Aquaponic Gardening

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I have a small set up that i used as a test phase to a bigger setup. It is a 40 gallon tank with 3 bluegill and some duckweed and a plastic storage tub as the grow bed up above the tank. I planted a few different tyes of plants in the hydroton grow media(lettuce, cuc's, peppers) and they all produced seedlings but seem to get about an inch tall then wilt over and die, also the duckweed is dying off in the tank. my question is is this a light issue or a issue with the fertilization of the plants? the bluegill have been in the tank for about a month and are doing fine. The lighting is 3 24" bulbs with different light variations hanging above the grow bed about 2 feet above. The cucumber seem to be leggy as well which I believe mean the light is too far away??? I want to be sure I can sustain this setup before I move on to a bigger system.

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Those were great videos, I am looking for some lighting for a few orchids over the winter so the info was timed nicely.

ok this is going to sound like such a neby question but I just planted seeds into net pots full of hydroton and am not quite sure of the process of growing them outside the A/P setup. Do I run drip irrigation over them or just lightly mist them once a day or as needed or should they be setting in water to cover the bottom of the hydroton? 


here is what im working with:

You can mist them a few times a day sure, or you can set them down in a cake tray (or whatever) that has a bit of water in it for about 15 minutes a couple times a day...kind of like a manual flood and drain deal.

You'll be able to tell if it's time to water (or how many times a day you should water) by the color of the hydroton. I'm sure you've noticed how it's darker when moist, lighter when dried out...

You could also just put them in the DWC bin a few times a day for say, 10-15 minutes at a time...Whatever you do, you want things pretty moist, but not wet. 

Drip irrigating seeds I don't know about..?

I remember reading a study quite some time ago done by the Chinese, where the mineral content of plant tissue (lettuce) was analyzed and it was found that the group that was exposed to a bit of UV light had a higher nutritional content. The lights being used were all LED's, so I'm not really sure how that plays out in comparison to MH/HPS...

But a bit of UV doesn't seem so bad and is probably a good thing...(unless you're a piece of plastic)...

Jon Parr said:

CMH are not necessarily the best, but they are my favorite. MH emit blue light for veg, HPS emit red light for flowering, and CMH emit full white beautiful spectrum, including UV. Photosynthesis uses a fairly narrow spectrum of the blue and the red, and non at all in the green, in fact reflecting it, which is why plants are green. The jury is still out on how exactly UV is used, but side by side comparisons show healthier plants when a little UV is added, IDK. I do know that HPS are cheaper, about $20 and on the shelf at Home D for a 400W, as opposed to $50 for a CMH 400W. Bob, and Kevin, you will be amazed how cool HID lights are compared to flouros. The bulb itself is hot, yes, but the total heat generated per watt is less, and a vertical CMH bulb needs no cooling at all, not even a fan, as the natural convection draws a cooling air current upwards past the bulb. I pay $.45 per KWH, so efficiency is paramount, meaning no reflectors or glass to suck lumens. I hang a vertical bare bulb, and situate my plants around it in zip-grow style towers. Ideally, I don't want a single photon striking anything but plant. Is the UV dangerous from a CMH? Yes, probably, just as dangerous as it is from the sun. I have never noticed any discomfort, but I am in the sun working every day anyway. I've read that sensitive people advise wearing sunglasses, long sleeves, or even sunscreen if working around bare bulbs for extended periods of time. I have them lighting up my whole shop, but they are in closed fixtures with a glass panel, which blocks the UV.

I get my CMH here, and ballasts, and sockets are available for about $15 at your local head shop. For flat grows like Bob and Kevin have, you'll want to add a wing style reflector to bounce light back down to the plants. The linked site also show some pictures of failed bulbs, and how the arc tube remains contained. The Phillips brand they sell are rated for open fixtures, a big plus for bare bulbers like myself.

Vlad, I agree, probably pythium, and the bad Monty Pythons are the best

Kevin, thanks for the pics, that helps a lot. Too little light for sure, too wet and humid for sure (there is water beaded and dripping off the flouros), and ditch the rockwool IMO. Start your plants in a sunny window or porch, or simply in a flat under flouros (flouros DO work fantastic for starting seeds, nice and close, and all that heat is reflected down to warm the soil (I start in compost, or rapid rooters if you want to stay soiless)

It's no wonder I knew nothing about CMH bulbs.  I went to Greenfire and The Garden Center yesterday to look at CMH lights . These are the two best hydoponic stores in Chico and they knew nothing about them  But I've looked at information on the internet and it looks good.

Thanks Vlad. Kevin, if you have to start directly in hydroton, then I would take some cake pans or storage totes, criss-cross the bottom with 1/4" soaker hose attached to an air pump, and place net pots right on top. Add enough water so the air bubbles pop and sprinkle the hydroton, but the seeds should not be under water.

I buy seed trays and rapid-rooter style plugs, or just compost. Much easier, no fuss, still very cheap. I use the hard, re-usable starter trays for commercial growers, about $7 each, and they hold 392 plugs, 13" x 26" total size. The plugs cost 2.8 cents each, so less than $11 for 392 seedlings. Most nurseries will give you old starter trays, and compost is free.
Yeah, Bob, CMH are not common for growing, and ganja growers are, by and large, followers. They are easily duped by hype, of which there is none for CMH. My local head shops don't know about them either, and when I tell them of my success, they are stoked, but alas, they forget before I leave the building. Silly stoners. CMH have two strikes against them, 1- they have a lower lumen per watt rating than HPS, and most growers cannot get over that (lumens aren't everything) and 2- they are only available up to 400 W. Big growers want nothing less than 1000 W, and closet growers want what the big boys get. Whatever. Anyway, I love them, and most side by side grows I've found favor CMH.

Bob Campbell said:

It's no wonder I knew nothing about CMH bulbs.  I went to Greenfire and The Garden Center yesterday to look at CMH lights . These are the two best hydoponic stores in Chico and they knew nothing about them  But I've looked at information on the internet and it looks good.

Will strong...Body weak...Must...Resist...urge...follow...........

Damn Jon I still can't source those CMH bulbs here, it's like trying to buy Uranium...I would love to do a side by side with the CMH and the Phillips Son-T-Agro plus' I've been using. 400Watt is fine by me since that's where most of my ballast are rated at...

And no, this isn't a half-ass attempt to re-neg on turning down your very generous and kind offer...

Offer still stands, Vlad. PM me your address, I'll check freight.

@Jon - I finally got my CMH and wired the kit up.  WOW I love it!  I should get more to light up my workshop.

I plan to put the ballast in a perforated metal box but I think I'd like to have a long cord going out to the bulb.  The mogul I bought has high heat wires.  I'm wondering if regular cord would burn.  Do you have any pictures of your CMH lights?  I'd like to see what you have done.

Glad to see another happy CMH user, Bob. I'm not using any lights for growing right now, but I do have them all over my shop. They rock for working under, although I use mine in glass shielded fixtures for the shop to block UV. Quite the opposite in growing, where I use them vertically with no reflector or glass, and position the plants around the bulb. I don't have any pics, but sooner or later I'll set up some winter growing again.

I mailed a CMH bulb to Vlad last week, he should be getting it any day unless customs decide they like it better. :D

what about the heat.  Do I need to wire the mogul with high heat wire?


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