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Setting the pH in Your Aquaponics System

Setting the pH in Your Aquaponics System
– by Colle and Phyllis Davis

If the pH gets too near or above a certain range in your Portable Farms Aquaponics System, you plants cannot absorb the nutrients in the system and creates a NUTRIENT SHUTDOWN and your plants will begin to wither, show systems of leaf curl, begin to yellow, have stunted growth and not produce growth or blossoms. In effect, the plants are starving to death.

It’s easy to monitor the pH in your system and eventually each module will stabilize so you won’t have to test it as often. However, when you’re system is under six months in operation, check frequently. Checking the pH in your system at least a couple of times per week is vital, especially as the vegetables approach harvest time; this is an inexpensive process to increase production in the grow trays. This simple checking and adjustment will result in more bountiful harvests of healthy and nutritious produce.

Each plant has a preferred range of pH, or parts Hydrogen, that creates an ideal growing environment for the plant.

pHdown2These are the products we recommend for balancing the pH in aquaponics: CLICK HERE. The cost for this kit is $14.55. Good price!

  • Plants in Portable Farms Aquaponics Systems prefer a pH in the 5.8 to 6.8 range, or even a slightly lower range.
  • Fish prefer a little higher pH and to keep both organisms happy, the water in an aquaponics system needs to be adjusted.

This kit contains:

  • General hydronics Ph control kit
  • Contains ph up which add a little at a time when your nutrient pH is too low in order to raise the pH to the proper level
  • Contains ph down which uses food grade phosphoric acid to lower the pH to the proper level
  • Designed to work superbly in hydroponic environments as well as with both soil-less mixtures and soil grown plants.

The measurement of pH is how acidic (6.9 and below) or alkaline (7.1 or above) a liquid is at any specific moment. This pH measurement is not about the water’s hardness, that is a measurement of the dissolved mineral content in the water, and it is measured in a different way.

 

In aquaponics, this adjustment is very easily when the water flows through the system. To ‘increase’ the pH means to make the solution more alkaline and to ‘decrease’ the pH means to make the solution more acidic. There are quick and very inexpensive ways to change the pH of water in an aquaponic’s system.

If you are trying to grow vegetables with very different pH requirements in the same grow tray, plant the heavy feeders at the beginning (top) end of the tray and furthest from your fish tank, where the water flows into your grow tray, favoring their pH requirement and the light feeders at the end where the water flows out.

When adding any agent to adjust the pH levels in your system, allow several hours, and better yet, monitor your system over a day or two before trusting the testing medium results.

Testing can be done with simple swimming pool test strips or with sophisticated scientific instruments that have been designed for the task. Both work very well and if you use both, be prepared to have two very different readings. What you are looking for is consistency using one method. Using both is confusing and makes adjusting the water much harder. (We know from experience . . .)

We use a Microprocessor Conductivity & TDS Meters with Automatic Temperature Compensation with Automatic Calibration to check the water in our systems.

portable-farms-tomatoes-2If you are trying to grow vegetables with very different pH requirements in the same grow tray, plant the heavy feeders at the beginning (top) end of the tray and furthest from your fish tank, where the water flows into your grow tray, favoring their pH requirement and the light feeders at the end where the water flows out.

We do not grow ‘blooming plants’ (tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, green beans, cucumbers, etc.) in the same tray as non-bloom plants (lettuces and green leafy plants such as Swiss chard, all types of lettuces, basil, herbs, etc.). Each of these categories (blooming vs. non-blooming plants have their own grow trays so we can closely monitor the pH level to adapt for ideal pH levels for each variety.

For example, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers are all flowering plants and prefer a more alkaline water. Lettuce, basil, Swiss chard and or green leafy plants are much happier in a slightly acidic solution. Having these plants in separate trays allows you to adjust the pH in your system to make the plants more productive with creates much less work on your part. It also reduces issues related to leaf curling.

If the pH gets too near or above 7.2 in your Portable Farms® Aquaponics System, you plants cannot absorb the nutrients in the system and creates a NUTRIENT SHUTDOWN and your plants will begin to wither, show systems of leaf curl, begin to yellow, have stunted growth and not produce growth or blossoms. In effect, the plants are starving to death.

The Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems are designed to accomplish this adjustment in an extremely easy manner. Checking the pH in your system at least a couple of times per week is vital, especially as the vegetables approach harvest time; this is an inexpensive process to increase production in the grow trays. This simple checking and adjustment will result in more bountiful harvests of healthy and nutritious produce. LEARN FROM US: CLICK HERE.

10 comments

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  1. George Knight

    I have an aquaponics system that is 7 weeks old . Everything in it looks good but my ph stays at 7.6 it is a 350 gallon system with a 125 gallon sump thank and 5 grow beds on it that r made from 55 gallon tanks that r cut in half. I have about 28 good size bream in it o and I have a 50 gallon swril tank to filter the solids. What can I do to bring down the ph

    1. portfarms

      George,

      Your system is very different from the Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems so a ‘guess’ and this is simply going by the collection of components you describe, it appears that you do not have enough fish in your system. The fish waste will drive the pH down, OR you can use a swimming pool product called pH Down to do the deed.

      Again that is a guess and because of the very different systems I could be completely wrong. I trust this information helps in some fashion.

      Colle Davis – Inventor

  2. Jon Paul

    I am running an aquaponic system that will have 4 125 gallon grow beds and some NFT toobs. There will be 2 fish tanks, a settlement tank/clarifier amd a sump in the basement.

    Right now there is only one grow bed, a fish tank, and a sump. As far as fish load I have 12 small kio, and one large goldfish. I am feeding far less then 60 grams of fish feed. The fish seen to be only eating 15-25 grams a day. There are tinny snails in the sump that help mineriaze solids in the sump.
    The sump also has a filter that includes….
    50 gallons of bio beeds that help collect larde pardical that decomposes and turn those solids from scum to sludge. There are some 200 micron filter pads that help pollish the water before I goes into fish tank and grow beds. The sudge at bottom is removed after building up. 60% of the solids in the system don’t get converted and need to be removed. Grid,settlemen, and contaminates also need to be removed. The sump is where I remove those things

    I have been adding ph down to my system for mounths now. Right now my ph is at 7.12. I have been trying to keep it below 7.2 but it keeps going up. I lower it to 7.06 and cone back in 8 hours later to find it at 7.12 or worse yet 7.2.
    I am getting tired of putting ph down in everyday so I bought a dosing pump than will run off my netune controler. The controler has outlets that can be programmed to mix ph down into the tanks.

    My question is this…
    Would it be better to use CO2 to lower PH?

    Co2 can be used to lower PH but I want to use the most organic methods of lowering the ph. The system will produce food and fish that I will be eating .

    1. portfarms

      Jon Paul:

      Your system is a completely different type from the Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems so my answers will be educated guesses.

      1. You did not state what the pH was of the water going into the system and that a huge factor.
      2. The size of your fish tank is not clearly stated so an ‘assumption’ is being made it is 125 gallons.
      3. Having snails in the system is something we highly recommend against.
      4. You do not mention how your plants are doing. Only the pH problem and systems need to be a balance of everything.

      Possible solutions:
      1. Immediately add least twice as many fish to your fish tank and keep adding fish until the pH stabilizes and starts to go down to 6.3 or lower.
      2. Stop using pH Down until the pH starts dropping using fish only.
      3. Figure out some way to get the snails out of your system.

      Sorry I can’t be more specific, but your system is very different and much more sensitive to changes that the Portable Farms® Aquaponics Systems. The PFAS is so stable that once it reaches its operating pH it is very hard to adjust it up or down. Our systems ranged from 6.2 to 6.8 in the same building over very long periods with input water pH as high as 8.4.

      Good luck and let me know how the suggestions help your system.

      Colle Davis – Inventor

  3. Leonard

    I have an aquaponics system that I have had for almost 4 months. My fish pond is a plastic in ground pool of the type used in yard water features I would guess it holds 200 gallons of water. I had about 10 black bass in it but replaced them with 20 2 inch bluegill. I have 3 media pots with about 100 pounds of gravel media in each. My tomatoes have grown Hugh. They have produced 20! Or 30 cherry tomatoes. . The bell peppers just sit there and do nothing. My ph is staying around 8.6. Is the ph Down your recomendation for me?

    1. portfarms

      Leonard:

      Congratulations! Yes, we use pH Down to bring the pH to the 6.3 to 6.5 range.

      Colle Davis – Inventor

  4. Mike

    Thanks for your responce. I have 300 gallons, 24 blue gill , approximately 72 cubic feet of media. My system is now 5 weeks old still high ph. What kind of ph down do you recomend.

    1. portfarms

      Mike,

      We use pH down from General Hydroponics. You do not have enough fish in your system, you need more than 50 to get the waste you need.

      Colle Davis – Inventor

  5. Mike

    I used well water with a hose filter to start cycling my system. I added liquid amonia and home made compost tea and ran it for 2 weeks before adding 22 bluegill. 2 weeks later I have no amonia, no nitrite, and very little nitrates. My main concern is my pH is above 8. Do I give it time or start adding pH down?

    1. portfarms

      Mike,

      You do not say how many gallons of water you are using. A guess is you have 1) too many plants, 2)too much water and/or 3) you are not feeding your fish enough. Get your pH down as soon as possible because the most plants do not like it above 7.0. Our water is 8.4 and we add ph Down occasionally to keep our Fish Tanks in the 6.2 to 6.7 range.

      I trust this helps in some way.

      Colle Davis – Inventor

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