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Thread: Aquaponics, sure, why not

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    kimini is online now
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    Aquaponics, sure, why not

    Had a left-over IBC - check.
    Have the koi pond, so a ready source of fish poop/ammonia/nitrate - check.
    Had a bunch of expanded clay pellets (from back when the "experts" said it was the bio-filter media of choice) - check.

    We'll see what happens. The most fussy part of the project turns out out to be the siphon - seen at center. There's all sorts of drama surrounding these seemingly-simple devices, each being presented as much better than the others, yet I've tried three different designs and none "just work", sometimes stalling out, so I'm still playing with that. Anyway, as a first try, there's tomatoes, peppers, watermelon, and cantaloupe. I'll try to post weekly pictures to so the results, good or bad. The plants were only planted several hours ago and already the watermelon doesn't look happy but we'll see how it turns out. Those of you with your fancy shower filters and no-nitrate water can just move along, nothing to see here!
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    Last edited by kimini; 2 Weeks Ago at 03:22 PM.
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    Looks like an enjoyable project.

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    There's a ton of information out there on aquaponics with a lot of people selling gear (or bad-mouthing the competition). Retailers being who they are, they "sell the dream" of having free vegetables and fish but don't mention the associated costs and maintenance. I wonder if anyone's done the math on a system and the operating costs (like fish food) over several years, weighed against buying the vegetables and fish from the market. I get it that some people just do it for fun, but retailers push them as a sort of magic garden generating free food. Speaking of that, it's kinda funny how many of the containers shown in the Youtube videos only seem to contain a few sad and ratty looking plants.

    Anyway, I had the bits and pieces, so we'll see how it goes. Finally got the siphon working reliably so we'll see.
    Last edited by kimini; 2 Weeks Ago at 05:39 PM.
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    what does the siphon do? just curious. I did some hydronics and the bugs got most of my "goodies"

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    People figured out that they couldn't keep the grow beds full of water because it drowns the plant roots. Someone came up with the idea of using a small pump to constantly add water to the container, and when it gets about 2" below the top of the media, the siphon quickly drains the water out. As the water level drops, it sucks air into the grow media, ensuring the roots are exposed to air in the "soil". The expanded clay holds water long enough to keep the roots happy until the next cycle, though some people use simple gravel because of the much lower price ($500 or the clay versus around $25 for plain gravel).
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    Quote Originally Posted by kimini View Post
    People figured out that they couldn't keep the grow beds full of water because it drowns the plant roots. Someone came up with the idea of using a small pump to constantly add water to the container, and when it gets about 2" below the surface the media, the siphon dumps all the water out in short order. As the water drops, it sucks air into the grow media, ensuring the roots are exposed to some air in the "soil". The expanded clay holds water long enough to keep the roots happy until the next cycle, though some people use simple gravel because of the much lower price.
    i see. i used coco containers with grow rocks and hydroton and like a coco coir fiber. was lots of fun until the spider mites and other critters took over.

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    The marketing makes it look like they avoid all the problems associated with growing vegetables, like birds, caterpillars, rabbits, aphids, etc. People seem to ignore that the systems just provide a different way to water and fertilize plants; they don't prevent any of the above yet users are surprised and disappointed when their vegetables get eaten. I think industrial -ponics setups are typically indoors which helps avoid many of the above issues (yet even that's not perfect because it ignores lighting expenses).
    Last edited by kimini; 2 Weeks Ago at 10:29 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kimini View Post
    The marketing makes it look like they avoid all the problems associated with growing vegetables, like birds, caterpillars, rabbits, aphids, etc. People seem to ignore that the systems just provide a different way to water and fertilize plants; they don't prevent any of the above yet users are surprised and disappointed when their vegetables get eaten. I think industrial -ponics setups are typically indoors which helps avoid many of the above issues (yet even that's not perfect because it ignores lighting expenses).
    yeah I had 2 1000 watt bulbs going. exhaust fans for the lights. dehumidifier. got my pg&e bill and it was about $450.

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    Grow some hydroponic ganja with the waste water and the koi pond will pay all your utility costs. ☺️

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    Just kidding ya know.

    Dave's not here!
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    Quote Originally Posted by BWG View Post
    Grow some hydroponic ganja with the waste water and the koi pond will pay all your utility costs. ☺️
    next year.

    omg. that is the best movie ever.

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    I still remember that scene when they opened the car door to get out, and the smoke was so thick you could hardly see them - but I digress.

    yeah I had 2 1000 watt bulbs going, exhaust fans for the lights. dehumidifier. got my PG&E bill and it was about $450.
    See, this is where fantasy meets reality, where when it's all said and done, it's cheaper to just buy vegies at the supermarket. The systems are sold under the pretense that it's to raise healthy vegetables and be self-supporting, and it is, but certainly isn't cheap (just the expanded clap pellets are $500 to fill an IBC to 12").

    I guess it's a bit like owning a $100,000 boat to use for fishing - it's more about the doing and the experience rather than the economics.
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    Looks like fun; keep us posted. I previously tried aquaponics in conjunction with my pond. I actually found that the birds ate all of the tender shoots off of most of what I was attempting to grow -- finally killing the plants in the process. If I was ever going to try it again on a more serious level (unlikely), I would probably try to run the water through a small greenhouse type of enclosure.

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    Week one: Added yam cuttings, cucumbers and peppers. New growth is dark green so there's apparently enough nitrate to keep them happy. The little weenie 5gpm pump was sourcing water straight from the pond and getting clogged with algae; it was changed to source water from the sand/gravel filters - much cleaner.
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    Week 2: wasn't going to add anything else but since we bought green onions it was all to easy to plop a few root-ends into the bed around the siphon cover. In 24 hrs they've already grown about 1/2"
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    they look great man. they have a nice home. that is a lot of.media and the roots should thrive

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