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Hydroponics and Aquaponics

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I've been doing a search here for hydroponics and aquaponics and have found that over the years it's been mentioned a few times but not a lot was said from first hand experience.  DH and I started both in our small greenhouse last winter, along with a small Aerogarden and the success we had has encouraged us to try it again.  We were given a small and very simple PVC hydroponics setup that my brother made for my mom and it's worked quite well though it only has spots for seven or eight plants. We weren't happy about having to buy the fertilizers for it, most of which are just a mixture of chemicals, so after a search of the internet and some experimentation we have come up with a simple solution of Blood meal, fish emulsion, and seaweed extract.  It worked well enough but I believe it could be better.  It smelled strongly for one thing and I don't believe there was the right balance of nutrients.  I'm hoping to do some more experimenting this year using dried nettles and other plants along with compost tea, worm castings, and various minerals.  Does anyone else have experience with Hydroponics and if so have you used your own homemade solution?

 

Our Aquaponic setup was simply an old 20 gal aquarium with a large plastic tub above it and various plumbing fixtures DH had on hand. We started with a dozen goldfish but ended up losing all but one to a common bacterial bloom because we didn't give it enough time to naturalize before trying it. (Too much eagerness  :whistling:Don't you know)   Still, even with only one gold fish left, once the whole thing began to work correctly eight or ten plants did very well though they didn't grow all that big until the longer spring sunshine came.  With a couple more fish we might do better. With only twenty gallon we couldn't raise much but we are thinking a couple of food fish, perhaps bluegills as they are available.  

 

One problem that I've been trying to solve is the fact that both systems rely on electricity.  Both systems use only small aquarium pumps and take only a small amount of electricity but I hate to rely on them.  The Aquaponics one has a automatic bell siphon for draining and though it took a while to get it working correctly I was fascinated with the fact that it didn't need any electricity to work.  The hydroponic one is gravity drain back to the reservoir.  I know that with both of these setups I could do the watering by hand if needed but it would take a lot of work as the roots need to have moisture, nutrients, and oxygen continuously.  I've seen large setups based on a complicated system of floats and pressure that require no electric but we have such a small area (10'X10' total and there's a lot more potted plants in there) I'm not sure I can make that work.  The Aerogarden is totally electrically dependent on an air pump and lights.

 

I guess I'm just looking to see if anyone else has suggestions or ideas or has tried any of these growing systems.  I've really enjoyed 'playing' with them but I'd also like them to be a part of our survival preps, something us 'old and physically challenged' people can do on a small scale. 

 

Hugs all.

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The 75 gal. fish tank I used once, was nice.  I had minnows in it and algae eaters.  They kept the algae under control, and the plants grew excellent. I didn’t use a pump, just syphoned some water out with a hose, sucking up the crud on the bottom, & refilled, about once a week or so, to water my indoor plants.  The heat, 110*+ overheated the poor fish and I gave up that idea. 

 

The mini pond I had for over 10 years, had large goldfish, an algae eater and minnows.  It also had lots of edibles in and around it, including water cress & cattails, but the neighbors tree roots punctured the liner I used.

 

 (Remembering that, brought back a smile. We saw something on the porch, went out to discover one of our ferrets had escaped.  He was ‘dancing & ooping’ running back & forth between the porch & the pond!  He was trying to catch the fish, then, he’d run around in circles because he was soaked. :008Laughing:)

 

I’d like to start another one some day, it was always so peaceful to sit and watch the life in & around it. 

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The first article I ever saw on aquaponics was using a kiddy pool, I think a 15-foot diameter one, to raise fish.  I was fascinated.  My mom threw the book away.

Next mention I saw was in an old issue of Organic Gardening, where a guy was using I think a 50-gallon barrel to raise I think catfish, feeding them home-raised earthworms.  Again, I was fascinated.  I love catfish.  This article is apparently floating around the internet, as I have seen it a few times.  Unfortunately, it seems to have been scanned from a bad photocopy, and I can't read the versions I've seen.  I think it was from 1972, if you want to look.

Most recently, I was hooked by an article on  low-tech crawdad raising.  This is where I am now.  I want to grow catfish and crawdads.

 

I bet a gonzo home-built windmill stirring or slapping the water would oxygenate it enough, if it was shallow.  Problem is that shallow water turns into very hot water in the sun.

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I'm INTERESTED but mostly ignorant on this topic. 

 

Convinced that this would be the ONLY real solution in my current location.  ....but if I got anything large going, I'd get a visit from the local sheriff.  :baseballbat:    So many Grow houses in these here mountains now...and they are not growing tomatoes.  :grinning-smiley-044:  They pay a visit places with an elevated electric bill.  Cuz those type of Grow houses don't use window glass.  Completely in the dark but for the electric lighting.  Another aspect, even here in arid West is the moisture accumulation.....it's ruining a lot of rented homes.  Course they PACK those Grow houses with the ....product.  More profit and then they leave the mold-destroyed home to the devastated owners. 

 

This is what I know about this topic cuz.....well....y'know.   Colorado, right?  :sigh:  Rocky Mt High...and all that.  Not MY intention for indoor growing.  <_< 

 

I also know tilapia is one of the easiest fish cuz of ability to survive temperature changes.  Trout are fragile.  Have heard nothing of blue gill.  One other ....can't remember which.   You can eat the carp/goldfish, right? 

 

MtRider :lois: 

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There are lots of different systems for hydroponics.  You can use a simple float system in either but we tried that and it's really only effective for greens.  The water should be aerated in most systems because roots need oxygen. Our hydro system is a nutrient film type where the solution runs continuously  through the pipe and drenches the roots.  It gets oxygen from the moving water but something has to keep the water moving.  The aquaponics uses an ebb and flow system where the fish water is pumped in to flood the media and the roots and the bell syphon drains it at a certain height.  The air stone is in the aquarium but technically the water draining back into the aquarium would probably give it enough.  It's the pumps that need electricity. The Aerogarden works on a sort of nutrient film too only it uses air to make bubbles in the water and keeps the roots wet.  I used a home made system like that years ago.  We got the Aerogarden at a sale for $15.  It's been interesting but it's small.  

 

Here's a picture of the aquaponics with the hydroponics set up above it.  The aquarium is on the floor below the table.  There's actually two of them but so far we've only used one. 

 

 

image.jpeg

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Annarchy,. I bet you miss your pond.  I got a laugh out of the ferret story.  When we were doing wildlife rescue the police from a small nearby town brought us a 'wild' ferret.  I thought perhaps they were talking about a mink or weasel, both of which are nasty to work with.  They told me someone must have had it illegally because it was fairly tame.  I'd say it was.  A pure white bundle of wiggle that was NOT wild. In the middle of that first night our young (then) son called out to me to say the ferret was on his bed.  I sleepily asked him what it was doing and he replied it was curled up on his pillow.  I told him to tell it to move over and to go back to sleep.  We never did find its owner and eventually found him a home but we sure enjoyed him while we had that 'wild' critter. :hapydancsmil:

 

Ambergris, I first heard about growing lettuce in a kiddie pool years ago too.  Basically you floated styrofoam on top of a nutrient solution and the small plants were inserted into holes cut into it.  Simplicity itself except that the plant roots would have trouble with getting oxygen.  That's where some sort of windmill might come in handy.  The problem we are finding is getting the right nutrients to the systems.  The plants in the hydro get only what you put in the solution and even the aqua plants only get out of the fish waste what you put into the fish.  

 

Mt.R.,. We have a lot if 'those' hydroponics here in Illinois too and the police will check into unusual electrical usage.  They haven't been here But then most of them know us and over the years have learned we were either using heat lamps for various babies or were growing ligitimate herbs to sell.  They checked us often enough for those.  Even brought in a dog once. 🐕 :lois::008Laughing:

 

We could eat the gold fish if he got bigger. Not sure what they taste like.  The problem is at twenty gallon the tank isn't big enough to allow the fish to grow to eating size.  I like fish but it was the ready fertilizer I was after.  I'd like to incorporate worms into the equation to see if we could have a sort of Eco system.  The plants would feed us and the worms, the worms would feed the fish, and the fish would feed the plants.  Not quite that simple, I'm sure, but I'd like to try it on a small scale at least.  

 

:grouphug:

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Ferrets were a joy, while they were young.  :wub: We are done with them now, passed the responsibilities on to another person involved in ferret rescue. :(

 

Yes, I do miss the pond.  Wondering if I should start another. But with the dogs, IDK if they’d stay out of it. They both love the water & Grrr loves to chase minnows at the lake & river.

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