Stuppy Aquaponics Blog

System Update: Niles 7/6/17

Posted by Conor Quinlan on Jul 6, 2017 2:30:00 PM

Niles

 

Nitrogen (mg/L)

 

 

 

Date

pH

Total Ammonia

Ammonia

Nitrite

Nitrate

Temp (Fo)

Alkalinity

mg/L

EC (mS)

6/16

7.4

0.25

n/a

0.25

150

81

150

1.17

6/19

7.5

0.25

n/a

0.25

-

81

-

1.20

6/21

7.45

0.25

n/a

0

31.5, 140

81

-

1.28

6/23

7.45

0.25

n/a

0

-

82

140

1.20

6/26

7.35

0.25

n/a

0

same

74.5

-

1.22

6/28

7.3

0.25

n/a

0.25

-

77

-

1.21

6/30

7.25

0.25

n/a

0.25

-

77.5

110

1.17

06/16/17 -> 06/30/17 : Total Hardness: 390 -> 360 -> 350 mg/L CaCO3 equ
Calcium Level: 61 -> 59 -> 56 mg/L    Magnesium level: ~58 -> 52 -> 51 mg/L
P (PO4-) = 22.5 -> 15.5 -> 12 mg/L (4 mg/l as P)

An image of the size difference between the collards grown by the LEDs (right) and Fluorescents (left, smaller). The LED fixtures have the ability to produce fully mature crops 5-7 days earlier than the fluorescent fixtures. Below is a table showing the harvest times for mixed lettuce and collards between LEDs and Fluorescents.

 

LED

Fluorescent

Mixed Lettuce

28 days

33 days

Collard Greens

38 days

45 days

 The numbers above represent harvest times it takes to reach the maximum maturity. In an LED set-up these leafy greens can be harvested a couple days earlier. Overall both Flourescent and LED provide more than sufficient light for optimal growth rates with the LEDs being superior and even outpacing the recommended grow time of 45 days for fully mature collards.

Water Quality Overview

Since the clogging of the system on 6/11 and subsequent death of over half the fish nutrient and pH levels have remained steady. No additions other than 100 grams of chelated iron was added to the system in the last 2 weeks.

 On 6/20 a water sample was submitted to JR peters Lab. As expected nitrate accumulation rates have slowed. Despite the lower waste production nitrate and EC seem to be remaining stable with a recently lab tested value of 140 mg/L NO3 (31.5 mg/L as N), more than enough to support the nitrogen needs of any crop. The lab test also gave us more exact K and PO4 levels which have only been rough estimates at this point; K = 33 mg/L and PO4 = 12 mg/L (or 4 mg/L as P). Although both levels appear to be quite low, especially compared with hydroponics, they have been adequate enough to support the growth of not only the two float beds of collards and mixed lettuce but also an entire media bed filled with various heavier feeding fruiting crops including tomatoes, cucumbers, cantaloupe, squash and peppers.  Boron levels are high and are the likely reason behind the discoloration of the cucumber leaves which is sensitive to Boron. Despite the high levels of Mn added to the system via MOST micro mix, Mn concentration are still far too low at 0.05 mg/l. Deficiencies have appeared, and for this reason, the fertilizer manganese sulfate will be used to increase concentration without affecting Boron or other potentially toxic micros. Below is a table of the full results: 

Parameter

Concentration (ppm) (4/20)

Concentration (ppm) (6/20)

E.C.

0.64 mS/cm

0.99

Ca

36.91

48.53

Mg

23.5

51.83

Na

60.39

70.27

Cl

35.31

56.76

B

0.17

0.44

Fe

0

2.65

Mn

0

0.05

S

64.36

68.65

Cu

0.01

0.28

Zn

0

1.16

Mo

0.01

0.07

NO3-N

0.02

31.47 (140 as NO3)

NH4-N

6.73

0.78

P

0.9

3.96

K

10.77

32.87

Fish Overview

The blue tilapia in the Niles system continue to feed at more than the optimal rate. The feeding rate has increased from 170 grams/day to 210 grams/day and fish size has increased from 125 grams/fish to 175 grams/fish. Using the avg. tilapia weight and the data generated by the graph below it was determined that they should be feeding at 2.19%. This is 0.67% lower than their actual feeding rate at 2.86% body weight which means they are consuming nearly 50 grams more feed than expected. Fish feeding rate is increasing at 0.476 grams/fish/week.

Based on the water quality, lower tilapia populations are actually more optimal for our smaller system.

Crop Overview

All of the leafy greens are growing very well as anticipated. The LED float bed now has Asian leafy greens and the fluorescent float bed will be harvested completely on 7/05. From this point forward staggered production will be utilized to produce leafy greens and lettuce in the float beds. This will maintain a steady nutrient uptake.

In the following images you can see the change in crop size that has occurred over the last two weeks in the media bed.

 

The crops have been growing better than anticipated and even our tomatoes have recovered fully and are showing good growth. There is some leaf curling due to high heat loads in the warehouse which can’t be helped. The zucchini squash, cantaloupe and cucumbers are all producing first small fruits.

LED Testing Trial

The LED and fluorescent trial results are in and listed at the top. Exactly as expected the LEDs produce at slightly faster rates. There was no significant difference in taste between the two grow methods although further testing will need to be done to determine the nutrient content of the tissue itself to see if a difference exists. With the LEDs producing stronger pigmentation it is likely crops grown under it will contain higher levels of various nutrients.  

You can see the remaining collards in the Flourescent Float bed below. 

 

Staggered production has already begun in the LED float bed and the same will be done in the other when the collards are harvest very soon.  

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Topics: Aquaponics, Aqueduct Development, Niles, LED

Experiments Log 6/28/17

Posted by Conor Quinlan on Jun 29, 2017 2:30:00 PM

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!

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Topics: Aquaponics, Insect Control, Aqueduct Development, Experiments

Video: Assembling the Aqueduct

Posted by Scott Moore on Jun 16, 2017 2:30:00 PM

We hope you enjoyed last week's video providing a brief introduction to the Aqueduct!  This week we are pleased to be releasing additional video content. Our team installed a system for Colonial Gardens in Blue Springs, MO recently, and we were able to capture the event on film. 

This is a long video, but highlights just how easy these systems are to set-up. Just Conor and myself were able to complete the job over the span of two short days! While we are somewhat experienced in setting these up, most people should have no issues putting an Aqueduct together in just a short time. Enjoy!

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Topics: Aquaponics, Aqueduct Development, Video

New Aquaponic Experiments: Red Worms, Shrimp and Carnivorous Crops

Posted by Conor Quinlan on Jun 13, 2017 2:30:00 PM

Introduction: A primary advantage of aquaponics is the ability to utilize natural organisms and processes that enable the conversion of ammonia based waste into dissolved nutrients for the crops.  The system is a miniature ecosystem that combines natural phenomenon to enable continuous recycling of the solution which in turn greatly reduces the wasting of resources, such as water or nutrients, while maintaining very high food safety standards.

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Topics: Aquaponics, Aqueduct Development, Fish, Experiments

System Update: Niles 5/31/17

Posted by Conor Quinlan on May 31, 2017 2:10:24 PM

Niles

 

Nitrogen (mg/L)

 

 

 

Date

pH

Total Ammonia

Ammonia

Nitrite

Nitrate

Temp (Fo)

Alkalinity

mg/L

EC (mS)

05/08

7.05

0.25

n/a

2-5

10

78.4

35

0.82

05/10

7.15

0.5

n/a

2-5

15

76

-

0.80

5/12

7.00

0.25

n/a

5

20

74.5

25-30

0.80

5/15

6.4 -> 6.9

0.25

n/a

>5

20

76.1

-

0.81

5/17

6.9

0.25

n/a

>5

30-40

78

-

0.84

5/19

6.9

0.25

n/a

5

40-80

82

35

0.93

5/22

6.8

0.25

n/a

2-5

>80

75

-

0.90

5/24

6.6->7.3

0.25

n/a

2-5

115

75

-

1.00

5/26

7.0

0.25

n/a

2-3

150

76

47

1.06

05/12/17 -> 05/19/17 -> 5/26/17 : Total Hardness: 240 -> 290 -> 330 mg/L CaCO3 equ
Calcium Level: 52 -> 50 -> 53.5 mg/L Magnesium level: ~26.8 -> 40.2 -> 47.8 mg/L
P (PO4-) = 2 -> 3 mg/L

Above is an image of system #2 full of fresh seedlings. The expansion float bed on the far right will be testing the LED fixtures and will be compared directly to the other float bed which will utilize the standard 650W florescent lights. Both will grow a variety of collards and mixed lettuce varieties. The harvest quality and amount will then be compared.

 

Water Quality Overview: Since adding the water heater the nitrate levels have continued to rise but only more recently have begun to spike. Within the last 10 day the nitrate level has increased from about 20 mg/L to 150 mg/L. So overall the transformation process has very distinct peaks where rapid conversions from ammonia to nitrite and nitrite to nitrate occur within a few day period or less after an extended period of bacteria growth between each nitrification phase. The drop in ph has been far more dramatic in the last few weeks and even the addition of 200 g of MgCO3 on 5/15 only brought the pH up from 6.4 -> 6.9 and only maintained an adequate pH for 9 days. This is due to the larger water holding capacity of the system with the expansion float bed attached. A larger addition was therefore necessary on 5/24 to compensate for the extra water held by the expansion float bed (about 300 extra gallons). 100 g of K2CO3 was added with 200 grams MgCO3 to help increase the buffer/pH to higher levels while also adding the limited nutrient K for the newly seeded crops. This had a more significant impact on pH which increased from 6.6 -> 7.3.

 40 g of the new micro nutrient mix was used to added mainly Mo, Mn and Fe but adds all vital micro nutrients. Thus far no negative effects have been experienced due to the addition as expected. It is important that a micro mix like this NOT be over used as it can become toxic to plants if excessive micro nutrients are dissolved in the solution, generally a MAX of 1 mg/L of any micro nutrient, other than Fe which is required at 3-5 mg/L, is more than enough, nutrients like Cu and Mo will cause toxicity problems at levels around 0.5 mg/L or greater.

 Our Micro Mix is called: JR Peters M.O.S.T Mix, contact JR Peters Laboratory for product.

 

Fish Overview: These blue tilapias are doing far better than the locally sourced tilapia in system #1 particularly at their current size. They are consuming slightly more feed than system #1 at 233 g/day. On 5/23 the tilapia were weighed to determine the current feeding percentage which was approximately 3.3-3.6% of their body weight (avg. of 72.85 g/fish). This is the same or slightly greater than the rate approximated by our fish size to feeding relationship graph below. This is far greater than the feeding rate of the juveniles in system #1 which consistently consumed <2.5% of their body weight during a lot of that earlier growing stage. Even since the weighing the feeding rate has been increased further to 260 g/day on 5/26.

Crop Overview: During this early stage of the system cycle most of the system will be dedicated to growing mixed collards and lettuce in order to do the LED and florescent comparison described below. 

The media bed has been seeded with sage and lavender as well as individual squash, tomato and pepper crops. The nutrient content of system #2 is increasing so quickly, due to the high quality of the fish, that immediate filling of the systems with heavy feeding crops is required. 

 

 

LED Testing Trial: The LEDs and Florescent lights have been put into place above the grow tanks and will be used to compare results between the two lights. The LEDs consume approximately 40% less energy per light while outputting a higher quality PAR output. Therefore, we expect these LEDs to produce larger and higher quality produce over time. A variety of collard and lettuce varieties from the same seed stock were used in each float bed for a direct comparison. Both float beds were filled with the seedling on 5/22 and will be grown in a batched fashion in order to provide more accurate visual data.  Everything for this test was seeded at the same time, in the same grow tray, with the same seedling nutrient solution.

Lighting Set-up: The LED lights have been placed 3’ above the crops to ensure proper light uniformity with their smaller footprint (size) while the fluorescents have been placed 2’ above the crops. The LEDs produce an average PAR between 300-330 umol/m2/s with the very lowest reading being 250 umols/m2/s at the farthest edge of the grow tank. The fluorescents produce an average of 280 umols/m2/s with the lowest reading being 240 umols/m2/sec at the farthest edge.

 The LED provide slightly less uniformity due to their smaller footprint but the fluorescents produce significantly more heat directed towards the crops than the LEDs. Clip fans will need to be used to help reduce the heat buildup and improve transpiration of the crops in that area.

 Mixed lettuce, which was added to one raft on 5/16 to ensure the water had enough nutrients, is already producing significantly more pigmentation and compactness compared to the lettuce grown in system #1 under the fluorescents.

 Updates on the comparison, as well as pictures, will be provided continuously over time. Below is an image of the LED light up close:

 

 

 

 

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Topics: Aquaponics, Aqueduct Development, Niles

More Fish, More Nutrients, Less Poop – The Stuppy Aquaponics Clarifier

Posted by Scott Moore on Apr 28, 2017 2:30:00 PM

Last Month Stuppy revealed the first of the optional components for our Aqueduct. Moving right along, this month marks the official launch of our Clarifier.  

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Topics: Aquaponics, Aqueduct Development

Meet "Niles" our second in-house aqueduct

Posted by Conor Quinlan on Apr 19, 2017 2:30:00 PM

In some of our previous posts you may have noticed that we are building a second Aqueductsystem in our warehouse. This new system features a Float Bed Expansion rather than the NFT bench on our older system.  To help our readers identify which system we are talking about, we have decided to call this new system “Niles.”

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Topics: Aquaponics, Aqueduct Development, Plants, Fish

Plug-In NFT System for Stuppy's Aqueduct, Aquaponics System

Posted by Conor Quinlan on Feb 9, 2017 1:33:44 PM

The new prototype for the NFT has been completed. It should grow crops far more effectively than the older prototype which would get clogged with roots and was very difficult and tedious to clean.

    

Above are images of the NFT system fully assembled, the actual product will look very similar overall. We will be offering it as an add-on for the Aqueduct and as a stand-alone system with its own reservoir and small pump.

Below are images of the inside of the NFT channels (left) and gutter (right). Our gutter design will

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Topics: Aquaponics, Aqueduct Development

Are the fish supplying enough nutrients to the aquaponics system?

Posted by Conor Quinlan on Jan 31, 2017 9:04:28 AM

 

 

Nitrogen (mg/L)

 

 

 

Date

pH

Total Ammonia

Ammonia

Nitrite

Nitrate

Temp (Fo)

Alkalinity

mg/L

EC (mS)

01/20/16

7.8

0.25

Neg.

0

50

80

55

0.81

1/24/17

7.58

0.25

Neg.

0

55

73.4

55

0.83

1/25/17

7.5

0.25

Neg.

0

55

74.6

-

0.84

1/27/17

7.7

0.25

Neg.

0

50

74

60

0.82

01/25/17  -> Total Hardness: 205 mg/L CaCO3 equ

Calcium Level: 35-40 mg/L            Magnesium level: ~26 mg/L

Phosphate Level: ~3 mg/L (as PO4-)

 

By: Conor Quinlan

Water Quality Overview: Water quality is maintaining well and steadily nitrate levels are rising but it’s still not at a significant level. The arugula in the float bed is likely keeping levels more constant. pH is starting to be more affected by nitrification which is gaining momentum as more waste is produced and the feeding ratio goes up. pH is still fairly high though and until the pH drops to 7 ideal crop growth cannot occur; this is another reason why light feeders like arugula are used when starting the system and why its recommended to start fish between 10-50 grams and not less. The build-up of nitrifying bacteria has proven to be more than rapid enough to sustain transformation of waste from

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Topics: Aquaponics, Aqueduct Development, Plants, Water, Fish

Aquaponics System Improvements for 2017

Posted by Conor Quinlan on Jan 31, 2017 8:21:28 AM

The aqueduct system is being modified to perform more effectively and rid the system of any small issues that have cropped up over the last year since its first release. 

The most significant changes are to the siphon and float bed height:

  1. SIPHON OVERVIEW- Until now a bell siphon has been used in the aqueduct’s media bed to make it ebb and flow (fill and drain). This action allows the media (expanded clay) to absorb oxygen each time it’s drained and is important to nitrification and crops grown in the media bed as they both require
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Topics: Aquaponics, Aqueduct Development