Aquaponic Gardening

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How are people tackling the bugs that find our systems?  I've been using a combination of beneficial insects (mainly ladybugs) and spraying with insecticidal soap when I have to...but I worry about the effect that using too much of that might have on the fish.  If a plant is pretty small (lettuces, greens, beans, peppers) and is pretty bug infested I'll take it out of the media and let it soak in the fish tank for about 15 minutes. the bugs drown, and the fish seem to love them.

I know some people use neem oil with success.  What are the downsides?  What else do you guys use?

Also, my most buggy plants are salad greens and peppers.  They've stayed totally off my herbs, broccoli, and tomatoes.  What have other's experience been with this?  Any hypothesis as to why?  Travis thinks it has something to do with nitrogen levels...

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Unfortunately most of the sprays listed here are not safe for use around fish systems.

Neem oil can mess up the growth and reproduction of the nymphs of these bugs but you must be careful about the use of any oil around aquaponics as well.

I have used a hand held dust buster type vac to suck up some of these bugs in the past and then carry away from the aquaponics system to deal with them.

ayeshaaakter said:

Bugs
Bugs include stink bugs, leaffooted bugs, and squash bugs that have piercing mouthparts used to ‘suck’ nutrients from plant leaves, stems, and fruit. They often are KEY PESTS that feed on tomatoes, beans, and squash causing discolored spotting, pimples or desiccation. The adults are excellent fliers and can move long distances into and among gardens. There are few natural controls limiting their numbers and damaging
populations must be treated with insecticides.

Recommended Control: Use row covers to prevent bugs from feeding on young plantings, but remove at first flower. Kill nymphs and adults with cyfluthrin, diazinon, dimethoate, or endosulfan. ORGANIC control methods include the use of row covers, hand picking, traps, and spraying with neem or pyrethrum. Nymphs can be killed with insecticidal soap. Spray applications must be directed towards the feeding sites under the leaves and under the plant canopy. The SQUASH BUG is a perennial pest, primarily of squash and pumpkin, which should be controlled by initiating insecticide applications or hand picking when adults or egg masses are first noted on plants.

For more information, click here,

pest control

I've just read every post for the last 2 years, very informative. Hats off to Sylvia for starting this.

     My pests are not on my plants. I have little flies popping up on my hydroton and if I look very close I can see the odd little white larva down where it is more moist. I thought they might be white fly, but the more I research I think they might be gnats. I see the odd black drain fly as well(Are these gnats as well?). Anyways I must ask 2 questions; (1)Are these bugs living of the fish waste and should I just leave them alone? (2) Has anyone used beneficial nematodes in their aquaponics?

I managed to get a picture of the fly and larva in one shot. Any help would be appreciated.

Not sure but fungus gnats are common in moist media situations.  Perhaps the stuff in mosquito dunks would be effective against them?  I've seen a product called gnatrol that is also bacillus thurgensis of the particular variety that works against gnat and mosquit larva but it cost way to much for me to buy to test out (like over $300 for the bucket.)

Aaron, I have similar looking bugs in my media and many others. Are these bugs causing harm to your plants or fish? I think it is important to keep in mind that aquaponic systems are living ecosystems. Not every bug that gets established in them is bad. I have so many unidentifiable bugs in mine that I gave up worrying adout them years ago. I focus in bugs that actually cause the system harm and leave the rest alone to fill their niche in the ecosystem.

I'm guessing fungas gnats as well. I have them and another little bug in my system but they seem to stay in the medium.

Just put some ladybugs in last night for the aphids that have magically appeared again. Looks like they're working hard for me.

Definitely stunting my young plants. I checked further into it today I can see little tiny worms (larva) at the base of the plants. I'd really like to try the nematodes (Steinernema feltiae), but I can't find any Canadian distribution. Anyone want to snail mail me a pack?

The bugs are hard to see in the picture, they look a litter bigger then the fungus gnats I'm used to.  In my system gnats are always around, but have never had a noticeable affect on my plants or fruits.  I have used gnatrol to reduce the level, but it never eliminates them. When I had a lot of potted trees and plants in my greenhouse I would regularly treat to control them.  I also found that being careful to not overwater helped, they like moist media and wet pots.

Hello all i have been using a bio wash thats is totally natural its called "Bio-wash 1227" i dont know where its sold a friend of mine picked it up for me. i use a cap full in a one gallon mix and spray it on all plants so far no harmfull effects and no bugs ,no bad bugs anyway .On the bottle it says 1stenvirosaftyinc.com this is the link i found online {http://www.1stenvirosafetyinc.com/environmentally_friendly/index.php} im not selling this just something i use

I discovered fungus on my tomato plants today and did spray with neem oil. However, I put plastic sheets under the plants as I sprayed to make sure none of it got onto the hydroton. Don't know if it will work yet. What do you do for fungus? Mine came in the form of what they called target spots -- light brown spots on the leaves. 

TCLynx said:

I have used the liquid form of BT Thuricide (I don't know where to get dipel here) on plants in my system with no ill effects to Catfish or Tilapia. Granted, I was spraying the plants not dumping it into the system.

I would avoid or be very careful with any soaps or oils around plants in an AP system, both of those act as suffocants and if enough of them get into the water to coat a fish's gills, they will have difficulty getting the dissolved oxygen they need and death becomes likely. Soap and oil can be very effective against pest bugs that breath through their skin but would also be very effective at killing fish and bacteria too if much were allowed to drip or pour into an AP system.

I recommend a book called "The Truth about Garden Remedies" by Jeff Gilman. He is a scientist committed to rigorously testing both home remedies and commercial products. He's generally committed to organic solutions and evaluates all of them. He's  very big on garlic and on hot pepper sprays. He also recommends Neem for fungus and other problems. I'm trying Neem on fungus today, being careful not to spray any on the bed. 

i havent had any problems with insects yet, but this guy has had problems with caterpillars, and he discusses his different attempts at getting rid of them in part of this video.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKBT9b0LMEw&feature=related

Yes, garlic and pepper spray is a great way. A good mix is hot pepper, with garlic and ginger, and then add one tiny drop of detergent.

Michael Welber said:

I recommend a book called "The Truth about Garden Remedies" by Jeff Gilman. He is a scientist committed to rigorously testing both home remedies and commercial products. He's generally committed to organic solutions and evaluates all of them. He's  very big on garlic and on hot pepper sprays. He also recommends Neem for fungus and other problems. I'm trying Neem on fungus today, being careful not to spray any on the bed. 

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