Aquaponic Gardening

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I'm working on setting up a small system - my first system - in my English basement. So far all I have is a 55 gallon aquarium. I'm getting excited about getting it up and running so I'm making it a goal to have all the supplies and get it set up within a month. However, before I make any of my next purchases, I have some questions. First I'll give you some specs:

I'm setting it up in a little nook 56" wide; ceilings are 81" high

aquarium size: 48.5" x 13" x 21"h

The aquarium will sit on a desk: 46" x 20" x 30"h

 

My initial plan was to set the grow bed directly on the aquarium or make a stand for it so that it would hover directly above it. Now for my questions:

1) Grow bed size: Does 8 or 9 cubic ft make sense?

2) Grow bed container: there are luckily a couple hydroponic stores near me here in DC, but the grow beds they sell seem pretty expensive for what they are - $50-$80 for 2x2 to 2x4 sizes. Are there cheaper options? I checked Home Depot today and I wasn't able to find any containers that looked like they could be transformed into grow beds.

3) Since I'm making this in my living room, I'm trying to make it somewhat pretty, so I thought about making a custom grow bed out of plexiglass and nontoxic sealant. Has anyone tried this? Is it feasible or ridiculous? I'm tempted to just scrap the idea because I really don't want to have to deal with the mess that would result from a construction that couldn't take the pressure.

4) Plumbing: I was originally planning on making a bell siphon, mostly because that was the only method I knew about, but I've since learned about others: looped auto-siphon, flush, and a combo of a timing and draining straight out of the bottom. The looped siphon seems the most appealing now. Any reason to use one method over another? I happened to see Sylvia's article in Urban Garden today (http://urbangardenmagazine.com/2010/11/aquaponics-explained-%E2%80%...) and was wondering if there was a reason she didn't mention the looped siphon.

5) Pump: what size do I need? The smallest one I saw at the hydroponic store here is 40 gal/hr (http://www.capcityhydro.com/product_info.php?cPath=1&products_i...), but I'm curious if this could handle the effluent from the aquarium or if it's strictly for hydo use.

 

All input and criticism welcomed and appreciated! Thanks!

Cooper

 

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You could always try it and see if it still works.

I finally put 10 tilapia into the 55 gallon system.  One is about 6", the others are 2"-4". I put them in a few days ago and have only fed them vegetarian gel food (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_2/food.htm). The teacher that gave me the fish (the curriculum for her science class is based on aquaculture) said one of her students had a lot of success with this type of feed. Does anyone know anything about this gel food?

So far, the fish don't seem to be very hungry. I would have thought the initial shock of a new environment would have worn off by now.  That makes me think something else might be wrong. My theories:

1) I have read in Sylvia's book and the rules of thumb that there might not be enough oxygen. I have two six inch airstones, some of the water from the pump is diverted back in to the tank, and one of my standpipes is extended down into the bottom of the tank. I've never seen the fish swim to the surface for oxygen.

2) They don't like my food and I should find something else.

3) The ammonia spiked to 4ppm (or more) and has not dropped yet. Is it possible that the fish will not act normally until this drops? Also, how long does it take for this to drop? I introduced the fish on Wednesday night.

 

Any thoughts?

 

Try rabbit pellets. My Tilapia loves it and it is good for their health.

By the way, what pump do you use for your 55 gallons tanks and how high did you have it flow to your vege garden? 



Cooper Breeden said:

I finally put 10 tilapia into the 55 gallon system.  One is about 6", the others are 2"-4". I put them in a few days ago and have only fed them vegetarian gel food (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_2/food.htm). The teacher that gave me the fish (the curriculum for her science class is based on aquaculture) said one of her students had a lot of success with this type of feed. Does anyone know anything about this gel food?

So far, the fish don't seem to be very hungry. I would have thought the initial shock of a new environment would have worn off by now.  That makes me think something else might be wrong. My theories:

1) I have read in Sylvia's book and the rules of thumb that there might not be enough oxygen. I have two six inch airstones, some of the water from the pump is diverted back in to the tank, and one of my standpipes is extended down into the bottom of the tank. I've never seen the fish swim to the surface for oxygen.

2) They don't like my food and I should find something else.

3) The ammonia spiked to 4ppm (or more) and has not dropped yet. Is it possible that the fish will not act normally until this drops? Also, how long does it take for this to drop? I introduced the fish on Wednesday night.

 

Any thoughts?

 

Here is the one i got: 

http://www.petco.com/product/109509/ZuPreem-Natures-Promise-Premium...

Don't need to blend them. just throw it in and u will see them chow down pretty quick. :- )


Thomas Chan said:

Try rabbit pellets. My Tilapia loves it and it is good for their health.

By the way, what pump do you use for your 55 gallons tanks and how high did you have it flow to your vege garden? 



Cooper Breeden said:

I finally put 10 tilapia into the 55 gallon system.  One is about 6", the others are 2"-4". I put them in a few days ago and have only fed them vegetarian gel food (http://www.wetwebmedia.com/ca/volume_6/volume_6_2/food.htm). The teacher that gave me the fish (the curriculum for her science class is based on aquaculture) said one of her students had a lot of success with this type of feed. Does anyone know anything about this gel food?

So far, the fish don't seem to be very hungry. I would have thought the initial shock of a new environment would have worn off by now.  That makes me think something else might be wrong. My theories:

1) I have read in Sylvia's book and the rules of thumb that there might not be enough oxygen. I have two six inch airstones, some of the water from the pump is diverted back in to the tank, and one of my standpipes is extended down into the bottom of the tank. I've never seen the fish swim to the surface for oxygen.

2) They don't like my food and I should find something else.

3) The ammonia spiked to 4ppm (or more) and has not dropped yet. Is it possible that the fish will not act normally until this drops? Also, how long does it take for this to drop? I introduced the fish on Wednesday night.

 

Any thoughts?

 

Hi Thomas -- I'm so sorry it took me so long to respond to this! The notification got buried in my email and I just found it. I'm sure you've already figured this out, but better late than never.

I have this pump:http://www.theaquaponicstore.com/ActiveAqua-Pump-400-GPH-p/cwhhf007...
However, I happened to find it in stock at a local hydroponics store.

I just put the pump in the corner of my aquarium. Above the aquarium I had two mortar bins I bought at Home Depot for about $12 each. I ran a tube up between the two of them, put a T connector in it, and had a smaller tube dumping the water into one end of each bin (the opposite end as the syphon).

I actually just took my system down because I live in a small basement apartment and it sadly was not the appropriate setting for this setup. I gave all my tilapia away, but I'm keeping all my equipment in hopes I'll be able to set it up in a future home.

Oh no problem Cooper. :D
Thanks for the informations. I got mine working and it is doing well.
My tilapia fish also got pregnant today and i hope the babies will survice with mum tilapia taking care of them.

Hope that in the future you be able to set your system up again.

Cooper hi would love updates on your system and fish as I am doing the same. Thanks.
And Thomas. Thanks.

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