Aquaponic Gardening

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My First Home Aquaponics Experiment Questions:

Is it good or bad for me to have an additional sponge filter in the tank? I know many larger aquaponics set ups have swirl filters and things so it seems like a good idea to me.

Is it right that the helpful bacteria is on the sponge filter? What about the sponge filter I have in the growled since it gets more light?

Am I right in thinking that a better way to grow lettuce would not be in grow media but in floating rafts?

Why are not more of the flowers on my pepper plant fruiting? I must have seen 20 of them at least and just one pepper.

Is the moss or the orange fungus going to hurt my strawberries?

What is the best soil mixture for germinating strawberries? It seems my coconut fiber mixture was overkill.

Why do I have different leaves on my strawberries if the seeds were planted from the same packet?

If my chelated EDDHA iron says it's 4.8%, how much should I put in once a month for a 110 liter tank?

How do you save a spanish ribbed newt, or any aquatic salamander, that gets white cotton fungus on it? It is very hard to find info on this online.

Should I cut those little things off my tomato plant growing where the branches meet the main stalk?

NOTE: I did also upgrade the filter and now the siphon kicks in quickly.

What is the best time rate to allow your grow bed to fill and empty? It seems like that would be a very difficult thing to manage with this small of a system unless I simply set up a timer.

The problem however with a timer is what if your pump turns off before the siphon has kicked in? Then your plants are just sitting in water for a long period of time. I have heard 15 minutes of flood and drain and 45 minutes with the pump off. I used to turn it off at night. Now, I just turn the lights off at night and let the pump run 24/7.

What is the best grow light cycle for fruiting plants?

When do you know when to transplant your strawberries into the grow bed? It seems mine are about ready.

Thank you so very kindly for any help you can provide! God bless your day!

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If you're running media beds, then I would just let all your fish solids go there. No need to filter them out. Lettuce grow great in grow media and in rafts. Media is expensive, so people save media beds for plants that need more structure. Plus, I think raft growing (particularly if commercial) is a faster way to process your lettuce.

Peppers are self polinating, so they contain all the pieces needed for producing fruit. However, you do need to make sure that the parts that need to make contact, actually make contact. It's a good idea to lightly knock around your flowers a little, especially if you are growing indoors (the wind usually supplies this function). You could also be missing some things that help with fruiting (phosphorus, or proper microbial life to make nutrients available). Try hittin' those flowers and see what happens first.

Those little shoots between the main stem and the branches are referred to as "suckers". The plant puts energy into growing those, so you can prune them off. Or, if you want to replicate your tomato plants, let them grow out a couple of inches, then cut them off and plant them to get new tomato plants :)

If you use a timer based system, you usually forgo the siphon. Most people will just add a hole that lets water out at a slower rate that than the inflow of the growbed. The pump pumps faster than the growbed drains, then once it gets full, timer turns off and lets the rest of the water drain out.

I have media beds and a filter.  If you keep most of your solids out of the beds then you have to clean them less often.  It's also good for bacteria, as you say.

Clean the media beds? Or the raft beds?

Jeremiah Robinson said:

I have media beds and a filter.  If you keep most of your solids out of the beds then you have to clean them less often.  It's also good for bacteria, as you say.

The media beds.  My system isn't old enough to have this problem, but I've read that you need to clean out the media every couple years to prevent anaerobic areas.  I think Sylvia's book might talk about that.

You can add black worms to your grow beds to dramatically reduce the sludge buildup. I usually try to stir my beds after harvest while I'm digging out the roots but now thats iv switched to potting most of my plants in my system i haven't had any where near as many issues with that either. 

Sponge filter is pointless in AP because you already have overkill amount of bacteria to handle your water because of all the added surface area in teh grow beds.

Lettuce will grow fastest in a raft system.

Replant your peppers in a duel root zone pot and they will fruit constantly.

Moss wont hurt i have moss on my hydroton in my system at home as for the other one im not sure.

What do you mean best soil mix? Do you mean wicking bed setup or a duel root zone?

Leaves are highly variable depending on photoperiod, available co2, soil composition, magnesium level and many other issues

I dont use that form of iron

as far as your newt friend peroxide is your best bet. If you go to a higher end pet store or a vet tehy can also give you an oral liquid but its hard to properly dose for amphibians. Peroxide is your best bet just make sure its diluted and pout it on a qtip and dab the infection.

Prune your plants to not block light from teh rest of they plant and any leaves that are shaded more than 80% are fine to cut because they are taking more energy they they are making.

I have my grow beds on timers systems on a 30 mines off 15 on and the bell siphon systems are all 5- 7 times per hour or so. 

For fruiting plants its best to put them on a 16 on 8 off cycle with a few exceptions

As soon as they have roots big enough to anchor the plant.

I tried to answer them in order.

Fish waste solids in grow bed media, removal or left to build up over time, is still an interesting question. Knowing and understanding both popular answers will probably help you decide what's best for you and your system.

link: http://www.microponics.net.au/microponics/aquaponics_aquaculture/my...

Here's the quick review, "Bio-filters (including grow beds) function more efficiently when solids are removed.

  • The digestion of large volumes of solids diminishes dissolved oxygen levels.  Fish, plants and nitrifying bacteria all do best when dissolved oxygen levels are optimised.
  • Built up fish wastes (or other sediment) create pockets of anaerobic (without oxygen) activity resulting in denitrification.
  • Denitrification causes the pH of the system to rise.  Ammonia in the presence of high pH levels is toxic to fish.
  • Removal of the solids, and their subsequent mineralisation, is a simple (and far less risky) thing to do.
  • The question of balance in an aquaponics system is more about productivity and sustainability and less about accommodating dogma."

I hope this helps.

The thing about nitrification that I've wondered about it in winter when you drop your water temperature.  I drop mine to 50. Others go lower.  At those temps, with trout growing like bamboo, every bit of surface area is gold.  I haven't had problems in winter even with high concentrations of trout, but there's got to be a limit.

Isn't EDDHA what that really freaking long iron discussion decided on?

Thanks for the link Glen.  Great Blog.  It it yours?  Do you know how to subscribe - I can't find a link?

I'm a big fan of sponge filters. There's no such thing as too much biological filtration, and a sponge filter can always be moved to a tub to form an instantly cycled quarantine/hospital tank.

Personally I have gone to swirl filtering the large solids out of the water heading to all our GBs because my FTs are designed to not only keep the sinkers off the bottom from building up but also they have skimmers that get rid of uneaten floating food within an hr or so. These solids won't hurt the media beds BUT they tend to get very unsightly rather fast around the water inlets. The swirl filter is doing a great job of catching most of such solids and the beds are looking a whole lot better and let's face it anything that cuts down maintenance is a good thing. The solids are easy to drain out of the SF and go to the compost pile or directly into the dirt garden. No waste.

My SF is the same design I use inside my bio-filter that scrub the two 330g trout finishing tanks. Each of those uses a small above ground pool pump and allows for far cleaner water for the heavy feeding larger trout. You can see those filters HERE

I use a swirl filter to prevent poo build up in the sump tank, but while cleaning the swirl filter, I pump the material into the beds, which are loaded with earth worms. Do not let plants stay in the beds to long and form a large root ball which will cause anaerobic zones. Worms love it.

I think we can use  swirl filter, its result is good. A swirl filter or solids filter is occasionally used in aquaponics to remove particles of fine fish waste


Thanks for the post.

Some good thoughts there.

I like the idea for the overflow tube.  For now I am going to put an overflow above my media bed in case the siphon somehow gets clogged.  Later if I add a timer I will think about the "drip" tube.

So, if you did set a timer for the siphon what do you think is the best on/off intervals?
Alex Veidel said:

If you're running media beds, then I would just let all your fish solids go there. No need to filter them out. Lettuce grow great in grow media and in rafts. Media is expensive, so people save media beds for plants that need more structure. Plus, I think raft growing (particularly if commercial) is a faster way to process your lettuce.

Peppers are self polinating, so they contain all the pieces needed for producing fruit. However, you do need to make sure that the parts that need to make contact, actually make contact. It's a good idea to lightly knock around your flowers a little, especially if you are growing indoors (the wind usually supplies this function). You could also be missing some things that help with fruiting (phosphorus, or proper microbial life to make nutrients available). Try hittin' those flowers and see what happens first.

Those little shoots between the main stem and the branches are referred to as "suckers". The plant puts energy into growing those, so you can prune them off. Or, if you want to replicate your tomato plants, let them grow out a couple of inches, then cut them off and plant them to get new tomato plants :)

If you use a timer based system, you usually forgo the siphon. Most people will just add a hole that lets water out at a slower rate that than the inflow of the growbed. The pump pumps faster than the growbed drains, then once it gets full, timer turns off and lets the rest of the water drain out.

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