Aquaponic Gardening

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Adventures in Aquaponics..OR ( evil tree roots made my fish tank leak)

Good Morning Folks!!

Finally got everything running well, plants and fish doing fine...about to add a 3rd node of NFT pipes on the outside wall of the greenhouse....

Then, I walked into the greenhouse, #1 cup of coffee in hand to feed the Koi...I glance down into the fish tank after shutting off the pump........and theres about 1' of water in the tank ( its 4' deep-2" inground, 2' up) Well, it took a couple of minutes...(remember I was on coffee #1) to actually make sense of what I was seeing.

After realizing I had a pretty big water leak.I start checking fittings, bell siphon, return troughs.and on and on ad nauseum....outside of a couple of small drips...........theres no leakage.

Back to the fish tank....I start looking and see where the heavy poly tarp I used for a liner has been seamed..and the seam has seperated. Lovely huh? I'm thinking its going to be an easy fix......with the tape I use to mend the plastic on the greenhouse roof..... WRONG

I climb down into the fish tank, and start picking at the seam a little.....and notice this matted thatch poking thru the seam.......hair fine roots.......probably from an adjacent red maple tree.....I pulled out a clump about the size of a softball thru the seam split, when it popped loose, I saw a root as big around as my thumb was what the hairlike roots were coming from.

Let me explain my tank a little.....I dug the trench 3' wide, 12' long, and 2' deep I have 4"x4"s sunk every 2' along the outer border....attached to the 4x frame is 3/4" cement board, and I layed cement board in the bottom of the hole....after getting all this in place, I taped the edges, and floor/wall connection.and quickcreted  it all together, then back filled behind the 4x frame/concrete board. Layed old carpet in the bottom as padding, and also in all the corner seams......the tarp was layed inthen the tank was filled as I made corners, and pulled out wrinkles...It worked GREAT!

So.......along comes a drought........long short, the maple roots went on a seek and find mission....and found their way thru the tiniest cracks, worked concrete out of the way, and had colonized behind the liner, and ahead of the concrete board.....where they were probably getting condesnsation moisture.........the dryer it got, the more they pushed......until they wormed their way into that little crease in the liner seam....and pushed, and pushed.....and popped the seam..YAY unlimited water for Mr Maple, and bad news for the fishies.....

Long story even longer.....after pulling the old liner back, I found the whole outter wal covered in roots,more under the liner, and some on the front wall..did a removal, treated the dirt and walls with a spray pump bottle filled with root killer ( like what they use in septic systems, layed ther old liner back in, with the split seam taped all the way.then relined it with  some unused billboard plastic I found that was pretty reasonable. ( the trip to go get it was an adventure all in itself)

Fortunately we had picked up a small swimming pool at the dump some time back,so I had a place to stash the koi during the reline project.

All is back and running, fishes are happy, plants are growing well......I lost a few gambusia, and some feeder goldies.and several plant cuttings I was rooting.....but all in all it was minimal.........

the moral of the story?

Nature will ALWAYS find a way......( we had visions of roots, that resembled star nosed moles on a hunt and seek mission, wearing miners  helmets......)LOL

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Comment by Margaret on June 23, 2012 at 12:33pm

Wow... trees are some amazing stuff! Glad to hear it is all back under control. 

Comment by Chris Carr on June 23, 2012 at 8:41am

Wow Steve. That is unfortunate but good to hear that everything is back on track. It is great lesson learned and hopefully others will see this and be able to take steps to avoid it happening to them to. It still amazes me when I see plants being really "smart".

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