Planted Tank Guru
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: south eastern PA
Aquaponics.. lots of rambling
So the tomato I mentioned in the last post got munched on by the cats once they found out they could reach it (grr) I'm currently trying to rehabilitate it in a bigger clay pot with more MGOPM and aquarium water. I don't know if its going to bounce back.. but in the mean time my research into growing the tomato in the HOB sent me on a tangent with aquaponics and I must say I'm quite fascinated by it.
Aquaponics is simple explained as using nutrients from aquarium water (nitrate and other soluble compounds) to feed plants which remove nitrate from the water making it clean before it goes back to the fish. I'd love to try this, since if successful, I would no longer have to do a 10 gallon water change 3x a week, instead only needing to remove the pleco poop, but not the water with it to reduce nitrates any more (plants will do that part).
I am hoping to try to set up a small simply system using my existing 55 gallon and canister filter, so all I need is some more umf for lights (I don't think my Marineland Doublebrights will be enough), grow beds, (light weight) media, and some seeds. I'd also switch my de-cholrinator to Prime and upgrade my filter media (get some real foam for there instead of the crappy stuff that's already breaking up) and possibly remove the activated charcoal. If this is successful I'd properly scale it for the amount of water volume and nitrates my pleco helps make, and whenever he gets his final large set up, build a large aquaponics garden to help there too.
For the initial test I'll probably try getting 2-3 6500k cfl bulbs and reflectors to supplement the Marineland (unless I can steal the t5 that is the tank rooms main light source and get some grow bulbs... our family room doesn't really need any lights in this basement.. right? >.>) , a medium/small grow bed box or maybe cement mixing tub, a light weight media (considering expanded shale or growstones), and use some leftover 2x4 we have to build an ugl.. I mean simply setup on top of the 55 gallon. Having lights raised up above plants (exact height will be determined by what is chosen to grow). I'll have the outlet tubing for the canister re-connect to the spray bar and have that in the grow bed and cut hole(s)/slit(s) with screen (if needed to keep media in) to let the water flow right back into the tank that the grow-bed is set directly over. I'd probably also remove the hosing for the canister
and use the leftover black paint from trimming the outside of the house to cover it to reduce algae growth in the tubes (obliviously not getting any paint IN the tube and letting it dry before re-attaching) my husband insists on just buying cheap simple black hosing instead of painting existing. Also might finally get a background or some sort of glass tinter (or be cheap and just use old sheets) for the tank to also reduce excess light from getting down into the water (again to reduce algae issues).
Amusingly most people do aquaponics to gain healthy fruits/veggies/herbs and fish for their own consumption and/or to sell. Ironically I don't like to eat fish (and certainly won't be eating my pleco) or very many veggies so I won't benefit from the system, its mostly just for the pleco.. Though if I can successfully grow healthy food I'm sure my family who like a wider range of veggies than me will happily help take care of it.
I'd love to produce greens that I can then take a small sample of a make green algae to feed dalfina to then feed that to my rainbow fish (beautiful closed cycle feeding!), but for now I'll have to switch to a safe flake food to avoid hormones/steroids/color enhancers. I read that Paprika (i think) is a natural color enhancer so I might try tampering with that as I get more organic/safe with fish food. Once I've gotten the hang of growing with aquaponics I'd voe to use it to grow the pleco's own food supply (mostly heats green squash but will try to test anything I grow on him too) so I am only supplementing algae wafers.
Anyways I ramble too much.. will update with ideas/photos/etc as/if this happens *Cross fingers* just hope I didn't inherit my mother's 'black thumb' (bad gardener).
Last edited by AquaAurora; 02-14-2014 at 08:32 PM.
Reason: added details