Aquaponics Adventure Mark II Part VII

Aquaponics October 28th, 2008

Well. It’s been a long time. A work colleague commented on my blog saying it was like reading the fish obituaries, and I got really discouraged and stopped posting. However my aquaponics adventure has continued, and I’ll quickly bring you up to speed since Part VI.

I’ve had ongoing flexibacter problems (the obituaries continue) – this sorry little sucker is just one example:

And when the “mouth fungus” really gets to ’em, it basically eats away the mouth completley:

I am working through my problems though. Salting the water helps fish to fight off bacteria, so I dosed it up.  I think another major problem I had is that Canberra is just too bloody cold:

So cold in fact that the running water froze at 10pm:

So basically my bacteria wasn’t active down at those low low temps, and so my whole system just wasn’t working. Ammonia was sky high, and nitrates were a big fat zero. So what do you do? You build a dodgy little greenhouse out of PVC and ebay greenhouse material:

Next winter I’ll enclose it fully, but since there was only a little bit of winter left, this would do me for now. I also created a mini “solar water heater” using some old sheets of glass and black poly pipe:

As water is pumped up from the sump to the fishtank, it passes through my “solar heater” and dumps a bit of heat into the fishtank. So heat in the Canberra winter is solved, what now?

What you’re seeing there is a strawberry struggling with salinity. Basically my system was sitting at 5ppt (5 parts of salt per 1000L of water). This is supposedly quite good for the fish, but the plants struggle a bit. Ahh the balancing act that is aquaponics. Reduce the salinity, fish get sick, increase it, plants get sick.

But it’s not all bad news. I reduced the salinity to less than 3ppt and I saw some relatively good plant growth-

6th September:

14th of September:

22nd September (notice I harvested brocoli):

So nothing truly fantastic, but it’s a start – not bad when you consider it’s been grown with no soil, and no additional chemicals. Whats more, I actually got some harvests from my system. I also seem to have also hit an all time low – I’m posing with vegetables:

However, I think the REAL exciting news is that a colleague at work was cleaning out his pond, and dropped off around 20 goldfish…. but these were BIG gold fish.

Just one of these goldfish is about the size of 10 of mine glued together (??) – it looks like “the mothership”:

By the way, this is in my hospital tank which I’d moved into the shed due to the fact that it was freezing freakin’ cold outside the shed. The idea was to leave these guys in the hospital tank (which is heavily treated with salt – about 8ppt) so that they de-stress a bit and hopefully don’t suffer the same afflictions as the current batch.

However, with so many LARGE fish in such a small tank, the ammonia shot up to 1.0 in about an hour!! Ammonia is poisonous to the fish, so I thought they’re safer in the big tank, so in they went. Of course I had to do the obligitory Rex-Hunt-style-photo-with-the-fish:

They are slippery little suckers:

I caught this guy, but I did manage to drop another on the concrete. He didn’t go into the main tank since he’d lost a fair bit of scales which leaves him open to infection. He stayed in the hospital tank.

So this is where I’m at for the moment, the big goldfish are providing a stack of nutrient, and the weather is warm, so I’m expecting some smokin’ growth, and I’m seeing signs that it might just be time:

18th of October:

25th October:

Which aint bad for a weeks growth (it doesn’t help that the second photo is taken further away). The fish are semi-healthy, a few lost scales in the process of being transferred, and i’ve seen some signs of flexi but I’m really hoping these big guys can fight it off.

One Response to “Aquaponics Adventure Mark II Part VII”

  1. Jessy Says:

    Well done gommel, looks all very exciting for you. Good luck for the future, will watch on with great interest.