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I've got bugs (springtails)...
http://backyardaquaponics.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=28058
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Author:  Wiener [ Dec 20th, '16, 22:36 ]
Post subject:  I've got bugs (springtails)...

Based on some research, it seems like I have a springtail infestation in 2 of my 4 AP systems.

I've read that they aren't a big deal and can maybe be beneficial? I'd personally prefer they not hang out in my GBs, but I guess it's OK if they aren't hurting anything.

Are the benign, harmful, or helpful? Any option for eradicating them?

Author:  scotty435 [ Dec 21st, '16, 02:52 ]
Post subject:  Re: I've got bugs (springtails)...

I don't know of any eradication options (haven't really looked at it though). They are mostly detritovores. I don't know if it matters but I had more of these when I was running flood and drain than I do now running Constant Flood. The other thing that's changed though is I was running indoors and now my system is outdoors so lots of variables with that change could have had an effect.

Author:  Wiener [ Dec 21st, '16, 05:06 ]
Post subject:  Re: I've got bugs (springtails)...

Thanks, scotty. This is off-topic, but can you tell me why you switched to constant flood? I've considered trying this myself since I don't always trust my siphons.

Does it adversely affect your worms (if you have any)? Any root rot?

I remember seeing this thread years ago -> viewtopic.php?f=51&t=8621, which was pretty awesome.

Author:  scotty435 [ Dec 21st, '16, 05:42 ]
Post subject:  Re: I've got bugs (springtails)...

My switch just made sense at the time, partly because of space restrictions, partly because I was adding a couple of 50 gallon grow beds and a bunch of 10 to 20 gallon ones. and partly because I knew that I could pop a siphon on any of the beds whenever I wanted since the sump was large enough to handle a couple of beds that way. I also had moved and purchased a larger fish tank (650 gallons) - my second largest tank (now my sump) was 150 gallons and would make a passable sump even though it wasn't big enough to hold everything that could drain to it as a flood and drain system.

The other thing was that the system could be filled completely when run Constant Flood so top ups weren't as important if I was on vacation or away.

I probably have fewer worms using Constant Flood but they are still there and doing well. I think others may have observed this but it varies from system to system. The roots are doing well and there is very little rot - what you'd expect to find in any type of system - getting decent oxygenation, which partly involves keeping the grow bed free of excess solids accumulation is important.

You get accumulation of solids in a Constant Flood system more than in other types so you have to deal with solids periodically - the frequency will vary depending on fish loads and whether you put a Radial Flow Filter before the grow beds. With low fish loads it's several years before you need to do much cleaning of the grow bed.

Author:  Gunagulla [ Dec 21st, '16, 09:29 ]
Post subject:  Re: I've got bugs (springtails)...

I'm pretty sure springtails have been responsible for the death of a number of my plants, as there are swarms of them on some plants that had been doing well and went downhil quickly, in particular the mango, which had been doing well and is now only just alive. The seem to be attracted to organic matter- they congregate in any small pots with potting mix that are embedded in the gravel GB.

My early morning deep flood cycles send them all to the surface and our plan of action to reduce their numbers is to put organic matter in pots sitting in the GB, wait until they infest it, then remove from the system.

Author:  JeffS [ Dec 21st, '16, 10:34 ]
Post subject:  Re: I've got bugs (springtails)...

http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/ins ... -large.jpg

I had a similar problem and got this response from another aquaponics forum:

I use Steinernema feltiae. They are effective and are the recommended greenhouse pest control nematode. They are an excellent choice to control fungus gnats in the system.
Steinernema feltiae are also used to control:
Beet Armyworm, Black Cutworm, Cabbage Maggot, Codling Moth, Corn Earworm, Cucumber Beetle, Fruit Fly, Humpbacked Flies, Leafminer, Onion Maggot, Pill Bug, Rasberry Crown Borer, Sclarid, Shore Fly, Sweet Potato Weevil, Subterranean Termite, Thrips, Ticks, and Tobacco Cutworm.
I hope this helps.


When I had my big infestation I flooded the bed and scooped them out and fed the to my fish.

Author:  Gunagulla [ Dec 21st, '16, 13:29 ]
Post subject:  Re: I've got bugs (springtails)...

I'm not sure my fish would even recognise them as something to eat, since they are so small - about 1/1000th the volume of the pellets they eat!

Author:  Wiener [ Dec 30th, '16, 05:35 ]
Post subject:  Re: I've got bugs (springtails)...

Hey Jeff - Would steinernema feltiae affect my worms in any way?

Author:  JeffS [ Dec 31st, '16, 05:56 ]
Post subject:  Re: I've got bugs (springtails)...

Wiener wrote:
Hey Jeff - Would steinernema feltiae affect my worms in any way?


I don't know. I didn't use them personally. When I had them I flooded my bed and scooped them out and dumped them in the FT. Wasn't that difficult.

Author:  Gunagulla [ Dec 14th, '19, 12:21 ]
Post subject:  Re: I've got bugs (springtails)...

Wiener wrote:
Are the(y) benign, harmful, or helpful?


Definitely not helpful or benign.
Once again I'm having issues with springtails in my small system. Whilst they mainly chomp on dead vegetable matter, they have eaten all the roots off my garlic, and the green tops have died off, leaving me with small round garlics that haven't really started to segment. Some new roots have started to appear and they may have come back to life as they did earlier after a similar springtail attack, but it's getting a bit late in the year, so I've pulled a fair few of them. I'll just have to use the whole round ball in place of a decent sized clove. The spring onions in the same GB haven't been affected.

They have also eaten quite a bit of the wood away at the base of one of my tamarillo trees, although the tree is still ok and has lots of tamarillos on it.

I'm running flood and drain, reduced frequency and duration in the day as it is so hot lately, but I have flooded some GBs and seen them come up and hang out of plants, but they don't go away.

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