Roothouse Aquaponics

Owner: Mike McGraw

3961 Elston Hockstock Rd
Batavia, OH 45103
Clermont County

Web site:

Application Date: 2019-11-18

Applicant Details

Please briefly tell us why you are applying to be part of the Certified Naturally Grown program: *
We care about the quality of our products and the people who eat them. I want to support this non-profit and the affordable option for farmers like me who want recognition for their focus on healthy, safe, natural practices in food production.
Are you currently third party Certified for your produce operation by any other organization (Organic, Biodynamic, etc)? *
Have you ever been certified in the past? *
Have you ever been denied certification? *
How did you hear about Certified Naturally Grown? *
Initially through Nelson and Pade Aquaponics.
For how long have you been growing aquaponic produce for market? What has prepared you to do this successfully according to CNG standards? *

General Information

Please check all crops you grow in your aquaponic system. *

Please specify what other crops (if any).
Please check all markets you grow for (this will be displayed on your farm profile to help potential buyers find you). *

Please specify what other markets (if any).

System Design and Management

Please indicate what type of system you use (for hybrid systems, check all that apply): *

If you indicated you use an "other" system type, please specify what other type of system you use here.
If you use wicking beds, describe how the water his handled after it is used in the wicking beds. Does this water recirculate? If not, how is it disposed of?
What materials are used for root support, growing media, tubing and pipes, tanks, troughs, and other materials that come into direct contact with system water? (check all that apply) *

Are there any other materials you use in your system that are not listed above? If so, please indicate them here.
If you use soil or compost in your system, where is it used? Is it used only in the dead-end portion, or also in in the recirculating sections of the system?
If you use compressed grow plugs, what is (are) the product/s name/s? Have you been able to confirm with the supplier that it/they do not contain synthetic nutrients?
If your system contains cement, does it come into direct contact with the water? Please describe how cement is a part of your system.
If you use wood in your system, is it treated wood? Does it come into direct contact with the water? Please describe how wood is a part of your system.
If your system includes IBC totes purchased used, have you been able to confirm with your supplier that they were used only for food grade uses? If so, how have you confirmed this? If not, how do you intend to confirm this?
Please note that while IBC totes can be grandfathered in when they're in already in use at the time CNG certification is sought, CNG standards prohibit the introduction of IBC totes once CNG status is obtained. Please indicate that you understand this restriction on IBC totes by checking the box here. *
Does water circulate at a rate sufficient so that the water volume of the fish tanks(s) recirculates each hour? If it recirculates at a lower rate, please explain. *
Briefly describe how your system achieves appropriate aeration. *
Single system regenerative blower through PVC to air stones.
Briefly describe how your system achieves appropriate degassing. *
Heavy bubbles in a dedicated degassing tank.
Does your system include any of the following: roofing materials, recycled plastics, or plastics that contain BPA? *

Water Sources

CNG standards vary according to water source. Please indicate below ALL water sources you use for your aquaponic system, and answer the corresponding questions.
Do you use Municipal water? *
Does the municipal water contain chlorine? If so, how is chlorine removed? *
Evaporated with aeration on a timer to run overnight. We only supplement with city water delivered on a truck. Main source is rain water collected off the greenhouse. We have not ordered city water in over 2 months due to decent rainfall. Water has enough time in the tank, with aeration overnight, to off gas chlorine.
Does the municipal water contain chloramine? If so, how is it removed? *
Do you have a copy of the municipal water testing results? *
I do not.
Do you use well water? *
Do you use rainwater? *
Of what materials are the catchment surfaces and storage tanks made? *
Concrete, metal, PVC
Do you use a flush diverter? *
If yes, how many gallons does it divert? What is the surface area of the catchment area in square feet? *
We use screens on the downspouts to stop any large sediment/contaminants. Also, it is a two tank system with the first tank acting as a settling tank. Water is drawn into the greenhouse by a pump in the second tank that is boot connected to the first settling tank.
How often do you test for contaminants? *
1 time per month
Do you store rainwater before adding it to the system? *
If yes, is the storage container closed and food Grade? ASLO, do you use the water within 3 days? *
Yes, yes, and not typically.
Do you treat or filter the water before adding it to the system? If so, what methods were used? *
Yes. I have an ozone generator in the cistern/storage tank that runs for a few hours every night. Does not run during normal business hours. Water is then treated by two sediment filters and finally treated with UV light to sterilize.
Do you use surface water? *
If you use a water source that is not named here, please elaborate.

Water Quality: Nutrients, pH, solids

How do you ensure a good match between stocking density and crop production? *
Many years of research and development through my consultants. I have a great system design that is science based.
Please describe how you design and operate your system to provide biofiltration that corresponds to production of fish waste and crops. *
This is a Nelson and Pade system - multiple clarifiers/settling tanks for large solids, two stage mineralization tanks, bio-filter with bio-media with heavy aeration, degassing tank before entering plant DWC rafts.
Do you ever add supplemental nutrients? If so, what materials or products have you used? List ingredients and product names. How much of these do you use? How frequently? *
Only Iron Suppliment. Chelated Iron DTPA - Greenway Biotech - Iron (fe) 11.0%
Do you use worms in your system? *
What materials do you use to buffer pH? *
We use potassium hydroxide and calcium hydroxide to raise pH from time to time. Hydrated Lime - Garden Rich - Calcium Hydroxide Ca - 34.2%, Mg - 20.4%, CaO - 46.5%, MgO - 32% Belle Chemical - Caustic Pot Ash - Potassium Hydroxide - 100%
What methods do you use to prevent the build up of waste solids in your system? *
ZDEP Bubble Bead filter. Clean nutrient rich water returned to main system. Backwashed waste sent to sump tanks that feed media beds.
Please indicate how often you monitor each of the following:
pH? *
Temperature? *
Dissolved oxygen? *
Ammonia? *
Nitrites? *
Nitrates? *
Use this space if you'd like to share additional information about your water quality and monitoring practices.

Seeds, Transplants, and Crop Health

Do you grow some or all of your own transplants? *
What growing media do you use? Please list the ingredients. *
Grodan Rockwool
Do you use any chemically-treated or genetically modified seeds? *
Do you purchase some or all of your transplants? *
Describe your primary insect pest challenges AND methods of prevention and control. (Do not answer "none". You MUST indicate actual pest challenges or LIKELY challenges, and you must ALSO indicate how you manage or how you would manage them. If you indicate a product, also specify how often it's used.) *
Sticky traps and humans to monitor pests. Use of only natural biological methods focusing on beneficial bugs when available. We can expect a few pests from time to time but I have not delt with any as of yet.
Describe your primary plant disease challenges AND methods of prevention and control. (Do not answer "none". You MUST indicate actual disease challenges or LIKELY challenges, and you must ALSO indicate how you manage or how you would manage them. If you indicate a product, also specify how often it's used.) *
We expect to see some powdery mildew or high humidity symptoms. We have installed two large dehumidifiers and keep air flow moving 24/7.
CNG certification requires the use of certified organic or Certified Naturally Grown seeds whenever available. Please indicate the suppliers from which you source - or will source - your seeds if your application is accepted and you continue the certification process. *
Johnny's Seeds
Please indicate, by entering your initials, that you understand that CNG strictly prohibits the use of chemically treated or GMO seeds. *
Please indicate, by entering your initials, that you will as a general rule purchase organically grown seeds, AND that you will only purchase conventional seed when the variety you wish to grow is not available in certified organic or CNG form. For each variety purchased in conventional form, you will identify (and keep records of) at least three commercial organic seed suppliers who do not carry that variety. *

Fish Management

We do not offer certification for fish, but do set some limited standards for fish management where they might affect the produce and or quality of life for the fish.
Does hormonal sex reversal treatment ever occur on-line / within the recirculating system? *
Please describe the practices you use to prevent and treat fish disease.
We use isolation tanks to treat diseases or remove them permanently from the system. Close monitoring of the fish through windows in the tanks.
Have you ever found it necessary to use antibiotics? *
Please describe what kind of fish feed you use. Is it organically grown? (For aquaponic produce certification CNG standards do not require that the feed be organically grown, but we are interested to know what producers are using and to give credit to any producers who may be using organic feed) *
Rangen Fish food specifically for tilapia and aquaponics - Non-GMO
Do you use black soldier fly larvae or duckweed as supplemental feed? *
Do you use any supplemental feed besides BSF larvae or duckweed? If so, describe it here, and indicate how you protect against contamination of your system. *

Protecting Against Contamination

Is your operation partially or entirely INdoors? *
What are the nearby land uses? Are there any that might pose risks of contamination? *
Nearby is a 6 acre hay field and a farm home on the same property. Across the street is a sod farm. Otherwise we are surrounded by woods.
How does your ventilation and air filtration system prevent possible contamination? *
We are in a greenhouse in a rural area with a lot of open space and other farming activities. I know all surrounding farmers who allow me time to close the greenhouse before any spraying takes place. It seldom takes place.
Do you share space (including fish tank, seedling starting, or plant production space) with other producers? *
Is your operation partially or entirely OUTdoors? *

Waste & Energy

These questions will not determine certification status, but are intended to encourage producers to review our recommendations in these areas and to give credit to producers who have made investments in the sustainability of their operation.
How do you dispose of fish solid wastes? *
We use It! We have flushed initial start-up system water and waste to the field, but we capture all heavy solids and use them outside of the greenhouse in compost or gardens.
When necessary during system change over, how do you dispose of nutrient-rich water? *
Flush into surrounding agriculture field
What measures have you taken to conserve energy, improve energy efficiency, and/or use energy from renewable sources? (This could include system design, siting, insulation, crop and fish species selection, and more.)
Hoping to add solar in the coming years. Extra insulation to the greenhouse for cold months - stop cold airflow in. 8' border of insulation around the greenhouse for insulating the ground. High efficiency water heaters and air heaters. Recirculating heat pumps. Sahde curtain/energy cloth for heat retention.

Inspections & Networks

A core requirement of CNG certification is the on-site peer-review. Getting this completed is facilitated if you're a part of a network of aquaponics producers who might serve as your inspector. Are you a part of a network (informal or formal) of aquaponic producers in your geographic area? *


I understand that only the produce, NOT the fish, can be labeled and sold as Certified Naturally Grown. *
I will not label, or in any way lead consumers to believe that produce not raised in accord with CNG standards is Certified Naturally Grown. *
I understand that I have to complete at least one Inspection(s) of another CNG aquaponic producer in my area each year, if there is one within a one hour drive. *
I understand that the inspection I conduct will NOT be of the same producer that inspected me. *
I have reviewed the Certified Naturally Grown aquaponic certification standards, I understand them, and I will abide by them. I understand that if I have any questions I may contact CNG for clarification. *
You may use this space to tell us anything else you think we should know about your operation.