Stuppy Aquaponics Blog

The Stuppy Aquaponics Curriculum Part 3: Substrates for Hydroponics and Aquaponics

Posted by Scott Moore on Nov 16, 2017 3:30:00 PM

Welcome to our ongoing series highlighting our Aquaponics Curriculum!

Over the coming weeks, we will be posting a series of articles covering the basics of each Curriculum Topic. Today, we are covering Topic 1, Lesson 3, Substrates for Hydroponic and Aquaponics. Each of these blog posts is aimed to give an overview of the subject and provide one or more critical thinking questions. You can find our first post in this series here. Enjoy!

 

A substrate, also called a medium or media, is a supporting material or base on which a plant can grow. The most commonly used substrates are: Rockwool, lightweight expanded clay aggregate, coco coir, coco chips, perlite, vermiculite, peat moss, lava rock, river rock, and sand. Some uncommonly used substrates include: oasis cubes, floral foam, growstones, pine shavings, pine bark, polyurethane foam, water-absorbing polymers and rice hulls. A good substrate supports the plant, allows for air flow, and is porous.

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Topics: Aquaponics, Aquaponics Curriculum, Substrates

System Update: Frasier 11/8/17

Posted by Conor Quinlan on Nov 8, 2017 1:55:49 PM

Frasier

 

Nitrogen (mg/L)

 

 

 

Date

pH

Total Ammonia

Ammonia

Nitrite

Nitrate

Temp (Fo)

Alkalinity

mg/L

EC (mS)

10/4

7.21

0

 

0

100-120

77.2

-

0.8

10/6

7.14

0

 

0

-

75.5

-

0.79

10/9

7.02

0

 

0

100-120

74

-

0.85

10/11

6.98

0

 

0

-

-

-

0.83

10/15

6.76

0

 

0

-

-

-

0.85

10/17

6.68

0

 

0

150

67.6

-

0.85

10/19

6.7 -> 7.3

0

 

0

-

68.9

-

0.85

11/1

6.8 -> 6.8

0

 

0.5

150

(act. 120)

63.5

16.5

1.00

10/4 -> 10/10 -> 10/17: Total Hardness: 230 -> 260 -> 260  mg/L CaCO3 equ
Calcium Level: 35 -> 40 -> 40 mg/L            Magnesium level: 34 -> 39 -> 39 mg/L
Phosphate Level: ~ 5-10 -> 10 -> 7  (as PO4-)

The media bed on 11/1, it is filled with beans and peas.

Water Quality

It has been over 2 months since the system was reset.  Nitrate levels are already more than adequate for full production of crops. The lower temperature appears to have improved water quality, although the exact mechanism behind that is not well understood. It has enabled faster pH drops which has required regular additions of the carbonate compound K2CO3. We have also added STP, Micro Mix, Chelated Iron and MnSO4 over the past month.

K2CO3 -> 150 grams; STP -> 150 grams, Chelated Iron -> 50 grams, MnSO4 -> 25 grams, Micro Mx -> 35 grams.

Below is a chart showing the water quality test data from JR labs. The results from 8/22 are the final test before we reset the system.

Parameter

Conc. (ppm)
(8/22)

Conc. (ppm)

10/27

E.C.

1.53

0.86

Ca

64

39.06

Mg

79.5

34.19

Na

148.31

73.57

Cl

98.68

47.76

B

0.51

0.32

Fe

6.15

3.53

Mn

0.08

0.03

S

138.65

67.79

Cu

0.46

0.43

Zn

2.35

0.81

Mo

0.23

0

NO3-N

29.53

26.98

NH4

1.18

3.26

P

10.58

8.6

K

28.34

25.48

Concentrations of every nutrient besides Mo are sufficient enough to produce just about any crop. This is the advantage of starting with the max number of recommended fish. However nutrients will begin accumulating and the fish will need to be thinned to maintain optimal water quality conditions.

 

Fish Update

The high grade tilapias have grown substantially since being introduced to the system. They were weighed on 11/07 to determine an average weight of 34.6 grams/fish, an increase of 23.3 grams per fish since the last weighing on 9/27. This brings the feeding rate up to 103.8 grams/day at a 4% body weigh fed. According to our fish growing schedule we are 6 weeks into the grow cycle and the tilapia are exactly where they should be in terms of both size and feeding rate. The recommended feeding rate is 97.5 g/day at this point which is only slightly below our actual rate.

Some waste is floating at this point; it is possible that the clarifier needs to be adjusted to allow more room at the bottom of the tank for waste settling. This can be accomplished by removing a couple inches from the bottom of the 4” PVC pipe that pushes the waste water down to the bottom of the clarifier. 

Visually it is easy to tell that the tilapias are significantly larger at this point.

 

Crop Update

The system is fully loaded with crops now. The float bed is supporting various leafy greens and lettuces and the media bed utilizing lighter feeding fruiting crops including beans and peas. Squash have also been placed in the media bed to determine if the nutrient concentration is sufficient enough to support heavier feeding crops at the front of the system. Below is an image of the float bed.

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Topics: Aquaponics, Leafy Greens, Water, Experiments, Frasier

The Stuppy Aquaponics Curriculum, part 2: Hydroponics, Aquaponics, aeroponics

Posted by Scott Moore on Oct 27, 2017 3:00:00 PM

Welcome to our ongoing series highlighting our Aquaponics Curriculum!

Over the coming weeks, we will be posting a series of articles covering the basics of each Curriculum Topic. Today, we are covering Topic 1, Lesson 2, Hydroponics, Aquaponics, Aeroponics. Each of these blog posts is aimed to give an overview of the subject and provide one or more critical thinking questions. You can find our first post in this series here. Enjoy!

Hydroponics

Hydroponics is not a new technology. Both the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the Floating Gardens of China employed hydroponic concepts. Hydroponics is the growth of plants without soil. Hydroponic plants are most commonly grown in nutrient solution, rock, sand, Rockwool, or a combination of these. Because the plants are grown in a liquid medium or a nutrient deficient substance, nutrients are supplied to the water or substrate as a supplement for plant intake. Hydroponic systems can easily be scaled up or down as the maintenance is relatively low. The components in the system are often automated from nutrient injection to drainage pumps. Generally the pH of the system does not change easily because the system does not decompose organic matter. However, many hydroponic systems do have algae growth which could attract insects and consequently viruses and diseases can be vectored to the plants. Additionally, hydroponic systems tend to accumulate salt deposits in the pipes that need to be flushed regularly.

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Topics: Aquaponics, Hydroponics, Aquaponics Curriculum, aeroponics

The Stuppy Aquaponics Curriculum, Part 1: What is agriculture

Posted by Scott Moore on Oct 20, 2017 3:00:00 PM

Welcome to our first post in our ongoing series highlighting our Aquaponics Curriculum!

Over the coming weeks, we will be posting a series of articles covering the basics of each Curriculum Topic. Today, we are covering Topic 1, Lesson 1, What is Agriculture. Each of these blog posts is aimed to give an overview of the subject and provide one or more critical thinking questions. Enjoy!

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Topics: Aquaponics, Video, Aquaponics Curriculum

Nile System update 10/12/17

Posted by Conor Quinlan on Oct 12, 2017 1:30:00 PM

System #2

 

Nitrogen (mg/L)

 

 

 

Date

pH

Total Ammonia

Ammonia

Nitrite

Nitrate

Temp (Fo)

Alkalinity

mg/L

EC (mS)

9/15

6.87

0

N/a

0.25

250-300

78

-

1.1

9/18

6.83

0

 

0.25

250

 

35

1.17

9/20

6.75

0

 

0.25

-

 

-

1.16

9/22

6.9

0

 

0.25

-

 

-

1.10

9/25

6.94

0

 

2

250

 

50

1.10

10/4

7.2

0

 

0.5

200

 

-

1.12

10/6

7.3

0

 

0

-

 

90-100

1.11

10/9

7.35

0

 

0

150

 

-

1.16

            9/15 -> 9/26 -> 10/4 -> 10/10 : Total Hardness: 400 -> 360 -> 350 -> 360 mg/L CaCO3 equ
Calcium Level: 48 -> 45 -> 40 -> 43.2 mg/L    Magnesium level: ~ 68.3 -> 60.3 -> 60.9 -> 61.5 mg/L
P (PO4-) = 0 -> 15 -> 15 mg/L

 

Water Quality Overview

All fruiting crops are producing with success,  with the majority of current issues related to lack of adequate PAR lighting in our warehouse environment. Vegetative growth is slightly more prominent but not significant enough to affect the fruit development of the various crops. 

No carbonate additions have been required over the past month. The likely cause is that the crops are having an effect on pH. This has not affected the production of fruiting crops within the system and they appear to be receiving enough nutrients over time. A water quality test is being conducted to determine how the K, P and Mn levels have been affected over the last month.

STP (super triple phosphate) as well and MnSO4 and chelated iron have been added maintain limited nutrient levels.  

The efficiency of the clarifier was recently tested by determining the total water volume dumped from the media bed into the sump bed. The more waste build up in the media bed that had occurred over time the greater the loss of water volume and therefore the lower the change in water height in the sump after a given media siphoning period.

I determined that 4.125” increase in water height in the sump was the maximum drainage that could occur from the media bed. After a 4-month period the test was repeated and it was discovered that the drainage decreased to 3.5” (or a 0.625” drop; 15.15% decrease in water volume), not too bad considering the buildup of root material that is also taking up considerable space.

 

Fish Overview

Unfortunately, the fish feeding trial will need to be redone as the feeder reset itself without notice. Overall the new catfish skretting feed appears to provide the best results with the lowest level of floating waste. The aquamax feed appeared to have considerably higher floating waste levels. The skretting feed will be re-tested first followed by the aquamax.

The fish have grown well and are averaging 625 grams/tilapia (nearly 1.4 lbs) as of 10/10, which is a reasonable 80-gram increase in size since the last weighing on 9/18. It has been 6-months since their introduction at 15 grams/fish meaning the tilapia are still well beyond their anticipated harvesting cycle.

Above is a comparison of the change in size of the tilapia over the course of the last two weeks with the first image image being from 9/18 and the second from 10/10.

We are still maintaining double what the tilapia should be weighing at this point in the grow cycle despite a constant 300 g/day feeding rate. This is proof that tilapia have a very flexible feeding requirement that can be manipulated to help the crops

 

Crop Overview

Most of the fruiting crops including the tomatoes and cucumbers placed in the system are nearing the end of their growth cycle. All crops produced viable fruit,  with the LED producing much larger tomatoes and cucumbers overall. The fluorescents have no problem growing peppers of multiple varieties. 

The cucumbers and leafy greens have been removed from the media bed in order to make room for four new tomato varieties. These will be tested in the media bed under the LED fixtures this time. The same pepper individuals will be used to compare yields of LED vs Fluorescents. Below are images showing the change to the media bed.

Below are images of the float beds with each of the different artificial light sources (LED bottom). Each float bed now contains swiss chard and basil seedlings for a final comparison between LED and Fluorescents. The chard and basil will also be added to the hydro NFT system as well for comparison. The tomato seedlings are currently growing out in the LED float bed and will be transplanted to the media soon.

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Topics: Aquaponics, Niles, LED

System Update: Frasier 10/9/17

Posted by Conor Quinlan on Oct 9, 2017 1:00:00 PM

Frasier

 

Nitrogen (mg/L)

 

 

 

Date

pH

Total Ammonia

Ammonia

Nitrite

Nitrate

Temp (Fo)

Alkalinity

mg/L

EC (mS)

9/6

7.5

0

 

0

30-70

75

60

0.7

9/13

7.45

0

 

0

-

76

-

0.7

9/15

7.45

0

 

0

40-50

77.5

-

0.7

9/18

7.5

0

 

0

80

76.5

60

0.74

9/20

7.5

0

 

0

-

79

-

0.72

9/22

7.43

0

 

0

-

81

-

0.72

9/25

7.22

0

 

0

80

80

50

0.77

10/4

7.21

0

 

0

100-120

77.2

 

0.8

8/30 -> 9/18 -> 9/25 -> 10/4: Total Hardness: 200 -> 210 -> 230 -> 230  mg/L CaCO3 equ
Calcium Level: 32-> 40 ->34 -> 35 mg/L   Magnesium level: 30 -> 26 -> 35 -> 34 mg/L
Phosphate Level: ~ 0 mg/L -> 2-5 -> 5-10 (as PO4-)

Water Quality

Water quality is maintaining as expected at this early point in the systems cycle. Nitrate has risev over the past month and pH is slowly decreasing to optimal levels. Nitrate levels are now high enough to bring the system to crop capacity with light to medium feeding crops.

 

Fish Update

The high grade tilapia have grown substantially over the past month. We weighed them on 9/26 to determine an average weight of 11.3 grams per fish. This has brought the feeding rate up to 34 grams/day at feeding 4% body weight. This means the tilapia have grown 7.44 grams since the last weighing on 8/29 and the feeding rate has increased from 14.5 grams/day to 34 grams/day. Unlike our previous trial these commercial grade tilapias are growing much faster than the tilapia obtained from a local fish farm.

Thus far waste from the fingerlings is settling perfectly in the clarifier. This is a sign that the fish are fully digesting the feed as expected.

The quick increase in nitrate accumulation that has occurred since the system was reset indicates that the system has the ability to grow more crops at a faster rate than currently indicated by the curriculum. 75 fish are the maximum number fish that should be added to the system at any one time. Less fish are recommended for systems utilizing a less rigorous growing strategy.

You can see the change in fish size over the past month in the images below. 

Visually it is easy to tell that the tilapias are significantly larger.

 

Crop Update

The float bed has been full of leafy greens since early September, only a week after the system was reset and new fish added. Nitrate levels are now more than significant enough to seed lighter feeding fruiting crops in the media bed. Basil and other heavier feeding leafy greens can also be grown at this stage.  Peas and string beans along with some rooting crops including radishes, beets and carrots were added to the media bed on 10/6 and are doing well. 

The float bed is full of crops now and the lettuce will be replaced with the heavier feeding crop basil.

The media bed has also been seeded directly with peas and beans which should sprout very soon.

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Topics: Aquaponics, Fish, Frasier

Join us at the FFA National convention

Posted by Scott Moore on Oct 6, 2017 1:00:00 PM

Stuppy Inc is proud to once again attend the FFA national convention

This year Stuppy we will once again be bringing our complete Aqueduct system to the show!

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Topics: Aquaponics, FFA

Aquaponics Experiments 9/27/17

Posted by Conor Quinlan on Sep 28, 2017 8:57:49 AM

Overview:

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Topics: Aquaponics, Hydroponics, Experiments, LED

System Update: Frasier 9-14-17

Posted by Conor Quinlan on Sep 14, 2017 3:34:07 PM

Frasier

 

Nitrogen (mg/L)

 

 

 

Date

pH

Total Ammonia

Ammonia

Nitrite

Nitrate

Temp (Fo)

Alkalinity

mg/L

EC (mS)

8/22

RESET

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8/23

7.8

0.5

 

0.5

0

76

-

0.65

8/25

7.75

0.5

 

0.25

10

76

-

0.62

8/28

7.78

0.25

 

0

40

77

-

0.69

8/30

7.7

0

 

0

-

76

-

0.66

9/6

7.5

0

 

0

50-70

76

60

0.7

8/30: Total Hardness: 200 mg/L CaCO3 equ
Calcium Level: 32 mg/L  Magnesium level: 30 mg/L
Phosphate Level: ~ 0mg/L (as PO4-)

Water Quality

Below are the results from the 8/10 water quality test which was sampled just before re-setting the system so these can be considered final results. There are some major differences since the previous test on 6/20. The largest is the decrease in both Nitrate and Potassium. The decrease in potassium is due to lack of addition of K2CO3 over the last couple of months as pH remained high.  This is due to the production of higher feeding crops. The decrease in nitrate concentration is also due to the increased feeding rate of heavier feeding crops like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and melons all added around 6/20. Nitrate concentration was highest on 6/20. This was due to the switching of light feeding fruiting crops like beans and peas to heavier feeding fruiting crops allowing nitrate accumulation to occur.  

Sodium and sulfur levels are continuing to rise substantially. Our conclusion is that the compound are not reaching a plateau. It is these compounds that have maintained EC while nitrate and K levels have dropped over time.

Other nutrient levels are appropriate, particularly the micronutrients. Only Mn continues to maintain very low concentrations but it has remained high enough to keep any deficiencies from occurring thanks to the Micro-mix and MnSO4.

Overall despite lower nitrate and K the growth rate and quality of the crops within the system seemed unperturbed. The Asian eggplant in particular was producing many fruit at an aggressive rate and no crops developed any significant deficiencies other than micro (Fe, Mn) based. 

Parameter

Conc. (ppm)
(8/22)

Concentrations (ppm) (6/20)

Concentration (ppm) (4/20)

Previous Data from (2/20)

E.C.

1.53

1.49

1.17 mS/cm

0.95

Ca

64

63.19

56.49

40.2

Mg

79.5

75.18

48.53

24.6

Na

148.31

125.58

110.38

86.0

Cl

98.68

108.75

85.64

70.4

B

0.51

0.4

0.23

0.14

Fe

6.15

6.88

2.91

1.97

Mn

0.08

0.09

0

0.003

S

138.65

106.63 (300 as SO4)

88.03 (250 as SO4)

188 (as SO4)

Cu

0.46

0.25

0.2

0.131

Zn

2.35

1.43

0.62

0.396

Mo

0.23

0.06

0

-

NO3-N

29.53

64.96

47.2

19.7

NH4

1.18

0.81

1

-

P

10.58

7.5

5.83

1.26

K

28.34

46.67

14.7

16.3

 

Fish Overview

Below is a chart showing the appropriate size of tilapia over time. The tilapia from the previous growth period had trouble maintaining appropriate size during their early growth stages due to their lower quality. By week 6 the fish were still <30 g/fish (shown in red)

After reaching close to 50 grams/fish the growth rate increased. So overall it took approximately 16 weeks instead of the recommended 14 weeks to grow the fish out from 10 to 125 grams (shown in orange).

After this point the fish had no problem maintaining the appropriate growth rate and reached the correct size by week 20 (shown in green).

Week #

Increment increase in feed rate (g)

Fish Size (g)

1

 

10

2

0.1

 

3

0.1

 

4

0.2

 

5

0.2

 

6

0.3

<30

7

0.2

50

8

0.2

 

9

0.2

 

10

0.2

 

11

0.2

 

12

0.2

 

13

0.2

100

14

0.2

 

15

0.3

 

16

0.3

125

17

0.3

 

18

0.3

 

19

0.4

200

20

0.4

225

21

0.4

 

22

0.4

 

23

0.4

 

24

0.4

300

 

Below shows the change in size of the fingerlings over the past several weeks. The greatest change is in the fry’s color which has begun to darken as they slowly mature.

The fingerlings were weighed on 8/31 and average just under 4 grams each. This makes the feeding rate 11.6 grams/day at 4% body weight but was quickly increased to 14.5 g/day as the frys continued feeding.

Crop Update

Crops were added almost immediately to the system on 8/29 as nitrate accumulation has already begun just days after system re-set. Mixed lettuce and Asian leafy greens have been added thus far in a staggered fashion. More crops will be added to the system in the near future including light feeding fruiting crops to the media bed. Below is an image of the seedlings so far.

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Topics: Aquaponics, Water, Fish, Frasier

New Aquaponic Experiments Part 3: Red Worms, Shrimp and Carnivorous Crops

Posted by Scott Moore on Aug 1, 2017 3:23:43 PM

Beneficial Organisms Experiment

Red worms, shrimp, and carnivorous crops

Red Worms:

Of the beneficial organisms tested the red worms were the most successful and continue to survive in the media beds of both systems. When crops were pulled from the systems several red worms were pulled up with the roots. They appear to be very healthy and fast moving. 

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Topics: Aquaponics, Experiments, Beneficials, Outdoor Crops, Carnivous Crops