Aquaponics Blog

Discussing everything related to aquaponics, with focus on home aquaponics projects.

Indoors Aquapoincs, revived

On October 12th, 2014, I stopped the indoors aquaponics system, after a psycho Tiger Tilapia killed all other fish in the tank, then died miserably.

Today, the system is (almost) revived, with the following:

  • Fish tank rinsed with water, and brushed all the dust, salt, and residue. No detergent or disinfectant were used. We didn't want to risk harming the growth of new bacteria.
  • New water pump installed.
  • New (very bright) LEDs were installed. Let's encourage the growth of plants with more lumens. I hope the LEDs will be in the correct spectrum for the plants.

I will keep the water circulating (fill - flush) for a week, before introducing some goldfish and fully grown plants. They're usually very affordable (mint goes for less than US$0.50 a pot), but not organic.

Only 4 LED bulbs were introduced, as they were expensive and I wasn't sure they would work.

Only 4 LED bulbs were introduced, as they were expensive and I wasn't sure they would work.

Update March 17th, 2016: I scattered some arugula (rocket - جرجير) seeds all over the hydroton, just as a progress baseline. I was surprised it actually flourished.

Indoors Aquaponics, stopped

It's been over a year and a half (March, 2013) since we've started the indoors aquaponics project.. Experimentations with multiple variables to gain knowledge and experience, but with the death of our last tilapia (Psycho), we've decided to stop the indoors system until we move to the house.

The plan for the house is to utilize the empty roof for our greenhouse, and it will contain the growbeds and the fish tanks. It's still in design phase, so I have nothing to share at this time.

We'll meet again in a few months, after finishing the house renovation and design.

Many thanks..

Salam, Waleed :)

Burnt Rosemary

I noticed this a couple of days ago and I don't know the reason it's happening. Some of the leaf edges are burning dry in the rosemary plant. Could this be from too much water for the rosemary, or a deficiency of some kind? 

Cleaning away slugs

In my previous post, I wrote about the slugs I discover in the grow bed. From a bit of reading on the internet, I found out they don't breath under water, which means they'll start climbing up to escape water. So, I flooded the grow bed, and started picking them up.

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The flooding did not only bring the slugs out, but also tons of tiny little insects, that are around 2mm in length.. Here's a macro shot of one on the siphon:

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After picking up all the slugs that surfaced, I decided to spray the plants with water, to wash away and residue left by the insects.

WHAT, a slug??!

Before getting my first cup of coffee at 6AM, I switch on the grow lights, feed the fish, and examine the grow bed. At first I thought, that's a thick gray root climbing over the hydroton. A bit too thick, as it's growing near the new arugula sprouts. Hmm

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Then, it looked at me.. WHAT?

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Oh dear, it's a slug??!! Where did it come from? This is an indoors aquaponics system.

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Strange looking body, with a strange hole on the side

Strange looking body, with a strange hole on the side

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I used a little stick to pick it up, and killed it with a single spray of window cleaner.. It died faster than I expected.

Lettuce Update

Since this is a prototype aquaponics system, we've decided to remove the green tea, as they were taking over the grow bed (a friend said they were spearmint plants). Their growth was the fastest and growing on top of others.

We also removed three black-eyed pea plants, as their leaves were getting so large, that they block the light from most other plants.

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Next, we bought some Great Lakes California Lettuce seeds. I'd say three tablespoons worth, for 5 Saudi Riyals (US$1.3). 

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We removed some of the hydroton, sprinkled the seeds, and covered them again. The seed is roughly 4mm (0.16") in length. I know, I know, I should germinate first then transplant it back into the grow bed.. I'm too lazy for that :)

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General update

Woke up this morning to find the black-eyed peas grown at least 10cm in length since last night, and it's now almost touching the grow lights.. I don't know what's going on, but fish waste is like steroids to those plants :)

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I finally found rosemary yesterday.. I was hoping for seeds, but I found a plant and will probably transplant it in a couple of days, as I have some business trips to take care of. Please note that this a prototype aquaponics system, so we'll conduct experiments until we build a production one.

The grow bed is getting crowded :)

The grow bed is getting crowded :)

We loved the smell of the leaves, and can't wait to use them :)

We loved the smell of the leaves, and can't wait to use them :)

Stem Support

I noticed the stems of some plants, namely the black-eyed peas, starting the lean on the sides from the weight. It could be from too much water, or the fast growth. I had to provide support to the stem to help the plant grow properly.

So, I used barbecue sticks to support the stem.

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You insert the stick in parallel to the plant's stem into the hydroton, then tie the stem with a small thread to the stick. I'll keep monitoring the growth & see how positive was this solution.

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First Harvest

Today, we had our first official harvest from the single grow bed aquaponics system. All plants were getting a bit too high for their stems and collapsing on each other. So, we trimmed the tops off of most them :)

Left plate: green tea.  Right plate: mint and Habaq

Left plate: green tea.  Right plate: mint and Habaq

The grow bed, after the hair cut :)

The grow bed, after the hair cut :)

Branch when snipped

I usually snip the plant's stem from the top, when I like to make some tea. I noticed something common among all plants, they all branch out when snipped.

Green tea

Green tea

I still don't know the name in English, but we call it Habag. Aromatic leaves we add to tea.

I still don't know the name in English, but we call it Habag. Aromatic leaves we add to tea.

Mint

Mint

Just kidding.. This is a new arugula plant, hehe 

Just kidding.. This is a new arugula plant, hehe 

Fast growth rate

ما شاء الله تبارك الرحمن

One of the most brilliant things you'll notice in an aquaponics system, is the fast growth rate in the plants. I mean, I'm noticing a daily change in the hight of the plants and the size of the leaves.

From the plant below (and its neighbors), I add a couple of leaves to a tea cup by snipping the top of the stem. In the past couple of days, I wasn't in the mood for its flavor & it grew higher than I anticipated.. It's now only a few inches from hitting the grow lights.

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Fish Tank's Natural Filter

The plants act like a natural water filter in the fish tank of an aquaponics system. This is something I've read, but as the days go by, I see it in the fish tank. First, the odor started going away until it was gone. Then, the water clarity started increasing, and you can see this in the video below:

Chemically, I still need to test the water's pH to see if this needs stabilization. Locally, I couldn't find testing strips or a test kit. I might need to buy one online and have it shipped internationally.

Tea Time

Making my first cup of green tea from the aquaponics system.. The leaves are yellowish from the lack of minerals (iron) and nutrients (new system). But I can't resist trying :)

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Taste Update: Boiled 8 leaves with roughly 250ml of water.. Unlike dried green tea, the fresh leaves were aromatic, and the taste had a hint of mint without any bitterness. Could it be because of the mint plants in the same grow bed? I mean, the fish tank sometimes smell like mint too :)

Germinate in a similar environment

I don't have a lot of experience with this new hobby, but I noticed that germinating seeds in a similar aquaponic environment may produce good results and reduces the shock of transplant.

Black-eyed peas were germinating in a plate with kitchen towels, hydroton, and water from the fish tank.

Black-eyed peas were germinating in a plate with kitchen towels, hydroton, and water from the fish tank.

When transplanted, I noticed how clean the roots were. Not to mention, the sprouts were easy to move from the plate to the grow bed

Transplanted from the plate, into the grow bed

Transplanted from the plate, into the grow bed

This seed was planted in the grow bed, just to compare.

This seed was planted in the grow bed, just to compare.

The insects are here

I guess I was waiting for the inevitable, the arrival of insects.. Now, I need to identify it and try to get the predator insect for it, as I can't use insecticides. Believe it or not, I thought of using a vacuum cleaner to suck them from the hydroton, hehe :)

The only source I could think of is the arugula seeds, the eggs were there somehow; It's really puzzling.

Update 6PM: I wrote the post early in the morning. But now, not a single insect can be found in the grow bed. Where did they go? Did they drown?

The seeds are alive

I started germinating black-eyed peas a couple of days ago, and things appear to be progressing well. I used some kitchen towels on a plate, some dried seeds from the supermarket, and covered them with hydroton.  I use water from the fish tank to keep them moist.

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Thanks to Melissa Gasparotto from twitter, who shared a photo of the watercress grown directly in the grow bed, I went out a got some arugula seeds and sprinkled them around the vacant area in the grow bed yesterday. Check out the little guy :)

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Isolated Goldfish

I noticed one of the goldfish was always crawling near the water pump. I didn't want the incident when two of them died while stuck at the intake. So, I isolated it in a separate tank to observe more.

It's a bit bloated than all the others, so it's either going to lay eggs or has some disease.

Grow lights adjustment

I've changed the florescent bulbs used, to include warm bulbs & not only cold. So, now we have 5 cold and 5 warm bulbs. Hopefully, this would make the light spectrum a little wider and more beneficial to the plants.

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Black dots are back :(

I spoke about the plant I removed, because of the black dots it had.. I suspected insect eggs or parasites, but I removed the plant completely to be safe.

This morning, I discovered them again on a different plant.. I can't tell if they were eggs, parasites, or fungus. I always thought eggs would be under the leaf, not on top.

If you know, please let me know. Thanks :)

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