Aquaponic Gardening

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I have seen numerous recommendations for how long to take to drain the beds, and then for refilling them. Is it appropriate to have the pump running all the time, and control the flow into the grow bed (s)?

Or, is it better to have them (pumps) on a timer? I do not have a sump. So far just one tank and one grow bed, with plans for two more of each.

Thanks for any input.


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Freshwater Fish Company near Sacramento has "open days" where they sell to the public. Next one is March 15th, I believe. I may be going there by appointment this weekend - let me know if you want me to pick something up for you.

In February, they sold:

 Bluegill  $1.00
 Black bass – not available in 1-4 inches. Bass are 4 - 6 inches.
 Hybrid carp  $1.00
 Catfish  $1.00
 Redeared sunfish  $1.00
 Mosquitofish   Ask

All of these fish were raised near Sacramento, in ponds, so you know they can handle northern california weather.

I like starting systems with Mosquitofish (wild guppy variant) and Minnows. They're pretty hardy, and will act as forage fish when your big fish grow up. Once the system is cycled, add big fish

A lot of counties provide mosquitofish (wild guppy variant) for free. In Alameda County, you can fill out the form online ( and they'll bring them to you! (Their office is in Hayward)

David E Harnish said:

Thanks, So

1. What kind of fish are people in No California using in their Aquaponics systems?

2. Jim, I don't understand. If the pump does not need to run continuosly, but likewise does not need to shut off, How does the system work?  

@ David

the valve is plumbed from one source (pump) to many outlets (grow beds); the valve is on a timer and advances from outlet to outlet on a schedule you set/select.

Be sure to salt bath those farm fish to kill any pathogens they may be carrying. Very good prices BTW.

Yes, we have aquatic restrictions in Arizona.  But they they don't worry about fish/plants that cannot survive in our environment for an extended period of time.  Tilapia were planted in our canals to eat the vegetation and many die off every year when it gets too cold in their location.  In California, there seems to be a fear of the fish gestapo showing up and euthanizing the fish, your family and then leveling the house because you made an effort to become self-sufficient.  This is against the mantra of "the mother state knows best" and you will be eliminated if you step over the line.  Yes, California is a beautiful state but IMHO they are beyond out of control.  

Jim - Can you keep your political rantings contained? Kinda off-topic and not helpful.

FYI guys, the Aquaponic Indexing valves do require the flow to the valve to stop and start in order for those valves to index.  they also require a fair bit of flow and pressure to operate.

Rob did once upon a time build a motorized indexing valve using a servo motor, look for Webfordeb's YouTube channel and you may find the video of how to build one of these yourself, it is not a project for some one who isn't into tinkering and DIY electronics and building projects though.  It is a small valve that would be appropriate for indexing small flows in a tiny system though.

The Indexing valves, if you want more info on them, check my web site or contact me.  They usually require either turning the pump on/off or using a motorized diversion valve (like used to swimming pools) to stop/start the flow to the valves.  I would not recommend them unless you are talking about a system with at least 300 gallons of fish tank and 6, 100 gallon grow beds and you are willing to use at least a 1000-1200 gph pump and probably bigger.

If you are doing just one grow bed per fish tank, you are not likely to have much water level fluctuation so no need to worry yourself on that count, however, that is not much grow bed to take care of filtration so you have to keep your fish stocking way low, like 12 or so fish that might get to 1 lb each per tank.

Yep, Illinois has got those lovely laws too. The annoying thing really is that you need a aquaculture permit to raise tilapia, for which you need to both pay for yearly and get your system inspected :/ If you're planning on raising fish that aren't on the approved species list, give yourself an extra 6-8 weeks for the whole process to be completed.

It makes sense that we should be careful with offsetting our ecosystem, but I can't help but feel like either the process shouldn't take so long, or you shouldn't have to continue pay for an aquaculture permit when you are growing for private enjoyment. Oh well, what you gonna do....

Glenn said:

Jim, I'm pretty sure that all states and municipalities have laws written to protect their people's interests from invasive species. Even Arizona has this List of aquatic invasive species signed as their game and fish director's orders.

 List of aquatic invasive species (AIS)

    • Quagga & Zebra Mussel
    •  Rusty Crayfish
  •  Red Claw Crayfish
  •  New Zealand mudsnail
  •  Didymo, a.k.a. rock snot
  •  Giant Salvinia
  •  Asian Carp (Silver, Black, Bighead)
  •  Apple Snail
  •  Snakehead
  •  Whirling Disease
  •  Largemouth Bass Virus (LMB Virus)

I hope this helps. Long live the revolution and social tolerance. I mean just how bad can rock snot be? ;)

Jim Troyer said:

Why don't you guys revolt?  California is such a nanny state...

I started my fish in Los Angeles last March. The fish did great through the summer and into fall. Once water temps hit 65 regularly, about late Oct, I brought them indoors into a 60g tank. The house is kept around 70 so while its cooler than they like, it's perfectly fine for them. I set up a smaller version of my flood and drain system on top of the tank and cut back feeding. I was able to keep about 35 or so palm sized fish that way. Moved up to Solano in Jan. The size of the fish required 2 50g tanks to handle the extra bioload. In an apartment, the water has a nice buffer affect on temps so I rarely had to turn my heater on. Its May and warm enough so the fish are on the patio in a 100g rubbermaid stock tank. This level of involvement isn't for everyone but it's a fun hobby for me and it allows me to grow year round.

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