BJHS TIC Aquaponics / Hydroponics

The Butler Junior High School Trout in the Classroom program is getting ready to start its sixth year at the school in Butler, PA.  The program has been progressing over the last few years, adding additional tanks and extending the program.   New for this school year is an aquaponics and hydroponics component to the Trout program.  This new program is being funded by several grants, including a Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Environmental Education grant and a Creative Teaching grant from the Butler Golden Tornado Scholastic Foundation.  The two components are set up in a science lab at the school, using a 110 gallon tank as a water / food source.  Currently, the tank is home to about 60 rainbow and brook trout fingerlings, with the brookies averaging about 6 inches long and the rainbows averaging 4 inches.  For the aquaponics component, three plastic trays float around the top of the tank, each containing 12 openings for 2 inch net pots.  We have each of the net pots filled with a rockwool cube that was previously started with either oregano or parsley seeds.  Beside the fish tank, a spray-irrigation hydroponic system uses water pumped from the tank into a reservoir to feed basil plants.  This system has 18, 3 inch openings in three trays to supply lots of growing room for the herbs as well as a 600 watt grow light.  Students in class complete daily water tests on the water in the tank, as well as checking on plant growth and helping with transplanting and replacement.  It is planned to use the herbs grown in the system in Family and Consumer Classes at the school, as well as to ask for donations to the TIC program in exchange for fresh herbs.  In the spring, our system will be used to grow new flowers for the school garden and courtyard, and we will be experimenting with many different plant species in the future.
David Andrews, Science Teacher / Advisor


said on Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

What an amazing addition to TIC!  I am curious whether the flavor of the herbs is any different because of their nutrient-rich fertilizer.  

And are you saying that there are little troutlings directly under the roots of some plants?   Is that affecting them or the tank water chemistry in any way?  You'll have to keep us posted!


said on Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Yes, there are troutlings underneath the trays, and they are very aggressive to feed.  In fact, we have to watch after feeding to make sure none of the "beach" themselves up on the vegetation.  We have already needed to save a couple of them.

As far as flavor goes, I think the basil and parsley have a very rich taste to them - I don't know if this is because of species of plant, or due to the fertilizer.  I need a good chef to tell me if they are any good!

Dave Andrews



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