Aquaponic Gardening

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TC asked in another thread what my cat's diet had to do with my coming up with biological phosphate recovery...

http://community.theaquaponicsource.com/forum/topics/floating-raft-...

So now you all have to listen to me tell ya all about it...

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One two or three draining at the same time isn't a problem, but I have 8 beds, each pair of beds is tied together as one zone. So 4 beds draining isn't a problem, or 6 for that matter, as long as the first two are about done ...but the index valve leaking causes it to take for ever for the "proper" two to fill, the pump just cant keep up...and sends water flowing out of all 16 standpipe holes at once. It's not a problem per say...just not what I am after...I can mitigate by setting the 'off time' a bit longer on the repeat cycle timer, and everything is honky dory...but it's annoying. There is certainly a constant flow of water coming into the n.trough...I would like it to be coming from the beds that I want it to come from, not from wherever the valve happens to feel like sending to...It kinda messes with my balancing act. Trust me, I think I'll be happier with the stronger pump.

Yes, and with a stronger pump you can make the holes in the stand pipes bigger so the beds drain faster (just be careful here only expand the holes a little at a time and then test so that you can be sure your beds still flood in the time allotted.)

In keeping with the spirit of this group/thread...here's another totally un-related post...I found this little guy while walking from the GH up to the house. It's a Fire Salamander. I don't know that I've ever seen one here before. I think he looks pretty cool. Sure hope the cat doesn't get him. 

Beautiful salamander, Vlad. I just now had the opportunity to view this thread, and it's funny as hell to follow a threadjacker's thread. It's like playing pinball :)

And I was wondering how/why you started the struvite reactor.

Which leads me to another tangeant, does one need to make KOH first, or simple add a little ash to AP water for a pH upper? For the first time ever, I recently went around and did all my KH amd GH testing, with quite surprising results. My newest, biggest system has a GH of 12, and a KH of only 2, which is about minimum to support my bacterial life. All other systems had a more balanced ratio, most GH in the 8-14 range, and KH just a couple numbers down from GH. With the exception of two tanks that I added KCl to, to the tune of 3 ppt. Those tanks had GH of 26, and 32! It figures that adding KCl would increase hardness, but I hadn't considered it before. Odd as fuck, though, was my newest and biggest system was also salted to 3 ppt using half NaCl and half KCl, yet showed only 12 on the GH. Hmmm. As the chlorides are used up by fish and plants, I would also expect the pH to rise, unless the Na and K are used up faster, of which I have no idea or how to test that.

Part of me wants to know, and part of me doesn't care, as I'm so damned busy lately. Ah well, just thinking out loud here.

Thanx Jon. I ran across the salamander again the other day and snapped more pics...guess he managed to stay under the cats radar. Either that, or the cat knows to stay away from him (acidic/toxic excretions and all)...anyways...

Just to be clear, are you using the 'old-time' German units (dH..."degrees of hardness") when giving those numbers? (I'm pretty sure you are, just wanted to confirm that though cuz I thought american tests expressed those values in different terms like ppm)...At any rate those numbers seem 'funky' at first glance...not sure what gives? More info on each system (and how your reagents work) would probably be necessary to make any sorta even remotely meaningful suppositions (or guesses)...probably doesn't matter much Still... intuitively, the numbers do seem weird though...

Yes, German hardness. For translation, 10 dh units equals 179 ppm. Yes, weird numbers. Weirdest was the low carbonate numbers on the big new systems. I have never added anything to buffer up in any systems, except hard water as top-up. I've added plenty of HCl, and like I said before, some salt. The highest hardness is on a tank about 6 months old, with media and sturgeon, and a totally random amount of KCl added, as in a few handfuls here and there. Fish and plants all doing fine.

Yeah, you'd think the new big system would have a much higher kH value? Did it rain a bunch before you filled the system? Would have nice to have had a baseline number to go on before you added anything...It might be cool to track your source water throughout the different seasons...just for giggles...

It did rain once, lightly, after I filled and before I tested, but could not have added more than 5-10% fill. I'll start keeping a log of water chemistry, including source water. I know my well ranges from 7.0 in March, to 9.0 as of about 2 weeks ago. I'm sure hardness varies as well, and I have no idea what's in my water to start with. Time for a lab test...

Might be fun to know what exactly you're starting off with as far as source water...

I almost forgot, about that KOH...Well, hmm...I'm not saying dumping some ashes into AP water would have none of the desired effect...but I wouldn't do it that way. For one, it'd be a HUGE variable. Secondly, I'm not at all sure how (or even if) the leaching of the potassium would play out. When leaching ashes for K (or KOH rather), it's pretty important that you use rain water or otherwise de-mineralized water (soft aggressive water). And it's REAL easy to do. I mean SUPER easy...

All you need is a barrel (wooden, plastic, whatever) and a catchment bucket. The barrel needs to have a way to drain and be corked. this can be a "fancy" spigot, or as is the case with my wooden barrel, a hole that I can cork with a piece of slightly cone shaped wood. You'll need some rocks and some straw or hay (for a filter). Toss enough rocks into the barrel to cover the bottom, add 4 to 8 inches of straw. Pile on some ashes. Put in the water...drain...put the cork back in...add more ashes...pour the water back in and walk away for a few days. After a couple of days...repeat process. And that's really all there is to that. Oh, yeah...just don't use an aluminum bucket 

Now for soap making...if you can float an egg in the lye and the egg breaks the surface of the lye, it's too "strong". Dilute. If the egg sinks it's too "weak". Keep leaching. If the egg floats just beneath the surface of the lye...your good. Now this is fine and dandy for soap, but for anything a bit more precise...this here blog is the best I have it figured...http://community.theaquaponicsource.com/profiles/blogs/determining-...

But really, there's no reason to make rocket science out of it (unless you want to) since for big systems you'll be dosing KOH for the pH buffering and probably NOT for the K additions (unlike what I was doing with some of my smaller systems, where knowing some of this "preciseness stuff" could be handy...

If someone does, for some un-godly reason, want to know exactly how much KOH they have in a given home made solution (and you have a pH test kit, or a pH meter)...here's how you'd do it...

pOH=1/[OH-] [OH-] = molraity of OH

10^2mL = 0.1L

and we'll say a liter of your solution has a concentration of 2.51g for the heck of it

the molar mass of KOH is 39+16+1 =56

molarity of OH- = 2.51/56 = 0.0448

pOH = log 1/0.0448 = 1.35

and we know pH+pOH = 14

so pH = 14-1.35=12.65  

About as fun as falling down seven flights of stairs eh? The above calculations are hardly necessary. I like to figure that kind of stuff out once, because it somehow helps me to understand things better...but from that point on, I rely wholly on voodoo-mojo-intuition. And things work out just fine (for the most part anyways :)  But pouring the ashes directly into the AP system...well, I'd advise against it. Especially when leaching the KOH first is so quick, easy, and offers a great deal of control when making your additions...

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