Home Aquaponics Update: 8 Months In, 7 Lessons Learned

It has been 8 months since we set up our home aquaponics system. What we've learned:

  1. Peppers grow amazingly well in aquaponics
    • We have had great success with jalopenos, green bell peppers, banana peppers, and hungarian wax. Peppers are easily matted down, spread out, and manipulated and will still produce an amazing number of peppers. We have 8 bell peppers on one plant right now and many more buds coming.
  2. Lettuce grows very well but will bolt quickly
    • We have grown a variety of lettuces over the past few months. We have eaten it and not gotten sick contrary to thoughts about having a turtle in an aquaponics environment. We actually feed the lettuce leaves to the turtle and fish as well and he loves it.
  3. Tomatoes get out of hand and need a lot of space
    • Tomatoes will grow like weeds in an aquaponics system. They will quickly take over and shade any smaller plants. It wasn't until we removed our tomato plants that the peppers were able to flourish.
  4. Worms love aquaponics
    • After viewing a youtube video by Australian aquaponics guru Murray Hallam we added a few red wiggler worms from our worm compost bin. The worms have taken off and are thriving in the aquaponics system further helping to break down the fish waste and provide nutrients for the system.
  5. Spiders are a great way to get rid of aphids.
    • Our aphid problem has virtually disappeared - or at least there is now a balance. We contemplated introducing asian beetles to counteract the aphid issue but eventually a few spiders found their way into the pepper plants and took care of them naturally & natively.
  6. Spraying the plants seems to keep the plants healthier & they look better!
    • Almost daily we will spray the leaves of all the plants with water from the fish tank. This seems to keep the leaves healthier, prettier, and improves growth.
  7. Instead of cycling 15 minutes every hour we now have the pump set to go for 15 minutes every two hours.
    • Not only does this save energy but the plants seem to be growing better. I may consider bumping it up to 15 minutes every three hours soon to see how the plants react.

Below are a few pictures of our current batch of plants.