Tuesday, March 24, 2015

So What About BioFilters In Aquaponics?

Ammonia, Nitrates and Happy Bacteria

It's a known fact that very few plants like any sort of ammonia on them. As a matter of fact have ever seen how your lettuce looks after the family dog has urinated in backyard vegetable patch? A few days after Duke marked his territory on your lettuce, it looks all burned and wrinkled. Too much ammonia is very bad for those lovely green plants. 

The challenge in aquaponics is to reach the perfect balance between ammonia, nitrates and bacteria. I often see these questions asked in our Facebook community regarding ammonia, pH and water. 

The reason why I encourage people to read our magazines, is because we have writers who answer these very important questions people ask often.  I have picked some of the most clever and informative writers to answer reader questions. These people have some very cool ideas and know what they are doing when it comes to aquaponics.

Vlad Jovanovic is an excellent writer when it comes to giving answers to our readers. He is also a wealth of information in regards to aquaponics. Every month he handles the readers questions and answers them to perfection. Actually he goes above and beyond in his research and we are thrilled that people have been so pleased with Vlad's Column. 
In aquaponics systems plants do not need ammonia to be healthy. Plants need Nitrates to grow not Ammonia. Yet ammonia is still a problem many people have in their systems. Fish cannot handle a lot of ammonia because it is toxic to them.

So what can you do to make everything work better in your AP System? 

Some of the same principles used in aquaculture should be applied to aquaponics because fish health is important too. What we are trying to do in aquaponics is create healthy bacteria and have a system with very little ammonia in it. Having a biofilter installed in your system is crucial for the best animal and plant health possible. 

Making your own biofilter doesn't have to cost you a fortune to make. They can be easy to create and I have seen some great DIY creations on YouTube. Here is just one video below you can look at.

Another good thing about having a bio-filter is that it doesn't have to be a huge over the top design to be effective in your AP System. 

BioFilters have been called a couple of other names people may know like swirl filters, trickle filters and moving bed filters. You may have also seen a containment system working on a home backyard Koi Pond. For anyone who knows about breeding fish, filters are essential for maintaining their good health. This is pretty much the same principle that needs to be applied in aquaponics too.

For anyone selling AP systems they should be encouraging you to either buy a biofilter for your system or learn to make your own. If the person isn't suggesting a workable biofilter added to your AP setup, then find someone else who recommends this. If anyone says you don't need one, walk away and find an instructor who recommends this type of set-up. Even a small home aquarium tank, has a filtration system attached to it. This helps keep the ammonia levels down and provides cleaner water for the guppies or goldfish. 

Download this PDF for some excellent advice from the University of Arizona on a Biofiltration‐Nitrification Design Overview Overview by James M. Ebeling, Ph.D.

And here is another one you can read up onFish farming in recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) by Louis A. Helfrich and George Libey, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences Virginia Tech

Here is just a part of the read in this download on Biofiltration: 

The biological filter (biofilter) is the heart of the RAS. As the name implies, it is a living filter composed of a media (corrugated plastic sheets or beads or sand grains) upon which a film of bacteria grows. The bacteria provide the waste treatment by removing pollutants. 

The two primary water pollutants that need to be removed are:  
(1) Fish waste (toxic ammonia compounds) excreted into the water and 
(2) Uneaten fish feed particles.

The biofilter is the site where beneficial bacteria remove (detoxify) fish excretory products, primarily ammonia.  

So as you can see it is a crucial part of running a healthy aquaponics system. Smaller counter top AP systems can still have biofilters which would be more like the filters you buy for aquarium tanks. 

You have fish to care for and they rely entirely on your expertise to exist. Care for their health in the best way possible by installing a biofilter in your AP system.  Sign up for some of the most updated and best information around by joining the ASC Magazine today. Subscribe to the Lifetime Membership. It's a one time fee and then no more debits. 

Warmest regards 

Victoria Kelley

Editor of the ASC Magazine

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Do You Grow Your Own Food?

The Dilemma Continues Over Fresh Foods

So many people have now become aware of the big corporations who are growing our food and there are way too many mixed results to ignore the problems anymore. There are all kinds of protests, demands for better labeling with consumers walking away from the big supermarket chains. This is definitely making big corporations pay more attention to what people want to see more of in the way of fresh foods.

Americans have always been backyard and community growers and were huge advocates for Victory Gardens from WW1 up until the mid 1960's. SO What happened to us at that point in time?

Big corporations took over the mom and pops farms that had been owned for generations, they introduced their own version of growing and promised to eradicate hunger and starvation within our world. Some forty plus years later we are still waiting for the starvation promise to be gone because if anything, it looks worse than ever before. 

What we now see in supermarkets are cans, packets, plastic containers and jugs all filled with foods that have questionable ingredients in them and consumers are now voting with their feet. 60% of Americans are now eating food that is not fresh but is actually placed in containers for supermarkets. 

Our water is contaminated, our soil is quickly becoming depleted of minerals, our oceans are being fished out and our food is questionable with things like GMO and additives. People are fed up. 

The Tide Is Changing

The big trends that seem to be making a comeback are Farmers Markets where the consumer can ask questions to the grower about sprays, pesticides and other things on the fruit and vegetables. People want to connect to local growers and farmers and support their efforts. 

Growing locally just makes perfect sense to most people. The food isn't trucked in 1500 miles away and tastes a lot fresher. Who wants to eat apples that taste like cardboard anyway? 

Co-Operatives are becoming huge because they promote local growers, farmers and proudly advertise natural organic foods. They encourage the people who are part of the Co-Op to keep on supporting local. 

Consumers are turning their backs on companies who will not take certain ingredients out of food like High Fructose Corn Syrup (Mercury Derivative) or Azodicarbonamide (found in bread and other products). People are quickly losing faith in big corporations and we are now taking the process of growing food more seriously. 

*The above article is referring to big companies like Campbells who have promised to remove some very questionable ingredients from their food and deliver a healthier product.

Another Trend On The Increase 

We are finding more consumers who want to try and grow their own food instead of having to rely on big agriculture and food corporations who tell us "It's all good, there is nothing in our food to worry about." People are finding that statement very hard to believe. Actually big profit losses with corporations like McDonalds proves consumers are paying attention. Seriously who wants to eat Chicken Nuggets with plasticized fillers in the food?

You can check out McDonalds website for more food ingredients.  Are your ingredients 100% pure? "Pure" is a word that means different things to different people. This is a direct quote from their site.

What the ASC Magazine is trying to do is ask colleges, teachers and people who are growing food to participate in our magazine. Share your stories, experiments and even your personal victories with growing food. We want to help you publish your experiments and home grown experiences. 

We don't care if you are doing this through aquaponics or permaculture because either way you are helping to educate other people who are desperately searching out more information. 

This is the link to sign up and receive your FREE Copy of the ASC Magazine. 

If you would like to share a website or blog, let us know. We can share your information and Vice Versa. We would be happy to help out small businesses and professionals. Our magazine feels this is the best way to bring more people together by supporting other Professionals and Growers in the industry. 

Here is the link to writing an article for the ASC Magazine. We are looking forward to hearing from you.

Happy Growing Everyone

Victoria Kelley
ASC Magazine Editor 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Movement For Change

Membership For Professionals

Over the last two years the ASC Magazine has put out content that has been targeted towards aquaponics, soil science, sustainability and other methods of healthy growing.

We believe that aquaponics is just one solution where people can get involved more in backyard growing, community gardens and school education. We also believe there is room for agriculture and Universities to promote their white papers, thesis and other education related to growing food.

The magazine has decided that for the benefit of everyone we have broadened our horizons and we now encourage people from all walks of life to become involved in the home-grown and organic movement towards food.

If you are a professional who would like to have your papers published, then contact us. We would like to hear from you. We also want to hear from other associations and community growing clubs who are experimenting or just have some really great ideas to share with other people.

We encourage EVERYONE to join our Professional Trade Membership and receive a FREE COPY of the ASC MAGAZINE.

If you are a science junkie we try to deliver different types of university studies to cater to people who need more answers. We also have a team of great writers who give the readers information they may not have. Some of the articles are simply written and others are filled with great resources with more involved information . 

Here are just a couple of comments we see a lot from happy and satisfied readers 

"The magazines are highly informative." -John Valsan 

"Thanks for a great magazine." -Kerry Bill

So if you would like to read some great information about growing food then why not sign yourself up on the Professional Trade Membership List?

If we don't have a lot of what you want to read more of, then contact us and let us know. We often send out surveys where we involve the readers in the type of content they want to see more of. We will listen and do our best to provide YOU the reader more of what you want to see. 

Happy Growing Everyone! 

Victoria Kelley

ASC Magazine Editor