Stuppy Aquaponics Blog

System Update: Frasier 1/9/18

Posted by Conor Quinlan on Jan 9, 2018 2:30:00 PM

Frasier

 

Nitrogen (mg/L)

 

 

Date

pH

Total Ammonia

Ammonia

Nitrite

Nitrate

Temp (Fo)

EC (mS)

12/6

6.45 ->7.2

0

N/A

0

190 mg/l

75

1.26

12/13

6.75

0

 

0

-

65, 72

1.38

12/20

5.8 -> 7.02

0.5

 

0

-

66,77

1.52

12/23

6.5 -> 7.2

0

 

0

-

-

1.60

1/02

6.0 -> 7.1

0.5

 

0

-

57, 64.5

1.90

1/05

6.6

0

 

0

NEW Lab Sample

71.5

1.88

Above is what the media bed and float bed looked like before harvesting on 12/20. Both snap peas and beans grow exceptionally well within the Aqueduct’s media bed and are recommended for use in the curriculum. Below is an image of the media bed and float bed with the new seedlings on 1/02 (seeded 12/20). Nutrient accumulation has been allowed to build up during this seedling stage allowing for greater absorption for heavy feeding crops in the near future.

Water Quality

pH fluctuations are allowing for greater additions of the carbonate compound K2CO3, which has increased the concentration of K since the last lab test. The fluctuation has sometimes been extreme bringing the pH to as low as 5.8. This causes an increase in the ammonia concentration as the nitrying bacteria cannot function well at pH’s below 6.5. Between 100-150 gram K2CO3 has been required since the lab test on 12/20 and has been required on a near weekly basis. K2CO3 will need to be replaced by Mg and Ca carbonate based compounds to keep K from competing with cation based nutrient uptake. High K levels potentiate Mn deficiencies, given their similar charge, and have led to slight deficiencies observed in several string beans crops.

Super triple phosphate (STP), Micro Mix, Chelated Iron and MnSO4 have been added this month on 1/02 to speed up the production process. The following amounts of nutrients were added to the system the last month:

STP -> 100 grams, Chelated Iron -> 75 grams, MnSO4 -> 50 grams, Micro Mix -> 15 grams.

The values above have been increased since last month’s addition, notably Mn. These additions have helped increase the EC quickly. Below are the results of the lab sample taken on 12/06:

Parameter

Conc. (ppm)
(8/22)

Conc. (ppm)

10/27

Conc. (ppm)

12/06

E.C.

1.53

0.86

1.16

Ca

64

39.06

42.31

Mg

79.5

34.19

42.84

Na

148.31

73.57

86.19

Cl

98.68

47.76

57.83

B

0.51

0.32

0.48

Fe

6.15

3.53

4.31

Mn

0.08

0.03

0.04

S

138.65

67.79

81.11

Cu

0.46

0.43

0.59

Zn

2.35

0.81

1.22

Mo

0.23

0

0

NO3-N

29.53

26.98

43

NH4

1.18

3.26

0.97

PO4-P

10.58

8.6

13.53

K

28.34

25.48

97.04

The results above show there are several key nutrients that are having an impact on water quality conditions. The negative issues are results of low quality source water and high sodium feed which we currently use to run the system. Our 3.5mm catfish feed has a lower sodium content and has shown to produce lower sodium accumulation over time.

Positives:

Nitrate – As the fingerling have grown in size they have produced a large amount of ammonia based waste which has been converted into nitrate by the nitrifying bacteria in the media bed. This increase has put nitrate level at the lower end of the ideal range for aggressive vegetative growth.

Phosphate – Very important for fruiting crops, phosphate levels don’t need to be nearly as high as nitrate and potassium; in fact, very little P is required for the successful growth of leafy green and vegetative based crops within aquaponics. However, flower development and root growth rate is greatly affected by P concentrations, therefore when root growth is minimal it could be due to very low phosphorous levels.

Potassium – Probably the single most important nutrient for most fruiting crops, potassium is required in the highest concentration by varieties such as tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. Higher levels of potassium are obtained from the compound K2CO3 which is added to buffer pH as well as add large doses of K. Thanks to the ideal water and air temperatures the pH has consistently decreased over time requiring regular carbonate additions. This will be useful for the growth of heavy feeding cold season crops that will be seeded in the near future, such as Brussel sprouts and cabbage varieties.

Negatives:

Sodium – Sourced from both the tap water and fingerling fish feed. The feed is the primary cause of higher sodium levels over time but decreases when it is changed to the 3.5 mm size catfish feed which is prepared with a lower sodium content. Some few crops, mainly light feeding herbs like oregano and thyme, cannot be seeded at these concentrations. It is recommended to seed crops in a small germination station outside the system with pure water when Na is >100 ppm before transplanting into the system.

Manganese (Mn) – Mn can often be sourced directly from the water being used, nut unfortunately our tap water doesn’t contain sufficient levels of dissolved Mn. While MnSO4 does appear to add some Mn to the solution it is very minimal due to the compounds lower solubility at higher pHs. For this reason, double the amount of MnSO4 (50 grams) was added during the most recent addition.

The higher temperatures during the summer months caused pH to remain consistently high, lowering carbonate addition required. Lower temperatures over the winter, coupled with inline water heating, has led to the appropriate pH response of decreasing overtime. This is due to the water temperature staying within a more ideal range for the nitrifying bacteria. Based on experimentation and observations in the summer and winter it is clear that clogging is far more likely to occur when the water temperature is EITHER higher or lower than the ideal range of between 70-78 F.

A water sample was taken on 1/05 for JR laboratories and will be discussed in the next update.

Fish Update:

The last fish weighing was taken on 12/23 before the holiday break and each fish weighed an average of 100 grams, up 20 grams compared with what they were two weeks before. According to our fish growing schedule the tilapia are slightly above where they should be in terms of size, while being lower in anticipated feeding rate. The fish were fed a max of 145 grams of feed per day before weighing, according to the tilapia grow schedule they should require 180 grams per day at their current size.

Water temps are falling further below the ideal level due to the low air temperatures in the warehouse and therefore the feeding rate had to be further decreased from the max of 156 grams per day, set after weighing, to a minimum of 120 grams per day. Whether this will affect the growth rate of the tilapia will be determined during the next weighing.

Despite the low feeding rate, the fish are of adequate size to switch over to the 3.5mm catfish feed starting next week.  

 

Crop Update:

The entire system has been filled with new cold season crops. The float beds contain both iceberg and green/red cabbage varieties while the media bed contains more string bean and snap pea varieties. This time far more snap peas were seeded as they were found to take up far less space than the beans.

The crops are growing but unfortunately the thrip infestation came back over the holidays and nearly destroyed all the new seedlings. The area was treated with neem oil before seeding but thrips have been known to survive below the surface of media and given the cold air environment I wouldn’t be surprised if the thrips find this preferable, making them even more difficult to kill off. I have switched the natural pesticide to a pyrethrum/sulfur mix which is known for being fairly potent but is proving to be less effective than anticipated. The crops will continue to be sprayed until the infestation is depleted and other crops surrounding the area will be treated with the mix as well to help ensure they do not spread. If the mix doesn’t kill the thrips within the next week or two, a new pesticide will need to be sourced.

Brussel sprouts will be one of the large crops seeded in the media bed next as the cooler temps are ideal for their production. String beans and snap peas will continue to be seeded as well.

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Topics: Aquaponics, Aquaponic Supplements, Pest Management, Water, Frasier, Potassium

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, Experiments, Frasier, Leafy Greens, Water

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, Frasier, Fish, Water

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

Test Between New Aquaponic Water, Seasoned AQ Water and Hydroponics

Posted by Conor Quinlan on Feb 10, 2017 12:23:33 PM

I will be restarting the experiment in mid-February which is a more ideal time to seed tomatoes as the air temperature and humidity should rise and be far more adequate for production. A lot of the damage the tomato’s sustained was due to the cold temp, low humidity and lack of light but overall some unexpected results were obtained as discussed below.

Currently I have left one aquaponic tomato and the artichoke to continue observing growth patterns. The tomato crop is flowering and will hopefully produce fruit soon. The overall quality of the vegetation should also improve with more light focused on this individual instead of three. The artichoke flower is continuing to grow larger and the crop looks a lot better overall with

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Topics: Hydroponics, Water

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: Fish, Aquaponics, Aqueduct Development, Plants, Water

Aquaponics System Response to a Restart 1/18/2017

Posted by Conor Quinlan on Jan 23, 2017 11:39:17 AM

 

 

Nitrogen (mg/L)

 

 

 

Date

pH

Total Ammonia

Ammonia

Nitrite

Nitrate

Temp (Fo)

Alkalinity

mg/L

EC (mS)

01/09/16

7.8

0.25

Neg.

~0.5

~40

76.8

55

0.73

1/11/17

7.8

0.25

Neg.

0.25

40

79.4

50

0.75

1/13/17

7.8

0.25

Neg.

0

45

76.7

50

0.77

1/16/17

7.64

0.25

Neg.

0

~50

77.8

50

.80

1/18/17

7.5

0.25

Neg

0

-

78.2

50

0.82

01/13/17  ->  Total Hardness: 195 mg/L CaCO3 equ

Calcium Level: 30-35 mg/L            Magnesium level: ~26 mg/L

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

 

By: Conor Quinlan

Water Quality Overview: It has been exactly one month since restarting the system and nitrification is more than significant enough to bring ammonia and nitrite levels down to well below 0.25 mg/L for the current given feeding rate of nearly 20 grams. Nitrate levels are slowly rising and should being increasing more substantially as the size of the tilapia and feeding rate increases. ph is finally beginning

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Topics: Aquaponics, Fish, Water, Plants

Do I Need to Test Phosphates in Aquaponics?

Posted by Conor Quinlan on Jan 10, 2017 11:10:27 AM

Nutrient Solution Phosphate Test:

OVERVIEW: In the past the best phosphate test used could only measure between 0-10 mg/L (PO4) which is not nearly sufficient enough for plant production. A new phosphate test has been received from Sigma-Aldrich, a laboratory supply and testing company, which can determine phosphate levels between 0-100 mg/L.

RESULTS: The test showed that there is about 35 mg/L phosphate in the highly concentrated nutrient solution collected from the system around peak production.  This is equivalent to about 12 mg/L phosphorous (P). This is a little low compared to most

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Topics: Aquaponics, Water

17 Day Old Aquaponics System: Fish, Water and Plants

Posted by Conor Quinlan on Jan 10, 2017 10:57:14 AM

 

 

Nitrogen (mg/L)

 

 

 

Date

pH

Total Ammonia

Ammonia

Nitrite

Nitrate

Temp (Fo)

Alkalinity

mg/L

EC (mS)

12/30/16

7.8

0.25

Neg.

>5

40

76

50

0.72

1/03/17

7.8

0.25

Neg.

2

40

76

50

0.75

1/06/17

7.8

0.25

Neg.

0.25

45

76

55

0.71

01/03/17  -> 

Total Hardness: 185 mg/L CaCO3 equ.

Calcium Level: 35-40 mg/L  

Magnesium level: 20 mg/L

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

By: Conor Quinlan

Water Quality Overview:  It has been 17 days since restarting the system and significant nitrification is now occurring. Ammonia levels starting dropping after 12/27, one week after restarting the system, and the nitrite levels started dropping after 12/30. Overall it took 10 days for the bacteria to effectively colonize and preform full nitrification. It’s plain that bacteria responsible for the

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Topics: Aquaponics, Water, Fish, Plants