Aquaponics system spring cleaning

It’s that time of year for Spring cleaning, time to refresh your aquaponic system and make it more abundant and attractive. Here is a quick run down for a super spring time aquaponic spruce up.

by Carole Martell

Step 1: Improve water quality
If your fish or sump tank water quality could use a bit of a boost, place a sump pump in the bottom of the tank, and drain out about 1/3 of the water. Apply the water to fruit trees or kickstart your compost. Refill with the tank with temperate, dechlorinated water. This will keep the fish and bacteria happy while removing some of the thicker solids from the bottom of the tank.

Step 2: Remove white residue
Calcium and potassium will create white deposits on your media, tank and other exposed components. If it has become unsightly, scrub it off with a clean towel and a little pH down (phosphoric acid).

Clean out your pump and pipes
All of the plumbing components and pump in your system can clog with fish solids, bioslime and bacteria. This can put pressure on your pump and make the water not flow as effectively through your system. Remove these components from your system and clean with a blast of water from a hose, a tool like a rifle barrel cleaner or drier cleaning brush depending upon the size of the pipe. At the same time check the pump components to make sure they are in good working order. It might be time to replace the impeller.

Step 3: Maximize aeration
As temperatures increase, warm water has less ability to hold oxygen. Therefore it is very important to have clean air stones. Dunk the airstones in a bucket of water and a tablespoon or two of hydrogen peroxide and scrub with a brush to remove bioslime.

Step 4: Prevent algae
This time of year it is more common to have abundant algae growth. Make sure to keep exposed water covered to prevent unwanted algae that will consume both nutrients and oxygen. This may require adding some new media to the growbeds if there has been significant settling.

Step 5: Prep your plants
Things that grow well in colder temps like lettuces, kales and chard may suffer as the weather gets warmer. Flowering fruiting crops flourish in longer day length and warm weather. Start the shift to warm weather crops as the temperature in your climate allows. Also remove plants that have lived out their life cycle. Lettuces, greens and some culinary herbs only live for about 60-90 days, fruiting crops for 90-200 days. If your plants are starting to have yellow or dying leaves, pest pressure, or low production it could be that they are at the end of their traditional life cycle and need to be replaced.

Taking an hour or two for some spring time maintenance can make a world of difference in the beauty and functionality of your aquaponic system. Give it a little love, and it will return an abundance of good clean food.

For more information:
The Aquaponic Source

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