Aquaponic Gardening

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I've had several people tell me that they've heard you can grow lettuce and have it ready in 5 weeks. I've been growing lettuce for a few years using a variety of methods and have never gotten it to grow that fast.

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Comment by Rob Torcellini on February 14, 2013 at 7:50am

I wouldn't recommend AL in any place in the system.  In my little greenhouse, I have a couple of rods that are in the water that have some floats I use to monitor the water level.  It does corrode in the water....the rods have "barnacles"  growing on it.  If I scrape them off, there are little indents in the AL.

Comment by Jim Fisk on February 14, 2013 at 7:47am

Perhaps I should add that the fish are not the only critters in this closed loop food chain that I am concerned with. After all we are at the top of this food chain and therefore the final dumping ground for anything we put in there.

Comment by Jim Fisk on February 14, 2013 at 7:43am

Interesting on the AL. Bacteria colonies can build up in odd places and form acids as they break down food sources that will not be read in an over all system ph test. I'll believe Vlad when you (Rob) break your al radiators down and take a good look inside. I think you'll be surprised by all the blisters and goo you find in there. This is of great interest to me as al could be very handy in places but from what I have learned over the last 25 yrs or so we won't ever cook in al or ever use al foil to "protect" left overs, etc. Most food will eat holes in al in just a few days. It is very reactive.

Comment by Rob Torcellini on February 13, 2013 at 6:00pm

I've read that before...if my pH is in those ranges, I have far bigger problems!

Comment by Vlad Jovanovic on February 13, 2013 at 4:46pm

Rob, you can look into it in more detail if you like...but aluminum shouldn't start to pose a problem, as far as toxicity issues for fish are concerned, until about pH 4.2 - 5.4 or so, (way lower than any of us could ever run our AP systems at). At a pH of between 6.5 to 9 it's just impossible for Cationic aluminum (Al3+) to form, toxicity issues in that regard aren't really a realistic concern.

Comment by Rob Torcellini on February 13, 2013 at 3:07pm

I was going to comment on the exhaust pipe.....  

Comment by Jim Fisk on February 13, 2013 at 3:01pm

Yeah, AL requires special additives even in auto antifreeze for these same reasons. I wonder if you can place a ss coil closer to the flame and then you just control the (in my case clean sump bypass water) flow so as to avoid too much creosote condensation. Here is a pic of the coil in my wood gasifier: Note my Cummins ss exhaust tip gas burner chamber

Comment by Rob Torcellini on February 13, 2013 at 2:53pm

Yeah, the aluminum is coming out at the end of this heating season...it was more of an experiment than anything else.  I have a new design for a heater that I'm working on.  ;-)  Of if I keep the heaters, I'll put them on their own loop so I'm not pumping the fish water through them....

Comment by Jim Fisk on February 13, 2013 at 2:05pm

Right on Rob. BTW while I have your attention I am a bit concerned with your aluminum radiators as they WILL corrode in this fish waste environment and al can be toxic and many say carcinogenesis. First thing they take you off of at a cancer clinic or so I am told. Just sayin you might want to reconsider the ss.

Comment by Nate Storey on February 13, 2013 at 2:01pm

Yeah Vlad, I know how that goes.  Until my business partner came along I hadn't had more than one day off in three years.  I would occasionally check the greenhouse early in the morning on day 1, leave for Christmas, Easter, whatever, and be back early the next morning (Day 2).  That was about the extent of my weekends/holidays for quite some time.  Unless you have a trustworthy staff, you're married to your farm!  It actually becomes a pleasant routine after a while.  There's a rhythm to it that grows on you.  

@Rob, it's the new projects that keep things interesting.  We're putting up a new 2000 square foot hoop house now.  I'm super pumped about it.  It will give me more space to experiment with.  It's going towards our summer CSA this year.  I'm excited to load some baskets on harvest days. 

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