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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!!!!






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I would put sea shells in a mesh bag of some sort so that you will be able to remove them from the tank when needed.

Water chemistry is actually fairly complex so what I have to do for my tank of a particular size might be totally different from what some one else will need to do.

Buffering is the ability or capacity of the water to neutralize acid or keep the pH UP in a sense (that is terribly simplified and those with a better grasp of chemistry than I will hopefully step in with the more detailed answer.)  Things like calcium carbonate (shells or lime) or potassium bicarbonate will add to this buffering ability and bring pH up.  Ya don't want to add too much or you wind up with the pH too high for the plants but if you don't have enough the pH can drop too low and stall out the bio-filter.  The source water will have a big impact on the hardness and buffering capacity of the water.


Seaweed extract is not a buffer, it is a source of potassium and trace elements.



Wow, it IS all very complicated. I was just going to jump in, but I'm thinking I should really read the forum and plan a little better. The shells in a bag are a great idea, I can gather some at the beach and can remove them once they have served their purpose. I truly appreciate the time you are taking to answer these newbie questions.

Don't get all wound up that this is too complicated.  You can learn it and the worst that could possibly happen is that you might kill some fish or plants.  You will learn from whatever happens.  Yes keep reading and asking questions but you could probably get a small section of a system set up and start running it fairly soon and what you learn from that and the questions that come up from that experience will help you along the way.


You will want a freshwater master test kit like used for aquarium keeping to help you figure out what is going on with your water quality and having the results of the tests will give the information needed to get help online.

Hi Simon,

There are a few reasons why you would want to monitor(test kit) and ultimately control the pH in an AP system. Nitrifying Bacteria which convert ammonia to nitrates for plant growth live between 5.5 ppm - 8 ppm. Plants absorb nutrient best at around 6 ppm and to a lesser extent as we approach 8 ppm. So maintaining a range between 7 ppm and 6 ppm is the goal. Allowing PH to drift beyond these high and low levels puts the system into crisis.

PH 7 ppm is considered neutral, above this value is referred to as Alkaline and belows this we say acidic. Over time the PH falls naturally in an AP system to more acidic PH(below 7) and continues this downward trend, this is due to an acid being produced by the bacteria as it converts the ammonia. When the PH falls too low we have to introduce a buffering agent like calcium carbonate and slowly bring the PH back to a manageable level.

Manipulating the PH in AP is part of successful AP to ensure a balance between, fish, plants, and bacteria.

Just to avoid confusion ppm is not usually used for pH.  ppm stands for parts per million and pH is a logarithmic scale.

Hi TC,

Something seem to be wrong in my head today

TCLynx said:

Just to avoid confusion ppm is not usually used for pH.  ppm stands for parts per million and pH is a logarithmic scale.

I knew what you meant.

Just didn't want to leave newbies confused.

Hi TC,

Thanks for being there, just one of those days i guess!

I saw the monitoring kit here and I'm going to purchase it. I've decided to use one track of the Vertigro system for aquaponics, just until I understand the process better. I guess the only way to learn is to jump in and get started. I will certainly keep everyone up to date!


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