Aquaponic Gardening

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I've been having a heck of a time getting my latest system to go. We're talking over a year now. I've had fish for the past 6 months, the prior batch of tilapia all but one died off after the first 3 months. I just had another 5 die this morning. All my plants are having a hell of a time. Kale and Broccoli did great this past winter but nothing wants to grow into adult plants. They make it about 3 inches and peter out.

My thoughts are that the water is too salty. Is this a thing in Phoenix? My last 2 systems went for years in north central phoenix with out this happening.  

Take a look at this pic.

And here's a test strip (note, I just added about 10 gallons, so there's probably a bit of a chlorine spike - time to change that filter)

 

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Well, I'm not an expert in our local water quality, but yes city water is notoriously high in dissolved minerals - aka salts.  I'm in central phoenix and had that whitish buildup on my media as well - but I had a smaller system and it was a little easier to manage with adding rainwater when I could get it.  It also collects on the outside of my terra-cotta pots.  Have you looked into what Dennis at the Garden Pool has been doing with his setup?  He's harvesting rainwater and condensate off his roof (https://gardenpool.org/online-classes/how-to-harvest-and-store-rain...).  I might try to collect your AC water - it's distilled water - as a way to bring the salts down.  Test it first, but that might help you at least over this hump until you can collect some rainwater during the monsoons.  Anyone else have some ideas to share?

Liz

Our water is indeed liquid rock here though recognizing that, I have few problems with it. So to get a better understanding of what is going on,  where are you and how long did your system run before you started to have problems?

I'm close to central phoenix (green gables). My last location (15th ave+Glendale) I didn't see this build up on any of my beds. 

I started this system, I want to say, last spring. Had a successful winter harvest and attempted to start spring plants but none have made it to far. Stunted growth. That tomato seedling is probably over a month old and hasn't grown in weeks. 

I do need to get a new food grade drum to collect the AC run off. It is on my list :) I also picked up some glass to build a solar water distiller. Maybe I should get on that sooner than later. 

You need to do some water changes. Dumping some of your system water and adding fresh back. This will lower your hardness. As water evaporates and you add fresh water back, the total hardness goes up. If you do anything to resolve this, then it just gets harder and harder. Your ph is high, which is locked in by your excessive hardness. After you've completed several water changes of at least 20-30% each, then some acid treatments would be in order to get ahead of the alkalinity problem.

I've been cycling this way about once every two weeks. I'll need to up this to weekly now that the heat has kicked in. 

Thanks Mark. 

Mark Bogart said:

You need to do some water changes. Dumping some of your system water and adding fresh back. This will lower your hardness. As water evaporates and you add fresh water back, the total hardness goes up. If you do anything to resolve this, then it just gets harder and harder. Your ph is high, which is locked in by your excessive hardness. After you've completed several water changes of at least 20-30% each, then some acid treatments would be in order to get ahead of the alkalinity problem.

Hey Bob - how has your system fared over the summer?  Would you post an update on your salty situation?  L

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