Aquaponic Gardening

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How to torture fish and kill plants through Aquaponics.

Rule one - If you can't have fun don't do it.
Rule two - If you can't laugh at your mistakes and yourself don't do it.
First the current status. My system has cycled. I now have readings Ammonia, Nitrites and Nitrates on the test scale. My 100 4" Blue Tilapia fingerlings are doing their job. Here at Blue Thumb Gardens in the Earthship Greenhouse we have 12 stacks of 6 Vertigro pots and they are now looking green again. So for the last 6 weeks or so I changed over from inorganic hydroponics to a Maxicrop nutrient solution with some supplements for 2 weeks and then the fish came. I put the 100 fingerlings on one of the 5 tanks. In a second tank I have the 12 fish in my breeding colony "oh to be the prince in the harem". I will be moving them to the 100 gallon Aquarium tank on my back pool deck as soon as I can convenience the wife it won't look like the "mess" in the Earthship. I am slowly working my magic on this front. I am figuring this negotiation will take a some "save the poor pregnant fish" sympathy and a few well chosen bribes. Alas back to the situation. I have been foliar feeding the plants with a combination of GreenWorldPath "Total" and "Outbound" with a small dose of "Mineralplex". This combo seems to be working magic. Of course the plant Devas have taken a real liking to the all living and natural flow. It is kinda like having tides in the Earthship. Every hour for 15 mins the Stacks get drenched and it all goes down to the sump. The sump runs 2 to 3 cycles for the next 20 mins or so. Ir is really kinda ZEN. The less you do the better it works. Lets make that
Rule Three: Practice Zen Aquaponics - Do more with Less. If it ain't broke don't fix it.
I digress. As always. So now the confessions. I have tortured to death 3 Fingerlings alright 4. I have killed many silent but persistent plants. Lettuces that had bolted but were up to the job of cleaning the Soylent Blue from the Fingerling school. Tonight I fed three of the those Lanky bitter old lettuce stalks to the Picky little fish buggers. I will have to wait and see in the morning if they have chosen to eat any of the plants. So I played the PH roulette. I added gallons of Vinegar over the few weeks and then got really evil and used a small amount of Muratic Acid. Now I wasn't too cruel I put it in the Sump. The PH went from 8.5 to 4.5 in one day. Bummer. The wild rumpus that usually occurred when I would do my daily morning and dusk feed was gone. I figured I may have killed a bunch. At this point Ron told me he had killed a few of his the night before with a PH swing. Well I added a lot of well water 7.5 and waited. and waited. and waited. No floaters. Yahoo. Then Ron told me that dead fish can sink. Bummer. By the next day the Fingerling were eating again. In a few days the Breeders were eating again.

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Comment by TCLynx on June 18, 2010 at 6:13am
Ah the terrible urges that come to those who got here from Hydroponics. Yes learning the zen art of leaving it alone to find it's own balance. At least where pH is concerned. If there is a plumbing leak jump in a fix it by all means.

Very glad the fish survived the experience.
FYI your well water might not really have a pH of 7.5 if that reading was taken right when the water was drawn out of the tap. If you let a sample of your well water bubble overnight then take the pH reading again, you may find that it is actually over 8 (mine is and if I check the pH right out of the pipes, it usually reads 7.) But panic not, so long as nothing in your system is buffering your pH, eventually they system pH will drop naturally, possibly even to the point of you needing to add a buffer. You top up water may take care of this but it may be good to have a small bag of shell grit (like people give to chickens) on hand if the pH drops and keeps dropping (best to keep the pH up in a readable range and I think most people aim for between 6.5 and 6.8 as a good area that all concerned beings can deal with (concerned beings are bacteria, fish, and plants.)

Thank you for sharing the incident hopefully it will keep others from doing the same thing.
Comment by Sylvia Bernstein on June 17, 2010 at 8:07pm
Very fun, Michael. thanks. I'm with you on the Zen thing.

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