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Pond Farming

 
                          
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Location: Marrakai Northern Territory Australia
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TCLynx check out my yabbie pond in the tyres anyone thread
the only work this needs is the occassional top up of water in our dry season, fresh water cray are the easyest thing ever

Bird
 
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I found what I was looking for here

http://www.backyardaquaponics.com/information.html

"Experimenting with aquaponics can be as simple or as complicated as you like, it could be as simple as an aquarium on a sunny windowsill with some goldfish, with water pumped into some gravel filled pots above it, draining through the gravel back into the aquarium. Once you have tried something simple you can progress up to a system with multiple grow beds and high stocking densities of fish. "
 
                              
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Glad you found something to relate to.
Yes, it is possible to go from extremely minimal and work up from there.  Just don't stock the fish tank beyond what the filtration can support.  It is often a temptation to add more creatures to the water.
 
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TCLynx wrote:
Just don't stock the fish tank beyond what the filtration can support.  It is often a temptation to add more creatures to the water.



Good point, TC! Goldfish in particular are known for creating higher ammonia levels than other types of fish, because they produce more waste. It's best to keep goldfish only with goldfish, especially in aquariums. 
 
                              
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Gwen Lynn wrote:
Good point, TC! Goldfish in particular are known for creating higher ammonia levels than other types of fish, because they produce more waste. It's best to keep goldfish only with goldfish, especially in aquariums. 



Oh, I don't know that I would push that segregation of the fish is needed (other than quarantine of new fish before placing them in with an established healthy population.)  My point is more about not overloading a system since if you do overload the bio-filter there will likely be ammonia spikes and nitrite spikes and water quality issues and perhaps not enough dissolved oxygen and it could even get to the point of killing off some of the creatures and it is never fun to find dead creatures in your aquaponics system.

Goldfish are generally thought to be relatively dirty fish and they are exceptionally hardy fish but that does not mean you have to keep them separate.  However, if you get new cheap goldfish, it is a good idea to quarantine them because it is not uncommon for the cheap feeder goldfish to be suffering from illness.
 
Gwen Lynn
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Well, I'm just going by what is recommended by more experienced aquarium keepers than me. 

Unless you are into the pretty, fancy goldfish, goldfish are really cheap. I personally wouldn't put cheap goldfish in with my more expensive tropical fish, which require a heater and goldfish don't.

On the basis of my experience, the amount of waste that clogs the filter on a goldfish aquarium is way more than what I find in my tropical fish aquarium. I just got tired of dealing with goldfish poop in an aquarium! So out the goldfish went to the ponds. Goldfish (in my ponds) breed like rats. I've got fish I'd give away, if somebody wanted them. Come to think of it, I've never purchased a goldfish. A few were given to me, and over the years...a few have become 30! I don't know how many I've given away over the years.

 
Jennifer Smith
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Gwen,

How are the hyacinth doing indoors? 
 
Gwen Lynn
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Hey, I'm glad you asked! So far...so good! I have them in the brightest window, haven't rigged up supplemental lighting yet. They are in a temporary situation, as I want to do more to maximize the lighting. I'm thinking about covering some cardboard with aluminum foil to reflect the window light back to them. Will keep you posted. 
 
                              
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Instead of aluminum foil, you might pick up one of those cheap thin mylar emergency blankets from the camping section of most any department stores.  It is much more reflective and less costly than the foil.

I've even made sort of curtains out of it for hydroponics before.
 
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Dan and Denise rojas, of green power science  have an interesting video on how to heat water in a pond. This is not how to make a heat trap. They show this in their video "fresnal lense heat collector".
          Dan Rojas in order to prove you cant heat water with the sun without a solid object in the water  or bottom of the pond for example, the bottom works like a object in the water, the sun will heat it. IN order to show that water can onot be ehated on its own he takes a aquarium and reflects the sunlight through the water using a fresenal lense a sort of very big magnifying glass and everyone who has had a brother knows what sun reflected through a magnifying glass will do, burn your hand.  He had the glass aquarium reaised on legs slightly above the table. The sunlight goes through the water and glass of the aquariium  without heating it and burns the table top under the aquarium.
   After proving that the sunlight does not heat the wter but passes throgh it he puts a metal object in the aquarium and aims the ray of sunlight passed through the fresnel lense at the metal object in hte water and the light heats the metal which metal passes its heat to the water in the aquarium.
        The Rojas's say that if you painted the bottom of your pool black the sun would heat it. If the bottomn of th epond is white or r pale coloured and so areflecting the sun back out of the water it wont heat the bottom  and in consequence the water much. The principles are the same as the ones in solar cooking.

  This question of when and how much, light can heat an object like the earth, has to do with my arguement that if we leave earth bare, as earth is an accumulator of heat, it heats up and we don't want things heating up now the global gasese stop  them cooling down again. The sunlight does not just heat up everything it heats somethings more than others, think of how relatively cold it is on top of a moutain and so we can reduce the amount of heat the sun  creates  by changing the surface it lands on, making sure the suns rays  land on plants not on bare earth.earth. Agri rose macaskie
 
Gwen Lynn
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TCLynx wrote:
Instead of aluminum foil, you might pick up one of those cheap thin mylar emergency blankets from the camping section of most any department stores.  It is much more reflective and less costly than the foil.

I've even made sort of curtains out of it for hydroponics before.



D'oh! (Smack! Sound of me slapping my forehead.)

That's a great suggestion TC, I don't know why I didn't think of it! I have a surplus of those emergency blankets. A friend of mine buys a new 1st aid kit (for his business) every year. Those blankets never get used for anything, so he gives them to me. I use them in some of my windows in the summertime. They do a great job reflecting the sun/heat away from the windows. I will also use it to reflect the light back to my hyacinths. Thanks for mentioning them! 
 
                              
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And think about how much crazy money people spend on sheets of mylar film at the Hydroponics shops
The emergency blankets make a goo easy reflector.
I even found that I could make a kind of curtain out of them for it to be easy to pull out of the way.
Some of those blankets are thinner than others and can work more like window tinting rather than blocking all sight, this was kinda nice around the Hydroponics when I didn't want the whole room lit up bright but it was still nice to kinda see what was going on with my lettuce.
 
Jennifer Smith
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I got another fish tank over the weekend.  I plan to go simple and float my little kale seedlings in it sorta like
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RKbVUnVU&feature=channel
 
rose macaskie
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JUst been rereading it and havenot read it all so i hope that i don't repeat someone else, my grandmother said you should not give egg shells to hens they learn to eat their eggs you buy grit . Maybe this is just silly but still it could be usefull. agri rose macaskie.
 
Jennifer Smith
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I am searching the web now for what rockwool is and what else I might use, any help?
 
Gwen Lynn
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TCLynx wrote:
And think about how much crazy money people spend on sheets of mylar film at the Hydroponics shops
The emergency blankets make a goo easy reflector.
I even found that I could make a kind of curtain out of them for it to be easy to pull out of the way.
Some of those blankets are thinner than others and can work more like window tinting rather than blocking all sight, this was kinda nice around the Hydroponics when I didn't want the whole room lit up bright but it was still nice to kinda see what was going on with my lettuce.



The windows I use the emergency blankets in also have mini-blinds. The blankets are difficult to see through, but I just sorta weave them through the bottom of the mini-blind. If I want to look out the window, I just raise the blind and voila! Up go the blankets too!

I only leave them in my "hot" windows during the summer. In the fall I take them down, fold them and store in zip bags for next year. I love these things! This is something I've started doing recently because a few winters ago we lost a big shade tree in an ice storm. 


 
rose macaskie
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      Rock wool is a sort of aislating material light and fluffy and made of rock. Like they make candy floss i think and it is possibly like asbestos not especially recomended for the lungs, potentially canceriginous. I have just checked it out. I wish i had not they have just made a hole in our ceiling that divides us from the roof and a lot of dust has come down. Hope its not full of rock wool dust. Maybe its just as well to read about it, it will make me more inclined to get it cleared up sooner and more thoroughly. 

  It is usefull to know you can buy mylar from the sports departments of major stores.

    I don't understand all about gwen lynns window and i would like too. Are you us¡ng a deep set window as a green house com silver covered room that increases light, and maximises the light of bulbs or the sun like that used by marijuana growing. I don't understand aobut the mylar on the blinds and how it effects the tree outside in the snow, can you use mñylar to keep trees warm like you can to keep peoploe warm, that woudl be good.
  We h ave had really low temperatures, 20centigrade below normal, i wonder if my olive has survived it. 

     Paul wheaton i'm sorry i covered what you were going to say, you are so given to keeping quiet so as not to over influence everyone that it seems as well to just say it or it wont be said.
      I don't know anything about aquaponics yet so everyone can pip me to that post. rose
     

     
   
 
Jennifer Smith
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Sand is heavy but it is free.  

That will be the grow medium for my first project.  

I can see kitchen tank taking on new meaning.  I see a garden growing right next to the sink.
 
                              
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Sand will tend to hold lots of water and might not drain as easily as you might need.

I use gravel for my aquaponics beds.  1/2" brown river rock is mostly what I've used.  Costs about $52 a ton which is about 3/4 of a cubic yard around here.

Anyway, if you can get your hands on some free gravel that would be good.  Probably best to rinse it before putting it in the system as it can cloud your water quite a lot if you don't.  The only gravel I would advise against is stuff that would affect pH.  That would be limestone or marble.

You don't need rock wool.

Some people like to use hydroton or expanded clay balls for their aquaponics but it is costly.  It can usually be found at hydroponics shops.  I would advise against perlite though, nasty to handle (if dry the dust can get in the air and be bad for your lungs) and it tends to go everywhere you don't want it to and is bad for pumps.
 
Jennifer Smith
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Great, I plan to go to creek and screen me some gravel then.  also, is peat moss safe or toxic to fish?
 
                              
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Peat will tend to acidify the water and probably tint it dark.  I probably would not use much peat moss for Aquaponics mainly because of the acid and making the water dark.  I have used some of those little peat pellets to try to start seeds in my AP system, I found they stayed too wet.  I don't think it would hurt the fish but the amount I used in my system was so tiny compared to the size of the overall system that even if it was bad for the fish I wouldn't know.  All my fish are fine.

Now I said you don't really want your gravel to be limestone or marble but at some point you will probably need to buffer you pH up a bit since aquaponics naturally tends to a falling pH and if it gets too low, the bio-filter can quit working.  To keep the pH from dropping too far, many people will use shell grit, or shells or even some limestone in limited amount to keep the pH in the range they want it.

My system pH I keep between 7 and 7.6 which is a bit higher than many plants like but since my well water comes in around 8, I figured between 7 and 7.6 would be a fair balance.  This way when I add top up water I'm not causing too drastic of pH fluctuations.  I know of people running with a pH of 6 but that would make me nervous since many of the test kits only go down to 6, how do you know that the pH isn't actually lower and in danger of crash.  6.5 seems like a better low pH for a system so that you can see when it drops lower and take measures to buffer it from further fall.

Hopefully I'm not throwing too much at you here all at once.
 
rose macaskie
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I tried builders sand for my pots once and it went hard, and now i wash it i put it in a bucket and swish it round and the water fills full of cloudyness, the sand stays at the bottom i pour off the cloudy water and put in more water and repeat several times and then i have sand that does not compact. agri rose macaskie.
 
Jennifer Smith
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I just plan to bring my little fishies and stuff from little tank on kitchen counter and put them in big tank with a floating garden on top.  All very small. 

I may have to wait till spring to get new fish.  I get in a hurry to start experimenting.  It is only logical now.  I have always had fish tanks and house plants.  Neither productive but educational and fun. 

I have had several potted plants send roots out the bottom.  I have a couple of "self watering' planters.

..now just combining them.

Before the freeze set in and I could have gotten more water plants and fish.  All in fun as I still want to leave it all for days at a time.  I need low maintance toys.
 
Jennifer Smith
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ahh, I killed one of my little fishes today on accident.  I was changing some water over to the new tank and sucked him up a hose.  I feel terrable, I only had 3 to begin with and now the remaining 2 hide from me.  

I so want to get get into my project but too cold to collect stuff...  I am thinking of bluegill and catfish, something simple and local.  

I need to set up a growbed.  All I have going now is some foam rafts with a plant (kale) and seeds (clover) sprouting.  

I need to go as low tech and rafts are it.  Next will be gravel beds and some way to move water around in them.  So next sep is to find something to make a bed out of...and decide where to set it all up.  

TCLynx,..  do I have this right, twice the gravel?  35 gallon fishtank means 70 gallons of gravel beds?  Soon it will thaw enough for me to collect gravel
 
                              
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If you have a "sump tank" to go with the system then yes, twice the gravel as fish tank is good if you want to stock lots of fish.

If you are doing a simpler system with not too much fish, then you could go with equal gravel to fish tank, just don't stock as many fish.

 
Jennifer Smith
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Great.  I will start off small, sump and a sump pump you say???  I was thinking something along the lines of a table top decorative fountain.  Can you suggest a cheap way to go with a pump?

So we can disregard water volume so long as we have plenty, and go plant to fish ratio?  I would like to grow a squash plant or two, and a tomato plant or two... a melon plant would be beautiful too...maybe some strawberries...come on spring
 
                              
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Think of Aquaponics as a triangle.
Fish, plants and Filtration.
You can't really discount the filtration because without enough filtration, your plants won't get what they need to grow and your fish will be killed by ammonia and nitrite.

I also don't know exactly how to tell you how much plants you need per fish.  It isn't like one squash plant equals a bluegill or something.  You need enough plants to keep the nitrates in a readable range or you need to do water changes to keep the nitrates from going super high.

About pumping.  You will probably have clogging/cleaning issues if you go with a tiny pump like are in most table top fountains.  You can probably do fine with something like an aquarium or garden pump.  Look for something that will pump the volume of your fish tank at a few feet high each hour.  So if you are talking about a fish tank of under 100 gallons, you should be fine with a 25 watt garden or aquarium pump that can pump at least 100 gallons at a few feet of head.  (I've gotten little pumps for around $30 from harbor freight that are fish safe and are rated for 258 gallons at 0 head.  I use those for aquarium size systems.

Anyway pumping for aquaponics systems it is generally advisable to move the volume of the fish tank each hour.  If you use a timer and say only run the pump for 15 minutes per hour, you want a pump that will move enough water for you in those 15 minutes.
 
Jennifer Smith
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I have some history with both fish and plants, but it is the plumbing and just stuff I wonder.  it seems to me the more complicated the more can go wrong.  I know lots of filtration for overstocked pond. koi come to mind.  Anyway I am just wanting a decorative fun kitchen set up. 

Eventually I will do all the beds around the deck/hot tub with aquaponics.  For now it is just for fun, maybe someday make it breeder tanks or something. 

So I guess I am wondering aloud is all ...just so bummed about my fish...
 
Jennifer Smith
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Well here is what I have so far...

Starting with little fishtank found in house when I moved in. 

Brought back memories of fish as pets.

Will combine with plants in front window as soon as I get stand built to move bigger tank in there.

This is to be an educational model and I hope to make a much larger system in the future.  Practice first.
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It might be a good idea to protect the tank itself from direct sun shining on it but still let the sun hit the top where the plants are floating.  A fish bowl/tank in direct sun can really heat up and be very hard on the fish.  It could be something as simple as a towel or something draped on the window side of the fish tank.
 
Jennifer Smith
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You are right.  This is temp waiting for a little stand to be built under my plant window. 
 
Jennifer Smith
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Silly machine sent before i wanted, then when I sent the second half of what i wanted to say it said already sent...and since I had added a photo I did not save a copy.
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Jennifer Smith
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ok here is better idea of what I have planed, as you say the tank will sit even with the sill.  (I dream of bigger tanks and grow beds)

This window faces west and cooks plants in the summer.  This system will be to over winter seed stock. 

I have duckweed is all so far but will replace minnows with baby perch, maybe bluegill or sunfish, and catfish.  What I can catch locally.
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Looks like you have a good location for a set up there.
I love the use of juice jugs filled with water as the shelf support!!!
You might do very well with the aquarium below the widow or off to the side, whatever works best for your space.  Then you could simply pump to a bucket or something filled with gravel or any other filter material you can get easy then that could flow into a try or bed for your plants that you over winter (making it easy to simply place the pots so it is easy to pull them back out.  Then I would probably add another filter bucket or container to help catch/filter particles that might escape the plant pots before the plumbing lets it flow back to the aquarium.  I would set up the aquarium so the top edge is an inch to a few inches below the sill so that you can have the plumbing drain down into the aquarium easily.
 
Jennifer Smith
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Thanks TCLynx,

my Dh hates them.  I want to paint them. 

Next I am looking for a water pump.  I have collected three air pumps so far.  I also have my eye out for a heater.  That is how simple we are starting.

I am wondering about horse manure in aquaponics (everything comes back to horses with me)...What might it be good for?
 
                              
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My impulse would be to grow some carrots for your horses with aquaponics and skip the idea of using horse manure for aquaponics.
 
Jennifer Smith
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I thought I read somewhere where someone was experimenting with manure as fish food, thought maybe the crawdads might like it. 

Not good to grow duckweed?
 
                              
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In extensive pond culture they often use manure or fertilizer to cause algae blooms to feed tilapia in South East Asia.  However, warm blooded manure if not properly composted and aged carries some danger of pathogens for humans so is probably not such a good idea for growing lettuce to eat (since it is possible for lettuce to take up contaminated water into it's structure from where no amount of washing will remove it.  Since most people don't cook their lettuce before eating it, I would not advise using fresh manure to grow it.)
 
Jennifer Smith
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Great point!  Not just in aquaponics but in the dirt garden too.  I remember when the spinach killed, before that was like tomatoes and green onions, etc...
 
                              
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Fish being cold blooded don't catch the same diseases we can.  However, if you were to grow certain types of fish in water contaminated with certain types of common pathogens of humans (like salmonella or e. coli) they could persist on the skin of those fish for a period of time and again, it would be bad to be raising edible plants that don't get cooked before consumption in waters contaminated with those same pathogens.

So best to keep the aquaponcis for the fish and plants and save the warm blooded manure for the compost bins.
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