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PostPosted: Jun 1st, '15, 17:17 
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Such a great looking compact system Dave. Well done :flower:

I made my own towers and filled them with old bird netting which has established a good biofilm - will be interesting to see how they go over time. It took forever to paint them so they would look pretty, but glad I did as they hang on the front pergola and act as a screen to the bedroom window. You should try Iceman's trick of interplanting a few white pansies or violas - the white cabbage butterflies think someone else got in first to lay eggs so they go looking for virgin greens elsewhere. Not foolproof, but it does help.

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PostPosted: Jun 1st, '15, 20:09 
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Thanks Joc. I'm up to about page 3 of your thread and your system looks great... I can see how painting those towers took a bit of energy... they belong in a modern art gallery.

I grew pansies and violas last year - because they looked good among the veggies. Now I know they can help with the pests, I'll get some back in there

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PostPosted: Nov 24th, '15, 10:17 
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Long overdue for an update... having received permission to add a second growbed to deal with high nitrate load. It took a bit of serious pruning of the native garden and I still haven't made it look as nice as it should be. But I plan to paint or hide the pipes with some strategically placed rocks one day :)

It's running continuous flow and going great guns... though (not wanting to start an argument) not obviously better or worse than the original system with bell syphon.

note the small white flowers in original growbed in background and pansies in the vertical zipgrow towers Joc.... Thanks :thumbright:

Have eaten an occasional silver perch and jade perch... the latter arrived nearly a year later than the silvers but have caught up and now overtaking as expected. They all tasted great despite my off the scale nitrates.

A picture is below but my other excuse for posting is a query about silver perch who appear to have decided to turn vegan. After adding the second growbed, I moved some fish around. My small system now has only 5 of the smallest silver perch that were in my original/large system... they're only about 15 cm whereas most of the others were close to 25 cm. Was hoping that they'd start to grow better with less competition for food. But they've been in there for more than a month and seemed to eat nothing for the first couple of weeks. Since then, all they'll eat is lettuce and not much of that... they haven't touched the floating pellets that they must have been eating over the previous 18 months.

I know that moving them can cause them to go off their food and that they can go weeks without food usually)but would have thought it's been long enough. I read somewhere that, when not graded in commercial systems, the runts eventually stop eating and die. Maybe I got them out just as they were about to do that.

Has anybody got any tips about getting them going again?


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PostPosted: Jan 21st, '16, 19:58 
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The silver perch runts I mentioned in last post are now back in my main system and doing OK. Maybe they get a feeding stimulus from the excitement shown by their much bigger mates who are really smashing the pellets in our warm weather. I have to stand well back from the tank at feeding time to stay dry.

Updated photo is below... all going well. Fish still taste great when occasionally one or two find their way to our plates. The extra growbed has led to nitrates dropping but they were still well above 200 last time I checked. But tomatoes taste great and eggplants and capsicums fruiting too. I'm trying out some mexican sour cucumbers... have heaps of flowers but fruit is yet to set. The extra growbed has made a big difference to filtration because water visibly clearer and the roots in the shallow DWC pipes are much cleaner too.

Anyway... main reason for the post is hoping someone has some advice on what's best to use to stake plants up in a growbed with expanded clay balls for media. It's been very windy for most of the last week and I've had to tie some of my taller plants up to each other to prevent them all falling over. I have some cane tomato stakes but thinking they might rot pretty quickly. Unfortunately, I can't rig up anything suitable over the top of the growbeds.


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PostPosted: Jan 21st, '16, 21:56 
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DD,

That's a lovely system you've got there and a good example of how one can
squeeze in a distributed system like aquaponics here and there as need be.
Regarding staking the tall boys... if you can't build a frame off the bed to stick
the plants to, what about string or twine (or rope ladder like thing) hanging
from the eaves above? Perhaps an entire frame could be suspended from above
and the plants tied to it? Of course, a big frame swinging in the wind could take
a bite out of your kitchen wall, maybe anchored above and below could work?

Nitrates above 200 ppm? Wow, I forgot at what point high nitrates become a
problem for fish, but I thought it was way below 200 ppm. That's interesting.

Thanks for sharing the nice pics!

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PostPosted: Jan 22nd, '16, 01:30 
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>> hoping someone has some advice on what's best to use to stake plants up in a growbed
>> I have some cane tomato stakes but thinking they might rot pretty quickly.

have a look around the garden centres/BigW/KMart/Reject Shop etc - there are quite a few plastic tomato/garden stakes around now. You could tepee/pyramid them together.

The other option is to go for something bendy and make like a hoop from one side to the other with the inside edge of the GB providing a brace. 15mm PVC is pretty cheap $6-$7 or may even be able to use 19mm/poly - then just lash on something longways/horizontal to brace them.

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PostPosted: Jan 22nd, '16, 01:48 
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Nice setup I like it. Good job using the space you have.

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PostPosted: Jan 22nd, '16, 03:57 
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Vertical support. Have you seen the YoYo looking devices in the hydroponics shops .. Adjustable mini winches..
I have been planning on getting some and tie small rings (key rings) every 200mm, to. Give both growth capacity and adjustability..

Great System.. an inspiration for just how a system can look..

The Zip towers .. were they DIY.?
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PostPosted: Jan 22nd, '16, 06:37 
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Thanks to all responders for the good advice and kind comments.

nosliwmas wrote:
what about string or twine (or rope ladder like thing) hanging
from the eaves above?
That definitely works... if you look closely you can see I already use this to support some tomato plants growing in the parts of the beds closest to walls. I've previously trained eggplants this way too... worked well. But I doubt I can get away with unsightly contraptions sticking far out from the wall when I run it past the domestic design committee :(

With regard to the high nitrates... most of my reading in this forum and elsewhere suggests best to aim for below 40 and people seem to start getting worried around about 100. There are reports of stunted plant growth and muddy or unpleasant tasting fish... but I haven't come across anything very scientific. For most of my aquaponic existence (only a couple of years) my nitrates have been 400 plus and it hasn't seemed to be a problem. All of that said, I can't say that the plant growth won't be even better when I finally get my stocking rates and hence nitrates down... and I'm not commercial so I haven't done thorough research looking for academic papers on the issue.

BuiDoi wrote:
Have you seen the YoYo looking devices in the hydroponics shops
Yes I've seen those on the occasional furtive trip to the hydroponic shop - when I don't think the police are parked outside. But would still require some sort of structure above to suspend them from.

The vertical towers are from Zipgrow in America. But there's now an Australian distributor. I did a lot of research with intention to make my own but it seemed difficult to source good media and people were reporting problems with leaks/blockage and difficulty planting. I've had about 8 rotations of new planting through my towers and never had a problem. Planting is a breeze. I occasionally think about how I could make some like them but the honest truth is that the effort required would far outweigh the price.

dlf_perth wrote:
there are quite a few plastic tomato/garden stakes around now. You could tepee/pyramid them together.
This sounds like my best option for now... I have a single plastic coated stake (from the big garden centre many of us spend our lives at but prefer not to name) supporting the fennel in the bed at the front of the shot. Was thinking it was a temporary solution... not that stable. But a tepee arrangement with longer stakes will work well. Not sure what sort of plastic it is... will have a closer look when next at you know where.

Also... in case anyone missed the recent conversation about cucumber stringing techniques which pointed me to the tomato stringing discussion at viewtopic.php?f=3&t=1731&start=15 (see Raimuso's technique half way down that page). I've been giving it a go and , so far, feeling good about it. In brief summary, all old growth lower down on the plant is removed and the vine lowered on the twine holding it up so that the productive part of the tomato stays at about the same level. Probably best to have a look at the above discussion to get a good idea of what I'm talking about.

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PostPosted: May 10th, '16, 20:19 
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Feeling like it's time for an update... and also to say a big thank you to those above who gave advice on how to support my taller plants. As predicted, I discovered a range of plastic coated frames and stakes at the hardware store and now putting them to good use. Picture below is a couple of weeks ago.

Corn was eaten when still very young - I harvested the lot the morning after a rat or maybe small possum ate half of one of them. I've never tasted corn so sweet - but it's hard to be objective about something you brought in to the world.

The growbed on the right has 3 mexican sour gherkin vines (cucamelons) cascading over the edge right down to the ground on all sides that get a little bit of sun. The vines have gone crazy but it's been more than three months without fruit. They're probably helping with my still off the chart nitrates but I was just about to pull them out when I noticed a first tiny fruit. Apparently they grow to grape size and taste like a lemony cucumber.

Taking delivery of some freshwater mussels shortly I hope... will be interested to see if they clean up the water as much as others have reported.

Fish still taste great on the smoker... only eating silver perch these days. There's 1 jade perch left but he's off the menu because I want to see how big I can get him - currently about 650 g. Hoping he'll manage the winter without heating. Water temp last July got down as low as 10 C once or twice... I recall reading that JP will die below about 14... but a mate in nearby Ballina kept his much smaller JP alive last winter without any heating. Interested if anyone else has related experience.

Tomatoes are still fruiting and ripening up... I had the occasional one right through winter last year... but, with the sun fairly low in the sky of late (dips behind the neighbour's roof for about 4 hours from late morning), I'm not getting enough light lower down on the growbeds to get good growth with my various leafy greens and brassicas. I tried to set up some outdoor home made growlights last year but they were more trouble than they were worth... now contemplating other solutions... wondering if anyone has used mirrors or some other way of reflecting light from higher up. In the meantime, I'll get watercress going in the shallow dwc pipes hanging off the growbed stand on the left... having found it likes the cold and doesn't mind a fair bit of shade.

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PostPosted: May 28th, '16, 16:27 
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Just wondering if anyone has had any luck with barramundi in Northern Rivers area of NSW (I'm about 100 K south of the NSW/QLD border)... or if anyone experienced with barra in other parts of the country thinks it's feasable with a bit of heating and insulation at the start and end of the growing period.

September average minimum is 11.4 and maximum 23.5
January 19.7 - 28.2
April 15.3 - 24.9

A mate is very keen to get some for his system in Ballina. I've been thinking about Murray Cod next year after Torrens Title kindly showed me his setup (with a thriving batch of MC fingerlings). But I could easily be diverted toward sharing a barra order with my mate if it's not a ridiculous idea.

No doubt the power bill would shoot up... but I have solar during the day and contemplating a home battery which might help with overnight heating.

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PostPosted: Aug 11th, '16, 20:36 
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Freshwater mussels (velusunio ambiguus) finally arrived about a week ago.

They've been in my sump tank and also fish tank. Haven't seen any evidence of movement at all. When I fish one of them out to take a look, they're tightly closed and not at all smelly, so I'm guessing they're alive. Maybe they like it a bit warmer than the roughly 14 - 18 C range we've got at the moment. Or maybe the water is moving too fast for them given their natural habitat is very slow moving or still water bodies or swamps.

Pretty sure others on this forum have had them in their systems... grateful for any thoughts!

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PostPosted: Sep 11th, '16, 09:37 
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Not much action from the freshwater mussels as yet. Hard to tell if water is cleaner and they don't seem to move other than being swept toward the SLO. But they don't smell and don't feel empty so maybe something will happen in summer.

Plants are taking off with warmer weather and sun is higher so my neighbor's house doesn't block most of my light.
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The native bees are swarming - hard to see but they're right in the middle of the picture. Will be eating sugarbag soon.
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Harvested two SP yesterday (bigger one is 520 g x 33.5 cm) and found them full of eggs. The fish are going in the smoker in half an hour. Has anyone eaten silver perch roe? Any tips on preparing them?
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PostPosted: Sep 12th, '16, 07:01 
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Wow - healthy looking fish! Right on Dave!

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PostPosted: Sep 12th, '16, 09:04 
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Thanks Ebeuerle. They were pretty healthy until just before the photo :wink:

We had tea smoked silver perch for dinner last night. I got a thumbs up from my occasional aquaponics assistant :thumbright:

Have decided to have a go at making little bottarga with the roe! http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipes/salt ... e-bottarga

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