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Aquaponics - Let fish be your Nutrient!

Discussion in 'Hydroponics' started by ThePreacher, Aug 11, 2013.

  1. Okei! I have had this grow running for around a month and a half now.
    Have a journal running on another forum, with more Aquaponics growers but I thought I would share it with you lot.

    For those of you who are not familiar with Aquaponics, think of it as regular hydroponics but instead of adding nuts you add fish / fishfood. No need to change water, just add water as it being either used by the plants or evaporated.

    The only side thing is that you have to compensate the PH, since hydro-cannabis runs in the 5.5-5.8 region and fish enjoy around 6.5-7.5, keeping a PH of 6.2 have showed great results!
    I was lowering the pH from 7.0, this took some time, since the fish react to drastic change of pH, so a .2 drop each day is advised.
    This way the plants are happy and the fish are happy.
    At this moment my pH is actually at 5.6, added some crushed eggshell to try boost the pH some.
    Raised to 5.8 in a day, but went back to 5.6 a day later.
    Will keep watch of the pH, if it stays at 5.6 I would not mind, since the fish seem quite happy, eating well etc.

    Running a Drip system to four 7 liter buckets with hydroton.
    Plan is to go all ScrOG style.

    1 * ProGrow 400w LED
    1 * 400 w HPS

    California Hash Plant

    8 * Goldfish, where as four are Comets and two are Black Moor(they looked so hella cool!)
    2 * Algea eaters (cant remember the name, small quick bastards)
    2 * Algea eaters - Catfish (the bottomfeeders, suckers of glass)

    Res: 90liter

    PPM is sitting on 460, had some issues with PPM rising to 1200 for a while, had to change lots of water.
    Now it seems that the PPM is rising around 20-30 a day, maybe some of you here can give me a hint of why this is, or maybe it is completely normal.

    Oh well, I just let some pictures speak for the rest!

    0VKwnEX.jpg cad4yDU.jpg FX3GLYm.jpg rXYo8Xy.jpg uLPNDDC.jpg vdyu2Iz.jpg Xec4vdp.jpg

    - tested out different germination methods
    - with or without dipped in CloneX
    - best germi result was the one dipped in Clonex and stuffed in jiffy's
    47AifRz.jpg cOzL3jG.jpg exBxN4Y.jpg F8BRKOw.jpg GrduKl6.jpg nWsYI9O.jpg ORzsWN2.jpg u8SFYd3.jpg W3PXUAX.jpg XEDfr9y.jpg

    The Clone Wars:
    - picked up some big Hash Plant clones from a friend
    0EnY478.jpg MbmZQNG.jpg

    * continues on next message
  2. Over 9000!!:
    - the plants did not enjoy the high PPM
    kuJYCl6.jpg 5NOWHNL.jpg Bld6yDk.jpg NKbJUVe.jpg PhB2nnQ.jpg r82J6Ke.jpg rqLEAQB.jpg SbLQpme.jpg WZpXzWW.jpg Zbl82Ve.jpg

    After the Shitstorm:
    - lower PPM = happy plants
    - also did some topping and fimmin on the big ones
    Cin3rVo.jpg el6BHrO.jpg f3JBj77.jpg I2Tld8Q.jpg O3exLPz.jpg knpqyLb.jpg

    That was the start of the grow, and this is where I am at now:

    Some of the small Barcelona Bastards California Hash Plant x unknown-sativa-dominated that we had transplanted in the AP system was removed and "quarantined" on the balcony, they may have been sick and easy target for some bugs, also they were never going to get any light through the scrog canopy that have been steady building up.
    Found this little bugger on one of the Hash Plant leafs, underneath, but it tried to run away. It was between 2-3mm long, had wings and was squishy:

    Have been looking at most of the leafs for eggs of sort without any "luck", so hopefully it is not a harmfull bug, but if anyone recognize it, please share!

    Narrowed the bugs down to Thrips, some nasty Thrips throwing a party in my grow
    Made a home made foilar spray containing:
    - Garlic
    - Chili
    - Lemon
    - Baking soda
    - Neem oil

    Tested it out on a couple of leafs, no bad signs the day after.
    Sprayed the whole canopy, both on top and under the leafs.
    Also got rid of the leafs with most infection.
    The bastards are still flying around in there but I have not seen any crawlers since spraying.

    Had some issues with algae in the drip tubes, clogged up the dripper.
    Made a two way function protective shield over the pots - keeping the light out, and hopefully keeping the flying bastards out as well. Don't need no more pesty eggs!

    New water test today, and the score is...
    Ammonia: 0.10<
    Nitrites: 0.01<
    Nitrates: 1<
    pH as stated up to 5.8
    PPM 470

    the poor light makes it seem more orange than it is:

    On a downside, I am seeing some new tops having a bad time at the one in the left back corner, and some more rust buildup on the one in the right back corner, also some yellowing lower leafs on all of them. Dunno if the rust is a Mn issue or a after effect from the Thrips, but I am leaning more to the Mn deficiency since Thrips marks are more like silver veins oh top of the leafs.
    This stuff all came tumbling down at the right moment, flip time..
    Rust.jpg Top_issue.jpg

    The leafs that have severe "rust" damage, should I simply cut them off ?
    Could these leafs still be beneficial to the plant in their condition ?
    Would they simply get worse, as it kind of looks like ?

    Was thinking of making a mixture containing this, and also adding some boron.
    Maybe also adding some aloe and cocowater, what do you guys think ?

    * continues on next message
  3. So here is where we're at, let me know what you guys think.
    5VXpXi0.jpg KhFQCqu.jpg a4eLism.jpg rRKa4BX.jpg uNHlq4C.jpg vKf7wCI.jpg YDH575h.jpg

    Also, I am quite familiar with doubters of cannabis in aquaponic system, so I just gonna leave this here.. (from a friends AP setup)
    Keep in mind that this is one plant.. :D

    End result:
  4. Fantastic! Great info- and the evidence of trials and troubles are as valuable as pictures of success. Helps a noob like me learn to recognize signs of things going awry in time.

    I suspect that a well rounded mineral diet for the plants starts with the same thing for the fish?

    What do you use for a biofilter/digester? I spoke with an experienced aquaponics operator locally, and he said that he installed a settling tank upstream of his biofilter and this helped keep his solids down to a manageable level. In his case, the system was heavily biased towards raising fish, as he didn't have a lot of plants growing in the system. I would bet that the higher the plants to fish ratio, the less trouble you'll have with excess solids.
    Seamaiden likes this.
  5. Ya I followed stutts grow via oceangrown I think that's the name. He posted it here in an organic thread too. I'm putting an aquaponic system together in the next month or two. My buddy has 2 in a green house and it blows me away every time
    ttystikk likes this.
  6. Thanks for joining the show!

    I was a "noob" just five months ago, started reading and 3 months ago built The Prototype, lol. Wasn't a looker at all :oops:

    The new setup which are in the photos only ran me down 250€ - excl fan, lights and aircon, yes it gets hot in Spain.

    The goldfish would eat pretty much any food I give them, but since I have a mix of species right now I feed them a exotic aquarium mix. Tiny pellets.

    As for the bio filter, here comes the fun part, no filter needed!
    The red wigglers added in the medium lives there and are more then happy to eat the bigger chunks of poo that comes through the tubes. Which then becomes worm poo which coincidentally is AWESOME for the plants :smug:
    ttystikk likes this.
  7. Haha, small world!
    So you are on Stutt's oceangrown too, cool.
    Have our grow there as well, think we are about 10 people there :cigar:
    Theoneandonly Z likes this.
  8. From what I've seen in my wanderings this far, having the biobed be your plants media is a good approach for small gardens as long as there is plenty of substrate, like your hydroton, and it isn't disturbed much. I've been warned off that approach if I intend to build to scale.

    Do you actively manage the temperature of the water? Does the water cycle constantly? I wonder if adding mineral supplements to the fish's diet might benefit your plants. Give me a minute and I'll start coming up with some questions, lol
  9. Okay, so my plans involve a bigger system than yours, so those variables that change with scale will need careful attention. I want to place at least one, and perhaps two fish tanks outside, on the surface.

    One of these will be a tilapia and warm water fish tank, to be run at 82F. It will be kept warm one of two ways; either a warm water circuit that flows between heater exchangers at the outlets if my sealed hoods and the water tank, thus warming it, using heat pulled from the lights to do it. This would substantially reduce the load on my chiller unit, allowing it to maintain the climate while using much less power.

    The other more expensive but more efficient approach would be to install water cooling for my chillers, or replace them with a heat pump. These options call for the installation of a hot water circuit, to carry the heat generated by the heat pump away to be dissipated. Instead of throwing this heat away, however, I would use it to maintain a large hot water tank of 120+ gallons for the resident's decadent pleasure, lol, and supply a heat exchanger coil in the hot tub- for more of same, lol- and another coil to warm the fish tank, more to heat the entire house, and finally through a waste heat radiator for whatever heat might be left!

    The other option is to run the fish tank at 55-65 degrees, with cold water species like trout in it. This water would be cooled by the chiller along with all the other RDWC, so it would require extra power to keep cool during hot summer days. There are jetpumps and other options for keeping the tank cool as well. Of course the tank would be insulated and shaded from direct sunlight to minimize such heat gain as much as possible. The payoff comes in the Winter time when that tank, sitting outside in Colorado, would freeze solid if left alone! Instead, the chiller coil continues to run, drawing heat out of the chiller system and maintaining the tank at temperatures very comfortable, even balmy, for the fish. This heat sink effect could also be increased with the use of jet pumps, fountains and the like. I can see a setup like this eliminating the need for several Tons of cooling capacity, and that's being very conservative considering it can get flat bone chilling cold around here!

    I know this goes way above and beyond aquaponics, but I believe the promise of this dual approach is the free lunch you get by using each part of the system for multiple benefits. The tank(s) will still have fish, they will still eat fish food and create biosolid waste and ammonia, which will feed by gravity down into first a settling tank and then a big bio filtration bed- I like the worms, I'll get some, excess becomes fish food!- and then this water will flow through any of multiple RDWC I already use. From these, the water will drain into a big sump tank- think kiddie pool on the floor in the basement, lol- and a 1/2hp pump will push that water back up, outside, and into the fish tank to pick up more waste and solids and repeat its journey.

    Ambitious? Yes... but how much more complexity am I introducing? A warm water circuit, which would eliminate the need for outside power for nearly any heating function on the premises- save actually baking the fresh fish in the oven!
    HottyToddy likes this.
  10. Haha! Go easy on a fellow noob :bookworm:

    I would think that if you have a large scale system, a sump is required to some degree. But my testing shows no signs of ammonia overload, so I do not worry.

    The drip system is always on, so far no problem except some algae build up between the pots, but I think this will also adjust itself.

    As for the extra nutrient for the plants, which cannot be added through the water stream, here is where the foilar feed comes in handy.
    Read about it and some scientific studies show that compare foilar to soil feed you have a 90 - 10 % difference in what is absorbed by the plant. I recon the % is higher with hydro, tho.
    ttystikk likes this.
  11. Had not thought of the foliar approach, but yeah! Nothing wrong with feeding fish a diet high in calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus, either- I bet extra fruits and veggies those often come in might be good for them, too!
  12. Shnap!

    Looks like you got it all planned out!
    Are you thinking of growing cannabis in that huge system, that is something I would love to see!

    I have some great vidz for bigger setups that could explain these kind of builds very simple.
    As for the heating system, here is were I come in short. Have not tried out either heating or cooling, but I think you are in to something.
    The whole idea that is AP is that it is self sufficient.
    I am actually in the same boat as you, kind of.
    My dad lives in Norway, in the northern part, and while I try to sell him on the AP idea I quickly came to the conclusion that in the summer it works out great, but the winter up there can creep down in the -30 celcius or 20-22 F.

    He lives in the forest, owns lots of land so he heats the house with wood - free heating, can't beat that.

    So the chiller will actually heat during winter and cool during summer...o_O
    Wouldn't that mean that during winter you are pushing extremely much power into a unit forcing it to do something that it possible can do, but it not made for, making it waste a lot of electricity ?

    How long is the different seasons in Colorado, and what temp are we talking ?
    How deep do the frost go ?

    This dome is awesome!

    Also check out the three part install section:

    This also may be interesting:
    This is not actually for water, but perhaps it could do the same trick ?
    BakedReality and urbanfog like this.
  13. This is fantastic!
    ThePreacher likes this.
  14. A chiller is just like an air conditioner, except that it makes water cold instead of air. The water is used to cool any thing you like, from bloom rooms to RDWC to chilling beer, lol.

    The heat the chiller puts out- after all, when it makes something colder, that heat has to go somewhere- is blown into the air behind the chiller, just like an AC. If you bring the chiller inside and allow it to heat your living space with warm air, it can heat the whole house. This does not tax the unit, or force it to operate in a way that might hurt it. You're just taking the heat out of your grow room and putting it into your living space. The more efficiently you manage this heat, the more likely it is that you can heat your whole house with the exhaust from just a two ton unit.
    ThePreacher likes this.
  15. To address the Norway question, it completely depends on how well insulated your home is.
  16. tweedy


    Breeder Steve addressed some of his aquaponic tips in another article, can't remember the link but it's got some good info IIRC.
    ThePreacher and ttystikk like this.
  17. Anything about aquaponics that can be brought here to the Farm would be much appreciated.

    I live in Colorado. Therefore, I grow cannabis, lol... So yes of course the aquatic system that I outlined above will be supporting a cannabis cultivation operation. Furthermore, the fish tank will be a dual use reservoir, as it will be used to shed excess heat as well as raise fish that provide nutrients for the plants!
  18. Ah-ha!

    I don't see how this cannot work with a little bit of tinkering and what not.
    Maybe you ad to have look at this:

    Free cannabis, veggies and fish, hot damn! :D

    As for the insulation in Norway, the temp creeps down to 20F so it is pretty darn good insulated ;)

    pH crept down to 5.5 today. Starting to think I have to buy some pH down at this stage.
    BakedReality and ttystikk like this.
  19. Funny how a Norwegian sends me a research document from a university just down the road from me, lol

    That .pdf is quote long; I read the executive summary and some of the innovations they tout sound promising.

    I did not read the whole document as yet, so I don't know if they discuss aquaponics- or was there another reason you linked to that document?

    The heat from a chiller is just heat. It can be used to heat your home. How efficient it will be depends on the temperature of the room it's in; the colder the better, and much above 80F and its performance begins to degrade.

    Free cannabis, veggies and fish? Sure! Just pay my €1300 power bill!
  20. This is the rust I talk about.
    Seeing this on mostly one plant, and by the looks, seem to affect more and more of the plant.
    new_rust1.jpg new_rust2.jpg new_rust3.jpg new_rust4.jpg
    ttystikk likes this.