This Week we are following up on the ongoing Experiments with beneficial organisms in our systems. To learn more about these experiments, check out our earlier post on the subject!
Red Worm (Red Wigglers)
Attempts to check on the progress of the red wigglers have been done over the past week but the media bed is so large that it is difficult to find more than one or two individuals at a time. The individuals found appear to be doing very well. Whether or not the density of worms is high enough to produce population growth is unknown so far but will be documented over time. Currently the density is only about 1 worm per every 4-5 gallons of expanded clay which may be a little low.
In order to get a much more accurate idea of exactly how well these worms do in an aquaponics environment a small scale experiment is being conducted. A 10-gallon bucket has be filled with expanded clay media, aquaponics solution, fish waste, 7 of the red worms and an oxygen stone in order to mimic the environment of the Aqueduct media bed. After a few months the bucket will be sifted through to determine if the red worms thrived or not.
In order to match the density of red worms in the experiment with that of the media bed an additional 100 worms will need to be added to each system for a total of 150 worms in each or 1 worm per every 1.5 gallons of expanded clay.
Above is an image of the red worms being placed in a media bed. A long trench was dug a few inches deep and the 50 worms were placed evenly throughout. The worms quickly buried themselves in the media.
Shrimp (System Clog)
The screen used to keep the shrimp from exiting the clarifier, as seen in the image below, caused the system to clog up almost completely over the weekend. The clog killed over half of the fish in the system and all the shrimp in a matter of <24 hours due to ammonia build up. It is therefore very important that fine mesh screens are not used in the Aqueduct as nitrifying bacteria can build up very quickly causing this clogging to occur. The slimy, quick growing nature of the nitrifying bacteria makes it very easy to build up on fine mesh screens in a matter of hours. This massive growth is also due to the population of nearly 100 fish, which is a little bit of over-kill for our smaller scale Aqueduct. This also became evident while observing the nutrient accumulation in the system which was increasing very rapidly over time despite being in operation for only 2 months.
For the next trial a small shrimp cage was constructed out of the same fine mesh screen; this cage stretches across the length of almost the entire clarifier giving the shrimp placed in it plenty of space to move around and consume waste. An image of the cage can be seen below; the screen has since been removed from the clarifier output. The top of the cage comes out of the water and is open to allow easy viewing when a simple cap is removed. The bottom of the cage is sealed shut with additional screen. The placement of the cage, as seen below, allows the cage to be held in place by a thin wire.
One of the five carnivorous crops is almost dead, another is having some trouble but still growing while the remaining 3 are thriving. The thin long Venus fly trap is performing the worst. It is very close to being dead. It appears to be sensitive to the salinity of the water with the heads turning completely black. That said the short, stocky Venus fly tap is thriving, even in the presence of high wind at the edge of the float bed near one of the larger fans. It is already producing more shoots that look very healthy.
The longer sticky variety is having some trouble as many arms have dried out over time but it still has a couple very healthy and sticky arms and appears to have many shoots in production at the base of the crop. Similar to the Venus fly traps the short/stockier sticky variety is doing far better than the long one. It can’t handle much wind but is otherwise capturing many insects and is now producing new healthy arms.
The pitcher crop seems to be performing the best and is producing several healthy new pitchers.
Overall thin, spindly or elongated carnivorous crops don’t perform as well and shorter, thicker or stockier ones. Pitchers seem to be the most favorable.
Pictured above is one of our fly traps, a pitcher based carnivorous crop, and to the right of the pitcher plant is aa sticky based carnivorous crop. Each uses a different method to capture various insects.
As always, you can contact us with Questions or leave a Comment below!