Aquaponic System water chemistry analysis and adjustment

Aquaponics can be quite elegant and simple in many ways but when you start getting into the details of how to adjust your nutrient balance for a larger scale operation, it can get more complex.

It may pay to get some professional help.

Just like in soil farming, every so often you really need to send samples off for lab analysis unless you have high quality testing kits or equipment for Many different elements.

For a backyard garden it may be perfectly acceptable to simply adjust the amount of fish or fish feed to suite the plants as best you can and supplement with the normal things based on your best guess around what the cause of poor growth is.  That won’t cut it when farming to sell the produce though.  Sometimes a little investment into knowing what is really going on and how to safely address any issues is well worth it.  When it can mean the difference between poor growth and beautiful growth it can also mean the difference in the farm having a profit or a loss for the season.

Anyway, Testing a water sample is likely to cost around $40 (give or take as this will vary by lab and what tests are done.)  The following are some of the tests of interest (probably not worth testing for Nitrate since most aquapons can do that for themselves.)  Do be sure to get your samples tested for copper and zinc since those levels are important for plants but also need to be kept from getting too high which could be bad for fish in an aquaponic system.  Boron also has a tight range of appropriate levels as well.

Ammonium nitrogen,
phosphorus,
potassium,
sodium,
calcium,
magnesium,
sulfate sulfur,
boron,
copper,
iron,
manganese,
zinc,
chloride,
electrical conductivity,
pH,
carbonate,
bicarbonate,

I’ll supply a link to the Lab I used this last time around.  Look up their price sheet.  The test I recommend is the W1

Agro Services International Inc.

Make sure to label the samples and include a sheet telling what tests you want on which samples as well as including your information and a check.  They send results as PDFs by e-mail so include your e-mail address.

Of course just having the results of your tests doesn’t necessarily give you any clue what to do about it even if you did know what the optimum results looked like.  (There are published target numbers for hydroponics but those numbers don’t really jive that closely with Aquaponics.)  To get help understanding your system water analysis and more importantly getting the info and amendments you need to fine tune your system water to grow the primary crops in your system, I recommend

Vlad at Atria Aqua Gardens
Artia Aquagardens

I have been doing aquaponics for many years and hydroponics before that.  However, I started out doing it as a hobby in my back yard.  I might be good at hooking things together and making water flow (because in my previous life I made electrons flow through wires) but I sadly didn’t excel at chemistry in school.  SO, now that I am FARMING and not just gardening, I sought help.

What Vlad will need:

  • Your contact information, name, address, email and phone
  • Total System Water Volume
  • Laboratory Analysis Report
  • Volume of Media
  • Square Footage of Raft beds
  • Type of plants growing and roughly total number of plants

I am already seeing a marked difference in plant growth since getting Vlad’s help, just in time for the cooler weather and good growing season here in Florida.

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