Gateway Aquaponics

I’m really proud of some of my students that set up an aquaponics system in our greenhouse.  Michael Sanders, Bernie Brady, Mark Rife and Mike Duczak worked on this project in Greenhouse Crops class.  We have an ebb and flow bench system that wasn’t being used and they rigged it up for aquaponics.  They did a lot of testing using pots with clay pebbles, a ‘raft’ system and floating nursery flats.  They settled on using the raft system to hold plugs of lettuce. The rafts are simply pieces of styrofoam with holes cut in them. The lettuce grew incredibly fast and was ready to harvest in less than 3 weeks with a total crop time from seed to harvest of about 4 weeks.  They also had to reconfigure the ebb and flow system to simply hold water and not flow out and added aquarium pumps to keep the water oxygenated.  The rafts didn’t quite cover the water surface so algae began to accumulate on the sides and bottom of the tank.  Water hyacinths were introduced to float on top and cover the surface to prevent algae but that didn’t accomplish much.  The next introduction were some small snails and bottom feeding fish to eat the algae. The concern was that the nutrient levels of the tank might be toxic to the animals but they are thriving and taking care of the algae!  The latest picture I saw on our facebook site   was of a quite large, weird looking fish that I think is now in the tank!  Better get over to campus tomorrow and see what they are up to! .Image



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