Pest Control and Aquaponics

A warning for anyone considering growing fish in any backyard pond or aquaponics system is to be very cautious when dealing with pest control people spraying chemicals in and around your home.

Pest control and aquaponics

Pest Control and Aquaponics

Recently Rod from Queensland got a reminder phone call from his pest control man.

“I got a phone call early in the week that house was due for annual spider and cockroach spray.” said Rod, “I Thought nothing about it until the same chap arrived on Thursday. Rod even showed the Pest Control guy his aquaponics setup.

“It was windy so I asked him – what about my fish?” said Rod. Will they be safe?

“Not a problem.” said the pest control guy, “The fish are far enough away from the main house.”

Rod was satisfied that this guy was an expert and knew what he was talking about. So he let the pest control guy do his thing – spray around the house and do the regular “treatment.”

Saturday morning came. Rod uncovered his main fish tank and looked inside to inspect the fish. He noticed something odd floating at the bottom of his tank.

“What are the white lines on the bottom of the tank?” He thought to himself. Looking further into the tank he saw the pile of dead fish resting on the bottom.

“Yep! The whole lot of my Silver Perch and Yellow Belly fish. Forty odd fish in total. All dead!” he said.

“I had one fish frozen and I buried the rest.” said Rod. The frozen fish he would test for lethal chemicals.

Rod inspected the water in the tank and noticed something strange.

“It looked like couple of oil slicks on top of water About size of a 5c piece.” he said, so Rod took a sample of that as well.

“Sure makes you wonder what in hell is being sprayed around the place by these so called professionals.” said Rod.

Dead Fish

Rod's poisoned fish.

“I think the problem was that the spray got onto the Grow Bed which is only about 4 meters from the house.” he said.

It was a windy day. The chemical spray wafted and landed on his grow-bed and then seeped into his fish tank.

Rod has another aquaponics system that was located on the other side of his house.

The Jade Perch in it are okay.” he said because they were located in separate systems.

“Funny I had no floaters,” said Rod. All the poisoned fish rested on the bottom of the tank.

More dead fish.

Rod contacted the pest control people who apologized about the incident and offered to compensate Rod for his nine month old dead fish. The manager said that the sprays used are similar to chemical sprays used in commercial agriculture. It certainly makes you wonder about the degree of chemicals that still adhere to the surface of store bought broccoli and strawberries?

Rod intends to wash and clean his poisoned aquaponics system, replace his vegetables and start again but using sacrificial goldfish this time to make sure everything is okay before introducing another batch of fish.

The moral of this story is to be very cautious when allowing anyone to enter your house and applying any form of chemical spray in and around your home. Aquaponics by its very nature creates 100% clean food. Even a small amount of chemical spraying – no matter how “food safe” the authorities tell you – can have disastrous results as Rod’s dead fish clearly display.
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Dead Fish

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8 Responses to Pest Control and Aquaponics

  1. Chad says:

    I’m new to aquaponics and we have had bug and lawn treatments for years. Thank you for this article / reminder.

  2. Leanne Wilson-O'Connor says:

    Well timed article for me too. Came home on Monday afternoon and checked my fish to see the white lines at the bottom of the fish tank. 100 five month old silver perch and 10 eight month old goldfish dead. No spraying at all at my house. We had a heap of rain on the days up to the fish deaths and my growbeds are not covered. I wondered if this could of been the cause. No nitrates, nitrites or amonia present.

  3. Pera Tipene-Chadwick says:

    Thank you for this information, we haven’t started yet but I was always concerned with neighbour surrounds and what kind or type of chemicals they may use from time to time. This is excellent information to bear in mind. Sorry that you had to make a great loss to find such things out no matter how well informed from the experts we are told. I also fear top dressing and when they drop how far does the wind carry the chemicals???

    Cheers Pera & Turoa
    OTAKI, NEW ZEALAND

  4. Ken says:

    Yes fish are very sensitive to a wide range of chemicals, I managed to kill my first lot of Murray Cod and Cat Fish. The chemical I used had a vapor phase which drifted across the top of the sump tank and was infused by the water flowing from the return drain, that chemical was toxic to the fish, the algea and the bacteria in the system at 1ppm. The moral of the story read the MSDS before doing anything around fish! Some common chemicals used by pest controllers are toxic to 0.0001ppm but as a general rule don’t have the vapour phase. We rinsed our whole system a few times including the beds before we put fish back in, they have gone well since.

  5. Di Hogg says:

    Thanks for this information. I’m finding the blogs and small pieces of aquaponics news that you send really easy to manage – small, interesting and relevant, quick to read. With full-time work and part-time study I find it hard to keep up with reading long articles.
    Good stuff
    Thanks, Di

  6. Admin says:

    Fish are like the “canary in the coal mine”. If there are any nasties around the fish soon suffer.
    Sorry about your fish loss Leanne. It is a very upsetting experience. We have a client who lived in a gated community at the Gold Coast who lost all his fish in the same way. Just happened overnight after heavy rain. The only conclusion we could arrive at was airborne contaminants delivered by the downpour.
    The downpour followed immediately after a rare dust storm.
    AP systems do much better if covered to keep rain out and fierce midday summer sun cut back a little.

  7. sharon Reeves says:

    It certainly has an effect and cost in time and fish. Is there a solution for getting rid of cockroaches and spraying ones hm that is less fatal to the aqua ponics grow beds and fish as the vermin are a hassle. Would like any ideas to deal with the need to keep property and house clean . sharon

  8. Denis Byrne says:

    Sorry to hear of your loss, a lesson no one should have. Am able to get around it in a couple of ways. Ensure no sprays are used about your home, encourage birds to visit your garden e.g. noisy minors,butcher birds etc for they will clean up all your spiders etc and is free and healthier to you your fish,plants and your hip pocket.Good luck

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