Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

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Comment by Tim Orth on January 18, 2012 at 6:59am

Hey Rupert, is it at all common practice for people to run CO2 in the air for indoor aquaponic system like some folks do with indoor hydro?

Comment by RupertofOZ on January 18, 2012 at 6:53am're right... that's true for (submerged) aquaria plants Tim...

Comment by Tim Orth on January 18, 2012 at 6:47am

Aquarium plants (submerged) consume CO2 faster than it can be assimilated into the water atmospherically, thus the invention of CO2 injection devices for planted aquariums. As far as AP is concerned, I didn't know if carbon depletion occurred, which is why I presented the question. Thank you for answering that one, Rupert.

Comment by RupertofOZ on January 18, 2012 at 6:04am

No... plants use atmospheric CO2 for their own processes... by the nitrification processing bacteria use carbon as part of their "food" and growth processes.... primarily from the water...

Comment by Alexandre Letellier on January 18, 2012 at 5:39am

Thx... And regarding the CO² depletion in planted aquariums, the CO² that comes from the atmosphere through the aeration system/air stones is not enough then ? 

Comment by RupertofOZ on January 18, 2012 at 4:20am

Tim... the nitrification process will always trend towards acidicy.... requiring either manual buffering through additions of compounds such as Calcium Hydroxide, Potassium Hydroxide... which, while they address pH... don't address hardness, thus the "carbon" input needed for both fish/plant, but more particularly... nitrification....


Buffers that will adress both issues though are "carbonates", or "bicarbonates".... such as limestone, chalk, shell grit etc... all essentially Calcium Carbonate... or various "bicarbonate" compounds... like Potassium BiCarbonate etc...


Shell grit, sprinkle through the grow beds, or suspended in a sock under a water return... or even a "lump" of limestone, or sheels in the tank... will all act/and provide a self-regulating pH buffer... and carbon input...


Well at least, until inevitably exhausted...

Comment by Tim Orth on January 18, 2012 at 4:12am

I am also curious to find out if anyone has come across carbon depletion in mature systems just like happens in planted aquariums that don't run CO2 injection. Eventually the plants strip the water of its carbon content making the water's ph very unstable. Once this happens the ph usually crashes to acid until the carbon level can be brought back up. One way to combat this is to use a high calcium substrate like limestone or crushed coral. Either of them will act as a buffer.

Comment by Tim Orth on January 18, 2012 at 4:03am

As far as how it applies to AP, I don't know for sure. I can't imagine that it would be much different in small systems, regardless of planting scenarios. But people exercise the same principles of water changes in koi ponds that are thousands of gallons and also planted. Large AP systems usually are utilizing fish that have very short harvest maturities, so perhaps the fish are not ever in the system long enough to fully show the effects of pheromone build up? Its hard to say. From everything that I have read thus far, the fish rules of aquaponics seems to be far more lax than those of regular fish keeping. Most mature AP systems I have seen have brown water where you can barely see the fish. It is the exact opposite in regular fish keeping, especially koi. The water in those systems is as clear as glass. Each of them is able to grow plants... so which is the correct way? I have no idea. I have been growing lettuce on my koi pond for a few months now. I change my water regularly and my lettuce looks fantastic. Mind you, it is also outdoors in winter and surviving below freezing temps. I think it boils down to stability. There are holes in the AP processes, that is for sure. But there are creative solutions to fill all of the holes. And the beauty of it is that none of the solutions are wrong. That is why I am trying my indoor experiment. I have effectively eliminated the grow bed and isolated the bacteria culture, just like a marine aquarium would. I am mixing aeroponics with reef filtration (wet/dry filter) so that the bacteria culture is never disrupted by planting and harvesting. Nor is there any gravel bed to become compacted or clogged with solids. We will see if it works, but those two things that I mentioned are serious concerns in mature systems. What happens when your grow bed becomes clogged with solids, roots, and compacted grow media? You will eventually have to disassemble it to clean it all out, effectively destroying your main bacteria culture in the process. You can prolong this process by utilizing vortex solid separators, but anyone who has owned an aquarium or pond for any length of time knows that solid separators only go so far. The result is inevitable. Eventually you are going to have to clean the substrate, which in this case is the grow bed.

Comment by Alexandre Letellier on January 18, 2012 at 2:38am

Tim, thanks for this info on pheromones. I get the concept for an aquarium where frequent changes dilutes the pheromones level, but how does this apply to AP ? Since we only add the water that evaporates or is consumed by the plants ? Are the pheromones degrading eventually ? Or are they eaten by the bacteria ?

Is an AP system a "no bounds" aquarium or only water changes can create this illusion ? 

Comment by Tim Orth on January 17, 2012 at 11:52pm

I saw the conversation and hoped that I could shed some light as to the fish deaths. All fish produce pheromones that they release into the water. These pheromones limit the growth of other fish. The fish who produces the highest amount of pheromones is more effective at inhibiting the growth of the other fish and so plays out survival of the fittest. If your fish are together long enough with no water changes, a natural order will be established and your system will rid itself of not only the weakest fish, but also the rest of the population that it cannot . As time goes on a couple of fish will get very large and the rest will eventually die, and it will seem as if for no good reason.This is how people came to believe that a fish would only grow as large as its aquarium. False. If you change the water regularly the fish will continue to grow as if the aquarium had no bounds because the pheromone concentration is then diluted.

Jonathan, your systems look fantastic! I Like your idea of raising multiple types of fish. I plan to do the same. How much luck have you had from starting seeds directly in the system? I am trying to start mine in a seed starter tray with a clear dome on it and then transfer them into the system. I had great germination rates, but very soon after the sprouts began to wilt. I moved them into the system and they perked right back up. I am wondering if I am wasting my time trying to use the seed starter?

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