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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Two Weeks and Fish are Thriving In Spite of Some Problems

When I was dealing with 20 cent feeder gold fish I didn't feel the economic pinch too much if a bunch of them floated to the top of the tank a day or so after I brought them home. I feared at first that I was responsible but a reliable source told me that feeder fish are notoriously infected with various things that make them short lived. The survival of two of the original gold fish through last winter, living on algae apparently, surprised me when I noticed them at last. The trout represent a greater investment. I paid for them by the inch as well as paying for delivery. Fortunately the delivery cost was split between me and another aquaponist in the area who ordered larger fish from the same trout farm. In addition, the man who delivered the fish threw in a few extra. Actually he threw in more than ten extra. But he didn't want to carry a load of water and a few small fish all the way back to his trout farm. Following his recommendations, based on the number of fish, I fed them about a cup of fish pellets from Intermountain Farm Association where I purchased 50 pounds for just a little over $35. Even though any remaining pellets should be discarded after 3 months, this still beat the price of fish food from the pet store. Then I discovered that my three hens are crazy about fish pellets. I had read somewhere that hens fed on fish meal produced eggs with higher levels of omega fatty acids, so I consider it a win/win situation. The fish pellets are twice the cost of layer pellets for the chickens, but with no need to worry about wasting the pellets after ninety days have passed, I figure all is good. At any rate, feeding the fish at the rate of a cup a day didn't work out well. The fish let a lot of the pellets sink to the bottom of the fish tank where they became food for algae. Suddenly my pumps seized up from algal clogging and the water in the system turned nearly opaque. After cleaning the pumps and getting them started again I put a piece of polyester upholstery foam in a rectangular plastic colander and set it beneath the outlet from the fish tank into the sump. The following day, Thursday, we didn't feed the fish. On Friday the filter was filthy, the water in the fish tank was crystal clear and the fish eagerly ate the handful and a half of pellets fed to them. No casualties were detected. I was happy to learn that even commercial aquaponists use chelated iron as a supplement. I have used it with good effect. My tomato plants had turned a sickly yellow green earlier this month but an application of chelated iron brought them back to a lovely green. I'll wait until the greenhouse gets too cold to support them before pulling them out and replacing them with cold weather crops.

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