The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Minnows in the hydroponic tank

Catching fish

The pH in my aquaponics setup keeps fluctuating and trending alkaline, which left me with a bit of a conundrum. I have a feeling what I need is to put a few fish in to get the biology really working. But I'm leery of driving an hour to the fish store for finned friends who will likely end up dead.

Then I had a thought. We live in limestone country and our streams are quite alkaline. In fact, when I tested our creek water, I discovered it was actually sweeter than the water in our aquaponics tank (8.2 versus 7.8). Maybe some minnows would survive well enough to get my system up and running?

My first attempted failed miserably. No, not because the tank killed the fish. I captured one small minnow and didn't notice until I got the bucket home that there was also a hefty caddisfly larva who had come along for the ride. "Well, that'll be fun to observe," I thought and put the two together into a small container to let the water rise to room temperature before introducing them to the tank.


An hour later, the fish was gone. Apparently caddisfly larvae eat baby fish. See, I'm learning things already!

Anyway, I headed back to the creek and scooped up two larger minnows the second time around. I figured I could always put them back if they survive and I want to upgrade later. But, to my surprise, these minnows are less shy and more entertaining than the guppies were. So maybe my aquarium will turn into a native fauna observation tank?

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Sounds better on many fronts.

I've always wondered (but never looked up), are minnows baby fish or full grown?

Comment by Jim Sun Feb 26 08:04:38 2017
You look like you're up to something sneaky in this picture. It's good to see you smiling again! :)
Comment by Kayla Sun Feb 26 20:13:35 2017

Jim --- "Minnow" is a general term often used for fish in the Cyprinidae family. There are so many of them that are so hard to tell apart when they're not breeding that I've never tried to track down specific species. Here's a list of the 67 minnows found in Virginia in case you're more ambitious than I am. I suspect mine are daces of some sort...but I could be wrong.

Kayla --- You always make me smile. :-) I think I was feeling a bit mischievous in this picture because Mark was cutting firewood and I was playing in the creek....

Comment by anna Mon Feb 27 17:01:12 2017

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