Top 10 Aquaponics Mistakes

I have been writing about other people’s Aquaponics systems, but never my own. The primary reason is, I keep making mistakes, or is this called learning?

So, I wanted to share what I have done wrong over the last year in my AP setup. Some of them will sound funny or “stoopid,” but I know someone will learn from them and not make the same mistakes.

Top 10 Aquaponic Mistakes

  1. Failure to seal the grow bed. I sealed my fish tank plug with super strong, latex aquarium sealer, but I forgot to do the same for the grow bed! The result has been a very slow leak out of the grow bed.
  2. Invited Pests. I bought seedlings from Whole Foods which were infested with aphid and spider mite larvae. They then devoured my other plants. 🙁
  3. Light is Important. Despite all the species that we AP farmers must induce and coax into healthy existence, you can’t overlook the importance of sunlight. In the summer, my plants by the southwest facing windows were fine, but come autumn, they were dying from not enough sunlight. I installed flourescent t5 grow bulbs.
  4. Too many changes at once. When I was battling spider mites, I decided to combat them with multiple tactics: bring in a fan, cool down the room and lengthen the water cycling time. Trouble was, I had no way of knowing if any one tactic was working.
  5. Hydrogen peroxide. While I was battling the spider mites, I heard that hydrogen peroxide would kill them off. So, I started spraying the plants with it. Trouble was that it killed off the weak plants and didn’t do any damage to the nasty spider mites. And now my Hydroton pebbles were covered in a white dust.
  6. Overfeeding. Fish are like dogs. They will eat any food you put in front of them. I liked seeing my little fish eat so much that now they’re fat! And they want even more food! But I don’t need so much fish waste for my grow bed! I created fish monsters! Ahhh….
  7. It gets hot in the summer. That sun sure is powerful, huh? My fish tank got up over 80 degrees F and that did a doozy to my pH. Air conditioning is a beautiful thing.
  8. Cycling with Fish. While I can’t say this is a mistake because it all worked out in the end, it was very stressful. 6 weeks of restless nights wondering if you’ll wake up and find more dead fish. Next time I cycle, it will be fishless.
  9. Plants need supplements. While the fish waste does provide 95% of what plants need to be healthy, they need a little extra potassium, calcium,  iron and trace minerals to be in top shape. Plants will look a little pale in their “bones” when they don’t have everything they need.
  10. Filter in the pump. For the first few months, my pump was running with the filter from the manufacturer in it and not delivering 100% fish waste to the grow bed. When I removed the filter, my hands and arms were covered in fish poop. yummm…

This list is not exhaustive by any means. These are just my top 10 Aquaponics mistakes. Other common mistakes include: too high a ratio of fish to plants, using tap water and not letting the chlorine gas off and using gravel as a media which lowers pH.

Share you favorite Aquaponics mistake below…

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