Aquaponics Updates

certainly, the basil is a bit overgrown, feel free to prune and take some home if you know how to do so properly.

Fish side looking so much cleaner


Yay! I feel like it’s been months since I could see to the back of the tank. Look at those fish faces!

Yeah, i may need to increase the frequency i clean the tank main tube. But the system is definitely looking nicer.

I’ll be by again this Saturday to try and check on things.

I planted 4 pothos and gave all of the current plants a good hair cut. There were a lot of dead branches and leaves. Part of the main base of the big basil was rotten and a few branches just fell off. The cotton also had a lot of leaves covered in some kind of web and dead branches.

I think the haircut they just got will encourage more new growth and it looks much nicer! I put two pothos in the front left corner, one in the middle left inside one of the planter things, and the fourth in the back right corner which had tons of unused space.

@Tookys I think the big yellow fish is acting territorial in the tank. All the other fish are crowded at the top right corner. I was using the cleaning sponge in the center of the tank and when one of the blue fish came over to investigate the big yellow guy chased him off pretty aggressively.

Yeah, big yellow has been territorial since the beginning, Not sure if its typical behavior for tilapia to have an alpha in the group, or if he should be slated to be eaten.


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The pothos are growing super fast! They’ve already put out big new leaves. The basil is growing like crazy too. I think trimming it regularly is stimulating faster growth.

The tank water looks much clearer but there is a lot of build up on the walls. It also looks like the magnet sponge fell down but I don’t see it on the tank floor.

Also, do we know if the basil is edible due to whatever bacteria the fish have that’s causing their mouth sores?


Good to hear. I plan to be by April 3rd to check on things.

The basil should be fine. The bacteria isnt able to infect the plants. And it only infects cold blooded fish.

The magnet scrubber floats so it should be somewhere at the top.

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System looks to be doing well.

Food was running low so I added a new bag and left a bag there.

Added water, cleaned the lines, everything seems to be calm.

The new pothos that Mollie added looked like they have been well but not alot of growth yet.


It is with great sorrow to inform yall that we have had a die off event in the system.

4 of the oldest and largest fish in the system have died and had to be removed from the system.

It looks like one of the tank heaters had gone bad and had caused the GFCI protectors to trip. Which is what its supposed to do. However the pump was also on this gfci circuit. And with no way of knowing it had tripped the system has sat idle without flowing water for most likely 2-3 weeks.

The fish survived up until a few days ago. Although tilapia are hardy and can handle stress they can only handle it for so long.

I am having to start thinking if maybe its time to retire the system. I am unable to allocate more than the 1 visit per month that i do atm.

It was always my hope that this would grow into a community project with more people involved. Some people have shown interest but im not sure how to foster it into a active group that can help maintain the system.

I havent decided what to do yet. Hopefully i can get more people involved. But if not ill have to start making plans to shut the projevt down.

I have seen 2 medium fish and 1 small still alive in the system. But the water is to murky for me to verify if there are any others.

Ill plan to make another trip next weekend just to make sure there isnt still an issue.

I gotta say, it’s been amazing. I was skeptical at first that the plywood was going to hold water long-term, but it’s been holding together just fine.

Yeah, those fish lived pretty long lives. They were supposed to get harvested as they grew up, but strangely no one was up for gutting them. They ended up reaching retirement age.


@Tookys There is currently a dead fish floating in the tank. I’m not sure how to address this. I see three living fish.

I’ll take care of it tomorrow, unless someone else wants to put it in a black garbage bag and put in dumpster, bags under sink in lounge

It’s sad to see the project shutdown but like you said it really does need a solid group of regular volunteers committed to maintaining it in order to keep it going. I love the unique character it gives walking into the space but unfortunately, it probably is time to decommission it especially with fish continuing to show up dead after you recently came to check it out. It has been a pretty impressive project I must say.

This system took 6 months, and $2.5k to build, id hate to see it go, but i know something has to change.

Its been running for 2.5 years, and its had a pretty good run. But this was always intended to be a community project to try and get others to take part and get involved. And although there have been people who have shown interested and participated it needs dedicated volunteers to be regularly involved with the system to keep it running.

I’d say there are 3 paths going forward.

1- We get 3 more dedicated volunteers, so we can have somebody to check on it every week.
(not maintenance but just checking to make sure its working, and maybe help tend the plants, and clean the glass)

2-We convert it to a Hydroponics system, this eliminates the fish from the system and we just use chemicals to provide the plants with nutrients.
(We can keep the grow bed and the sump on the workshop side, and take the tank home, worst case for this is we kill the plants, but we don’t have to worry about killing fish anymore. This would cost money to do the conversion, and does require more automated controls to get it to function.)

3- We kill the whole system and remove it from the space entirely.
(I don’t like this option as I’d just be shoving it into a storage unit in this scenario.

[a potential 4th would be to turn the fish tank into a decorative tank, (either with the grow bed converted to hydroponics, or removed) disconnected from the grow bed, with decorative fish and decorations. I would have to design and build a new filter system to filter the water for the tank, but would likely be more easily maintained than the full aquaponics system]

  • Find volunteers
  • go hydroponic / remove fish tank
  • go hydroponic / decorative fish tank
  • decorative tank only
  • remove everything

0 voters

Anybody wanting to volunteer to help run the system please contact me directly.

I will need to make a decision on what to do by the end of the month.

I am toying with the idea of doing a slight redesign that may help keep the water clearer, and add some redundency. But that may need a new board approval to do.

Came in and found another dead fish, cant really figure what is causing this die off.

I went ahead and removed it.

Ugraded the main pump line to the tank has been upgraded from a 1/2 to 3/4 line this should help keep the flow high so the flow doesnt get choked as much.

I also installed 2 new power strips with indicators lights so its easy to see that everything has power. I took pics and will give a write up of ehats plugged in where soon.

I found the part that caused the original short circuit, it was one of the pumps i was using to just circulate water inside the sump.

For now it should be good, not sure what else to do atm.

There are still 2 medium fish and 2 small fish in the system. Hopefully we can keep them going.

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