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Thread: Blow your mind Koi and Aquaponics set-up

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    Wow.. incredible!.....
    Kevin D.

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    What's really incredible is that this guy is doing ALL THIS on a pond with only 8 inches of water depth! And underneath all those gorgeous plants is a payload of freshwater shrimp just gobbling up all the nasties at the bottom of the pool.

    Now granted, he's got a huge operation with lots of mud ponds and greenhouses so when his water dragon beauties outgrow this pond (looks to be about 20' x 50') he can move them to new quarters and restock this pond with new teenage koi.

    I'd just kill to find out what his filtration system looks like. And obviously, he's not going to have a high nitrate level with all those plants using it for fertilizer. In aquaponics lingo, this is called a "raft system" and from a hydroponic point of view, it's just plain old DWC (deep water culture) which requires lots and lots of aeration.

    This dude totally blows me away.

    Yowza!
    Last edited by koikate; 03-30-2009 at 07:29 PM.

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    I used to grow watercress and pennywort in my gravel bog filter / stream. Tried eating them, but the taste was really bitter for some reason. Grew great though.
    Gerald

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    Hmmmmm. I don't know why your veggies would have tasted bitter; possibly some water treatment you were adding to your pond. But I do know that if you've been buying bagged lettuce from the grocery store the chances are very high you've been eating veggies raised in an Aquaponic set up; it's the hottest thing in the horticulture and hobby industry today. Fish farmers don't have to worry about the government coming down on them for releasing nitrate laden water into the soil and water table, and hydroponic veggie growers don't have to worry about the expense of buying chemical fertilizers. Essentially the cost of your fish food equates to your fertilizer costs.

    Anybody with an algae problem in their ponds obviously has a high nitrate level or the algae wouldn't have anything to feed on. Water lilies and hyacinth also eat nitrates but as everybody knows, the koi just tear them apart. One answer is to use a styrofoam floating raft system just like the aquaponic farmers do. The styrofoam shields the surface of the water from receiving direct sun and also helps to insulate your pond from wild temperature swings in the water. You can make a sheet of styrofoam look like a really expensive floating island by getting artsy-craftsy with a can of spray on styrofoam around the edges and then carving it a bit to look like fake rocks. Then just paint it. After that use a hole saw to drill out holes, drop a net pot in filled with soiless medium and plant it with whatever you wish. Most aquaponic people suggest that the correct ratio is that at least 60-70% of the ponds' surface be covered with plants in this manner. If there is still a high nitrate level in your pond, you can redirect some of your pond water into a shallow liner lined trench, fill it with planted floating rafts and do a big part of your veggie gardening in that. From a horticulture perspective, plants grown in this manner require only 1/10 of the water that the same plants grown in soil require.

    Except in the case where one must do significant water changes because of a disease outbreak, planting your ponds this way and using the fish water to grow plants can only improve your water quality by removing a significant amount of nitrates. Floating rafts are the only way I can think of that koi wouldn't just tear apart. The plants will act as an additional natural filter. All people who grow plants this way never use any kind of pesticide in their production because the fish are valued as much as the plants are. Also the number of water changes required to keep your fish healthy is significantly reduced when you achieve a balance between plants and fish that results in severely reduced nitrate levels.

    Here is another excellent video that shows you how aquaponics work.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kENge18wIqg

    This is done in a greenhouse, but the same principals can be applied to your koi pond set ups too. Essentially, doing so can only act as an additional filter that creates better habitat for one's beloved and often very expensive koi.
    Last edited by koikate; 03-31-2009 at 10:39 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by koikate View Post
    Hmmmmm. I don't know why your veggies would have tasted bitter; possibly some water treatment you were adding to your pond.
    Could be. I used occasional PP treatments. But mine were awful!
    Love the concept though.
    Gerald

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    Check this out...Lots of aquaponic lettuce and veggies growing in a commercial application.

    http://www.socalfishfarm.com/fish/

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    Quote Originally Posted by koikate View Post
    ............. One answer is to use a styrofoam floating raft system just like the aquaponic farmers do. The styrofoam shields the surface of the water from receiving direct sun and also helps to insulate your pond from wild temperature swings in the water. You can make a sheet of styrofoam look like a really expensive floating island by getting artsy-craftsy with a can of spray on styrofoam around the edges and then carving it a bit to look like fake rocks. Then just paint it. After that use a hole saw to drill out holes, drop a net pot in filled with soiless medium and plant it with whatever you wish..........
    So... I like the "idea" of this DIY project but would have concerns. First, wouldn’t the Styrofoam degrade or chip away over time? I would worry about the fish ingesting this. Second, the idea of painting things and putting in the pond scares me. Also, have you ever painted Styrofoam and seen it kind of melt? Almost as if something in the paint reacted with Styrofoam. Or is there a particular grade of Styrofoam that should be used in this application?
    - Amanda

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    Good points, Cetsworld! Yes, I too would be afraid of styrofoam chipping away, but if you look at a lot of "fake rock" instructions, the answer would be to cover the styrofoam with a thin layer of cement morter. It's the morter that gets painted and sealed and you can also add cement colorant to it. This would give you a much more attractive and "fear free" floating island for a plant bed.

    You can paint styrofoam too and it won't melt away as long as you seal it properly. Here is a thread from another koi forum that gives a much smaller but simplified version.

    http://www.bonniesplants.com/phpbb/p...ands-t409.html

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    this stuff available for years. safeways supermarket in bay areas sell butter lettuce grow in this technique. cost two times more as compare to conventional farming.

    you can use the koi pond for this purpose provided that you not use chemical that not for human consumption. 13 of the 16 nutrients needed by plants are in the pond water. just add some nutrients to the water to give the plants 100% of what they need and you are ready to grow.

    Steve

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    this stuff available for years. safeways supermarket in bay areas sell butter lettuce grow in this technique. cost two times more as compare to conventional farming.
    Yep. The commercial growers do charge a premium price for the veggies. Most growers are marketing their veggies and herbs as "organic", but I don't know if the FDA actually sees them as qualified for a certified organic label. The last I checked the FDA was not certifying aquaponic raised veggies because they use the same parameters for aquaponic grown veggies as they do the organic veggies grown in the ground. Thus aquaponic veggies don't qualify for the stupid reason that "animal waste products" (manure) must be 3 months old." Since fish poop in ponds and tanks is not three months old, FDA won't certify as organic.

    Really stupid rules, huh?

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    Quote Originally Posted by koikate View Post
    Good points, Cetsworld! Yes, I too would be afraid of styrofoam chipping away, but if you look at a lot of "fake rock" instructions, the answer would be to cover the styrofoam with a thin layer of cement morter. It's the morter that gets painted and sealed and you can also add cement colorant to it. This would give you a much more attractive and "fear free" floating island for a plant bed.

    You can paint styrofoam too and it won't melt away as long as you seal it properly. Here is a thread from another koi forum that gives a much smaller but simplified version.

    http://www.bonniesplants.com/phpbb/p...ands-t409.html
    Excellent use for my left over waterfall foam
    - Amanda

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    If the label says organic then it HAS to be or they can be in big dodo :D for false advertising. We grow "organically" but have to call our stuff pesticide free. IF we spray something for any reason we are up front with our customer on that product. Mostly now we can use organic sprays but the warning labels on some are more scary than conventional stuff...

    Quote Originally Posted by koikate View Post
    Yep. The commercial growers do charge a premium price for the veggies. Most growers are marketing their veggies and herbs as "organic", but I don't know if the FDA actually sees them as qualified for a certified organic label. The last I checked the FDA was not certifying aquaponic raised veggies because they use the same parameters for aquaponic grown veggies as they do the organic veggies grown in the ground. Thus aquaponic veggies don't qualify for the stupid reason that "animal waste products" (manure) must be 3 months old." Since fish poop in ponds and tanks is not three months old, FDA won't certify as organic.

    Really stupid rules, huh?

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    Organic.... heroin and marijuana can be considered "organic" substances too.
    As can many plant or animal derived poisons, poison arrow frog toxins etc.
    Sometimes makes me wonder. I'd much rather eat "non-organic" hydroponic veges that have been fed carefully calculated chemical fertilizers but no pesticides of any sort, organic or otherwise.
    Gerald

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    When I get my ponds up they're going to be under the cover of a greenhouse so I am really counting on being able to use benificial predatory insects for pest control. Hopefully, if I can keep the area well above freezing in the winter time, it'll be warm enough for their eggs to hatch and there will be beneficial insects for many years to come. I'd love it if praying mantises could live out the year in there. Neat insects.

    And you're right; I think most people marketing aquaponic veggies and herbs are using the "naturally grown" label rather than face the rath of the FDA. A lot of the produce seems to be going directly to the restaurant trade.

    One commercial grower who is raising tilapia as a food fish in his aquaponic system claims that for every pound of fish he harvests, he recognizes another 9 lbs in veggies and herbs. Because there are so many plants sucking nitrates out of the recirculating system, they do far fewer water changes than most koi ponders do.
    Last edited by koikate; 04-02-2009 at 12:14 PM.

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    I can sell you some great tomatoes this summer Gerald! Hydroponic grown and taste GREAT!
    We have actually found that the same variety tomatoes grown hydroponically taste BETTER than those grown in the field. We use a commercial mix for hydroponic tomatoes. I have often thought of playing with aquaponics, but this time issue (no spare time) comes into play to often.

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    Pound for pound, hydroponic and aquaponic grown veggies and herbs only require about one tenth of the water that field grown crops do. In drought striken Australia, aquaponics is rapidly replacing soil grown produce simply because hydorponics is so much more efficient at conserving water.

    In my last home I had a fairly large hydroponic deep water culture system set up in my basement under lights. It just blew me away how much faster and bigger the plants grew.

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    HOLY COW!!!! I AM TOTALLY DOING THIS!!! I have been reading and reading and reading and this is something i am definitly doing soon. cant wait to share. You wouldnt beleive the type of fish loads and stocking densities aquaponics growers use to feed their plants and their water is pristine.
    Keep your chin up, learn from your mistakes, and never give up on your passions.

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    Well jjlanotte, I'd sure believe it! I've been studying this aquaponic stuff for two years now just thinking "Ohhhh I wanna do this real bad!" Hopefully this is the year!

    And you are spot on about the increase in stocking density! The more plants you have sucking up the nitrates; the more room you have for fish. And no weeding, no watering the plants. That's easy gardening...

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    Quote Originally Posted by koikate View Post
    Pound for pound, hydroponic and aquaponic grown veggies and herbs only require about one tenth of the water that field grown crops do. In drought striken Australia, aquaponics is rapidly replacing soil grown produce simply because hydorponics is so much more efficient at conserving water.

    In my last home I had a fairly large hydroponic deep water culture system set up in my basement under lights. It just blew me away how much faster and bigger the plants grew.





    my friend in the pic is 5' 2" If we were to ever build another greenhouse we would make the sidewalls taller





    We will start tomato plants from suckers in a raft system but using just miracle grow







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