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Issue #2 The Bi-monthly Aquaponics HQ e-Zine May 2007
In This Issue
Aquaponics HQ...the changing face of AP1
Running your system using Timers1
My grow beds and fish tank are set up…...what do I do now?2
What should I feed my fish?2
Duckweed - Fast Food for Fish4
How to Build a Grow Bed Stand6
How many fish can I keep in my tank?3
Why I chose Silver Perch...3
Aquaponics HQAquaponics HQ
The Changing Face of AquaponicsThe Changing Face of Aquaponics 
The response to the first issue of the PracticalAquaponics magazine was amazing; so muchso that it caused us to re-examine the bestway to communicate with people who, like us,are passionate about Aquaponics.While we enjoyed putting the first issue of themagazine together, it was a heap of work andit was expensive. Also, while your feedbackindicated that you liked what we did with themagazine, we felt that we were still too remotefrom our readership.The outcome of that deliberation, as you willhave observed, is the Aquaponics HQ website.To promote greater interactivity, we installedthe Aquaponics HQ Forum to serve as ameeting place for those who want to discuss,to contribute and to learn.The fact that you’re reading this ‘zineevidences our ongoing commitment to theproduction of a bi-monthly magazine. Thedifferences between Issue #1 and those thatfollow is that they will be a bit slimmer andthey will be FREE. Aquaponics HQ memberscan access it through the Forum.The Forum and the Practical Aquaponics e-Zine are just the beginning. Watch this spaceand you’ll begin to understand why this website is called Aquaponics HQ.
Murray H and Gary Donaldson
Running Your SystemRunning Your SystemUsing TimersUsing Timers
The flood and drain cycles in Aquaponicssystems are controlled by electric timers, floatswitches, auto-syphons or a combination ofthese.The simplest control systems (in terms of setup) are timers. Timers are of two main types:
Electric – adjustable in increments of 15minutes
Electronic – adjustable in increments ofminutes – usually programmed to providesix on/off cycles.These commonly available timers can bepurchased in supermarkets and hardwarestores. I run a small flood and drain gravelgrow bed which is fed by a 20w submersiblepump on a timer.The pumping cycle is on for about 15 minutesand off for 45 minutes during which the growbed drains. This simple arrangement hasoperated for months now without problems.Using a timer to act as a fail-safe when movingwater around is a useful precaution.For example, if you are removing water from atank that contains fish, it makes sense tocontrol the transfer of the water with a timer.That way, if you forget that you are pumping,you will not empty the tank (and kill your fish).
Gary DonaldsonTimers - essential tools for the Aquaponicist.
What Should I Feed My Fish?What Should I Feed My Fish? 
The three essential elements in anyAquaponics system are fish, plants andbeneficial bacteria.Your first task, once your fish tank is set up, isto “cycle” your system. The purpose of cyclingis to ensure that your system is colonised bybeneficial bacteria so that ammonia can beconverted to nitrites and then for the nitrites tobe converted to nitrates (plant food).Once your fish tank is full, start your pump andbegin recirculating water from your tankthrough your grow beds and back to the tank.Next, you add a source of nitrogen to the tank.Some people use live fish to cycle theirsystems. This is a questionable practicebecause it puts the fish at risk.I prefer Nitrogen Dosing.A nitrogen source like fish food, cooked oruncooked prawns or pure ammonia – is addedto the fish tank.Ammonia levels will begin to rise andcolonisation of Nitrosomonas bacteria (whichare naturally present in the air and water) willstart to occur.Bacteria numbers will increase to the pointwhere the ammonia begins to convert tonitrite. The presence of nitrite in your systemwill encourage the colonisation of a secondgroup of bacteria (known as Nitrobacter) andthese will begin the conversion of nitrites tonitrates.After you’ve added the nitrogen source to thefish tank, commence daily water tests.Once your system has registered ammoniaand nitrite readings of at least 5ppm and thenreturned to ZERO, it is cycling.How quickly your system cycles will depend ona number of factors including watertemperature, bio-filter size, media type andwater volume. It could happen with a coupleof weeks if you take a diligent approach or itcould take considerably longer in moreadverse circumstances.It is now time to add some fish.Continue to closely monitor water quality untilyou confirm continuous nitrate production and,If you haven’t already planted out your growIf you want to achieve optimum growth for yourfish, you should feed them a pelletised rationthat has been formulated for that particularspecies. You can buy native fish pellets fromfeed stores.Fish pellets come in a range of sizes to suitthe size of fish you are feeding. Some pelletswill be made to float (while others will sinkquite quickly) to suit the feeding habits ofparticular species.beds, you can do so now.The presence of detectable levels of ammoniain your system from this point on suggests aproblem and should be addressed quickly.
Gary Donaldson
My Grow Beds and Fish TankMy Grow Beds and Fish Tankare set up….what do I do now?are set up….what do I do now? 
If you would prefer a more natural diet, andyou are prepared to accept slower growthrates, you may be able to supplement yourpellets with duckweed or Azolla. You can alsofeed worms, soldier fly larvae, mealworms orother live food.How much you feed your fish is probably ofequal importance to what you feed them.About 3% of the total weight of fish per day isa useful guide. For example, if your fish weighabout 200 grams each, and you have 100 ofthem, you have about 20kg of fish in your tank.You would then feed 600 grams per day.While you don’t have to be too precise, if yourfish receive too little feed, they’ll take longer togrow out.If they receive too much, it will remain in thewater and will contribute to poor water quality.Some species of fish may also develop toomuch body fat as a consequence ofoverfeeding.
Pelletised fish food comes in a variety of sizes.
Because fish come in different sizes from tinyfingerlings to big ones, fish numbers are prettymeaningless when it comes to deciding of thecapacity of an Aquaponics system.A much more accurate standard is kilogramsof fish per 100 litres.The weight of fish that can be kept in anAquaponics tank will be determined by factorslike:
The size of your tank
The size of the fish
The species of fish
The Dissolved Oxygen levels in the water.
The bio-filtration capacity of your system
The level of risk that you wish to assumeTheoretically, the amount of fish that can bekept in any system is limited only its ability toconvert ammonia and nitrites to nitrates (bio-filtration) and to maintain appropriate levels ofoxygen in the water.For practical purposes, however, the level ofrisk is proportionate to the stocking rate. Whatthis means is that, if you are just managing tostay ahead of the requirement for ammonia/ You can also adjust your feeding schedule toreflect your need for nitrates. If your plants aregrowing slowly, gradually ramp up yourfeeding.Initially, this creates more ammonia, thennitrites and eventually more nitrates. You canthen reconcile your feeding with the capacity ofyour plants to absorb the extra nutrients.Of course, all of this assumes that your tank isat optimum temperature. If the water is colderthan optimum, you can expect that the fish willeat much less.It’s also best to spread the daily ration acrossseveral smaller feeds rather than one largeone.Remember, uneaten food eventually becomesammonia. If you see food accumulating on thebottom of your fish tank, stop feeding for a dayor two. Withholding feed for a day every nowand then will probably do more good thanharm.
Gary Donaldson
nitrate removal and dissolved oxygen in thesystem, you will have very little margin forerror or mishap.If your stocking rates are high, you will need tohave warning or back-up (preferably both)systems in place if you are to avoid injuring orkilling fish in the event of a power orequipment failure.Conversely, if you have a very low stockingrate you may not have sufficient nitrates tofeed your plants. Aquaponics is a balancingact that must be managed effectively if usefulproductivity is to be achieved.
Gary Donaldson
How Many Fish Can IHow Many Fish Can IKeep In My Tank?Keep In My Tank? 
Why I Chose Silver Perch forWhy I Chose Silver Perch formy Aquaponic System.my Aquaponic System.
The short answer is, that this species is prettytough and they are easy to get.Many people begin by wanting to keepBarramundi in their aquaponics system.Barramundi are well known as a good eatingfish. In that respect, Silver Perch are not evenclose in terms of their public profile.I have dozens of visitors to see my systemevery month and very few of them have evenheard of Silver Perch.Silver Perch are far easier to keep thanBarramundi.Silver Perch are very tolerant of lower watertemperatures that typically occur in the wintermonths.My Silvers are still eating well and are movingbriskly around in the tank when the watertemperature gets down to 15 deg C.Barramundi would be starting to slow down at15 deg C and it would not be good to havethe water temperature much lower that thatfor them.Silver Perch are not as likely to succumb tosuch diseases as white spot and fungalattack.Silver Perch tend not to bother smaller fishco-habiting in the tank with them. I havelarge Silvers (1.5kg) and Silver fingerlingssharing the same tank and the big fish do notbother the smaller ones.
Continued on Page 5

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