ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission

Growing plants using nutrient solutions, without soil.

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Disaster Averted?

Post by ChilliJez » Sun Mar 15, 2015 1:09 am

I haven't posted much here recently. I feel I've learned quite a lot over the last 11 months and some of that is how much more I need to have the full picture. Things have been ticking over with pH, ammonia and nitrites being pretty good and nitrates heading quite high. I've been disappointed with that simply because I'd thought that leafy green plants would have carried the system through winter but plants have frankly struggled or sat there doing little.
So I've been biding my time, about 8 or 9 fish in the tank, each about 9 or 10" long and looking nearly teatime ready, and some celery, sorrel and brassicas there soaking up some nitrates. Just not enough.I'd put in some chard and spinach seed in the autumn that germinated a little but didn't thrive. I've had a few chilli plants that have pegged out one by one. Tuccurique Yellow, Urfa Biber, SB MOA, TFM, Foodarama, Limon, CGN21566, Rocoto Mini, Rio Huallaga, ... :cry: :cry: :cry: I have 1 surviving pubescens that I think is Rocoto Yellow.

And then I got a phone call from the Mrs a couple of weeks ago. The pump had stopped working. That's not something the system can survive for very long. All the organisms involved are vital but the nitrifying bacteria that live in the growbeds are probably the key species. In this weather they depend on the ammonia in the water and the temperature to survive. With the pump not working those bacteria would probably be dead before the fish poisoned themselves. I had a spare pump and talked her through swapping them over so that saved the day. However I haven't got as far as getting the pump replaced (under warranty). I went to the fish at the end of this afternoon and the spare has failed. Not good.

Fortunately I have a Maxijet1000 from slyboy's generosity when emigrating and this may save my day. It's a much lower output though and to cut a long cock up story short, I may have cooled the fish tank too much to make the pump cope. There's a distinct possibility that it will all be over by morning and the fish will be floaters. Cumulatively pretty pissed off with the pumps and myself for not acting sooner. :evil:

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Disaster Averted?

Post by Slyboy » Sun Mar 15, 2015 5:25 am

Hey hey - that's great that one of my spare pumps hopefully saves the day and I have have my fingers crossed for you that the fish are more resilient than you think and they survive. Give us an update as soon as you can.

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ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Disaster Averted?

Post by Heefy » Sun Mar 15, 2015 11:07 am

Last night was cold here. I hope they make it.

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Disaster Averted?

Post by Chilli Keith » Sun Mar 15, 2015 12:39 pm

I hope you get it sorted Jeremy and the fish and bacteria survive.

I thought it was algae in the fish water that did the work - lots to learn!

The other day a I picked up a garden water feature for use as an aquaponics pump. I've not stripped it down and tested it yet but if you are in need of another pump or a spare I can test and post to you.

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Disaster Averted?

Post by ronniedeb » Sun Mar 15, 2015 4:05 pm

FIngers crossed for you Jeremy.

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Disaster Averted?

Post by ChilliJez » Mon Mar 16, 2015 10:10 pm

Thanks for the replies and support guys.

David your pump continues to be the life saver. I got up on Sunday morning and the fish were alive. However, your pump had stopped working!" It must be me! I'm the pump killer!" It turned out when the pump turned off it syphoned back and took some clay pebbles back down to jam the pump up. Doh!
That cleared it fired up fine so all good... until today when the Mrs phoned. The fish tank is only 1/3 full and the water at 25C. Well frankly... F**k.

Thank heavens that Tilapia are tolerant, and the Mrs come to that. She's going to keep topping up and try to work out where it's leaking from. It ends up on the greenhouse floor.

I don't know. Give me a pot of compost and a bit of tomorite! :roll:

Keith, I do appreciate the offer of your pump. I'll do my best to sort my problem but that offer i will hold dear. Thanks.

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Disaster Averted?

Post by ChilliJez » Mon Mar 16, 2015 10:32 pm

I haven't harvested any fish from my Aquaponics project yet and it's coming up to a year old. I think it's taught me more than it's produced for me but I don't regret having taken it on. As the light levels increase (I'm thinking the equinox) I want to crank up the temp (assuming we know where the water is going(! :lol: )to 28-29C to induce them to breed. I have a bunch of lettuce seedlings coming through now and I plan on doing the summer with just leafy things (lettuce, Pak Choi, Spinach, Chard) and a chilli at each corner.

The thing had been gathering momentum in my plans for a couple of years but came together last year, partly with a view to having "crayfish" for the barbie." Cherax quadricarinatus. By the time that happens I will have moved the fishtank into the garage and done all the other things...you know... base metal into gold...
http://www.arkive.org/tropical-blue-cra ... carinatus/

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Disaster Averted?

Post by Chilli Keith » Mon Mar 16, 2015 10:58 pm

Looks tasty Jeremy!

How do chilli plants do in aquaponics? Do they flower and fruit ok?

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Disaster Averted?

Post by ChilliJez » Wed Mar 18, 2015 12:30 am

Chilli Keith wrote:Looks tasty Jeremy!

How do chilli plants do in aquaponics? Do they flower and fruit ok?
Keith, there's a difference between "How do chilli plants do in aquaponics?" and "How have my chilli plants done in my aquaponic set up?" In my circumstance they haven't thrived but my first 11 months have been littered with mistakes. Most significantly in my first couple of months I introduced 40 "fingerlings" that were actually really fry and too small for the move. Nose to tail 8-10mm long. I had most die in the first month or two and ended up with about 10. Fully stocked my tank should support 40-50 so the amount of nutrient produced for the growbed is perhaps 20% of what it should be.

I was at the British Library today doing some research for work and aquaculture is only a shelf or so away from cheese. I picked up and copied sections on breeding, nutrition, management, temperature, oxygen, taxonomy and the like from a reference work about Tilapia. It seemed a providential find. I plan on warming the tank to set them breeding in the next month or so once my lettuce seedlings have taken off to soak up the nitrogen. That will build my stocks so I hope 2015 will be more representative of what I can achieve.

Anyway, you know you want to. So I'll get some fingerlings going, you'll get an IBC thermal reservoir in one of your tunnels and set it cycling with maxicrop, I deliver the fishies, you buy me beer and we talk aquaculture and chillies 'till the small hours. Is that a plan? :lol:

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Disaster Averted?

Post by Chilli Keith » Wed Mar 18, 2015 9:09 am

Sounds like a steep learning curve - I'm up for that. It would be great if the cafe could sell zero food mile fish, although keeping chilli plants alive is enough of a challenge.

That's a lot of fish and a lot of plants. How big is your greenhouse?

I'll build the aquponics set up today after I've built the heated bed and get the beer brewing :lol:

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Disaster Averted?

Post by ChilliJez » Sun Mar 22, 2015 12:03 am

Chilli Keith wrote:Sounds like a steep learning curve - I'm up for that. It would be great if the cafe could sell zero food mile fish, although keeping chilli plants alive is enough of a challenge.

That's a lot of fish and a lot of plants. How big is your greenhouse?

I'll build the aquponics set up today after I've built the heated bed and get the beer brewing :lol:
Keith, I'd hate you to get bored. :lol:

This is too long and not well done but here are my fish, just about 1 year from being introduced. Then they were about 1cm long and so translucent they were hard to see. I put 40 in and over the first few weeks I lost a lot. There was no "corpse" as such, just a wisp of ash on the surface. These are the survivors.
Image

Clicking on the pic links to my photobucket. I would have edited it but haven't worked out how yet. :roll:

Do they look plate sized to you? I have to much invested to be balanced. I won't actually harvest any until I've read a bit more and then ramped up the heat to get them breeding. Babies will be coming your way so start making plans. :lol:

Get a fish tank in the cafe. It could be an attraction. It could remind everyone of "The Meaning of Life" "Hey look! Howard's being eaten!"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1kftCx5-tA

The greenhouse is 8x6. I had to dismantle it twice getting in the fish tanks and then the growbed. Given a 2nd go I would do a lot differently but that's learning. Definitely flawed but sufficiently functional.

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Disaster Averted?

Post by Chilli Keith » Sun Mar 22, 2015 2:01 pm

Haha, fishy fish in the cafe sound like a great idea. Thank you for the offer of tiddlers. I just have to persuade the leisure centre that it's a fantastic idea! ;)

I can't view the photo at the moment as I'm in a sleepy little village who's 'broadband' is akin to dial-up!

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Disaster Averted?

Post by ChilliJez » Sun Mar 22, 2015 11:05 pm

Chilli Keith wrote:Haha, fishy fish in the cafe sound like a great idea. Thank you for the offer of tiddlers. I just have to persuade the leisure centre that it's a fantastic idea! ;)

I can't view the photo at the moment as I'm in a sleepy little village who's 'broadband' is akin to dial-up!
In my book I'd take "sleepy little village" over decent broadband every time. :P

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Disaster Averted?

Post by Chilli Keith » Sun Mar 22, 2015 11:19 pm

ChilliJez wrote:
In my book I'd take "sleepy little village" over decent broadband every time. :P
Yes, agreed! It's pretty dreamy in Southease :)

Just watched the video - fish fingers? :lol:

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Disaster Averted?

Post by ronniedeb » Mon Mar 23, 2015 9:22 am

Great to see a video of the fish Jeremy. I'm picturing them steamed in a banana leaf. :lol:

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Disaster Averted?

Post by ChilliJez » Sat May 23, 2015 2:51 pm

Some pictures of the jungle that is my ap growbed at the moment.
Image
Image
Image
There's celery (it with sorrel have been the main nitrogen sinks over winter), onions, tomatoes, pak choi, sorrel, lemon grass, radish and horseradish. The ginger didn't survive the winter.

And a short clip of some plate sized fish. Image

The bad news is that our landlord is selling our house and we have to move. It's a pretty daunting prospect but it will allow me to redesign to some extent. I will go for a number of smaller containers for growbeds as they'll be more manageable and accessible. There are some 90 litre containers from Green Fingers hydro that are the right depth and I should be able to link them together. The fish tank will be in the garage as it will be much cheaper to insulate and keep warm in the winter. Currently the grow bed is over the top of the fish tank which makes it pretty high up. My new arrangement will be like this;

Image

The pump is in the sump tank. When it switches on it fills the fishtank and this overflows into the growbeds.
Anyway that' my best plan hatched in about a day. Lots to go wrong!

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Disaster Averted?

Post by ronniedeb » Sat May 23, 2015 3:17 pm

Looks good Jeremy. Shame about the move. Those fish look great. Are they far off being ready to harvest?

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Disaster Averted?

Post by Chilli Keith » Sat May 23, 2015 4:46 pm

Looking amazing Jeremy.

Can't wait to get a system running here.

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Disaster Averted?

Post by Heefy » Sat May 23, 2015 9:41 pm

Looking very good. I like the new plans, very interesting. I look forward to seeing it all, up and running.

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Disaster Averted?

Post by ChilliJez » Sat May 23, 2015 11:56 pm

ronniedeb wrote:Looks good Jeremy. Shame about the move. Those fish look great. Are they far off being ready to harvest?
Thanks Ronan. Private renting is always fraught. I'll probably be in a box in the ground before I get to eat my own asparagus. :lol:

The fish are ready to eat and have been for about 3 months. I've been waiting because I've been hoping they'll reproduce. That hasn't happened.I may have to buy some more fingerlings and gradually harvest the mature fish as the fingerlings grow. I need to maintain fish "output"( :shock: ) to keep the bacteria and plants happy. I may be adding a little supplemental ammonia in any case. I've been too busy to get potatoes in, sadly. However I've found a volunteer spud in the garden, and if there's anything to harvest from that we will have home grown fish and chips on the day we move. If I can find a bottle of my beer lurking it'll have homebrew beer batter too!

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Disaster Averted?

Post by ChilliJez » Sun May 24, 2015 12:04 am

Chilli Keith wrote:Looking amazing Jeremy.

Can't wait to get a system running here.
Keith, I can't wait for you to get a system running there too! It'll be great to have someone to share experiences with and I'll do all I can to help when you decide to take the plunge. :P

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Disaster Averted?

Post by ChilliJez » Sun May 24, 2015 12:33 am

Heefy wrote:Looking very good. I like the new plans, very interesting. I look forward to seeing it all, up and running.
Thanks Heefy.

It's never easy to be pushed into change and the logistics will be really challenging. The nitrates in the system at the moment are pretty high which in itself isn't a problem but it indicates that I need more plants. Plants cope with a move into an ap growbed or ebb and flow hydro much more easily than compost but even so they will be stressed. The bacteria will probably suffer too so I'll be eating some fish to reduce the ammonia loading on the system. Also, I'll probably go and buy a few strips of lettuce plantlets to put into floating rafts as a speedy way to get nitrogen used up.

My current growbed is bulky and hard to reach across. In contrast, the new arrangement should have plants in beds 30cm tall and 30cm off the ground. Hurrah! My mind is whirring at the moment and things will change a hundred times before it actually happens. That should be in 2 weeks time so not much room for messing around. :P

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Disaster Averted?

Post by Chilli Keith » Sun May 24, 2015 2:08 am

ChilliJez wrote:
Chilli Keith wrote:Looking amazing Jeremy.

Can't wait to get a system running here.
Keith, I can't wait for you to get a system running there too! It'll be great to have someone to share experiences with and I'll do all I can to help when you decide to take the plunge. :P
Thank you Jeremy. Your offer is greatly appreciated and I look forward to taking you up on it!

I'm hoping what I've learnt so far about our chillies will enable us to be way ahead of ourselves next season. Getting the second tunnel built has made a huge difference to the project.

It seems like you are running a system well on a small scale - and It's really intersting that the ammonia/nitrates concentrations are a problem. I am interested in how you can measure and balance nutrients in a system which involves a minimum of 3 different families of organisms - It must be a juggling act!?

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Disaster Averted?

Post by ChilliJez » Sun May 24, 2015 9:27 pm

Chilli Keith wrote:
ChilliJez wrote:
Chilli Keith wrote:Looking amazing Jeremy.

Can't wait to get a system running here.
Keith, I can't wait for you to get a system running there too! It'll be great to have someone to share experiences with and I'll do all I can to help when you decide to take the plunge. :P
Thank you Jeremy. Your offer is greatly appreciated and I look forward to taking you up on it!

I'm hoping what I've learnt so far about our chillies will enable us to be way ahead of ourselves next season. Getting the second tunnel built has made a huge difference to the project.

It seems like you are running a system well on a small scale - and It's really intersting that the ammonia/nitrates concentrations are a problem. I am interested in how you can measure and balance nutrients in a system which involves a minimum of 3 different families of organisms - It must be a juggling act!?
Well I've got to the end of year 1 which does feel like an achievement. However I've bounced off the walls of the tunnel about 15 times getting there. I am really chuffed to have kept the fish alive (after initial losses) and got through a winter. But there's stuff that happens and I have no explanation for it. pH is stable for 6 weeks and then suddenly it's unacceptably high. There's no leak but suddenly there's no water in the sump tank.Yesterday the fish were fine. Today they're on the bottom of the tank sulking not feeding.

So think Sinead O'Connor. Nothing Compares To Aquaponics! Where did I go Wrong?! :shock: :roll: :evil: :oops: :x

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Disaster Averted?

Post by Chilli Keith » Sun May 24, 2015 10:50 pm

Sounds like a challenge for sure.

How big is your tank? I am wondering if water volume and fluctuations in temperature could effect both pH and your pH measurement?

I presume that the larger your tank and water volume the slower all variables are to change - but the harder they are to correct?

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