Aquaponics is gardening and fish raising together in a way that takes advantage of the naturally symbiotic relationship between them. The plants around a lake aren't just lush because of the water, but also the nutrients provided by the fish.
This blog is as much journal as anything. If you want to learn more I recommend you start at the beginning. Otherwise just skim and enjoy the pictures!
Transplants are doing well. Cilantro is up and looking good. Cucumber is sprouting. Fish are eating well. Lettuce is doing the ridiculous growing-so-fast-you-can-almost-watch thing. Tomatoes are... well... they're growing, but compared to everyone else they look like they aren't.
Cilantro looking good
Cucumber just up, and healthy tomato behind
Lettuce growing like Jack's Beanstalk
The fish - growing into dinner. lol
Yes I'll need to clean. With the air off you can see things down there you hadn't known about.
And, yes, that's a floater near the end of the video. :-(
And here's them eating just before that. I got up late, and it was just after the water pumped in, so they didn't come right up like they usually do. But halfway through the video they arrive.
Oh, and it's snowing and hailing here today. I'm so glad I've got that heater in the tank!
Saturday a friend came to hang out for the weekend, and we went out through the softly falling snow (yes, in California, I swear) into the sultry air of the greenhouse, and I pulled up a bunch (it's not really a head at this point) each of the red leaf and the butter leaf. I tore off the root ends, gave the leaves a simple rinse and spin, and put on a nice homemade vinegarette. The salad was amazingly good. My friend and I both were stunned at how flavorful the lettuce was compared to store bought lettuce. Granted, these were baby greens also. But still, it was the best lettuce I've ever had.
And here's the garden earlier in the day:
Monday (being a holiday) I transplanted the pak choi, spinach, and chard from their little coir-filled pots into the growbed directly:
The cilantro has fully sprouted, but I didn't think it was big enough yet to transplant. The cucumber is finally sprouting but has not quite popped its head out of the coir. I think the warm water is what finally caused it to sprout.
The fish are once again eating energetically. I'm so excited to see them looking and acting healthy.
I haven't yet got the heater hooked up to the thermostat. But for now it's plugged in directly, and that seems to be working well enough.
So I was pretty sure I'd killed all the fish. I was netting the little floating guys out much too frequently, and no one was coming up to eat when I fed them. So Saturday I planned to drain out most of the water and do a thorough (and depressing) clean up.
As it turns out, it was only the little guys that were lost. At the bottom of the tank were some seriously big ones. And my algae eater, whose death would have upset me even more than the Tilapia.
I've purchased a bucket heater and a temperature controller, but don't have the skill to hook them up together. I've got a call in to my electrician. Meanwhile, the heater is plugged into the same timer as the pump. So it's 15 minutes on, 45 off. The temperature has risen from the high 50's into the low 60's. I want to get it up near 70 if I can.
So here are my happy fish:
And my happy plants:
The cilantro only sprouted in one of the two pots. And the cucumbers didn't sprout at all. But that's not a big deal. If they still haven't next weekend I'll just plant some more.
I definitely think the fish are dead. A friend from an aquaponics community helped me pick out a bigger, better, badder heater and thermostat (thanks, Chi) and it will arrive this week. Meanwhile, though, the fish aren't coming up to eat. And there are a few more floating. Damnit.
The lettuce are SO happy in their new home! They're growing so quickly I almost feel I could stand there and see it happen. These are actually several seedlings in each group, so I'll separate them in another few weeks when they're big enough, and strong enough, that I think I can do it without hurting anyone.
I also started some new seeds. And this time I labeled them! I always think I'll remember what I planted, or I'll recognize it when it gets bigger. I have learned my lesson. These are labeled and will stay that way even when grown. Unless I can actually see Red Bell Peppers hanging off a plant, I won't know that's what it's supposed to be.
I elected to plant the seedlings in coir-filled pots, and put those directly into the growbed. I figure that way they get watered and fed regularly. When they get bigger I'll take them out of their pots and put them directly into the clay.
Armenian Cucumber (yes, this one's going to get ridiculously big. I'll either tie it to the roofbeam or enclose it in a tomato frame)
On the fish front... I'm pretty worried. Since I've got the water flowing through the system, it's one huge evaporative cooler. And of course that happens just as our weather goes to hell (for CA... I know it's nothing compared to the rest of the country, but I'm set up for CA weather). And the aquarium heater just isn't keeping up with it. So now the fish aren't eating. And since it's dark in the tank, I can't even see in well enough to be sure they're alive. But if they are, they won't be long if I can't get some food into them. So I'll stop at the fish store today and see if I can get a better heater. I'm also considering turning the system off at night. Maybe 8 hours of still water with the heater going will warm it enough.
So the plants are thrilled, the fish may be dead, and I'll learn more this weekend. :-D