AQUAPONICS IN YOUR BACKYARD

YOUR BACKYARD AQUAPONICS

 

Backyard Aquaponics (Aquaculture + Hydroponics) is a very popular and easy way to grow fresh vegetables and edible or non-edible fish in your own yard.

Outdoor Displays of Backyard Systems
Outdoor Displays of Backyard Systems

Aquaponics is very similar to Hydroponics but the difference being is fish provide the nutrients in Aquaponics and  water is re-circulated.  Water top ups will be required in summer. Hydroponics (no fish)means having to add certain nutrients to a system and eventually having to flush all the water.  Aquaponics systems use the fish  waste as the nutrient for the plants. There are no specific nutrients to add to the water and no flushing of water is required. Good quality fish feed is required.  Water testing is recommended when new to Aquaponics. The water in the tank should not require changing if stocked to recommended levels. 

How easy is it?

 Growbeds filled with media(no soil) and plants, a tank full of water with fish.This is a simple way to grow your vegetables,herbs,fruits and even flowers.

You can have edible or non edible fish as the nutrient additive.  Goldfish and Koi are very popular as display fish. Silver Perch and Rainbow Trout are most popular of edible fish in Western Australia.

How it works

 Feed the fish and their waste is pumped up to the growbed by a submersible pump  providing all the water and nutrients for the plants.  The Maintenance required with these systems is very low. Top up the tank once a week in Summer . No filters to clean out because the growbed media becomes the filter .No cleaning of done as it occurs. The grow media may need old plant roots removed as plants are harvested. Composting worms will live quite happily in the grow media and will do a great job of breaking down old plant matter .

No more  struggling to keep plants nourished and watered . No more hours of weeding and preparing soil in your backyard for your home grown produce. Your back and knees will thank you for this perfect height and light weight gardening.

Aquaponics is great for people with  busy lifestyles and minimal time to look after vegetable gardens. Fantastic for people without the ‘Green Thumb’. Great for  simple gardeners who just let nature take care of itself or the ‘DIY’ sort who want to dabble  and spend hours fine tuning.

 

Pesticide Free vegetables grown in your own backyard for you and your family and ,of course,  water saving!

What are you waiting for??  All the fine tuning has been done for you with our magnificent systems. 

WATER TESTS

Water testing will help you understand your pH.  The pH of your water will affect the nutrient uptake by your plants. Ideally if your system is running between pH 6.5  and pH 7.5, your plants and your fish will be happy. A stable pH  for your fish is very important as it is the sudden changes in pH that will stress fish.  

Water Hardness

The stability of your pH will depend on your water hardness. If your water is soft, the pH will swing rapidly which is dangerous for fish health. Your water will have more stability if it is slightly hard. This can be assisted by adding Crushed Sea Shells to your system or natural limestone. The shells or limestone will  create that buffer.

Ammonia Toxicity Chart

This chart will allow you to be able to work out if your ammonia levels are toxic to your fish in your individual system.

Ideally, a zero reading is what you would like to achieve in a cycled system.

Click on the chart to enlarge

Ways to reduce Ammonia in your system.

  1. DO NOT overstock.

2. STOP feeding your fish.

3. Put your pump on full time.

4. Check for dead fish (They do not always float straight away)

Nitrites

After you have had a spike in Ammonia, you will see your Nitrites increase. Hopefully, your system is cycled and ready to convert these Nitrites quickly into Nitrates for your plants to take up. Nitrites can have an effect on fish if they are not broken down in your system. The Nitrites are lethal to fish at much  lower levels than ammonia.  Nitrite poisoning  at low prolonged levels can be a slow death for fish. Nitrite poisoning in fish is sometimes known as Brown Blood Disease, as the blood can no longer carry oxygen.

Increases in Nitrites will cause an increase in Methemoglobin  in fish blood stream which renders the blood unable to take up oxygen. Fish will eventually die of asphyxiation or a slower death from fin rot,ich or other diseases due to a lowered immune system.  If you think your fish may be affected by high Nitrites ADD some Aquarium salt as this will prevent build up of Methemoglobin.

Ideally, a zero reading is what you would like to achieve in a cycled system.

Ways to reduce high levels of Nitrites.

  1. DO NOT overstock your system.

2. STOP feeding your fish.

3. Put your pump on full time. (This increases Oxygen in your system and filters water quicker.)

4. Water change by 1/4 of the volume.

Nitrates

Nitrates are the end product of the conversion of Ammonia . The Nitrates are used up by your  plants. Ideally, no higher than 80ppm is perfect for a system even though 100ppm and higher is often fine for fish.  Blotchy or ulcerated skin can be caused by very high Nitrates . Higher levels of nitrates can restrict produce beautiful leafy growth but can prevent fruiting.

Do not panic if you are showing zero nitrates. If your plants are growing like crazy then they are taking up every bit of Nitrate produced. If  your plants are struggling and you have no Nitrates, your cycle may have broken. Time to start  again ,slowly!

To reduce your Nitrates,

  1.  DO NOT overstock

2. Reduce feeding.

3. Remove any debris from tank(uneaten food/plant matter)

3. Plant more vegies!!

4. Eat some fish!!

IDEAL FISH

You will have to purchase fish for your systems so make sure you choose for your needs. Ensure you purchase happy, healthy fish from a reputable supplier. We recommend contacting Gavin from Ferguson Springs Fish Farm  for your Silver Perch and Trout fingerlings in WA. He does deliveries and also comes to our carpark at the end of April with Trout and November with Silver Perch but you must place your orders directly with him. If you have ordered through Gavin and are going to be collecting from our Jandakot carpark be sure to bring a fish safe container (esky or plastic tub with lid) with some of your tank water and a battery airpump for the trip home. We sell small airpumps complete with batteries if you forget on the day. 

All Year Fish

For all year round edible fish, the best to have in Perth are Silver Perch. They are very hardy,withstand water temperatures of 3 – 35 degrees and taste beautiful.These fish may take longer to get to plate size but they are well worth the wait. Fingerlings are prefered.

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Silver Perch

For all year round non-edible fish, Koi or goldfish are an excellent choice. They provide excellent nutrients for the plants. Goldfish will also breed so you can enjoy watching them grow.

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Koi
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‘Nemo’
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Goldies

Seasonal Fish

In Perth, a great winter fish to grow is the Rainbow Trout. Fingerlings will get to plate size within six months. They are a great fun fish to grow as they put on a great act when being fed.

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BUGS

 

One of the biggest battles  in any gardening is getting rid of pests in  a way that is safe for you and your family. Aquaponics is especially tricky because whatever you spray onto your plants will eventually make its way into the fish tank.  Oil, detergent and poisons will kill your fish.

Caterpillars-

Sneaky green caterpillars hatching from eggs laid by white cabbage moths. If you check the back of leafy greens you will see the tiny yellow eggs.  Squash them!! Failing the squash-em treatment, you can use a Yates product called Dipel (click here)  now packaged as Natures Way. This is quite effective in breaking the cycle. It needs to be applied as per instructions on box and every 4-5 days while the Cabbage moths are about.

Those horrible fat brown caterpillars (I think they are called Cluster Caterpillars)need to be sort after and thrown to the fish. They are very cunning and can hide in the expanded clay.

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Nasty
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Little
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Creatures

White Fly , Aphids and Thrips-

White Fly  love Kale and Broccoli and Cabbage.Black  Aphids love Chives, Spring Onions and Garlic  and Green Aphids love Pumpkin and Zucchini leaves and many other plants.

These pests will suck the goodness out of leaves and eventually kill the plant.

Get your garden hose out and annoy them by spraying with a powerful spray of water. Change their environment and they will fly away after a while. Do not let them infest a plant because if this happens you may have more luck just  removing the plant. I use a 5 litre pressure sprayer. fill it with tank water and a capful of Seasol and spray the plants with bugs on them, with the strongest spray.

Garlic and chili sprays are also effective but replace detergent or oil in the recipe with Lemon Juice.

28 Spotted Ladybird

She is not a good bug. She will suck the goodness from your plants.The raked markings are typical of the damage. Usually a more orange colour and many more spots(I don’t think 28)

28 Spotted Ladybird

SLUGS, SNAILS and  SLATERS

Beer traps or a yeast mixture tipped into a small dish will attract these nasties and they will drown. I find that the best time to put these traps out is late afternoon and collect in the morning.  My recipe for a home made treatment( if you dont want to share your beer) is 6 teaspoons of powdered yeast, 10 teaspoons of white sugar disolved in a litre of water. It works very well and also attracts Slaters. An orange halved with the fruit removed, cupped and placed on the clay will attract them and you can just throw the skin away complete with slaters inside.

Beer Slug Trap

ANTS

Flood your system and this will disturb ants to the point where they will nest elsewhere. Ants will often be found around Aphids. They will herd and protect Aphids as Aphids create a sweet dew that the ants love.  Very interesting!

BENEFICIAL BUGS

Encouraging GOOD BUGS to your garden will be very beneficial as they will attack the bugs you dont want around. Lacewings and Ladybirds are the ideal bugs to encourage. Plant Parsely, Dill and Fennel and let them go to flower. These flowers will encourage your Friends to your garden.

Ladybird

Keep your eye out in the garden and you will find lots of fascinating insects

I have more to add to this page but for now I shall leave it. Stay tuned!!

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