Aquaponic Gardening

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Michael asked me to start a thread about my experience using Maxicrop during cycling, and I'm happy to oblige!  Maxicrop is a liquid seaweed extract that you can also get in a soluable powder form. Using seaweed extract is talked about quite a bit on the Australian forums, but they use a different brand. the purpose for using it is to give your plants food before the nitrates kick in.  Good plant food that is not harmful to the fish.

When I used it last September I actually had a one quart bottle for my 300 gallon tank (probably only filled to 200 gallons).  I couldn't find any instructions for using Maxicrop for cycling, and according to the dilution instructions on the bottle I was going to create a very dilute solution using the entire bottle...so I dumped the entire thing in.  Turned the water brown for a couple weeks, but my plants were perfectly happy and seemed to have no ill effect on the fish.  

There is also a form with iron, but I avoid that.  I'm super hesitant about adding anything but fish food and the pure liquid seaweed into my system. I'm just not enough of a chemist to feel comfortable with measuring iron additions to the system, and haven't seemed to need any.  This fear has served me well so far.

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I've never directly compared the two but from simple observation the Hygromite seems much heavier. That makes it a poor choice for vertical growing.

A single vertigro container would weigh about 12 pounds when loaded with Hygromite. Stack four to six of them and it gets very hefty. I would not expect the styrofoam containers to hold up well with it. It would most likely be great for other system designs.
Okay I'm completely plumbed and ready to start recycling. While I await my fish and their cycle, I'm going to feed with Maxicrop. My issue is what ratio to use?

I have a 600 gallon pool and right now am thinking of putting in all my remaining Maxicrop (96 oz) in it. However that will be substancially weaker than the plants have been getting. I've been going with 1/2 oz per gallon but too get that ratio in the pool would call for 300 ozs (2.5 gallons) - putting what I have in would give me .15 oz to the gallon. Seems pretty diluted

I could raise the ratio some by draining the pool down to 300 gallons

Give me some thoughts folks.. I'm second guessing myself at this point.
You don't need that much maxicrop in an AP system.

I might put in maybe a quart of maxicrop into my system at any one time and that still turns my water brown and that was when I had 700 gallons of fish tank and 600 gallons of sump tank. I usually pour a little bit of maxicrop into each grow bed near where the water enters.

If you don't have fish yet and won't be getting them for a while, you might want to add an ammonia source to get the cycling (of the Nitrogen cycle) going since maxicrop is definitely not complete. Maxicrop is the source for Potassium as well as all the great trace minerals that a new system will be short on but maxicrop doesn't provide much nitrogen or phosphorus.
If you are not grossed out by fishless cycling with humonia (aged pee) then that is a really cheap/easy way to fishless cycle, but only use it if you don't have fish and won't be getting them right away. You definitely want your ammonia and nitrite to be back to 0 before putting in new fish.

Good Luck.
Ron, twice I've used a liter bottle of Maxicrop when cycling a 300 gallon tank. Turns the water brown, but it isn't a problem and that clears up quickly. Just seems to help the plants during the cycling process and offers some nice trace minerals.

Ron Thompson said:
Okay I'm completely plumbed and ready to start recycling. While I await my fish and their cycle, I'm going to feed with Maxicrop. My issue is what ratio to use?

I have a 600 gallon pool and right now am thinking of putting in all my remaining Maxicrop (96 oz) in it. However that will be substancially weaker than the plants have been getting. I've been going with 1/2 oz per gallon but too get that ratio in the pool would call for 300 ozs (2.5 gallons) - putting what I have in would give me .15 oz to the gallon. Seems pretty diluted

I could raise the ratio some by draining the pool down to 300 gallons

Give me some thoughts folks.. I'm second guessing myself at this point.
I'll be adding fish in a week, so I'm not looking for ammonia. I'm just trying to figure out the ratio for Maxicrop to carry me until the fish cycle in.
I'd say give it a quart now and perhaps another dose or two spaced out over the next 6 to 8 weeks as you cycle with the fish. Before adding anything, you should go ahead and do some water tests with the water that is in the system and if you have just added water, let the pump cycle it around the system for a day and do your pH tests again.
I am running 2 cups of Maxicrop to 30 gallons. I Foliar feed once a week - one gallon of of another organic mix. I saw an iron deficiency and now I have added one cup to the 30 Gal mix of MineralPlex from Greenworldpath.com. so far things are going well.
Michael, That is the ratio I've been running. I'm going to cut it back and see what happens, sounds like others are doing fine with less. I'm also going to a 15minute pump run every two hours, except in the heat of the day (noon-6pm) when I'm going to try once an hour.

I also ran some flow tests today on the drainage and had no problems at all. If that holds up I won't need to replumb the buckets.

Has anyone run any toxicity tests on Maxicrop and fish to see what the maximum concentration they can tolerate is? Since it is seaweed, fish should be able to handle fairly high concentrations.




Michael Cosmo said:
I am running 2 cups of Maxicrop to 30 gallons. I Foliar feed once a week - one gallon of of another organic mix. I saw an iron deficiency and now I have added one cup to the 30 Gal mix of MineralPlex from Greenworldpath.com. so far things are going well.
Ron, do you have another source of oxygen in your fish tanks (i.e. an aerator)? I'm afraid that if your only source of oxygen is the water flowing in / out of the beds that you might find that 15 minutes every 2 hours isn't enough. I run mine 15 minutes on / 15 off. Joel at Backyard runs all his systems 15 on / 45 off. Something to keep an eye on. In fact, this might be an interesting new forum topic...
Hi Sylvia,

Just came in from final setup (okay, maybe not final.. nothing ever is in AP). Everything is running as planned although I may use a bigger drip tube at the end of the run.

I am running extra aeriation. I have a 70 lpm airpump that will eventually run into a 12" rubber membrane air diffuser. So that should not be a problem.

If I can find my wife's camera, I'll shoot some pictures and post them. Seems odd that I have to look for a camera since I just retired six months ago after 30-years as a photojournalist. Now I don't even own a camera.

I am going through a fishless cycle in a very small system as it's my first (55 gallons) with a media bed that flows into a plastic down spout (4"x3" gutter - cheaper than 4"PVC) as a NFT style that then dumps back into the (future) fish tank.  I have been working on this for a few weeks using clear ammonia.  All is going pretty good, I think.  pH is between 6.5 and 7.2 normally - a little low the last couple of days, nitrates are up there (5 ppm for over a week now) and nitrates are coming around (30 ppm today, 50 yesterday - rain water diluted??)  In the meantime, I've planted in the media bed an all are doing pretty ok. Am I on the right track? Shouldn't the nitrites be decreasing by now??  Ammonia is slowly and steadily decreasing as well.  Currently adding 1 tbsp every morning (down from 2 the first week or so.)

 

Also, is there a solution for mosquitoes??  I didn't realize they could breed in continuously moving water, but seems they can (little bastards).  I'm going to start with Molly's or any other fish you can recommend  (hopefully soon).  Will they eat the larve in the fish tank?  Also have a holding tank that has turned into a breeding ground but I've tried to seal of the open areas to prevent access, so we'll see...

 

soooooooo...

I want to start some spouts for the gutter and need good, 4" roots to reach the stream.  I've been reading that you recommend Maxicrop in the system to help feed the plants during the cycling, however, prior to my aqua endevour, I was looking into hydro gardens and have some nutrients from that. One is Maxsea 3-20-20. I also have floralicious that was recommended for root development which is a 1-0.7-0.6  I was considering ramping up my mini hyro system and getting the spouts good and strong using a modified bubbler system, but wanted to see if anyone knew if these (most likely Floralicious) will hurt the fish/bacteria once" transplanted" (using 2" net pots).  I can also consider flushing the rooted spouts for a few days with fresh water before transplant.  Just worried I'll mess it all up this first time and have to start from the beginning which would be very detrimental to all, especially me.  :)  Thanks in advance!  Sorry for all the questions in one post.

I'd just simply use a little maxicrop (few cap fulls perhaps) in the AP system and start your seedling directly in the system.  Just get yourself a rayon mop head (goodwill mop from the grocery store perhaps) and use the stings as wicks to bring moisture up to the germinating seeds and the roots will follow the mop string down into the water so you don't have to mess with transplanting tiny seedlings into the net pots later.

 

I probably wouldn't mess with the other nutrient mix since it has probably not been tested out with aquaponics, it might be just fine but as you said, you don't really want to mess around after spending all this time getting the system cycled up.

 

Patience on the cycling.  You might go without an ammonia dose for a day or two and see if the nitrite starts comming down.  Then dose the system up to only 1 ppm ammonia and then measure the time it takes for both the ammonia and nitrite to get to 0.  Then dose again and once the system reaches the point where you can dose to 1 ppm of ammonia and then both ammonia and nitrite reach 0 within 24 hours, your will be fishlessly cycled up.  I would then say continue to dose small amounts of ammonia until a couple days before you hope to get fish.  Keep an eye on the pH since it sounds like you may be nearing the "cycled up" stage and the pH could drop suddenly.  Don't let the pH get below 6 as that can crash your bacteria and cause the ammonia to spike again.  A pH of between 6.5-7.2 is fine and many would say 6.8 is ideal.  Many people will take action on the pH when it gets down to 6.5.

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