You’re listening to Fish Grow Plants—A podcast all about practicing and sharing the love of aquaponics; hosted by Logan Schoolcraft.
Hello, and welcome to Fish Grow Plants! In today’s episode we’re talking about aquaponic modifications!
So, what do I mean by aquaponic modifications? Well, I guess it could mean that you modify the fish, plants, or water; but for our discussion today, I mean physical modifications to your system, or the infrastructure housing it (like the greenhouse).
I can’t even begin to count all the mods and changes I’ve done to systems I’ve had over the years now. I apparently cannot leave well enough alone! I change things for a variety of reasons, but I think my intention is always to improve the system I have.
One very long, hot modification was on the first full system I built.
As constructed, this system included two gravel beds about a foot deep and both a little over eighteen square feet. In short, there was a LOT of gravel in those beds.
They worked too—with the auto siphons, sumps, etc. It was quite nice. My mother was even impressed with the herb growth after I let her transplant a sample in.
But. But. There’s always a but, of some kind. In my case, it showed up after things seemed to be going and growing pretty good. It showed up in the form of high pH. I thought it might be a strange blip in the cycling of bacteria, or that the water I was using was still way too high in pH.
Well, I was wrong. It was the gravel. I did not do a thorough test of ALL the gravel I purchased, and unfortunately, I ended up with a LOT of gravel that was slowly being dissolved by my aquaponic fish water. And that dissolving action is what was making my pH go through the roof (well over 8.5!)
What was my lesson from this?
Test, test, test! That was lesson number one!
The second lesson was to cross verify all parameters that could have an effect on pH. After I removed the gravel beds, my pH still remained high (although not as high as with the gravel) and it was due to the water I was using. But that’s another story.
The final take-away I had was to not use gravel beds again—at least not in the massive size I had built. Why? It was a TON of work moving, cleaning, installing, and then removing all that gravel.
But! A good but here! But I ended up with a more robust system after making that modification! Had I not removed the gravel bed, I would have enjoyed the short term growth of those initial plants, and then suffered the resulting struggles of the later plants due to the high pH of the system.
This is an example of modifying when you have a problem and need to fix it—in my case pretty quickly. And for the record, I don’t recommend this type of modification, but I do fully appreciate and understand the necessity of it when it arises.
Ok, if that’s the bad way to think of and do modifications, what are some of the other, more happy types of modifications?
Well, another one I’ve done is a modification of simplicity or ease of use. Simply, if what you built is not quite as ergonomic or easy to get around, you move it. This is a change that can be made with plenty of time and thought as to how you want a change made without rushing to get things back in order. What I like about this, especially for new builders, is that you get to contemplate all you did to create your aquaponic system, and then literally feel what works good, and what doesn’t. And you have the time to plan the changes with your schedule.
The last modification type I’ll list is one of expansion and growth. I’ve not really done this one even though systems I’ve built did get bigger as I learned and figured out more of what worked best for me. This type of modification is probably based more on finances, space, and time constraints than any problematic issue. It’s great too in the fact that you have time to figure and plan out exactly what you want, where you want it and how you want it to look, function, and tie into (or not) your existing system.
Making modifications for me has sadly been a about problematic issues. Fortunately, I’ve learned a lot and improved as I’ve gone along. But if a rare glimpse of opportunity hits you when you can change your aquaponics to get better or bigger, make sure to stop and think about why you are doing it and maybe ponder things like:
- How much daily time will this add to, or remove from, my responsibilities, in the long run?
- Does this change align with my purpose for growing aquaponically?
- Can I afford this change, and the resulting ongoing costs associated with it?
- Will anyone be able to help me with my system, or will I be making a monster that I cannot leave alone for anyone else to tend to? (I mean, a vacation is nice once in a while.)
I’m sure there are other questions and scenarios you will want to ask yourself, but hopefully you get the idea of what an impact making modifications to your aquaponic system will mean.
Take care and happy aquaponicing!
Questions! Let me have them! Do you need clarification, more information, or maybe you just have a tangent thought—send all your thoughts my way. See the website fishgrowplants.com for episode details, or just fire off an email to [email protected] and I’ll get back to you.
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This has been another episode of Fish Grow Plants—the podcast all about practicing and sharing the love of aquaponics; hosted by Logan Schoolcraft.