroxide and potassium hydroxide (The hydroxides being caustic and you have to be very careful handling them as well as careful not to change the pH too much too fast.)  Danger with lime is that it is slow acting and you may be tempted to add too much and then wind up bringing the pH up too high but then you can't easily "take it back out"  So if one wants to use calcium carbonate as the means of bringing up pH, I would recommend using chicken grit in a mesh bag that you can take back out of the water when you need to.

Washed sea shells and coral sand are another means of buffering pH but you will probably want to alternate that with some buffering that will add potassium instead of calcium.
So I can just put the sea shells in the tank?  Would you be able to tell how much per  tank size? When you say "buffering", do you mean something added, like seaweed extract?

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