Mar 15 2011

Aquaponics in the Yard – Week 6

Engineering Midterms made it a little crazy to update, so here a summary of the last two weeks.

The bell pepper plant didn’t make it.  It never had any new root growth, and started to deteriorate until it competely turned brown.  The new feeders kept dying so I left the original four or so and they survived.  The mint did well underneath, but the lettuce is still suffering.  It’s root ball has not completely decended like the mint.  I added two Koi fish to the tank and they are doing fine.  I also purchased pellets that I’ll start using once the flakes run out for the fish. 

The cilantro and mint are doing well, and the lettice is starting to rise so it’s about time to harvest.  I was told to harvest it before the flower shows, otherwise it will taste bad.  For the next round I will be planting Iceberg lettuce, on the underside, and on top, to compare.  The mint will stay permanently below, and I will grow the tomatoes and peppers on top.  The strawberries and coming out small, and I am definitely having root rot issues with some of them.  A drip began coming off of one of them and was killing the plant below.  I keep eating a strawberry here and there weekly but it’s not enough to justify the system right now.  I am hoping the other veggies will make up for it, but I need to add more fish.

I noticed, as the root balls grew, the water flow went down, and I believe I am getting root rot because of this.  I plan to drill a lower drainage hole to bring down the water level, in hoped that this will decrease the root rot problem.

Feb 23 2011

Aquaponics in the Yard – Week 3

This week I put in four more feeders into the tank, but only 2 survived, I;m guessing they were just sick.  All water readings are stable, and the 7 live fish, are swimming and eating without any problems.  To make room for some peppers on top, I moved one lettuce and the bushy Mint tree to the bottom (over the reservoir).  They both went limp as you can see.  The water it not reaching the bottom of the new pots, so they are suffering.  I do see some root growth on the lettuce so I have high hopes for it.  On another note, the strawberries are doing great.  Looking forward to see the next batch.

Feb 14 2011

Aquaponics in the Yard – Week 2

So my PH went down-good
My Ammonia went down- good.
But my Nitrites are still high, and my tank is still cycling, so I cannot replace any of the fish yet. Other than that, here are some pics.

Mint Aquaponics 2 week root growth

Feb 10 2011

Aquaponics in the Yard-Day 11

2 days ago with 4 fish left in the tank, I did the following to reduce ammonia.
50% water change
Ammonia still at danger
90% water change
Ammonia went down to stressful

This took about 4 hours as I put water in 5 gallons at a time, after dechlorinating and thermostabilization. I only lost 1 fish overnight to that. Also I filled a basket pot with bio rocks and put it at the bottom of the reservoir, with the pump inside.

Today, I came home to 3 dead fish, but stable ammonia. Also nitrites and nitrates are high, so I can see my tank is finally cycling. It two days, I’ll show plant progress. And when my levels go down, I will put some more fish back in. For now I can conclude that all my fish are dead due to ammonia or nitrite poisoning. I will continue to “feed the fish” daily to at least provide an ammonia supply to the system.

Feb 7 2011

Aquaponics in the Yard-Day 8

Quick update. Fasting the fish for two days didn’t help. I lost two more fish, and the ammonia is still high. For the sake of the single fish or two left, I will wait a few days for another water change. Tomorrow I will pick up some fish gravel or something else that will give more room for the nitrites to grow. On a good note, nitrite levels are increasing so it appears the tank is beginning to cycle.

Feb 6 2011

Aquaponics in the Yard-Day 7

So after losing an average of 2 or 3 goldfish feeders a day, and ultimately 7 one day, I broke down and decided to buy a water testing kit.  After testing th water, I realized that everything was OK for the fish (Still high PH for plants at 8.0), but my ammonia was at dangerous levels:

So I perfomed a 30% water change.  I emptied the water out, and replaced it with tapwater mixed with some dechlorinating drops.  The next day, I checked the ammonia, and, it’s still too high, along with 3 more dead fish.  My tank has obviously not cycled yet, and I think the problem at this point, it I am not giving a place for the bacteria to grow.  I will not feed the fish for two days, and if the ammonia levels continue to peak, then I will add some gravel to the botom of the tank.  Meanwhile, root growth is still good.  But there is a littl bit of burning on the edges of the Cilantro (high PH, I’m assuming).

Feb 4 2011

Watermelon Garden – 2 weeks from seed

Watermelon Sprouts

Feb 4 2011

Aquaponics in the Yard-5 days

After a failed attempt at Hydroponics using the wrong chemicals, I decided to go the organic route and start an Aquaponics system.  After shopping the different types of systems an techniques, I decided to go with an NFT system.  After seeing a few YouTube videos from our Aussie friend showing commercial hydroponic systems.  I decided to give it a try.  If it works, I can always scale it up.

I built it out of 4″, thick-walled PVC, but only becuase I couldn’t find the thin-walled stuff.  I used my existing hydroponocs bin as the reservoir, which I hope to also put plants in.  With all the resources available online, I will hold back on writing a guide until I feel I got it right.

Week 1:
I basically filled it up and got everything in on Saturday.  No cycling or maturity time.  After only 5 days, I already have root growth!  My ph level is too high (8.0), but the plants are growing and I can see some strawberries forming already.  I’ve been feeding the feeder gold fish twice a day, and lose a few fish (dead) daily.  I checked today, and had 10 feeder fish dead.  Tomorrow I will buy an ammonia and nitrite/nitrate kit to see if I can identify why my fish are dying. 

Feb 3 2011

Hydroponics Attempt

For my first Hydroponics attempt, I used the popular aerated tote method, found all over the net.  This was the easiest and cheapest to do, and was recommended for beginners.  After watching Hydroponics for Beginners a few times, I went ahead and attempted it.  It lasted about a week, and I didn’t really see any root growth.  On the contrary, my strawberries didn’t look too happy.
While, I only gave it a week, I can conclude tht my problem was that instead of the recommended Peters 20-20-20 with Micronutrients, I used All Purpose Miracle-Gro.  Don’t waste your time.  Luckily, I have some other fruits and natives around the yard that I don’t mind fertilizing, so it’s not a complete waste, but for a Hydroponics setup, I can’t recommend it.

Here’s a shot at my first attempt, not too many pics, but you get the idea

So I began to look at what could have been wrong when I ran accross Aquaponics.  I spoke to a few people and see some potential of even giving it a shot commercially.  So keep a look out for my aquaoponics project, which I fully track it’s progress through the blog.