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Day to day handling of fish and plants in the aquaponic systems

This experiment focuses on the day to day handling of fish and plants in your already established aquaponic system (please carry out experiments 1-3 of this teaching unit first). It gives you useful hints about monitoring the plants, the fish and the system as a whole.

Learning goals

Background information

Previous testing of the teaching unit showed that the classroom aquaponic system offers a large potential to arouse interest in food chains, ecosystems, and ecology in general. A model system with living fish and plants in a classroom, combined with the observation and care, can contribute to sensitise pupils to develop an understanding of sustainable systems.

The function of the aquaponic system can be combined in context with the entire ecosystem of the earth. Both can only exist, if environmental conditions are present, which allow all involved life forms to optimally thrive and to realize their role in the system. If certain components or entire partial systems were destroyed or arranged incorrectly, the entire system would not react over time as we would wish.

Time requirement

Usually a few minutes per day.

Material requirement

See experiments 1-3 of this teaching unit!

Let's start

A sound running aquarium has clear water, and the plants and fish are growing well and looking healthy. It is of great importance to compile a list of all the specific tasks and to make the pupils responsible for one or more.

Daily tasks

Weekly tasks
Some tasks don't have to be done every day but at least once a week:

Monthly tasks
Clean Aquarium thoroughly:

ANIMAL PROTECTION ISSUES
Whenever fish are stressed during handling of the system they become vulnerable to injuries and diseases. Therefore, proper care at all times is important.

Cause of stress and how to reduce it

See and feel

(Left) Skin healthy (Right) Skin sick
(Above) Fins healthy (Below) Fins sick
(Left) Eyes clear (Right) Eyes unclear

FISH HEALTH CHECK LIST

  • SKIN
    healthy:
    Clear, transparent, smooth, slime not visible
    sick: Unclear, cloudy, open wounds, wounded fish scales, reddened areas, visible parasites, skin color dark or with dark stripes, slime grey or dark and visible
  • SCALES
    healthy:
    Close-fitting, flat, coherent
    sick:
    Sticking out, looking separated
  • FINS
    healthy:
    Undamaged
    sick:
    Frayed borders, damaged by parasites or even bitten off
  • EYES
    healthy:
    Clear
    sick: Unclear, milky, cloudy or even severely damaged
  • GILLS / BREATHING
    healthy:
    Constant, calm, mouth opening and gills moving only slightly gill coverings closing tight to the body
    sick: Very fast breathing, gasping for breath, mouth wide open, gill coverings standing out from the body and not closely fitting
  • BEHAVIOUR
    healthy:
    Calm, not shy when being fed
    sick: Nervous, shy, looking for cover, rubbing themselves at rough surfaces, gasping for breath, disoriented swimming, swimming belly up.
  • INJURIES / SICKNESS
    healthy:
    none
    sick: Parasites, injuries by other fish, sickness due to bad water quality
Yellow leaves
Leaves rolled in

PLANT HEALTH

Plants in aquaponic systems are usually less vulnerable than fish. However, you might observe that some of your plants don't look so good. Here are some symptoms which indicate that the plants are not well and a possible explanation to them.

  • WHITE LAYER ON LEAVES
    Possible cause:
    Blight
    What can be done:
    Cut out the affected leaves.
  • LITTLE GREY, GREEN OR WHITE INSECTS ON LEAVES
    Possible cause:
    Plant louse
    What can be done:
    Biocontrol with ladybird larvae (Adalia bipunctata) or spray with soapy water
  • YELLOW LEAVES
    Possible cause: Lack of water
    What can be done: Check irrigation of the plants
  • LEAVES ROLLED IN
    Possible cause:
    Virus or pest affection
    What can be done:
    Take away affected parts of plants or even the whole plant.

Didactical comments

None.