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    Erica Flannagan
    Keymaster

    The occurrence of pests is quite common in aquaponics and can easily be controlled and eliminated with great maintenance practices. It is important that the plants, the grow bed, and the fish tank are all checked on a daily basis. Catching pests early before they are able to spread is the best way to successfully protect your aquaponic system.

    Plants

    The majority of on-plant pest problems that growers experience are based around insects that eat away at crops. Some insects and parasites can even spread disease to your fish, which is another reason why pest control should be taken very seriously.

    Among the most common insects to show up in aquaponic systems are aphids, thrips, and whiteflies. Spider mites and tiny snails may also appear. Infestations can easily be prevented with the practice of frequent inspections. Fortunately, insects are much easier to detect than most parasites, allowing their growth to be nipped at the bud very early on.

    It is also effective to introduce ladybugs into your aquaponics system, as they will eliminate harmful insects on their own, making the maintenance process much easier. The use of insecticides is counterintuitive because they poison the crop as well as the fish. A helpful alternative is the use of homemade insecticides such as homemade hot pepper spray.

    As a general rule of thumb, you should inspect your plant thoroughly on a daily basis and pay extra attention to the bottom side of the leaves, as this is the most common place for insect reproduction to take place. The presence of holes on the leaves of the plants is an immediate indicator of insects as well. Typically after an inspection, one can simply just remove the affected leaves from the plant. For fungi that is detected quickly, the addition of fans can quickly mitigate its spread. Only some types of fungi and fungus-like organism are pathogenic. A few of the most common fungal infections are downy mildew, powdery mildew, Fusarium rots, Rhizoctonia rots, Sclerotinia rots, Anthracnose, and Botrytis rots. Total removal of the plant is typically not necessary unless the plant has taken on an irreversible condition such as root gall. This will appear as “knots” on the root of the plant.

    Fish

    Parasites can be detrimental to the health of the fish and often times are hard to notice unless you are inspecting very closely. The most common parasites you may see in your tank include as flukes, nematodes, ich (white spot disease,) fish lice and more. To check for signs of disease, look for white or black spots on the fish. When a parasitic disease is detected, immediate isolation of the affected areas is mandatory for preventing the spread of the disease, as parasitic infections tend to be much more difficult to control. The infected fish should be quarantined in a separate tank for a few days while the tank is treated.

     

    The presence of any type of pest in your aquaponics system requires immediate attention. For the best results, try to use multiple methods at a time when combating difficult pests. With proper practice and care, your system can be immaculate.

    What are some notable encounters that you have had with pests, and what methods have you found to be helpful in protecting your system? Share your experiences below to contribute to the success of others in the aquaponics community!

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