Aquaponic Gardening

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Why is Hydroton so expensive and what else will work for cheap?

I stopped by a place today that sold Hydroton in 50 liter bags. Seem I will need 4-5 bags at $40plus each. That's about $200 bucks plus tax kids! WOW

Since this seems to be the preferred medium, I thought I would consider it. However, now reality is setting in and I am looking for something much less expensive to use in my grow bed?

What economical products are some of you folks using? Is it readily available? I would appreciate any and all suggestions.

Thanks,

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Good morning Bob. Yes I ran into the same problem. I have 8 media tanks to fill and they are 70 gallons each. I decided against Hydroton because it's so crazy expensive. I decided on lava rock. I know of many ladscape/stone yards that you can find if you just google your local landscape stone center. TClynnxs suggested you ask where the lava rock came from so to make sure it wasn't used before for waste managment or any other industrial use. I found several local yards that I can swing by with my pick up truck and they will get you a Bob cat bucket full and dump into your truck. A couple of things to be concern is that its somewhat sharp and tough on your hands. After you plant your plants and you are ready to harvest or change out your plants, by pulling out the roots, it can really be tough on your hands. That's why Hydroton is more popular. It's not only easy on your hands, but it's easy ro remove the roots from. If you use the Lava rock make sure you get the 3/4" and up size. You must thoroughly wash it before installing into you beds. Good luck. Greg

River rock will also work.  I here from some folks that the 1" rock is working best for media systems, especially if you incorporate worms.

I help cut down the cost by putting lava rock on the bottom layer and hydroton on the top layer.

That should have been hear. 

matthew ferrell said:

River rock will also work.  I here from some folks that the 1" rock is working best for media systems, especially if you incorporate worms.

Checked my local Home Depot and Lowe's store and they sell Red Lava Rock for about  $3.38 per bag and I calculate needing about 15 bags.  So for under 60 bucks I can do this. Would this be acceptable to use in my grow bed?

After reading Greg McCord and TClynnxs response to the use of lava rock, and how tough it is to handle, precations of where it came from, etc. I wanted to mention that they also sell a pea gravel for the same price. Which would be better to use in a grow bed?

Check the stone yard for supplies, they are usually cheaper due to the bulk and unbagged nature of your purchase.

Yeah, I think RW has the best idea yet. And Matthew ideal of buying in bulk at the stone yard too. Lava rock on the bottom and a layer of Hydroton on the top would save your hands a lot of cuts and.scrapes.

Just be sure to do a Fiz test on any rock you are unsure of the type of rock.  Not all pea gravel is the same.  Limestone is not appropriate for aquaponics and limestone will fiz in vinegar.

Hydroton is expensive because it is shipped from Germany.  I have never sprung for the Hydroton because it costs so much and I usually get several cubic yards of media at a time or six tons depending on how it is being delivered.

Here in Central Florida the Brown River Rock in 1/2" or 3/5" seems to be a good media but it is heavy.  Lava rock can be good but it is usually large so more appropriate to a lower layers of the grow beds.

Please explain FIZ TEST?
Do I want the stones to fiz or not to fiz, that is the question? 
OPPS didn't mean to sound like Shakespeare

TCLynx said:

Just be sure to do a Fiz test on any rock you are unsure of the type of rock.  Not all pea gravel is the same.  Limestone is not appropriate for aquaponics and limestone will fiz in vinegar.

Hydroton is expensive because it is shipped from Germany.  I have never sprung for the Hydroton because it costs so much and I usually get several cubic yards of media at a time or six tons depending on how it is being delivered.

Here in Central Florida the Brown River Rock in 1/2" or 3/5" seems to be a good media but it is heavy.  Lava rock can be good but it is usually large so more appropriate to a lower layers of the grow beds.

Whether 'tis Nobler in the Grow-bed to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous pH,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of Carbonates,
And by opposing end them: die, the buffer
No more; no fizz, to say we end
The heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
That Fizz is heir to? 'Tis a consummation of acid and base...

No fizz rocks is what you're after. Like TC said... limestone is not appropriate for AP, and limestone will fizz in vinegar.

LOL very funny guys

Avoid the Fizz!

Nice Vlad, you're a poet

And you don't know it

But your feet show it

They're Longfellows.

Gravel is my media of choice, and 3/4" or bigger allows space for worms and roots.  Any drain rock that doesn't fizz will do, and I don't wash it.  I know I'm in the minority here, but here in Cali (and I'm assuming most everywhere) drain rock is already screened for size, and washed. Of course it's not super clean, but the sand settles to the bottom of the grow bed for the worms to mineralize, and the silt clouds the water for a couple of days, big deal.  And don't buy it bagged at Home Desperate or Lowe's, please.  Go to your local rockery, nursery, landscape supply, whatever, and buy it without the plastic bagging.  This gross misuse of plastic needs to stop. If you don't need a truckload, bring a few five gallon buckets. My local rockery charges a buck for a bucketful.

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