The cycle of life in the AP system starts with fish food, and then fish poop. Get these two wrong and the rest of your system suffers.
“How do you get fish poop wrong?” You ask.
If the fish don’t absorb the nutrients from the fish food, then the poop is excrement, rather than future fertilizer! So it all starts with the right fish food.
You want to be serving food with enough protein and nutrients for your fish at the stage they are in their life. Ex: 32 percent protein is what I look for in the fish food I’ll feed my 8″ Tilapia. Also, I prefer 1/8 (3 mm) pellet size floating catfish food.
The way to ID easily digestible fish food is by the poop. If it is clear, slimy, and easily disappears into the fish tank water when rubbed between your (gloved) fingers then the fish food is doing its job. IE the fishes are absorbing the nutrients.
If the fish food (typically corn and soybean) is gritty when you crush it, it will be gritty when it goes through the fish. This is because the food content was not ground finely enough for the fish to digest easily.
So that’s the poop on fish poop!
The grow beds are made with 1/4″ treated plywood sides, 2″x4″ top edge rails, and 1″x2″ untreated top edge covers. The 1″x2″s cover the edges of the pond line that is stapled into the top edge of the 2″x4″ rails.
The material I’ll refer to as pond liner has several different nicknames:
LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene) material.
PVC (Poly Vinyl Chloride) pond liner is OK
PVC, PVC with internal reinforcement, and similar products
HDPE (High Density Polyethylene), but this is usually expensive. I also believe it is more ridged and harder to work with.
Notice that the liner in the picture above is tight/flat above and behind the bulkhead. When water is added the wrinkled part of the liner will lay smooth. This picture was taken on long grass which pushed the new liner up a couple inches.
The bulkhead has threads to allow removing the plumbing inside the tank. This makes it easy to change filters, run a fish tape down the plumbing if it gets clogged, etc.
I used PVC pond liner from Home Depot that was 7′ x 11′ in size and about $39 each. The pond liners I found were way too large physically as they would have covered 3-4 grow beds. Also the price, even though very good quality (German made) and discounted was much more than I wanted to spend, $150.
I found a couple places on the Internet that sell pond liner custom cut. They wanted $0.62/ square foot plus shipping costs.
Ex: “Custom cut liners available in widths of 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40 ,50 feet, and in any length to the nearest 5 foot up to 100 feet. Must be in 5 foot increments”
They often sell rubber liners. I have no clue if they will work favorabley with fish and plants.
37. “Where can I get some net pots in large quantities (5,000 pots), and some trough liner?”
69. “I purchased the 2010 Micro System DIY plans. I am having problems finding a 20 mil LDPE liner for the troughs. Homedepot has the liners but they are PVC. Will this work? Do you recommend any places that carry this material”?”
Plants grow faster in Aquaponics systems!
I am told they grow from 2-3 times faster and at 4-5 times the density of typical “dirt” farming. That’s 1/4 the space needed and 1/2 the time to wait to get better results!
Here is a picture of my first measurable success, a seed to seedling in 4 days.
I didn’t believe it so i replanted and repeated the results. Had organic seeds and good hot sun in July 2011. The system had lots of Nitrates but was not totally through the Nitrogen cycle. I believe the lemon juice pH adjustment I used for soaking the seed helped, but was not necessary. The nutrient absorption in AP is just amazing to behold. Even an ADHD prone guy like me doesn’t have time to get impatient “watching plants grow”.
I wonder if you could mix AP water with paint and it would dry 3-4 times faster?
Take a look at Friendly Aquaponics pictures on how their food grew fast. They show marked improvement in one day on some plants!
Aquaponics is a combination of Aqua Culture and Hydroponics.
Aqua Culture raises aquatic life in a man made marine environment.
Hydroponics is the science of growing plants in a medium, other than soil.
These are the goals I have for my Aquaponics involvement. The first four are hobby oriented, the last four are business oriented.
AES = Aquatic Eco Systems, http://www.aquaticeco.com/
AP = Aquaponics
APF = Aquaponics Fun http://aquaponicfun.com/ , us or our website
Apsfun = same as APF
CHOP or CHOP2 = Murray Hallam’s ebb & flow system design using IBC Toes. Means Constant Height one pump.
Deep-water raft system = The AP growbed trough in our FAP system. Water is 8” to 9” deep with a 2” raft on the water in the 12” deep growbed. The deeper water makes the system water temp and biology balance more stable.
FAP = Friendly Aquaponics
Growbed or grow bed = the place in the FAP AP system where the plants are grown. See trough & Raft
MS 64 or MS 64 and 128 = The Micro System 64 and 128 AP system FAP sells plans to use to build and operate an AP system. http://www.friendlyaquaponics.com/do-it-myself-systems/micro-system/
Net Pot = the flower pot shaped plastic container we use to plant plants into our AP deep-water raft system
Raft = the Styrofoam in the trough. 2” Dow blue Styrofoam insulation with painted top and holes for net pots
Trough = The box or “container” that holds our water in our grow beds, and floats our foam raft
Here is a graph with the data for the first 19 days.
This is my experience for the first 40 days all on one graph.
(Click on the picture to see it enlarged)
I started out by adding Ammonia and the Nitrifying Bacteria day 1. By day 11 the Nitrites peaked and about day 19 the Nitrates peaked. The Nitrite, Nitrate, hardness, and alkalinity all “balanced out” at about day 30.
It looks like I didn’t go through such a “fast stat up Nitrogen cycle” after all, and I’m guessing the heat directly effected the cycle time.
Note: At day 22 I started taking samples every 2-3 days to save on time and test strips.
August 17, 2011: Too much Algae in the system presently. No way to keep the sunlight out without a major shade creation effort. I’m thinking AP growing in TX in the summer is best done in deep shade! At least the Taro loves the sun. Wonder if I could setup a top layer of the Taro plants and use their huge leaves to shade the other plants? hum…
This list of steps below is a compilation of what I have researched on the web.
I am following it to take my new system through the Nitrogen Cycle.
You must monitor and record levels during Start up
These are the steps I am following to build the Nitrogen Cycle in my system.
Fast Start-up is said to take 3-4 weeks which is 21-28 days.
Theory says it can be done in 16 days. I’ll report my findings back here.
My list is compiled from my web research. Credits are at the end of this post.
End Fast Fish-less startup
Ammonia used should be free of surfactants, perfumes, and colorants.
Shake the bottle if you’re not sure about it; ammonia with surfactants will foam, while good ammonia will not.
Sunlight (or grow lights) for photosynthesis
Water to top off the system from evaporation (minor)
Hello new friends!
We are a family new to Aquaponics who whats to share our experiences from zero until today. When we started in June of 2011, it was challenging to find others experiences, except scattered around the web. It seemed that once we figured something out, we found a good explanation of it on the web. So we created this site with details of our experiences in hope that we could help other beginners find the info they needed more easily.
Check our our pictures, articles, step by step experience, tips, and resources.
We tired to logically group the info you might be looking for.