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Hydroponics?

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Hydroponics?

Post  Damon on 8/31/2012, 7:04 pm

Do any of you have experience with hydroponics?

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Re: Hydroponics?

Post  NaturesApprentice on 8/31/2012, 8:09 pm

A little, but mostly as I experiment with Aquaponics. I looked into Hydroponics, but didn't like the chemical excess. Building an ecosystem with fish seemed to be the perfect solution.

=)

-NA

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Re: Hydroponics?

Post  Damon on 8/31/2012, 9:03 pm

Yeah, I'm not really doing it for the eco stuff.

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Re: Hydroponics?

Post  kdms on 10/17/2012, 6:44 am

@NaturesApprentice wrote:A little, but mostly as I experiment with Aquaponics. I looked into Hydroponics, but didn't like the chemical excess. Building an ecosystem with fish seemed to be the perfect solution.

=)

-NA

I've been running kW usage tests on the various components I 'think' I'd need to start up a small aquaponics set-up (really can't afford an inflated hydro bill unless I can offset it with my own produce) and I think it's going to be feasible. Can you share how you got started? Big or small system? Do you use ornamental or edible fish? I'm interested in using cold-water varieties like tilapia or koi/goldfish because we're in eastern Ontario, Canada, and while the solarium on the south side of our house never gets below 0C, it's not exactly warm enough to justify the heating costs of warm-water fish. How cold can I let the circulating water get before it will start interfering with plant development and growth?

Thanks....any information would be helpful! I'm really looking forward to starting this experiment and would love to be able to call it a success from the get-go, so any or all beginner problems I can avoid through getting advice from more experienced aquaponics growers would be wonderful.

cheers! Karen

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Re: Hydroponics?

Post  Damon on 10/17/2012, 10:11 am

Keep us noted, Karen. Would you mind explaining about the tests that you've run? I didn't major in engineering, lol.

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Re: Hydroponics?

Post  mollyhespra on 10/17/2012, 10:12 am

I visited a home a few years back on "Solar Open House Day" that had a huge round fish tank about 12' diameter and maybe 4' high sitting in their unheated greenhouse.

They didn't do aquaponics, just had plants in the greenhouse & raised fish for food. The tank being inside the greenhouse benefited them by acting as a huge heat sink which helped offset the frigid temps outside (they're probably located in zone 4b-ish).

But anyway, my point is that they stocked their tank with native fish species that can take the cold temps. They literally went fishing and caught a bunch of non-endangered "wild" fish and put them in the tank their first year. They soon figured out that the wild fish wouldn't eat fish pellet food (didn't seem to recognize it as food), so they had to catch worms, etc, and feed the fish that way, BUT the next generation of fishies, being trained on the pellets, did just fine in the tank.

I hope the above may help you out in terms of what kinds of fish to put in your set-up, but I realize may not help with how the plants in an aquaponics setup might fare in the cold.

Good luck & keep us posted! It's really interesting to read about all the different options out there for raising our own food.


Last edited by mollyhespra on 10/17/2012, 10:14 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typo)

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Re: Hydroponics?

Post  Damon on 10/17/2012, 10:16 am

Cool, but be careful about taking fish to stock your own "pond." Is some states that's illegal to transport and stock fish without a permit even if it's in your own private fish tank.

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Re: Hydroponics?

Post  mollyhespra on 10/17/2012, 10:26 am

@Damon wrote:Cool, but be careful about taking fish to stock your own "pond." Is some states that's illegal to transport and stock fish without a permit even if it's in your own private fish tank.

Really? Is it illegal in your state? Do you need a permit to stock a Koi pond, for instance?

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Re: Hydroponics?

Post  Damon on 10/17/2012, 11:01 am

Well in the story you mentioned, they caught wild fish and stocked them in their pond. That's illegal in my state.

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Re: Hydroponics?

Post  kdms on 10/17/2012, 12:47 pm

I'm not a fisherman, and I was thinking tilapia, koi, or goldfish because those appear to be the most common types of fish used in aquaponics systems...at least in the books I've picked up about aquaponics. Rolling Eyes I'm sure there's lots of different options that other people have used. Whatever we decide on, we'll get either from a reputable aquarium store, or I've seen full-size live tilapia for sale at local ethnic supermarkets as well. Catching stuff in the wild is probably illegal here as well...I haven't bothered to check. Very Happy

As for the tests....I'm not an engineer either Smile but I just recently discovered that I can take something called a kill-a-watt meter out of our local library system for a week to monitor exactly how much energy a particular appliance uses over a given amount of time. So I stuck one of these things on my potential future grow lights, with a timer, because optimal growing is usually between 12-14hrs a day (I set it for 13 as the half-way point) and monitored the kW usage for 24hrs. So, over a 24hr period with the lights on for 13hrs, these particular lights used 2.07kWh of power.

We're on time-of-use metering here, so if I use the highest cost of 10.9cents per kWh, I can assume that for every 24hr period where my lights are on for 13hrs, it's going to cost 22.5 cents to run the lights. Add 5 cents for taxes. 27.5 cents x 7 days a week = $1.93 per week. 52 weeks a year = $100.36 annually.

I've moved the meter around, as well, and discovered that my computer doesn't use anything so long as it's hibernating (must remember to close the screen!) and my Kitchen Aid stand mixer actually sucks power even when it's not in use. Shocked It's been a great help in discovering how to save costs on electricity usage....bearing in mind that when you shut something off, you're not only saving the cost of the electricity, you're also not paying the taxes on the electricity you're not using anymore either. rock on

Next appliance to test in the aquaponics set up will be the fish tank heater....which I intend to do by refilling my 33 gallon tank with water already at the temperature needed, and then using a 100w heater to maintain the required temperature for at least a 24hr period. The windows in the solarium are going to be replaced with more energy efficient ones shortly, so the results won't be definitive, but I'll be able to extrapolate worst case scenario cost. As far as I can tell, the only other element that could possibly be run by electricity would be the pump circulating the water...but that could be mechanically built as opposed to using an electrical motor. However, I'll test the electrical pump method as well just so that I can determine the highest possible cost at our current hydro rates.

Really, I'm just trying to ensure that it's not going to cost us more to grow our own produce over the winter than it will to buy it. Although there's no comparison from home-grown to store-bought, we're on a pretty tight budget, and as cool as it would be to start this project, I don't want to start something I'm not going to be able to afford the luxury of continuing. We've had aquariums in the past, so there's no real initial expense to put out, so long as we can reuse the components we've already got....or sell them and put the funds towards getting the parts we'll need instead.

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Re: Hydroponics?

Post  Damon on 10/17/2012, 1:05 pm

Thx, kdms. I never new such a thing existed.

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Hydroponics

Post  GloriaG on 10/17/2012, 3:21 pm

Hi Damon,

I have a very small hydroponic setup in my laundry room. We really like lettuce, but can't grow it outside in the summer. So I wanted an inexpensive solution.

My setup is made of two plastic storage containers, some PVC pipe, two bulkhead fittings an air pump, a tiny recirculating pump, and some plastic drinking cups with holes drilled in them and filled with hydroton. I use a 2' hydrofarm light fixture over it. I have eight wells for plants. I don't know how "eco friendly" it is, but both lettuce and basil grow really well and taste great!

When this batch of lettuce is finished, I plan to replace the purple container with one that's a little larger across so I have more space between plants.


(Sorry it's a little dark, I turned the lights off to try an reduce glare.)




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Re: Hydroponics?

Post  plantoid on 10/17/2012, 5:24 pm

This is an interesting thread to me .

I wish I could get test gear out of out local library , for all they stock is out of date books in Welsh and a few modern english books .

I'm in the process of setting up a " grow lite plant raising bed with bottom heat " . Very Happy

I clagged into eBay UK , " LED Grow light bulbs " and found exactly what I was looking for . You might also find then under " hydroponic LED lamps / bulbs "

Mine are now enroute from China at day four of the journey .

They consist of 60 high intensity LED's per lamp ,20 blue & 40 red . Cost is around £14 each inc P&P . LED lamps/bulbs use a fraction of the power than an incandescent lamp uses and quite a lot less that the fluorescent grow tubes .
I already have my own bulb holders for the lamps which will also take aluminium shades if needed , as well as mechanical plug in timers to control them .

Note well
Some electronic digital timers may not work on LEDs. so check it out for your circumstances .

My lamps plug directly into the mains voltage as they have inbuilt transformers & AC rectifiers to drop the higher voltages down to that of the DC LED's .

We are talking of one LED lamp using 4 watts of per lamp compared to a 2 foot 30 watt grow tube or an incandescent bulb of 150 watts or so .

So after writing off the inital outlay it is a cheap effective alternative with the added advantage that the LED lamps are designed for 50,000 hours or more of use with out much deterioration of light output ( LUMENS ) the other light sources slowly lose the lumens of light as they age & often are not much use after 2 years of reasonable use.

These LED bulbs give a light intensity that will allow plants to germinate and grow

I understand that most plants will grow in cooler conditions once germinated if the period of light is sufficient so this may be a direction worth looking at for you .

I used the internet to research " LED light spectrum for plant growth " some time last year and found several useful articles on it ..
I ignored those sites who didn't provide where their technical sources came from from or those who seemed to be well off the common thread.

I hope this post is useful to you all

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Re: Hydroponics?

Post  Damon on 10/18/2012, 8:36 am

Thanks, Gloria. That really helps a lot.

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aquaponics

Post  frogdog on 11/22/2012, 11:15 pm

My partner has been talking about aquaponics for over a year now. We finally found a 600 gallon stock tank that we used for a pool during the summer, and we put fish in it for the winter. This is the first step toward the aquaponic system, which is essentially hydroponics but with the benefit of raising fish.


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Re: Hydroponics?

Post  TN_GARDENER on 11/23/2012, 11:31 am

@Damon wrote:Do any of you have experience with hydroponics?

yes
It was kinda fun & i was having good results.
Unfortunately, the aphids got my lettuce in the garage. Spring was but a couple weeks away, so i hung up the hydroponic stuff and starting digging in the garden.

My setup was a simple 20 gallon tote with an air stone and a cheap fish pump & some hoses. You can buy everything, or do what I do and improvise with some stuff you probably already have around the house (red solo cups, gravel, fluorescent lights, etc.)

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Hydroponics

Post  GloriaG on 11/26/2012, 12:53 am

Damon,

Thought you might like to see the lettuce we picked from our little hydroponic system on Thanksgiving. It's a "Grandpa Admire's" that measured just under 14" across. I really like hydroponics for lettuce. We can't grow it outdoors in the winter, but it grows in the hydroponics year round.
Gloria




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