It has been about a three weeks now since I put the new plants in my aquaponics system and the new small dirt garden. It has been interesting to see the growth difference between the two. This has been the first time I have completed a side by side comparison myself.

Of course it should be noted that this is by no means a scientific comparison. The dirt garden and the aquaponics have both been getting regular doses of Seasol or Maxicrop (depending where you live), a little Charlie Carp and little Chelated Iron. I have also sprinkled some slow release fertiliser on the dirt garden. The aquaponics has been getting its regular dose of fish feed while the silver perch are still hitting the feed, although at a slower and slower rate.

So far the results have been surprising for me. While I expected the aquaponics system to outperform the dirt garden, I was expecting to see at least some growth in the dirt. There has been plenty of rain and watering in the dirt, so I don’t believe that lack of water is the culprit. I also think that the aquaponics system gets less sunlight, so I don’t think that is the cause. Thinking about the causes i have come up with some possibilities;

  • The potting mix used for the dirt garden was very cheap. You have to question the health and nutrient content of it.
  • It has been getting quite cool at night. The aquaponics plants will not be getting as cold due to the thermal mass of the water.
  • The dirt garden is definitely seeing some kind of deficiency. I suspect it is either nitrogen or iron, hence the Charlie Carp and Chelated Iron additions.

In the next few weeks I am hoping to make a small greenhouse for both systems in the hope that it will encourage growth. I expect that the tomato will be lying on the ground before I get a chance to string it up as well. It has been quite a while since I have seen such successful growth in my aquaponics system which has been most enjoyable. As always, stay tuned for more updates. Hopefully with more photos this time!

 

New house so… New aquarium??? Sure, why not!

Within a month of moving to the new house I had my eye out for a new aquarium. I wanted a larger one but more importantly I wanted one that was a bit more aesthetically pleasing. Keeping an eye on the classifieds on some local club forums I spotted this tank and stand up for grabs for only $250. A bargain in my opinion considering the tank is a 4x2x2 and the stand is custom made. To make things that much sweeter, it was only a 45 minute drive away to pick it up. The only thing I had to buy in addition to the tank was a canister filter. In order to try and keep things looking good I have moved away from the aquaponics style of filter I was using previously.

I painted the rear of the aquarium black to try and hide all of the hoses etc behind it. This alone has made a huge difference to the look. Putting together this system was a bit of a rush job because I had a very small amount of time to get it all running and my fish in there. So I wont detail the system too much but to give a brief idea; there is a lot more drift wood which came with the tank in there, all the plants I had before and the previous occupants.

Things I want to do in the short term:

  • I want to use an overflow and a sump rather than just the canister I am using now.
  • Use a better substrate for the plants.
  • Remote logging so I can keep an eye on the system at work. Parts have been ordered, so keep an eye out for a future post.
  • Add a few cichlids into the tank. More room means I can keep bigger fish.

Things I want to do long term/cash permitting:

  • CO2 injection for even better plant growth.
  • Make a hood to hide all of the lighting.
  • Breed some fish, species unknown at this stage.

There is still a huge amount of work left to do on this tank. This post was just an introduction to the new tank and few plans I have. I will try and get some decent images of the setup in the coming weeks rather than these smartphone pics.

Finally a chance to update about my IBC system! It has been a long few months for the system including upsets, travelling, tragedy and no end in sight.

With the purchase of a new house taking up much of my time the system had been poorly neglected. The brahmi had taken over almost the entire grow bed, with the garlic chives and a few chilies being the only plants struggling to break through it. The silver perch were getting getting irregular feeding until I sorted out an auto feeder. It was a sorry state of affair for the entire system.

Finally it was time to move the system, so using another bulky, I cut out a section off the top for an access hatch to make a tank that wasn’t going to leak during transit. The idea was to put this tank on the back of a ute, fill it with water, add the fish and drive the 4.5 hours to the new home. I used a battery operated air pump that should last more than long enough for the trip down. Plans always work better before they are initiated… Unfortunately the ute that the fish were on had an overheating issue. It seemed that the IBC on the back, a furniture trailer and and Australian summer were all a bit too much for it. This resulted in a few hour long stop over half way and an air pump that run out of puff. The results? A lot of dead fish unfortunately.

Onward and upward. I roughly set up the system in a temporary location until I complete the earthworks for the new location. I filled the tank with water and put any fish that looked like they might survive the move in. At the end i had a total of six fish survive the move, so given what happened I am pleased to still have a few silvers in the tank. I suspect that the final COD for the silvers was a lack of oxygen given the elevated temp of the water, no air being pumped in and that all the survivors were the smallest of my silvers. The following day I threw in the plants that made the move and the system was left like this for a few weeks while I was away at work.

Around a week and a half ago I finally got the time to go and purchase some seedlings. The new plants include lettuce, english spinach, beetroot, capsicum, basil, tomato, rosemary and garlic. Just a few of the staples that we use regularly to help reduce the nitrates from my few silver perch. I expect that the tomato will use up any free nitrogen in the system before long, so I may need to start adding some additional ammonia to the system while the silvers slow down over winter. I am still hopeful of sourcing some Tandanus tandanus catfish this year. They will be much more active during the cooler winter months that the silver I hope, keeping the system powering over winter.

Yesterday I had 60 seconds spare so I grabbed a few quick photos. I have included a few from a small dirt garden that got the same seedlings at the same time to compare them. When I get a chance to go out and grab some decent photos I will, instead of these smartphone pictures.