Aquaponics update #1

We shared a while back about how two GrowNextGen teacher leaders were setting up aquaponics in their classroom. Fish eat soybean meal, and the Ohio Soybean Council generously provided funds for these endeavors. Carroll High School teacher Todd Tayloe’s project was underway when disaster struck!

A bacterial infection swept through the tank, posing a threat to the trout. Tayloe was concerned about adding salt to the tank to combat the infection since it might adversely affect the plants. However, he decided to try a small amount and see what would happen. “We are going to see what plants survive and which ones die off,” he said. “Finding this out will allow us to keep a system with a little bit of salt in the future unless everything dies. My plant base now is quite a variety so we will see come Monday if anything is alive. We are learning a lot, but not exactly how I wanted to learn!”

Tayloe reported, almost two weeks later: “We have lost a total of 11 fish, so I think we still have 14 left—they are kind of hard to see and count! The plants are growing great! I have not had any fish loss since Friday so hopefully we are on the upswing, even though everything I read and was told by experts was that adding salt to the system might kill the fish. I added 1ppm worth of iodine-free table salt to the system. For almost a week I’ve had no fish die and it does not seem to have had any effect on the plants. I think we are going to try and keep the system like this for the duration of the year.”

Next, Tayloe lost three more fish in a row, but he had a plan! “I had my 4th period give them a salt spa per Dr. Matt Smith’s advice at OSU. The students put all the fish into a tub of 5ppm salt solution for about 25 minutes, until the fish started floating on their side, and then put them back in the tank. Since then we have only lost one fish. I am hoping we are now safe. If we can get through the rest of this week, we might try and get some more fish for our stock so that we can make sure there is enough ammonia in the system for the plants.”

Stay tuned for more updates on this exciting project!