Help Information FAQ
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Absolutely. We have a small factory in central Ohio where every system is manufactured.
We start with sheets of acrylic, cut it into smaller pieces, glue up the systems, add the components, and ship it out. Of course, it is a bit more complicated than that, but it's all done right here in Ohio. While we do build and assemble the systems, we purchase the other components from suppliers. The grow media and gravel and from the US, while the grow pots and pump are from China (only because no one in the USA produces these).
Water chemistry is vitally important in any aquarium, and even more so in an aquaponics system. The best thing you can do is start with clean water. We recommend everyone have a basic aquarium water test kit, so you can check you water quality and catch any problems before they become serious. A test kit will allow you to monitor pH level, nitrate and nitrite levels, and assess the condition of your bacteria bed.
The API Freshwater Master Test Kit is a great test kit, it will tell you everything you need to know and is very affordable.
When you are first setting up your system, it's important to keep to just one on two small fish. A betta or small goldfish is ideal. The betta is a great choice because it is an air breathing fish, so the ammonia in the water during the first few weeks the tank is in operation will have a lesser effect on it. Both of these fish are also tolerant of lower temperatures.
After your tank is established in 4-5 weeks, you can add additional fish. Without a tank heater, you'll want to be sure to choose fish tolerant of cool water.
As your plants grow, it's important to balance their need for nutrients with the waste produced by the fish. A small system, with young plants may be well balanced with one medium goldfish. But a large system, with mature plants, may need 4, 5, or 6 goldfish to keep up with the nutrients needed the plants.
If you water is becoming cloudy and dirty too fast, that is a good indication of possible fish overload (more waste than the plants to consume). If you plants and looking weak and limp, that can be a good indication that there is not enough fish waste in the system to keep them feed and healthy.
The first thing to consider when thinking about plants is light. While virtually any plant can grow in the system, you want plants that will be suited to the light available.
Produce plants, like grape tomatoes and strawberries, need full sun. Typical houseplants need much less. Flowering houseplants do fine with moderate light. Ivy plants, ferns, and African violets are some examples of moderate light plants that will do great in the system, and they are readily available in many stores. Fresh herbs, available in many grocery stores, grow very well.
A quick search for indoor plants will give many more options.
A heater is an excellent addition, and greatly expands your fish options.
An excellent heater is included with our System Accessory Kit. It is a 25 watt, solid-state, fully automatic heater, and does a great job of keeping your system at a stable 77°F.
Yes, the pump does completely underwater. It is sealed and designed to be submerged.
Of course, it is electric, and that can be dangerous, so it is very important to always use a GFCI protected socket for the pump or any other electrical item around the tank. If you don't have a GFCI protected outlet near your system, this will adapt a normal outlet to GFCI protection.
Also, add a simple drip loop to any electrical cord coming out of your system. A drip loop looks like this:
This is an indication that your pump and filter needs to be cleaned:
-Remove the pump
-Pull out the filter foam and clean it
-Disassemble the pump and pull out the impeller (small pliers or tweezers will help)
-Clean the impeller and rinse the pump body
-Reassemble and reinstall
No problem! The tank is acrylic, a relatively flexible plastic. A small bow in the front of the tank is perfectly normal and safe. It won't get worse, and it won't break.
Nothing is wrong. The area around your pump (under the grow bed) will eventually collect some organic material. Just pull out the pump, clean the bottom of the pump tower with your gravel vacuum or even a turkey baster, reinstall your pump, and you are ready to go.
Assuming your plant was healthy to start with, it could have been replaced into the grow pots with the main root ball too low. It's important to keep this main root ball above the water level. The grow media will keep the roots damp, so don't plant too deep into the grow pot and the plants will be happy.
Easy, just lift up the grow put and trim those roots with some scissors. And then admire your green thumb!
Keep in mind, plant growth will be slow until the bacteria bed is established in your system. This will take 4-5 weeks are your system is set up. If plant growth is still poor after this time, your plants probably need more light. Try to reposition your system for more sun exposure, or add a grow light.
The most common problem with aquatic plants is low water temperature. Aqauatic plants will generally not survive water temperatures below 70℉. So if you don't have a water heater, start with adding one. We have a very nice heater in our System Accessory Kit. Additionally, you can add a small amount of aquatic plant food, like this.
The simple answer is no, you shouldn't need any fertilizers, and normal plant fertilizers can be very detrimental to the fish and bacteria in your system.
If you would like to try something anyway, make sure to use only a aquatic plant food, like this.
Algae growth is usually the result of:
-excess nitrate in the water
-excess phosphate in the water
-excess sunlight on the tank
To combat algae:
-reduce feeding to lower nitrate and phosphate levels
-reduce sunlight exposure
-change 20% of the water 2 to 3 times per week for several weeks
-if the water changes aren't helping, try doing the changes with distilled water. Almost any grocery store will have gallon jugs of distilled water available
-add 1 or 2 large snails.
Thin brown algae on the wall of the tank can be wiped off this a clean cloth.
Over time, organic material will collect in the gravel. Some will flow through into the grow tower around the pump, but the gravel will need to be cleaned periodically. Use a gravel cleaner (like the one in our System Accessory Kit) or even a turkey baster to suck out the waste.
Make sure the pump is to touching the walls of the grow tower.
Clean the pump and impeller:
-remove the pump
-pull out the filter foam and clean it
-disassemble the pump and pull out the impeller (small pliers or tweezers will help)
-clean the impeller and rinse the pump body
-reassemble and reinstall
This is probably dust from the grow media not having been cleaned well enough. While it doesn't look great, it is perfectly safe for your fish and plants.
Wipe off as much of the film near the water line as possible.
Change about 20% of the water 2 to 3 times per week for a few weeks. This should gradually remove the orange tint from the water.