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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I will try anything the key is safe for the fish and safe to use indoors, as I mentioned the setup is in the kitchen.

No it is homemade alcohol/water/pepper spray I came up with that uses a biodegradable soap, that I know will kill fish, how's that for a green product.  I accidently got it in a small pond and it killed all the surface feeders within a day.  At least it was easy to vacuum off the surface once I saw the bubbles (the next day)

Kirsten Udd said:

Haha, yeah, good justification. Do you already use botanigard? I just found 1qt on Pestrong (went through Amazon search) for $74.95 and free shipping.

Well last night I spent a few hours with a damp q-tip cleaning the aphids off and feeding them to my fish.  I should have paid better attention to one plant that sprouted a flower, I suspect that it was the origin of the potato aphids as it was covered.

Has anyone just taken the cuttings and soaked them in the tank for a few hours before planting to allow the fish to eat any insects that may be on them?

I did try it with my basil which was loaded as well with aphids but no apparent damage to that plant.  The goldfish gathered around and pecked at it for a bit and cleaned it pretty well.  Just not sure if it is ok for the the cuttings to do it.

I just did the same thing a few days back and I have already gotten my quart BotaniGard an applied some of it last night. I cant wait to see how good it works on the tomatoes and kale.
 
Kirsten Udd said:

Haha, yeah, good justification. Do you already use botanigard? I just found 1qt on Pestrong (went through Amazon search) for $74.95 and free shipping.

I have to let everyone know about MONTEREY GARDEN INSECT SPRAY. Active ingredient a bacteria called Spinosad.

I was battling with thrips for months! One treatment of this spray killed all thrips in 24 hrs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I sprayed liberally using the directions. I did not worry if some over spray went on my growing media and all fish are fine. Including 1 week old fry.

As for the aphids, dish soap works great!

Thanks, Aaron, would be interested in hearing how things are going in a week/month also!

I would tend to be a little cautious about the Spinosad since it is listed as being dangerous to aquatic life, at least last time I checked one of the labels which I do admit was a while back.

And as to the dish soap. that is definitely dangerous to fish so do be careful about any soap residue dripping, spraying or getting washed into your system.

These are the results of some non-target toxicology testing as it relates to fish...Spinosad is listed by the EPA as being only "slightly toxic to aquatic life"...So make your own decisions. 

It seems like someone using this product somewhat responsibly should be OK (judging from those mg/L numbers), but they are only acute LC50 numbers...there's nothing on long term low level exposure effects or anything.

The half-life of spinosad degraded by soil photolysis is 9-10 days. It is less than 1 day for aqueous photolysis and leaf surface photolysis results in a half-life of 1.6 to 16 days. The half-life of spinosad degraded by aerobic soil metabolism in the absence of light is 9-17 days. Hydrolysis does not contribute significantly to degradation as spinosad is relatively stable in water at a pH of 5-7 and has a half-life of at least 200 days at a pH of 9.

We block out as much light as we can in AP to fight algae, and our pH of our water is (hopefully) between 6-7 so again, draw your own conclusions...

If anyone is interested... B. bassiana is a naturally occurring fungus used in a number of products to control a whole host of garden pests... and if I recall it's toxicity to aquatic life is also very, very low. Some countries go so far as to list it non-toxic to aquatic life. Can be found under the trade names Botaniguard, Naturalis-L or Mycotrol-O ...the later two being ok'd by OMRI for use in 'O'rganic blablabla...

I have used Mycotrol-O sparingly but I expect I will use it more this season now that I have strawberries to protect.

Thank you for this information...very useful

God bless

Vlad Jovanovic said:

These are the results of some non-target toxicology testing as it relates to fish...Spinosad is listed by the EPA as being only "slightly toxic to aquatic life"...So make your own decisions. 

It seems like someone using this product somewhat responsibly should be OK (judging from those mg/L numbers), but they are only acute LC50 numbers...there's nothing on long term low level exposure effects or anything.

The half-life of spinosad degraded by soil photolysis is 9-10 days. It is less than 1 day for aqueous photolysis and leaf surface photolysis results in a half-life of 1.6 to 16 days. The half-life of spinosad degraded by aerobic soil metabolism in the absence of light is 9-17 days. Hydrolysis does not contribute significantly to degradation as spinosad is relatively stable in water at a pH of 5-7 and has a half-life of at least 200 days at a pH of 9.

We block out as much light as we can in AP to fight algae, and our pH of our water is (hopefully) between 6-7 so again, draw your own conclusions...

If anyone is interested... B. bassiana is a naturally occurring fungus used in a number of products to control a whole host of garden pests... and if I recall it's toxicity to aquatic life is also very, very low. Some countries go so far as to list it non-toxic to aquatic life. Can be found under the trade names Botaniguard, Naturalis-L or Mycotrol-O ...the later two being ok'd by OMRI for use in 'O'rganic blablabla...

Organocide was on sale at TSC (Tractor Supply) for 5.00 and it works great. At Southern State it sells for 19.00 so get it while you can. Makes about 75 gal of spray.

TCLynx said:

Thuricide is what I'm used to finding at the big box stores or Ace hardware here in the US.

Organocide is an oil product (different than Thuricide.)  I believe it is made largely of fish oil (hence the nasty smell) so it seems that it might be relatively safe.  However, I always caution about any oil or soap used near aquaponics since oil and soap can coat things and inhibit oxygen transfer across fish gills so anything with oil, soap or detergents should generally not be used around aquaponics.  If you absolutely must use something with oil, soap or detergent around your aquaponics, please use extreme caution and think about using drop cloths and things to keep drips and over spray out of the system.

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