Brian and Kate Wharton use nearly every square inch of their backyard to produce herbs, chillies, and greens. They've got a great climate for growing in Los Angeles, California, but have learned to grow through mistakes like any farmer.
Brian and Kate have been growing with ZipGrow for several years. They started with a single ZipGrow Tower and have scaled up to several dozen now.
Many farmers find ways to make their systems better-looking for tours and displays, and there are plenty of ways to do that, from using a tank cover and facades to cover gutters to putting the system on wheels for easy movement.
One "don't" of display systems, however, is the use of galvanized tanks in hydroponics (or aquaponics).
Brian and Kate learned this the hard way.
So why are galvanized tanks such a problem?
Galvanizing is a process where the metal is dipped in molten zinc to increase its durability and provide a cheaper alternative to stainless steel.
Although zinc is an important nutrient to plants, it's a micronutrient that's usually present in high enough quantities in hydroponic solutions (or fish feed if you're growing with aquaponics). In fact, zinc toxicity is more of a problem than zinc deficiency. (It starts causing problems around over .1 ppm and will kill fish at 4-8 ppm; we recommend a level of .03 and .05 ppm for a healthy system.)
So while galvanized tanks look great and last longer, they can cause problems with plants and fish.
The moral of the story? Keep galvanized products out of your system! If you have to use galvanized tanks or other parts, be sure to seal them with a heavy-duty epoxy paint or find another option like a liner.
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