Aquaponic Gardening

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Hello all, I have an indoor aquuaponics build with a 600 gallon fiberglass tank and some pvc grow tubes on top of the tank.  A 4ft x 8ft ebb and flow grow bed using expanded shale as the grow medium will be added this weekend after I pickup the rock.

I am currently growing assorted looseleaf lettuces, some TT Butterheads, Black Simpson lettuce, brocolli and kale

I've been working with the fish about 2 years, the greens about 2 months.  I haven't ran into any major problems, besides getting my spinach to sprout.

A largish lean-to greenhouse is planned for this spring, which will be really nice since the tank is currently in my sitting room.  It's kind of nice listening to the water with the wood stove heating the area, but I think the wife would like her room back eventually.

I've got some pictures of my build at my website  It's small, but growing.

I have an excess of Blue Tilapia if there is anyone in the area that would like to pick up a few.  These fish are quite prolific!  Details are on my website blog.

Tasty tilapia for everyone. :)

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Sounds like you're on your way. Just be sure your GH lean to faces south for maximum sun exposure. If your 600 gallon tank is a fish tank you can very well support twice as much GB area.

Thanks Jeff. Thhe 600 gallon tank is the fish.  The greenhouse is going in on the south side of the house and the way I've got it layed out currently I should have just a little more than twice as much GB area - maybe a bit more if I use some of the vertical growing ideas I've seen on here.

The expanded shale is arriving Sunday, so I'll be sure to post some pictures of the new growbeds with the indoor build!

Are you using a bell siphon? Where is the expanded shale coming from and how much does t cost?

I have found that putting a low tunnel over my GBs I don't have to heat the GH (unless temps get down to -10 like they have this year). They are very simple to build. I put my grow lights inside the tunnel and run them at night to provide heat for the plants. If you use towers you'd have to heat the GH. That was my original plan but I've put them on hold for now.

I've read a lot of good things about bell siphon setups, but will be using constant flow initially since this first bed will be feeding directly into a floating raft setup.  I'm getting the shale from a nearby retailer for $24/ 55lb bag delivered.  That's less than I could find hydroton for, and I didn't want to use gravel because of the weight and potential effects on my water ph.  The shale seems like the best solution for now.

The greenhouse will be heated in the cold months by a combination of solar water heaters and a simple wood stove.  Venting will keep most of the excess summer heat at bay here in central PA, but if I find that the hot months are too much, I have space to bury some coiled pex along the side of the property line to provide additional cooling for the water when needed during the dog days of summer.

1800 gallons of water in 6 300 gallon tanks under the floor surface will be used to add some thermal mass for both heating and cooling as well as provide indirect heating/cooling for the fish tank.  Heating and cooling circulation will be provided by a single pump switched between circulation paths as needed with a valve.

Pumps and aerators will be powered with using solar panels with backup grid power.  Lighting used during the dark months will be grid powered for now.  I've been using LED lighting on my indoors setup and they put off very little heat so would hate to rely on them to keep my crop from frosting.  The wood stove will me my main heat source in Jan/Feb.

Not sure how the weather is in Pa but if it's anything like Mi solar might not be a good source, especially in the winter. I tried a home made solar water heater this past summer and I didn't produce enough constant heat once the water started flowing. I'm considering wind power for electric, at least for backup.

I have a 200 gallon in ground sump surrounded by 2" Styrofoam and I don't think it contains the heat very well so you might want to verify how well yours will work.

Just read about this today and it got my interest

Very similar weather.  The solar water heater won't be a primary heat source, more of a supplement for the water temps.  I've looked at rocket heater builds and they look awesome, but I already have a great little wood stove just waiting for me to get the greenhouse done.  Would be a shame to let it go unused.

I don't have enough wind here to make a windmill a good option, and even the solar will be spotty in providing consistent power.  I would have to add several more panels and batteries to make it reliable enough to run just the pumps and air full time.  Maybe down the road it will make sense, but I want to run small with the solar for the first year just to flesh out any problems I might run into.

Is your sump insulated on the bottom as well?  My design plans are loosely based on the design from and here.  I'm really hoping for some good results with solar hot water collection, but I won't really be able to say how it will work for sure until I get my hands dirty with it.

My sump is insulated on the bottom as well. Even if ground water seeps in around the tank the tank would eventually heat that water up since it's not flowing.

I know of what you speak on the wood stove. I had a similar situation that I already had one so I wanted to use it. I ran the flue from one end of the rafters to the other and out the end of the GH with a thermostatic fan blowing heat off of it down into the GH to loose as little heat as possible. Works good except I can't be there all night to feed it and I had to modify the updraft a little but I'm still loosing a lot of heat so I was interested in the Derrick mass heater when I do another expansion. Check out this video and some of the others he has and see what you think.

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