Aquaponics – Lessons learned, the hard way

In my oldest growbed (about one year old) I have only a few plants (ridge gourd and long beans).

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But all have grown really big and extended from the terrace on our first floor to the second floor.

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When we remove a plant from the growbed it is always a challenge to remove the full root system. This becomes even harder if we have other older plants in the same growbed because the roots of plants will all be mixed up and we will end up hurting other plants or will end up leaving roots in the system which may rot eventually. I always thought it is just natural that roots will slowly decay and will become part of the system. But I just learned, the hard way, that it is not always the case. 😦

I was travelling out of country over the last two weeks and had call from home almost daily alerting something is not looking right in the system. Water colour changed drastically and we lost three mid size (8 inch long) fish.

Just before the trip I had cleaned up the growbed and removed a whole bunch of mint and a couple of other plants, but couldn’t remove the roots. Usually this is not a problem but this time I think there were too many roots left behind and it rot and somewhat contaminated the water. I can’t really clean the growbed at this point because it will hurt the larger plants.

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Lessons learned:
– Don’t mix plants that have longer and shorter life span in the same growbed. If we do, keep them in separate areas of the growbed so that we can clean up roots without hurting bigger plants.

– Plants that spread on the growbed, like mint, should be managed closely so that their roots don’t grow too deep and get mixed up too much with other plant roots.

– If removing a plant leaves too much root behind, it is better to clean it up even at the expense of other plants, to save the whole system which includes fish!

Next steps:
– Good bye to long beans and ridge gourd
– Shift all fish (30+) to another tank
– Full clean up of media (gravel)
– Plant the next batch!

Phew! That’s a lot of work ahead. I am going to get some external help.

After all, these challenges are what makes farming even more exciting, isn’t it? 😉

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