Aquaponics chance meeting and the notes I gleaned.

I met a fellow today that sold me some wing beans seeds and I will save that discussion on wing beans for another time  because after the transaction I learned he was doing a small home farmer’s aquaponic system and that’s exactly what I wanted to pursue myself so I questioned him as long as he would last and it went on for about 40 minutes more while standing outside or in the doorway of the local farmers coop store in Hilo, Hawaii.

So what did I ask while not in order but this is a sort of notes that I gleaned from our conversation. His system is a 300 gal fish tank that he stocks around 30 tilapia fish he uses a water pump around 450 g. per minute but he thinks it isn’t going fast enough for him,Solar powered! . His method of growing is the raft system and he constantly circulates the water. By the way he says wing beans works well in aquaponics and says to make sure to have the vine green growth away from the bed as the leaf dropping debris clogs the system! sounds to me my first nugget of the day!  I told him I read an article about catchment water being too low in PH high in acid and should use oyster shells in a seperate 5 gallon container to drop the acidic water to rise the ph but he said even though Kona is more inline with vog from the volcano he said his Ph is fine and never a concern hmnn. I don’t know but duly noted!

We discussed the question of all beginners which comes first the Fish or the vegetables and he said as long as you have the bacteria from another fish tank like a bucket of their water than both can be started at once! another good advice. The  bacteria in case you dont know and don’t really have to understand everything cause it will be there and take care of itself goes like this..there are 2 important bacteria one will take the fish waste of ammonia and turn it to nitrite and the second bacteria takes in the nitrite and turns it to nitrate which is exactly what your plants want to absorb and finish cleaning the water to give back to the fish tank.

Our discussion went on that the fish tank must have an oxygenater and I questioned him on the fact that Hilo or where I live get 200 to 300 inches of water a year in fact it’s raining right now! so fish getting clean water with oxygen isn’t a problem or is it!!! Yes I do have a problem and one I haven’t got solved yet. So yes if I wanted to give the fish clean water I  delute the good nutrients to the plants!! I need a more controlled system where the fish waste build up to a certain consentration for the plants and not be deluted. Hmm there must be another way ? I was hoping to make as best I could a sort of gravity fed system relying less on a pump although I still believe it can be done I don’t see it yet. Do you know how?

What else did our expert and aquaponics guru from Kona have to teach me!? Well I Learned how he starts out his plants and the size of grow beds for a 300 gal system he has 2 tables 4ft x 8 ft and that sort of figures correct in my mind and he says he grows manoa lettuce fully grown in 45 days start to finish in a very small 1 inch in diameter “net pot” as for his media he used a coco fiber core with vermicular and perlite mix to hold moisure he said the water level to the pot was about 1/8 to 1/4 inch from the bottom he said first starts the little plants in the grow medium mentioned after that he places the little pots in the rafting table. This was all things I didn’t Know before so it was a good day.

I think my memory is dropping out now so it was a good day! Thanks for reading!

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