Projects

 

The Aquaponics system we have set up since being at the new place has now been running for 8 weeks quite well, and we have worked through a few issues, with only a few to go hopefully.

 

 

 

Firstly, after getting the grow bed and loading it with the 3/4 inch gravel the sides of the grow bed expanded, so to overcome that we have put up wood supports to hold it in place. Not a very efficient way of doing it, however limited funds means we can't afford a more suitable solution right now. But this has stopped it from expanding and the grown bed can flood and drain properly without overflowing the top and drowning the plants.

 

Wood Supports against Wall Ground support

 

Another problem we decided to fix recently was the down pipe from the grow bed. The way it was set up initially allowed the grow bed to drain, but as the water level in the sump tank filled too high, it covered the down pipe and this meant the bell siphon wouldn't break. This led to high nitrate levels, so we decided to fix the down pipe. We tried a few different methods including having a T junction, one to allow for the air and one for the water drainage. The problem with this setup was that yes it allowed extra air into the system, but with the water level higher than the pipe, water filled the length of the pipe, preventing the siphon from breaking. After getting $20+ worth of parts that didn't allow us to do what we wanted, we finally found a right angle joiner to allow us to have a single pipe coming out above the grow bed at a higher level, now allowing the bell siphon to flood and drain properly.

 

When we first set this up, our plants from the previous place had unfortunately died in the move. So, this meant the fish were creating ammonia in the system and to combat that, we decided to go to the local nursery and purchased a few seedlings. To start with we got, Lettuce, Cucumber, Tomato, Snow Peas, Paprika and Celery. After these were established and running for a week, we decided we still need a few more seedlings to combat the ammonia and help later when the nitrate levels picked up. This time, we decided to get Strawberries, Oregano, Parsley, Basil, Rosemary, Chives and Rocket. We also had some Cayenne Chillies and Capsicum in pots during the move, which survived so we decided to transplant them to the Aquaponics to see if they would improve.

 

Since then, we have had the Super Moon which helped with some fantastic growth, particularly with the Lettuce and Basil. We have already picked one of the Lettuces to add to our dinner and it had a good taste, fresh, not at all bitter and crisp. We will be leaving 1 or 2 of the Lettuces to go to seed, so we can have more produce without having to continue buying seedlings. We did have some Lettuce seeds from Eden Seeds but so far none of the 10+ seeds we have planted in the seedling tray have sprouted. We believe this is due to the seeds being dead now. Why? We are not sure. However other seeds from Eden we have got have sprouted and will be transplanted soon. Except for the Corn seeds which seem to go moldy in an Aquaponics setup, so we need to figure out how we can get them to sprout.

 

Overall, the growth from the Aquaponics has been great. From the same set of seedlings purchased from the nursery, we planted a Snow Pea in a soil pot and the rest in the Aquaponics, same with the Strawberries and a Tomato.

 

Snow pea in pot Sideview aquaponics

This most noticeable difference is the Snow Peas. In the pot, it has grown quite a bit, however has only just started to get a few flowers and may soon to start growing the actual pods. However, in the Aquaponics, while it may not be as big or long, they have received more nutrients and have already produced a couple of pods.

 

Tomatoes on the other hand, in the pot it has grown, but only very little and still can support its own weight right now. In the grow bed however, we have one Tomato plant that is large and flops all over the place (due to not having a trellis yet) and another which is actually growing a small Tomato already. The Strawberries in the pot are the same as the Tomato, they have grown, but only very little.

 

Lastly, we have set up a seedling tray in the house. So far we have tried to start a few different seedlings including Lettuce, Marigolds, Sunflowers, Sugar beets, Chamomile, Carrot, Corn, Cucumber, Pumpkin, and Watermelon. The Sugar beets so far are the only seedlings to have been transplanted due to their growth. The Carrots have sprouted but is very slowly growing and isn't big enough to transplant yet. Soon, we will be able to transplant 4x Pumpkin, 2x Cucumber sprouts, and 2x Watermelon sprouts. Chamomile is growing slowly but will eventually be finding a nice place in the garden to grow.

 

I have uploaded more photos for your viewing pleasure, to see the progress of the system to date. They are located in the Aquaponics Gallery including a few photos of the pot plants as well.