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 just noticed snails in my growbeds... tiny water snails... anyone know if these are a pest or a natural part of an AP setup? They are congregated in a small cup that the water entering the growbed feeds into, as well as the gravel/hydroton nearby-this is where there is some algae growing and I assume these snails eat this. I don't have algae in the rest of the system as the water level is below the gravel level - only those places with water and sun have any algae and it is minimal (inlets generally

) I posted a picture showing the tiny snails... anyone with any info??
I have a few thousand of these little creatures in my system ant they seem to eat the gunk from the roots as well as water fleas and some kind of leach that keep the roots clean.
As far as I know they are good

Lori Platt said:
I just noticed snails in my growbeds... tiny water snails... anyone know if these are a pest or a natural part of an AP setup? They are congregated in a small cup that the water entering the growbed feeds into, as well as the gravel/hydroton nearby-this is where there is some algae growing and I assume these snails eat this. I don't have algae in the rest of the system as the water level is below the gravel level - only those places with water and sun have any algae and it is minimal (inlets generally

) I posted a picture showing the tiny snails... anyone with any info??
I have snails too, so long as they are not blocking up any screens and stuff, they are not a problem.
I think that snails are almost unnavoidable in AP sys.s. Mine appeared from nowhere and after an initiall population boom are now under control. they can do a nice job at algal removal, and serve as a nice protien supplement for most common AP fish. I just make sure that i have "catch points" for shells so that I'm grading out larger snails to prevent blockages.
I too consider them vermin and inevitably the slugs show up with them. My root crops were destroyed by them this summer. Mine were introduced because I used filter squeezing's from another pond to jump start my system 18 months ago (bad idea). Now I have harvested nearly all my fish and will be completely restarting the system after sterilizing it completely in an attempt to get rid of the snails and slugs. snails in the fish tank, sump tank and raft tank were controlled with a few Koi, I had partial control in the grow beds by sprinkling lime on the surface periodically (used to control PH also). But with the fish reaching maturity and the summer garden providing plenty of produce, its time for a complete cleaning. I'll also be fumigating the greenhouse while the fish are out to knock back all the bugs I can (probably 2-3 treatments over a couple of weeks). Then I'll rinse the system a couple of times and restart it from scratch. I hope by not introducing any foreign water, by transplanting only seedlings I've started (no nursery plants or outside plants), and going a lower density of plants and fish, that I can keep the bug and snail populations to much lower level.
I have also experienced some aphid infestations on some of my AP plants but so far it doesn't seem to have slowed the plants down or hurt them so I've been largely ignoring most pests.
Jessica
Hi I have a lot of taro as you know. It got horribly infested with an aphid or bug that can fly. The bug did not attack the other plants just taro. It does destruction to the taro even though people say it doesn't. It well may be that the aquaponic taro has too much nutrients., Here is what caro and I did. We made a mixture of dish soap, olive oir or any veg oil, molassas and water about a tablespoon of each to a quart of water and sprayed it directly on the taro and especially into where the ha comes out of the corum. This seems to get rid of them and does not harm the fish. I always used the soap and oil on my fruit trees but Murray Hallam says use molassas also and that is good enough for me. Give it a try
Aloha Raychel
Just be very careful not to spill excess of anything with oil or soap into a fish system.

As in don't do the mixing of the ingredients over a grow bed or leave an open container where it could spill into the system. (I've heard a few stories along such lines where something carefully sprayed on the plants might be safe but if the gallon jug gets knocked off the grow bed into the sump tank, that could be a different matter.)
One must always handle everything around the fish very careful. I never mix it in more than a quart bottle and then it is a spray bottle. If it is a raft plant as my taro is I take the plant off the raft and spray it on the ground or a table and let it set a little while until it doesn't drip any more. If it is in my grow bed as some of my roses got attacked by aphids I spray very lightly the underside where the aphids are. Never overspray with anything even thouh it is thought to be safe.
Very good to hear that


Raychel A Watkins said:
One must always handle everything around the fish very careful. I never mix it in more than a quart bottle and then it is a spray bottle. If it is a raft plant as my taro is I take the plant off the raft and spray it on the ground or a table and let it set a little while until it doesn't drip any more. If it is in my grow bed as some of my roses got attacked by aphids I spray very lightly the underside where the aphids are. Never overspray with anything even thouh it is thought to be safe.
:) :)
Hi Kobus, I always thought that those yellow sticky traps were more of an indicator of bugs than a deterrent...

One of my favorite ways to deal with aphids is to take the entire plant out and soak it in the fish tank for at least 15 minutes. Drowns the bugs, and the fish also like to pick them off. Of course this only works for smaller plants that can be easily pulled out - might be great for anything in a raft. I'm currently dealing with aphids on my big tomato plants, so this doesn't solve that..I"m going to try some molasses in my insecticidal soap now. Thanks!
The yellow sticky traps catch whiteflies and are a good Integrated pest management tool to know how much of a problem you are having with whiteflies. They make blue sticky cards that are supposed to be good against thrips I guess.

Yes, ants give me some trouble but my lazy gardening methods have relieved me of needing to worry much about it. I just have to be careful not to get bit by the ants as so far the aphids don't seem to be giving me too much trouble.

Caterpillars, you can use BT products against the leaf eating caterpillars and that is really the only thing I've used against any pests in the last two years.

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