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Adventures in Aquaponics

Backyard pond

Pond on right with duckweed corral. Nearly a year old aquaponic setup on left.

We think we built our pond in 1995.

It’s above ground, measures around 5 x 7 and about 3 feet deep. It’s walls are made with grouted hollow tile and a little rebar. The liner is EPDM which may be reaching the end of its life cycle. It was our last, big summer project everybody pitched in, mixing cement, setting tile. We finished the walls of the pond with old decking saved from the previous summer’s project.

There have been mistakes with disastrous results. Lack of knowledge and experience was the biggest problem. The problems with the temple pond gave me reason to build a pond at home to test ideas and see if it was possible to create a balanced system that required minimal intervention.

Due to disease, predators and mis-managed water conditions, none of the original fish have survived. There are two koi now, one received from a friend and the other a second generation from the original koi.

The pond has been stable for a few years now. I need to add Amquel Plus to remove chlorines from the tap water I add every once in a while. Water lost from evaporation, minor leaks and from raccoons playing in the pond.

Raccoons are my biggest headache. When we had dogs they were rarely in the yard. I have to build a fence or get a dog. Hmm, fence or dog? May need a puppy.

First tray. Water coming from bio-filter enters the tray where plants take up nitrogen before draining back into the pond.

Last year I added a cement mixing tray to the system. The tray was plumbed so water that was about to return to the pond entered the tray first then returned to the pond. The tray is partially filled with red lava rock. Water coming into the tray is released through a bell siphon valve. The siphon allows water to accumulate in the tray then drain into the pond, creating an ebb and flow or flood and drain system.

Here’s a website that got me started thinking about aquaponics.

Hydrangea. Need to get so ladybugs to work on the aphids.

There are two hydrangea, a chrysanthemum and a rose plant that are doing well.

Two more trays have been added. A tomato plant that went in the new tray late last summer that did well. The plant grew without soil. Its roots grew around scraps of 3/4 inch leftover pvc pipe, taking in nutrients from the pond water. We enjoyed a few tomatoes. This year I changed the media in the trays and planted some vegetables. We’ll see how they do. Raccoons came visiting last night. Oh well, will need to figure something out.



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