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schoolzoo 10-26-2012 01:30 AM

Science project
This is going to be an experiment for both myself and my students, any feedback to help this work would be great.
I am planning on adding a hydroponic loop off of a little tank. My thought is that the plants will act as the filter for the tank.
The original plan was to use a glass 5 gallon (needs to be small to fit under my grow light). The tank is tempered so I was unable to drill it the way I wanted. I have pick up a plastic tank (3.5 gallon) and have drilled a hole in the end to start the loop. The water will gravity feed from the tank to the plant tray, then I will pump the water back into the tank.
Not sure what type of fish to use - originally I was going to use Chilids - but this tank seems small for them. (They will get the 5 gallon that I was originally going to use.)
I also will likely need to put some kind of screen over the opening to keep the fish out of the plant part.

AirstoND 10-26-2012 01:38 AM

Two female bettas and 6 pygmy cories.

GeToChKn 10-26-2012 01:47 AM

Lots of people are doing this as a sustainable living model called aquaponics. Raising fast, edible fish in a large several hundred gallon stock tanks, etc like tilapia, perch, etc, then using the water from there to grow vegetables, herbs, etc and other edible plants, thus creating a self sustaining system that you can eat fish and veggies from. Fish breed, you get more fish, save/plant seeds from veggies, repeat, so maybe use your model to explain this to your class.

schoolzoo 10-26-2012 02:06 AM

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Thank-you for the feed back - Bettas are a possibility - I hadn't even thought of.
A discussion about aquaponics would be great and tie in very nicely with what we are currently studying -biodiversity and enviro chem, as well as with our envirothon teams.

Here is a quick picture of what I've started/done already.

GeToChKn 10-26-2012 02:29 AM

You're almost going to want to overstock it bioload wise to get enough ammonia and nutrients for the plants with that small of a tank. I would think fish, snails, shrimp. The snails and shrimp would be small enough to not add to the fish space available but would increase the bioload a bit.

lochaber 10-26-2012 06:54 AM

you really wouldn't need much space for the plants, even something like routing the flow through a section of gutter filled with hydroponic substrate would probably work pretty well.

Though, if you go that route, it would probably work better if you split it into 2-3 sections with individual lighting on timers, and keep each section lit for 8-12 hours or so. -that way there is always a section in 'active' mode.

I've never drilled a tank personally, but it sounds like it is a bit much trouble to do if other options are available. I'd go for just sticking a small pump in a corner, having it push water up into a length of gutter (or three), and the over flow from that just goes back into the tank. pretty easy set-up, and doesn't require much more then something to cut the vinyl tubing, and whatever glue/sealant you use to set up the sections of gutter.

Aside from that, kudoz/props/whatever for trying to bring a relatable aspect to science education. I sincerely think something like a classroom fishtank, or a walk through the woods where all kinds of rocks and logs are flipped over will do more to stimulate kid's curiosity(and curiosity is the root of all science, and even knowledge) then much of what they will otherwise be exposed too.

And, hell, get the kids involved in the design once they understand what is needed. they will likely spit out all sorts of bad ideas, but there may be a few in there that we haven't considered yet, and most bad ideas have value as teaching opportunities.

schoolzoo 10-26-2012 03:04 PM

Thanks for the feed back lochaber. I totally agree that often the youth have very creative solutions to our problems. I often include them in the planning phases of my projects. Currently we are also setting up a salamander tank, to add to the other displays in my classroom. The other tanks that are in my room include : 20 gallon goldfish, 25 gallon fresh tropical, a terrarium with guppies and soon to be crabs, 150 gallon salt reef. I also intend on setting up a 10 gallon crayfish.
I should also mention that my classroom window looks out to a forested area, and the deer often wander though.

AirstoND 10-27-2012 04:10 AM

I would use lava rock or clay pebbles instead of soil for the plants. The plants roots are better oxygenated and drain better.

Lava rock has names such as Eco-complete, CaribSea, Flourite. Clay pebbles sells by names such as LECA and Hydroton.

Check out the planted HOB thread for plants,

Use river sand with some sections of play sand for the pygmies in the tank. Sand tanks help with denitrification also.

schoolzoo 10-30-2012 03:26 PM

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I know that this is small and fairly basic, but its a first try and givne that it is in a classroom it needs to be small scale. Thanks for the tip on on using lava rock for the plants - I will look for some next time I'm in a larger center.
I think that into the tank part I'm going to use bettas, Although I have a molly that is getting very close to delivering - so I might move her then after the delivery move her back out. Then this small tank will work for the fry. Here is a picture of what I've set up so far.

Given that with the lid on the tank is fairly dark I'll be looking for some kind of light.

rrastro 10-30-2012 04:09 PM

Another option for aquaponics is to go without a medium for the harvest plants. Sheets of styrofoam float on top and plants, usually lettuce or other small leafy greens, are anchored in small mesh pots that fit into holes in the styro sheet. The key to success with that method is keeping the solution sufficiently oxygenated. I would suggest additional airstones or sponge filtration.

nalu86 10-30-2012 04:18 PM

Discussion I started about Aquaponics
My Aquaponics system
Dogfish Aquaponic system

as grow bed media, you can use:

Hydroton (clay pebbles)
River pebbles
Lava Rock (hard on the hands)

schoolzoo 11-02-2012 05:19 PM

As psr tof the displays in my room I have a 25 gallon fresh tropical tank - it has a few guppies, swords, mollies an angle fish and some submerged plants. The plants aren't doing very well. any suggestions?
I think that I would like to try a CO2 system, but know next to nothing about them. How much CO2 should I be adding? Will it affect the fish?
Any advise would be great.

Wy Renegade 11-02-2012 05:57 PM

I don't think you should need to add CO2 to tomatoes to get them to grow as long as there is plenty of fertilizer via fish in the water. Keep in mind that it may require a bit for the plants to make the transition from terrestrial to hydroponic. Keep an eye out for new leaves/stem growth off the original root system.

schoolzoo 11-03-2012 03:34 AM

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Here are a couple of quick pictures of what added today to the mini-hydroponic loop - a couple of aquatic frogs. :) Sorry for the poor quality of the pictures - only had my phone for these ones. It is amazing how well they blend into the rocks. It will be a great conversation for my classes next week.

Wy- my question about the CO@ wasn't for this set up. I have a 25 gallon that I've added some plants to, however they aren't doing well. The leaves keep going brown to transparent to non-existent. I'm not sure what to change. The amount of fish in there should be adding enough nutrients, I'm not sure if its a CO2 issue or a lighting on. I'll try to get a picture of it next week.

nalu86 11-04-2012 03:16 AM

If you add co2 you will have to find a balance between nutrients, light and co2.
for co2 you shout at 30ppm, if you have surface agitation going your fish shouldn't have a problem with the co2.

look into diy co2 to try it out.

If you want to go the pressurized co2 way, I would say, research and read, read and read some more and then have a big wallet ready. I spend months researching it before I tried it.

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