Monthly Archives: April 2011

Update Week: ?

Fish Tank Heater

For a long time, the fish were surving in whatever the temperature was outside. Sometimes this was a low as 45 degrees. At one point, there was a cold snap in Sacramento and my Mom got concerned the fish would die. She moved them inside for a while because outside it hit as low as about 20 degrees, which means the fish would have hit some kind of Captain America type arctic stasis.

That said, the other day I got back to Sac and three of my four fish were dead. I don’t know if it had to do with the temperature or what, but it seemed like maybe I should focus on doing more things to stop stressing the fish.

I invested in getting an actual heater for the tank. I’d put it off for a long time because I wanted to get away without having to use a heater. Heaters = electricity and my goal is to use as little as possible. My parents recently had solar panels installed that has the potential to bring in as much as about 150 kwh. Seeing as how the heater I got only hits 0.2 kwh and that’s if it’s on all the time (which I think it barely hits 10 hours, maybe 12) I figured I could go ahead an syphon a little without feeling bad.

Now the water level changes, obviously, every 10 minutes so I couldn’t just install it on the side. I bought a couple of those wacky noodle pool toys and cut off some pieces, zipped tied them to it and added a brass weight (to keep it vertically balanced) to the bottom so that it can rises and fall with the changing water level.


The garlic looks like it’s doing ok and until the other day, I was concerned that the weight of the rocks would prevent the bottom from bulbing up. I had to yank one of them to fix a leak in the pipe that runs into the fish tank from the grow bed. The bottom of the garlic looks like it’s slightly “bulbing up”, but nothing huge yet. And the other day I actually dug around one of the larger ones and I could definitely see it “bulbing up”. I’m going to wait till June when it’s time to harvest to find out how the rest have done. I’m suspecting that aquaponics is more productive in terms of getting larger produce when what you want isn’t below the rocks.


sugar cane in aquaponics

This one used to only have 1 stalk, now has about 4 coming out.

Speaking of root growth, the sugar cane is doing pretty well. I’m still trying to get the Falcon up and running with the right pumps. Right now I’ve got all three sugar cane plants setup in one of the grow beds. Two of them, have developed new stems off the old ones that were shipped to me. One hasn’t yet, but I think that’s cause the shoot that came with it fell off before I transfer it to the unit.

I have high hopes the sugar cane will work out in the long run, as it all ready seems to be doing pretty well. I’m curious if it’ll actually grow to 20′ tall as it’s supposed to.

Green Onion and Bib Lettuce

Green onion

See that strip of green in the middle? that's Green Onion

Bib Lettuce

Bib Lettuce

I threw in some seeds to get some more growth going about a week ago. Honestly, the garlic et al is boring me in how long it’s taking to grow so I though, f-it, let’s throw in some other stuff. And as I said above, I had to remove one garlic plant to fix a pipe so I figured since I had the space and since I’m not 100% convinced that more garlic is a good idea at this point I wanted to put some other stuff in. Hence the green onion (nestled in between the garlic) and the bib lettuce in the blank spot. Some photos below. We’ll see how it goes.

Today I threw in some Rosemary and Chive seeds along one edge. Hoping it will help fight the algae in the tank as well as give me yet another thing to grow.


Three of them died, as I mentioned earlier. I only replaced two of them out of concern that they might have died because of the alkaline levels that four generated. I’m hoping that with the introduction of the heater at some point I can finally get setup with tilapia. The tank when I put it in was averaging about 50 degrees right now on my new meter. Now with the heater, it stays about 65-70 degrees.

Now my main concern is switching to Tilapia. When it comes to feeding, I’d have to feed them twice a day by hand as opposed to just letting an auto-feeder handle it. And I’m not around every day to do it and I don’t want to put the burden on my parents. And from what I’ve read, I’d have to weight them once every two weeks to make sure I was feeding them accurately. Yikes! Still, I’m thinking/working on it.

As for the solar water heater, still waiting on the right pump.


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