Category Archives: Aquaponics

We Got a Floor Frog


I’m ending my 3rd week of no-sugar but possibly cheating by adding a little maple syrup to my oatmeal this morning… shh!


Maple syrup and cinnamon, just like the packets? No, that was brown sugar. Mmm brown sugar sounds good right now.. I guess I’m still waiting for that sugar craving to magically disappear? Ha!


Speaking of delicious things from TJ’s. My new favorite morning smoothie flavor is frozen banana, almond milk, cocoa powder, and peppermint extract! What! It’s a chocolate peppermint smoothie! I’m crazy in love with the flavor, I think I’ll make extra tomorrow and freeze some for icecream. Ara has asked for a smoothie break. So she’s having cinnamon toast this week.

Fish Update

As a follow up from yesterday, we went to Petsmart (AKA fish deathmart) to exchange the last poor little guppy that Ara bought with her allowance. She chose an African Dwarf frog, which the lady dropped on the floor after netting him! She also got a placo and I got 2 more goldfish. When we got home I had some prep work to do on the tanks so I got to work. When I went to grab the fish in their bags I found that both bags had been punctured by something the cashier had put in the bag! The poor fish had no air and just enough water that they were still alive! Sheesh! I didn’t have time to acclimate them to the water I had to dump them right in. I suspect we might be back at deathmart to return these unfortunate fish soon. They had a rough little journey there. I mean poor little frog tried to commit suicide on the Petsmart floor!

Good night!

Mini Aquaponics


Mini-ponics? Bucket-ponics? Either way, how cool is this?

I decided that my actual aquaponic tank need more fish (3 medium gold fish in a 40 gallon) but I hesitated to add new fish into my tank. You see, I love my goldfish. I don’t want to put them at risk by exposing them to the sick fish from Petsmart (we have the worst luck with fish). So I needed another temporary tank.

sidebucket  Enter the 5 gallon bucket turned fish tank! My bro lent me a little powerhead submersible pump so I had a way to move water, I just needed a filtration media. I rigged a little net pot with clay from my main system to run the water through, popped a few mint cuttings in there and BAM I had a biological filter. The water also came from my main system, so I basically had a fully functioning tank ready to go.

Of the 5 new fish I’ve only lost one in a week which is the best odds I have ever had with Petsmart fish. I’ve been concerned with the temperature flux since it’s outside and it’s been quite cold. My main tank has a heater which I added for the week or so that we were getting down into the teens at night. I actually had some ice on the surface one morning! Luckily goldfish don’t mind the cold temps. Over a week in the bucket and the fish are doing fine which is great news!

Aquaponics fish tank

So I can probably go ahead and add them to the main tank but now I’m curious to see if this little bucket system can function long-term. If so, it would be a really easy way for people to dip their toes into the world of aquaponics. I mean this could easily go on an apartment balcony or a sunny window. I also thought it would be cool to take the bucket to Ara’s school to introduce the kids to aquaponics. Wouldn’t that be so cool?

This image from the Aquiaponics Source shows the cycle of water from fish waste to plants and back to fish. I always mix up nitrites and nitrates and I wanted to get it right if we get to show it to the Montessori kids!

I am going to keep the bucket up and running for a while to see how stable it is. I have a feeling I need a larger ‘grow bed’ to really keep the water clean and healthy. I would like to see the plants really take off and have a good root system going. It’s a fun experiment! I’ll probably transfer these 4 fish to the big tank and buy 2 or 3 more gold fish for the bucket-ponics fun!


I need more fish anyway since I will be expanding my main system soon! EXCITMENT. I’ve been living with my clipboard of drawings and diagrams just planning and thinking about what I want to change and how to do it. My family got me two new 55 gallon containers and a big bag of hydroton for my birthday so this has been going on since the 1st of January.


Don’t make fun of my little math problems for simple addition! I’m looking for the perfect balance between fish and growbeds, the location that will provide sun for plants and shelter for fish, and whatever I can do to guard the fish from death should one part of the system fail (pump fail-drain clog-overflow). I really enjoy trying to solve the puzzle. Whatever I decide I am going to need to actually build something to hold my growbeds which is very daunting. I know nothing about building things with wood but it should be an adventure!


Pea pod seedlings in the growbed!


Re-growing celery!


Yay, little fishes!


To see the build of my original single barrel aquaponics click here.

Single Barrel Aquaponic Update




A quick update. Despite the extreme heat, the plants in the growbed are impervious to my own forgetfulness with watering. The automatic watering and fertilizing alone is reason enough for me to grow with aquaponics. It seems like the system is finally settling into a nice groove. The plants are showing new growth and the seeds I dropped into the clay pellets are progressing nicely. I’m already seeing true leaves. I still worry that they aren’t getting enough direct sunlight, so we’ll see.


The seedlings are growing taller than I’ve seen before, I guess reaching for the sun.

IMG_2032 This bell pepper plant is an experiment. I pulled it out of soil and cleaned and cleaned and CLEANED the roots, for fear of introducing chemicals from the soil into my system. The plant itself is doing great, the problem is that it falls over all the time! The roots can’t seem to get a hold of the clay yet. I have it propped up with some wood planks, hoping it will eventually be able to stand up by itself.

Summer Plans




We’re well into summer now, and somehow a routine still hasn’t emerged! We’ve had Ara’s cousins’ Joey and Kt spending time with us during the week (separately so far). Ara even had her first sleep over with Kt! They didn’t sleep much, are you surprised? I made the little diagram above when I found out I would be entertaining more than one short person, mostly to calm my fears. It has helped, a little!

Goof ball girls! We’ve already baked teeny tiny cakes in their Easy Bake Ovens, swam, made mud pies, watched movies, done crafts, driven me crazy… I’m happy that Ara has a friend to fill her days though. And the upside is a day like today, when it was just Ara and me, is suddenly special instead of tiresome and boring! I love not being boring!


On our special “Mama & Ara” day we had lunch at Panda and got mysterious fortunes.


We also visited the library. Which we did a few days ago with her cousin but she seemed shy to choose books that she really likes. Like all these dino books and the bag full of easy readers.


Then we fed Placo, our friends giant fish. The friends who left a Birthday card and present for Ara on the table! After that we hit up Petsmart to take advantage of the last days of the $1 fish sale. Ara chose 3 “Creamcicle” Moly fish and with her shoe fairy money she bought her naked fish tank some plants haha! She keeps looking longingly at the tank decorations that are huge and pricey. One of her favorites is a T-rex with a mechanical jaw that opens and closes with some sort of air pump. She keeps thinking that it will scare her fish though! Ironically when we went to put the moly fish into the tank we found one of the formerly healthy guppy girls was dying. She was apparently healthy when Ara fed them in the morning, so it was strange. She was dead before bedtime. Sad. We really liked her.


I forgot to mention that we watched the transit of Venus (like a week ago?) with cool glasses thanks to my Sister! I had to hid the glasses though, because Ara has been trying to watch the sun for other things ever since. She also seems to think the glasses give her telescope vision because she yells out that she sees other planets. I see Jupiter!


Our aquaponics fish are doing really well. I like them so much! They are so curious and lively. The pump has started to be obnoxiously noisy so the other day I took it out to clean it. When I put it back in, it didn’t work! So I had my arms in their tank quite a bit and the fish were fearless! They were checking out my hands and arms and what I was doing. Super cute. I did get the pump going again, but it’s still SO LOUD. You can almost feel the vibrations anywhere on the deck. I was thinking of putting a foam flip flop under it or something. The pump suction cups to the plastic of the barrel and it’s vibrating and amplifying the sound! Honestly I don’t know how the fish can stand it lol. They seem perfectly happy though. So now that the fish part of the aquaponics is going well I’m starting to wonder why the plant part isn’t taking off.

IMG_2768The few plants I have in the grow bed continue to just kind of.. be alive. They are growing significantly slower than similar plants in dirt. I’m pretty sure they aren’t getting enough sunlight.. but it seems like there is something else stunting them as well. I might try seeds this week, to see how that goes. If not, it might be the timing on my flood and drain cycle.


Boy, I tell you, this stuff is far more complicated than I thought it would be. The extra complications are also fun in a way, like a puzzle to figure out. It’s a cool hobby though!

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