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PostPosted: Feb 15th, '19, 06:25 
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I have been all over the internet trying to find information on floating raft system on fish ponds but I really can't find much of anything as yet.

I am in North Idaho where we get some pretty good winters, in fact all of my ponds are frozen over and and I have close to 3 feet of snow at this very moment.

I have been soil gardening for 45 years and I am pretty good at it, though the weather here is challenging even me, last years my last hard frost was July 9th. Then we were 90 to 100F by the end of July and half of August and then back to frosting 3rd week of September. Between the lack of any rain in the summer and the late start and early finish I have found soil gardening what I want to be spotty at best.

When I do manage to get things to grow it is generally eaten by the deer, elk, rabbits and wild Canadian geese. I will admit that my chickens also tend to eat a bit of my gardens as well but that is my fault there.

I have been trying to figure out a way to mellow out the wild temperature swings for my gardening, as well as deal with the extremely dry summers without a serious watering system setup and last but not least protect plants from being eating all the wildlife running around my place.

The thought of using my ponds occurred to me a couple years back, the water would help smooth temps, would solve having to have a watering system and would solve much of my plant predation problems by the local wild life.

I have two easily accessible ponds near the house, one is about 80 feet wide by 280 feet long and 12 to 14 feet deep and has approximately a million or a bit more gallons of water in it, this pond has had large mouth bass in it for at least 20 to 25 years and many of them are in the 24+ inch range so they have done well in there. The geese nest on an island in the middle of this pond but vacate as soon as the babies are born due to the bass eating the baby geese and all other small birds that use the pond. I generally find a swallow or two inside most of the bass I catch when I gut them.

The other good pond is about 40 feet behind my house, it is full of bullhead catfish and is a bit smaller than the previous pond. It is only about 90 feet in diameter and the same 12 to 14 feet deep and holding maybe 400,000 gallons of water. This pond has tens of thousands of catfish in it each summer as well as the small baby turtles that are common here on our place. The geese like this pond when the babies are hatched the catfish are no threat so this pond has the likely hood of geese trying to eat some of my plants but I think I could largely protect from that.

My other ponds are way out in my hay field and I doubt I would ever try to use them to grow although I suppose if it worked well in these two ponds I might consider it eventually.

Okay, the real question... is this likely to be feasible?

I have read where people say that growing on an open pond is not feasible, they warn of algae blooms and how hard it is to get the fish to survive, except my fish have been surviving for decades with no feeding or aeration and the occasional algae bloom already. All I have to do is not screw up what is naturally already going on. In fact some sites I have looked at said that vegetables grow on lower levels of nitrogen than algae do so putting plants in helps to reduce the likely hood of algal blooms.

Anyone have any starting tips are things that I should read or research to get me pointed in the right direction? I would like to try and get some things going this year, and if I design the rafts right I think I could safely start as soon as mid April and be safe from the frosts and freezes that will come in April, May, June and potentially July and then later frosts in September giving me a pretty dang good growing season compared to what I am used to. So I have a couple months to get some ideas and get set up to start on some cool weather plants.

I would post some pics, but right now it is just large snow covered ice patches, not much to see yet... lol...


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PostPosted: Feb 15th, '19, 22:54 
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Seems to me a greenhouse might be in your future, although no mention of one in your post. At the risk of starting a spitting contest, I am going to suggest you give iAVs http://iavs.info/what-iavs-is/ some consideration. Plenty of additional info, just Google "iAVs aquaponics" Pump from the pond, drain back into the pond


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PostPosted: Feb 16th, '19, 02:59 
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I have doubts about using the ponds for floating rafts because plants are usually slow growers when the water is cold and I think you'll find that the plants won't really take off until later than soil based plants. You will get good growth later in the season and probably longer into Fall but I'm not sure how much longer.

If I were in your situation, I would build some raised beds (which warm earlier) and enclose them in a greenhouse (which will extend your growing season). You could do the raised beds as regular soil raised beds, wicking beds, media based Aquaponics beds or Deep Water Culture AP beds (or any other possibility you think you'd like). You could either just water with the pond water or you could circulate the water through and back down to the pond. You'd probably want to change how you do this based on time of year, no need to pump frozen pond water, and warm water in the greenhouse helps maintain the temperature. Water is often used for thermal mass in greenhouses and having a lot of water in the greenhouse will help even out the temperature swings.


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PostPosted: Feb 16th, '19, 03:51 
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In addition to all that,
do you know what the nutrient levels would be like,have you ever tested the water?

You mention wild life around the water,if they were defecating in the water,it would be bad news.No lettuce or other raw veg.
A closed recirculating system is your best shot.I know you were wanting to use the pond,but personally I wouldn't take the risk.

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PostPosted: Feb 16th, '19, 03:54 
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Aufin wrote:
Seems to me a greenhouse might be in your future, although no mention of one in your post. At the risk of starting a spitting contest, I am going to suggest you give iAVs http://iavs.info/what-iavs-is/ some consideration. Plenty of additional info, just Google "iAVs aquaponics" Pump from the pond, drain back into the pond


I seen you post this twice now & I would like to know,how do you stop the sand from going back to the fish tank.
I like the look of it & might give it ago.

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PostPosted: Feb 18th, '19, 04:01 
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I had not given any thought to water temp other than to use it to avoid frosts and freezing. I have never actually measured the water temp before. I do know that when my kids go swimming in any of the ponds in July and August they are commonly shivering uncontrollably by the time they get out, so even in the hot summer temps the water is still not all that warm.

Just a quick thinking back on tomatoes as I remember, they don't really get going until the soil temp is in the 60's to 70's.
Even my cool weather crops will not likely grow fast in that pond water temp around the roots, though my strategy on those was to use the pond to keep the plants cool enough so that I could grow them through the summer without the usual bolting. It goes from bitter cold to bitter hot here in the flip of a switch, instead of growing radishes for a radish I went to letting them go to seed and then I collect baskets of the seed pods to eat rather than eating the radish.

As for a greenhouse in fact I do have a 20 ft by 60 foot greenhouse frame out in the hay field, I do not yet have it set up here at the house yet. Someone in the past let the plastic get loose and the snow caved it in. I have bent all the metal pipes back into shape but I will need to mill up some posts and beams and create a support structure for the metal to sit on rather than relying on the metal for the structural strength.

It would be tough to set up greenhouse any where close to the pond close to the house, I have a number of trees around the pond area. I could set up by the largest pond though, but that is a bit further away from the house meaning a longer response time to deer, elk or moose or bear trying to break in for a snack.

I had in the past gone through the idea of pumping water out of the pond and through a grow bed system before, though that would be a pretty entailed system and use a constant source of power. The thought also occurs to me now that any pumped system would also likely have the same water temperature issues as growing directly within the water. The pond beside the house is at least 400,000 gallons of water and the large pond is over a million, you aren't going to simply heat that up a few degrees and even if you did it would really mess up the fish.

I have done a lot of greenhouse growing over the years here it also has it's issues. We have wild temperature swings between day and night here, which is nic if you are a human makes sleeping a dream. Even on a 100 degree day it will usually get back down into the upper forties at night in July and August. June and September it is pretty much guaranteed to be in the lower to mid forties down to the mid to upper thirties at night with some over night freezing events some years.

The trouble that I have had with greenhouses is the high daytime temps, even in the winter I was not uncommonly reading temps of 80 to 90 degrees some days, though I was also using the greenhouse as a winter chicken pen to add chicken manure and use them to till up the soil in the floor of the building. I had several of these greenhouses built and I could mover them around with the tractor. I would split my chickens up into several flocks in the winter and keep them in the greenhouses and kick them out in early spring and then go to growing plants. Things grew reasonably well, but I needed cooling systems otherwise everything bolted very quickly.

Years ago I built an in ground building to house my milk goat herd in the winter, I was tired of fighting frozen water all winter long so I built 24 inch tall stem walls and put a 12 foot roof peak on them and then cover the roof to about 9 feet height on one side and the front was open to the ground level as it was situated on a small hill. This worked great even at -48 the worst their water ever got was a light skin of ice and birthing babies in January February was no longer a problem. I later removed the tin on the south side of the building and created a 16 x 36 foot greenhouse. Again I had issues with overheating during the days as soon as spring hit and while most things grew reasonably well they tended to bolt fast.

Adding these different problems together I got to thinking of the shower house I helped build at Willow Creek Ranch when I was kid, we built a large shower house with about 12 showers in it and used a large black plastic 500 gallon tank on the roof to heat the water. We built the shower house right next to the runoff from a spring that we used to supply the farms water and simply plumbed all in with gravity feed. The water would get so hot that even with the cold water all the way and hot near off it tended to scald me. A smaller scale version of this to heat water by only a few degrees should be possible. If I could warm the pond water a little it should be warm enough for the plant roots, The warmed but still cool water could actually help to deal with greenhouse temps as well. I would still certainly need a ventilation system to keep the greenhouse cool on hot days.

As for pond nutrients in my ponds, I would say likely pretty high, the water plants grow fantastically well, the leafy vine plants that grow from about 6 feet down up to the surface grow quite well, then they flower and and fill the ponds with maybe a couple hundred pounds of floating seeds, it literally looks like you went around the ponds with several fifty pound bags of seed and threw it all around the shoreline. We have some small amount of duckweed that has just started in the last couple years or so, from what I understand it is likely to get pretty bad, but it fairly easy to mechanically remove and I can use it in my gardens. My cat tails are also quite healthy they grow at the edges of the ponds, though my horse have eaten them down pretty good over the last few years. I have never tested anything, but if you can imagine maybe 25 to 30 thousand catfish from 1 inch to 15 inches along with all the wild ducks, geese, herons, turtles and whatnot living in them. The water is runoff from my fields and forests so it also brings in a lot of nutrients from the fields and forests each spring. My bass pond has about the same number of fish but the sizes go up considerably as the bass grow to a much larger size than the catfish. I can't imagine nutrients being much of an issue for me. Certainly not as big an issue as the water temp.

Well thanks guys, that is why I came here looking for what I hadn't thought of and didn't know, and I definitely hadn't thought out the water temp fully. Not beyond it wont freeze or frost while the ground freezing and frosting in the late spring anyways.

Certainly not going to be a simple process and will without a doubt require constant or near constant electric power. Now on to researching how I defeat those issues to some degree.

Thanks guys..


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PostPosted: Feb 18th, '19, 04:36 
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As for the wildlife water issue, I grew up drinking from the livestock tanks on the horse and cattle ranches I lived on. At my grandparents we just drove to the John Day river each Saturday and filled up 500 gallons of water from the river for our drinking water. At my last foster home we just had a fifty gallon barrel set into the ground to catch stream water from a spring to feed the ranch water.

Our first farm we would drive any one of half a dozen streams and creeks and pump water out of them and use that at home. For our gardens I had several surface wells that I dug and field runoff that I used.

I have drunk water my entire life from things such as , ponds, waterfalls, creeks, rivers, field runoff, irrigation ditches, mud puddles, livestock tanks melting snow in tanks for water etc. Unlike everyone else I was able to drink the water in Mexico without any problems, I was able to drink the water in Arabia without any problems, I was able to drink the water in Ethiopia without any problems etc etc etc. I have been exposed to everything that makes everyone else sick my entire life, it has no effect on, and my children have been raised that way and they too are immune as well. We currently have a well for water though there have been times that we have lost power for a few days and we have drank some of pond water which is shared with our horses, goats, chickens, ducks and all the wildlife that roams through and uses them. I do make sure to boil the pond water a bit before drinking it always wise with a pond though the depth of our ponds makes that less of a concern.

I have also drank raw unpasteurized cow milk and goat milk my entire life. When I walk through the woods and fields I i pick and eat plants the entire way through, I have never done anything more than to the plants other than brush most of the dirt off before I eat them.

I would not advise for other to do this, the reason that I and my kids can do this is because we have been doing this our entire lives and gained immunities to most anything we would ever run across. Interestingly about the only water that we can't seem to drink without getting sick is treated city water, that chlorine is terribly hard on the gut.


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PostPosted: Feb 18th, '19, 05:13 
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You don't actually have to pump from the pond all the time. You could pump from the pond once a day and then have another pump just recirculate the water. It may take some experimentation to figure the right amount but If you only pump say 10% or 20% of the system volume up each morning and let it warm in the greenhouse that could probably work. The amount would vary by time of year (Summer you'd want to cool the greenhouse off and other times of year you'd want to keep it warm - you also don't want the temperature change to shock any fish you keep in the greenhouse). You could keep some fish in the greenhouse tank/s if the plants aren't getting enough nutrients from the pond water or you could supplement with some other form of nutrients.

As far as the temperature swings, the more water mass the better. Shade cloth is a good idea. Using a swamp cooler and ventilation fans might be another good option. Odds are that you still won't be able to grow crops like lettuce in the middle of summer without bolting - expect an early and a late season crop of these. Grow warm weather crops like tomatoes and beans when it's hot and even into Fall. None of this is particularly inexpensive but it will work once you get the hang of it.


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PostPosted: Feb 18th, '19, 05:18 
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Again I am trying to identify what the heck plant it is that I have growing in my ponds. While I do not have any pictures, never thought to actually take a picture of one before I do have some pretty good descriptions.

This plants grows from the bottom of the ponds between about 3 ft and 6 ft depths. It is a central long vine that grows up from the bottom with some rather large leafs growing off the vine/stem. The stem apparently floats quite well and supports the plant vertically in the water. The top of the plants generally stop growing at about 3 to 6 inches below the surface of the pond. As the pond water levels lower in the summer about 3 feet by the end of each summer the tops of the plants are floating on the surface and they get these little flower heads that don't actually really seem to open up into flowers or anything but apparently do get fertilized as they produce massive amounts of seed.

The only thing that I can find that is close is water hyacinth except none of those look quite like this, very similar but but yet a bit different. The other problem with water hyacinth is that it shouldn't be able to grow here in these ponds, it is far too cold here. Is there any other type of plant that anyone can think of that grows submerged with a central floating stalk/vine with large 3 to 4 inch wide leafs about 5 inches long or so? I can find very few pond plants that grow completely submerged, in fact the only close is the water hyacinth. It is a nice looking plant, though it can be a bit of a pain when fishing, you want get your gear up out of the water about 8 to 12 feet from shore before you get into that stuff.

Is there potentially a cold tolerant water hyacinth?


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PostPosted: Feb 18th, '19, 05:39 
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Yes I was kind of thinking the same thing scotty435..

As for the fish getting warm or temp shock I would have to warm up maybe 5 to 10 thousand gallons a day to make any notable difference on pond temp. I am not sure what kind of volumes people pump with aquaponics systems but I am pretty certain that even if I went all out and had a very large system that I wouldn't even be in the region of heating enough water to have any real affect on the fish.

As for growing cool weather crops I may be out of luck, the problem here is the quick change from below freezing to hot temps and then the quick change from hot temps to below freeing again. I have freezing temps here as late as July 8th and as early as third week of September. By the tenth of October I am almost always freezing and the average last frost date is May15th here. In a good year I have a four month growing period, in a bad year like last year I had 82 days between nightly freezes. Growing cool weather crops at both ends of the season generally doesn't work well for me. I have had some success at it in the past, but it depends from year to year.

I will need to go back through and study how people are doing the trough grow beds and how much water and how often they pump each day and get a good idea of the basic amount of water to warm and how long it would have to warmed in. The though also occurs to me you mentioned temperature shock to fish, that also applies to plants as well, the water can't be too cold or "warm" when I pump it through grow beds.

LOL... I keep thinking this would all be easier if I were simply living a tropical local.... After a lifetime of beating my head against a wall trying to grow plants in a cold northern climate it would be quite a thing to live where everything grows easily. I keep running into trouble with many of the other fish species I would like to raise as well, too dang cold for most of them to survive here. Koi won't even make it here without pumping the water all winter long.


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PostPosted: Feb 18th, '19, 06:36 
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Wow....

I was just reading an aquaponics kind of a basics rule chart written by a doctor to make things more simple for people to understand when getting started.

In there they say that you should have about 1 pound of fish weight per 5 gallons to 10 gallons of water tank. That would require me to have around 40,000 pounds of fish in my pond.... That seems like an insane amount of fish, I would expect that I have maybe 1% of that in my pond, pushing it maybe 2%.

Is this accurate or did I maybe interpret it wrong?


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PostPosted: Feb 18th, '19, 07:20 
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Yeah you've got some extreme swings in temperature. If you had more light in winter that would help warm the greenhouse (it's better than here but still not great). You're probably mostly looking at extending the growing season which is doable.

Tough to know without pics but search for water smartweed (polygonum) and water knotweed (Persicaria) see if either looks like the plant. There are a lot of similar plants so it could be one of these.

-------------

You're not moving the pond water or aerating the pond so the amount of fish you can have, or want to have in it is drastically reduced. That weight is based on final grow out size of the fish just before harvest and is probably the maximum fish stocking level for an AP system not the minimum. Not a big deal but you might need to supplement nutrients for your AP if you notice you're not getting healthy looking plants.

http://www.backyardaquaponics.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=6646


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PostPosted: Feb 18th, '19, 10:53 
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Thank you, I do believe I have a type of "smart weed", I was pretty sure it wasn't possible that it would be water hyacinth but I couldn't find any other plants growing up in length from the bottom.


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