Putting my fish to work
(I cross posted from the hydroponic forum)
This is my third pond in the last 15 years, at about 500 gallons it is by far the smallest of the three. The fish you see in the photo are mostly second and third generation Sarasa Comets. Despite the fact that they would like you to believe that I am starving them to death they actually have a pretty good life. This year I've decided to put them to work.
In the past I've added either water lettuce or water hyacinth every year to use up the fish waste that would normally go towards making algae, every summer literally bushels of green stuff would be taken off the pond and sent to the compost pile. It worked like a charm and except for a little bit of string algae I would get every spring, I was algae free. This year instead of wasting all those nutrients on inedible water lettuce I've added a new pump a bit more plumbing and have built an Aquaponic system, now I am growing plants we can eat rather than throw away.
The system I've built is really two different systems together. The first part is an NFT system consisting of four, ten foot lengths of PVC drain pipe. Each pipe is drilled for fourteen net pots either two or three inches in diameter. The grow media in the pots is mostly Hydroton (Hydrocorn) though a few two inch pots have coconut coir. Currently growing are Lettuce, Strawberry, Green Beans, Jalapeno Peppers, Cayenne Peppers, Poblano Peppers and a couple of Tomato Plants.
The second part is a drip system, each of the three boxes in the pic bellow holds a 38 liter Rubbermaid tote the lids of which have been drilled to hold six three inch net pots. Each pot is fed by a 1/8 inch drip line, currently the water is fed constantly and I hope to be able to get away with that because I am using the Hydrocorn as a grow media. In the boxes I have Scotch Bonnet Peppers, Cayenne Peppers, Sweet Peppers and Dwarf Tomatoes.
It is still early days yet but the plants give every indication of thriving and I am quite optimistic. One thing that has really surprised me is how much I can now feed my fish without worrying about the water quality. The fish now get fed more in a day than they used to get in a week and I still get 0 readings from the Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate test kits (yes I tested the test kits).