Stuppy Aquaponics Blog

System Update: Frasier, February/March

Posted by Conor Quinlan on Jul 25, 2018 11:59:07 AM

Frasier

 

Nitrogen (mg/L)

 

 

Date

pH

Total Ammonia

Ammonia

Nitrite

Nitrate

Temp (Fo)

EC (mS)

2/12

6.4 -> 7.0

0

N/A

0

-

73.5

2.1

2/16

7.15

0

 

0

-

76.6

2.2

2/21

7.02

0

 

0

LAB TEST

74

2.3

2/27

6.7

0

 

0

-

67

2.22

3/07

6.35 -> 6.5

0

 

0

-

66

2.4

3/12

6.6 -> 6.8

0

 

0

-

69

2.4

3/21

6.6

0

 

0

-

76

2.7

3/26

6.35 -> 7.1

0

 

0

-

72

2.5

3/28

7.0

0

 

0

-

76.5

2.7

Above is an image of the float bed on 03/21 with leafy lettuce and iceberg lettuce dominating the area. Since the last update on 2/16 these have been our primary crops, along with red and green cabbage. The media bed has been completely cultivated with the heavy feeding greens such as Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, and Cauliflower to determine if the fluorescent lights can provide the energy necessary to grow a harvest-able product. This was also done to determine the effects on water quality and nutrient absorption over time.

Integrated Pest Management

The Thrip population has not been a problem on either the float or media beds since their population was eradicated previously. The beneficial pesticide Botaniguard ES has been used recently to help kill any young/resistant thrip individuals that might not have been killed by Pyrethrum or Spinosad. 

Water Quality

A variety of Magnesium(Mg), Calcium(Ca), and Potassium(K) based carbonates are being incorporated into the system to measure the buffering capabilities of different mixtures as well as determine other significant influences particular combinations may have on pH and nutrient concentrations. Since K2CO3 has a less significant effect on the system’s buffering capacity on a per mass basis when compared with MgCO3 and CaCO3 it should only be used to give K levels a boost. Also CaCO3 has a very low solubility in neutral water therefore higher levels of MgCO3 are more ideal for optimal pH buffering.

Mg : Ca : K  (Ratio)  =   2 : 1 : 1

(3x) unique carbonate mixtures were required over the last 7 weeks to maintain pH and buffering capacity. Each addition measure a total of 250 grams total/addition.

The same amounts of all other, non-carbonate based, supplements were added again to maintain water quality for the next month. The latest lab sample was collected on 2/21 and indicated stable concentrations of most nutrients since adding the following supplemental compounds to the solution 2/12 and 3/12:

Super Triple Phosphate(STP): 100 grams, Chelated Iron: 75 grams, Micro Mix: 15 grams.

Below are the results of all lab tests conduct on system #1 since before and after the most recent Start-Up including the most recently test taken on 2/21. Another sample was collected 4/02 for analysis, expectations are positive

Parameters:

(Nutrients = ppm or mg/L)

(EC = mS/cm2)

Before RESET (8/22)

After START-UP 10/27

12/06

 

1/12

2/21

E.C.

1.53

0.86

1.16

1.51

2.05

Ca

64

39.06

42.31

48.97

58.62

Mg

79.5

34.19

42.84

56.76

91.23

Na

148.31

73.57

86.19

87.75

118.07

Cl

98.68

47.76

57.83

59.22

77.56

B

0.51

0.32

0.48

0.56

0.63

Fe

6.15

3.53

4.31

3.88

3.43

Mn

0.08

0.03

0.04

0.02

0

S

138.65

67.79

81.11

88.57

120.86

Cu

0.46

0.43

0.59

0.55

0.65

Zn

2.35

0.81

1.22

1.2

1.38

Mo

0.23

0

0

0.03

0.01

NO3-N

29.53

26.98

43

89.85

121.9

NH4

1.18

3.26

0.97

0.24

0.76

PO4-P

10.58

8.6

13.53

16.55

21.11

K

28.34

25.48

97.04

145.4

198.12

There have been no nutrient related incidents or issues and even with the lower levels Mn, heavier feeding crops like the Brussels sprouts and broccoli are growing without showing any signs of significant nutrient related deficiencies.

Positives:

Nitrate (NO3-) – Nitrate has reached levels more than adequate for even the heaviest feeding vegetative crops and signifies that it is time for the fish population to be thinned in order to keep nitrate levels from over accumulating and making crops overly vegetative. Symptoms of high nitrate levels  include dark green, thick, leathery leaves.

Phosphate (PO4-3) – Very important for fruiting crops but is only required in limited amounts for ideal vegetative growth. Unlike K, high PO4 concentrations can actually compete with NO3 for absorption by crops as well as promote them to flower and should be maintained <40 mg/L to maintain more aggressive vegetative growth and 20-40 mg/L for reproductive growth.

Potassium (K+) – Probably the single most important nutrient for all crops as it is required at the highest concentrations compared with any other nutrient. Even for purely vegetative growth, solutions with higher potassium produce better yields. Even more K is required for reproductive growth. K levels have increased significantly since the last test on 1/12 and would normally be considered high for vegetative growth but with the incorporation of the heavy feeders like Brussel sprouts more K can be helpful.  

There were NO significant negative water quality parameters that affected crop of fish growth/health visibly. It should be noted, however, that Mn levels are still very low and Na levels have increased significantly since the last test. Neither of these changes has prompted any negative crop or fish related issues. Mn may just have enough availability to keep crops from exhibiting any deficiency.

Fish Update

The higher temperatures have been persisting the last couple months therefore the fish feeding rate has been able to increase but at a far slower rate than anticipated by our fish feeding calculator. Even so, the results have show the fish have no problem growing to optimal size. Below is an image taken on 3/28:

Each fish weighed about 175 grams/fish on 2/12 and now weighs just over 325 grams/fish (weighed on 3/27), that’s a +150 grams increase in size over 7 weeks. It has been 26 weeks since the fish were only 10 grams each and the fish feed calculator indicates that they are just under their optimal size at only 10-15 grams below the target weight.

The feeding rate is considerable lower than the calculated total/day yet the weight of the fish is still almost as large as anticipated. Feeding rate is only at 350 grams/day, or 150 grams/day less than the calculated total. The fish should also be growing at a slower rate to match the lower feeding rate. This is further proof that feeding rates DO NOT need to be as large as anticipated to induce appropriate fish growth rates. In addition lower feeding rates are far more appropriate for optimal nutrient accumulation over time.  

Crop Update

The media bed is now filled to the brim with about over a dozen huge Brussels Sprouts (3x), Broccoli (5x), and Cauliflower (5x) crops all of which are growing very well. The Brussel Sprouts are just beginning to form there first harvestable leafy greens but whether or not the fluorescent grow lights can produce the amount of PAR necessary to create a viable harvest is unclear.  For this exact reason one of each heavy feeding variety was also transplanted into the LED media bed apart of system #2 in order to observe differences in overall crop growth & development at various light intensities. Below is an image of the media and float beds on 2/21 (top) and 3/21 (bottom).

 

 

 

 

 

 

As of 04/02 it has been just over two month since transplanting the large heavy feeding leafy greens; each is nearly 3 months old now (since first seeded).

All the newly planted crops are growing very well and only a few thrips have been spotted since the crops have matured. The beneficial pesticide BotaniGaurd ES in being used in conjunction with a bi-weekly Spinosad spray to keep any hard to kill larvae and eggs from surviving (uses the predatory fungus Beauveria Bassiana)

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Topics: Aquaponics, System Maintenance, Frasier

Video: Testing your Water

Posted by Scott Moore on Jul 7, 2017 2:30:00 PM

Join Conor Quinlan, Stuppy's Aquaponics Engineer, as he demonstrates how to use the API Water testing kit we include with every Aqueduct unit.

This easy to use kit is fantastic for monitoring the quality of your water and gathering data for use in future experiments and classroom activities.

Testing your water frequently can help identify problems early enough that you can correct them, potentially saving you from disaster events like a fish kill. We recommend testing the Aqueduct at least 3 times a week.

As always, we are happy to answer questions! Comment below, or contact our Aquaponics team by email!

aquaponics@stuppy.com

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Topics: Aquaponics, Water, Video, System Maintenance

Video: Dealing with floating media

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

We're back today with more awesome video content.  Here, our systems engineer Conor Quinlan is offering some helpful tips for dealing with a problem common to all Aquaponics systems, Floating media. 

Often, when you first fill a system with water, the expanded clay will float a few inches off the water. While common, this is an issue that is easily solved. You can watch the video to see how we handle it in our Aqueduct system. 

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Topics: Aquaponics, Media, System Maintenance, Video, Water

The aqueduct: Video introduction

Posted by Scott Moore on Jun 9, 2017 2:30:00 PM

Until now, we have been able to show off pictures of our system in action.  Today, we have something that is a little bit more exciting to share. 

Enjoy the short video introduction to the Aqueduct, and look out next week for additional video content!

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Topics: Aquaponics, System Maintenance, Video

Light Feeding Crops to Grow in Cycling Aquaponics Systems

Posted by Conor Quinlan on Feb 21, 2017 11:46:11 AM

Light Feeding Crops: Light feeding crops are used when system start-up has just begun and a new batch of fish have been added to the system. After adding the fish to the system a short waiting period of 7-10 days is recommended before adding seedlings to allow nitrifying bacteria to begin manifesting. Wait until the first formation of nitrate is measured before adding your first crops. 

It is best to begin with just arugula in the float bed to ensure no deficiencies will occur as it is a very light feeder compared to most other crops. Once arugula show healthy growth then

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Topics: System Maintenance

Insects in the Aquaponics System, Flowering Tomato Plants and our NFT

Posted by Conor Quinlan on Feb 21, 2017 11:35:35 AM

The media bed is beginning to accumulate a dense population of detritus consuming insects already which can help break down the waste in the system even further without causing harm to the crops thus far. If insects are observed a couple inches or so below the surface of the clay media it means the system has sufficient waste density to support these organisms and is a positive incident. The small insects can be seen in the image below on the PVC siphon.

 

Bucket Testing Station: Unfortunately, the low temp and more importantly low humidity has negatively affected the fruit production of the tomato crop. The lack of

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Topics: System Maintenance

How is the aquaponics system performing since the restart?

Posted by Conor Quinlan on Feb 21, 2017 11:25:56 AM

 

 

Nitrogen (mg/L)

 

 

 

Date

pH

Total Ammonia

Ammonia

Nitrite

Nitrate

Temp (Fo)

Alkalinity

mg/L

EC (mS)

02/06/17

7.5

0.25

Neg.

0

60

74

55

0.86

02/08/17

7.7

0.25

Neg.

0

-

73.5

55

0.88

02/10/17

7.7

0.25

Neg.

0

75

72

55

0.89

02/10/17 -> Total Hardness: 220 mg/L CaCO3 equ

Calcium Level: 45 mg/L  Magnesium level: ~26 mg/L

Phosphate Level: ~5-7 mg/L (as PO4-)

By: Conor Quinlan

Water Quality Overview: Nitrate levels are finally beginning to rise more significantly however this process is still expected to be slow as fish are now not eating as much (<4%). This will continue to be the case until the feeding rate can be significantly increased. The pH is relatively high still but the arugula is not showing any significant signs of deficiencies. It is surprising that the pH has remaining constant over such a long period of time, I would have expected it to drop by now. For this reason, I decided to test the pH of each tank to see if a pattern could be deduced, below are the results:

Fish tank -> clarifier -> media bed -> sump -> float bed

7.63 -> 7.6 -> 7.5 -> 7.65 -> 7.7

So it can be clearly seen that the media bed does preform significant nitrification because the pH drops from 7.7, in the float bed, to 7.5 in the media bed but why does the pH increase back to 7.7 when it reaches the float bed again? The most likely reason behind this is that the arugula is releasing hydroxide (OH-) ions into the solution as nitrate is up-taken. Crops need to maintain a constant balanced ionic charge within the roots so when more negatively charged nitrate ions are taken into the crop it balances the charge in its roots by releasing hydroxide ions.

Fish Update: The fish appear to be very healthy and are

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Topics: System Maintenance

Cleaning and Restarting an Aquaponics System

Posted by Conor Quinlan on Jan 23, 2017 12:02:00 PM

OVERVIEW: The research system was shut down to begin an improvised cleaning process that should remove any pathogens; viral, bacteria, ect. from every component of the system. 

Deep cleaning an aquaponic based system is one of the most important procedures required to run the system effectively and efficiently over long periods of time and should be accomplished at least once per year! 

In recycling systems, particularly aquaponics based systems, the buildup of organic waste and matter over time leads to the eventual inoculation and spread of a variety of potentially threatening microorganisms that can thrive within the nutrient solution. The environmental parameters of the system, which are set to produce optimal growth of fish, plants and nitrifying bacteria (for nutrient conversion), are generally also the optimal parameters required for the growth and high spread of many destructive diseases and pathogens. So in the end system contamination is an inevitable consequence of recycling systems. 

The only way to fight contamination of the system is

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Topics: Aquaponics, System Maintenance

Fungus Infection in an Aquaponics System

Posted by Conor Quinlan on Dec 28, 2016 3:01:52 PM

FUNGUS INFECTION:

(11/18) The indoor spinach has once again begun developing spots of dead tissue all over the older leaves while the outside spinach remains very healthy. Therefore there must be something about the system causing this issue. It is similar to the pattern a fungus would produce but is not obvious at all. After some research it is likely that it is Cladosporium leaf spot which is a fungal disease. I will try to

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Topics: Aquaponics, System Maintenance

Aquaponics System Efficiency

Posted by Conor Quinlan on Dec 13, 2016 2:53:43 PM

System Efficiency:

This week I tested the electrical parameters of the components that make up the warehouse system using an electric meter. Starting with the two system pumps I found that the voltage was 110V and the amps used by the water pump and air pump were 0.347 and 1.54 amps for a total of 210 Watts of power used. Run 24 hrs per day means 5.04 kWh are required to move water and aerate the system everyday which costs about

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Topics: Aquaponics, System Maintenance