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What are your thoughts on bio-bale?  I'm researching how to make a biofilter and ran across this biobale.  It seems rather cheap for it's volume and size (1 gallon / 35 square feet).  Has anybody used this? If so, how has your experience been?  If you haven't used it, what are your thoughts about it? Thanks.

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A grow bed IS the bio-filter in aquaponics. Why would you want to add this to the system?

The grow bed is the bio-filter when you are using grow beds which use some form of media to grow your plants in.  If you choose for your aquaponics system to be DWC using rafts, then it is necessary to use some type of bio-filter (and that only holds true, apparently, if your fish density exceeds the area of your rafts.)   True, you can put a grow bed in front of the raft system, but for some reasons, I would rather use the bio-filter. 

Community AP said:

A grow bed IS the bio-filter in aquaponics. Why would you want to add this to the system?

You have to forgive me, it's late.  You are saying "bio-bail" and I was thinking "barley-bail" and couldn't understand why you wanted to float it around in your system when there are bio-filter grow beds for that. Also you didn't mention you were setting up DWC only.  Any non-toxic inert media with an SSA of 15 or higher will work well for biological media. Naturally the higher the SSA the better the media.

Hey there,  there is a guy on this site called francois lemmer - a South African, and he has an ongoing blog post that is a fantastic read (about 20 pages or so and counting!)  I could be wrong, but I think that he is using this stuff and is having no problems at all with it.  He is even putting it in his net pots and growing the plants directly in it... and it seems to work.  So, I recommend you have a look at his blog... very honest, all his mistakes and successes.  Great read if you have an hour or so free one afternoon.

What sort of bio-filter are you planning James?

Will you be settling out the solids before sending the water to the bio-filter?  Or do you need a bio-filter that can handle solids?

Choose some sort of bio-filter and media that is fairly easy to clean excessive solids out of if necessary and be sure to add some means of degassing after the bio-filter.  I think the normal way to do it is a settling tank or swirl filter of some sort which is the part that will need the most regular cleaning.  Then the bio-filter or "net tank" depending on your design and then a tank with boko air pumped in to degass any unwanted dissolved compounds before the water continues on through the system.

I don't have experience with the bio-bale or any of the other specialty medias.  I'm kinda partial to the low tech gravel bed.

I found the blog post you are referring to.  It is excellent.  I haven't had enough time to read through the entire thing yet.  Whether or not he uses bio-bale, it is still a great read.  Thanks for leading me to that post. 

Japan Aquaponics - アクアポニックス 日本 said:

Hey there,  there is a guy on this site called francois lemmer - a South African, and he has an ongoing blog post that is a fantastic read (about 20 pages or so and counting!)  I could be wrong, but I think that he is using this stuff and is having no problems at all with it.  He is even putting it in his net pots and growing the plants directly in it... and it seems to work.  So, I recommend you have a look at his blog... very honest, all his mistakes and successes.  Great read if you have an hour or so free one afternoon.

TCLynx, I don't think I will need a bio-filter that can handle solids because I do plan to filter those out prior to the bio-filter. The swirl filter design seems to be very popular.  I do plan to use that as well as sponge, all prior to the bio filter.  I do plan to dig a little deeper into the solids filtration techniques a little later, after I figure out the bio-filter.  I have seen the simple design of the UVI clarifyer.  Theirs is big.  I think I might use that inline with my swirl filter.  I don't think it will slow down my flow rate having that many filters...as long as my pvc is sufficient size.

As far as degassing, I have read only a little bit about that, but I don't plan to implement any degassing within the bio filter.  The little research that I have done on degassing suggests trying to expose the water to as much air as possible...allowing the 'bad' gasses to escape.  One example to do this, according to the paper I was reading, is to allow the water to fall through a series of wire mesh cups, allowing the water to essential separate from itself as it falls down to the next wire mesh cup, and so on.  This seems like a simple feature to add to the water flow if it is effective.  I plan to do more study into the topics of solids filtration and degassing.  I will add to this that I have heard some concern that it's not good to agitate the bio-bale (either through aeration, etc) due to the flatnature of the bio-bale.  Unlike bio-balls or kaldness, there is no nooks or crannies for the bacteria to reside so such agitation to the bio-bale could cause the bacteria to have a difficult time maintaining residence.  Therefore, if this is true, aeration within the bio-filter would not be recommended if using bio-bale.  This could lead to less than desired nitrification if the process needs more aeration within the bio-filter. 

I have to admit, this is so fun learning about aquaponics.  It's like a rather large puzzle.  Thanks for your input. 

 

TCLynx said:

What sort of bio-filter are you planning James?

Will you be settling out the solids before sending the water to the bio-filter?  Or do you need a bio-filter that can handle solids?

Choose some sort of bio-filter and media that is fairly easy to clean excessive solids out of if necessary and be sure to add some means of degassing after the bio-filter.  I think the normal way to do it is a settling tank or swirl filter of some sort which is the part that will need the most regular cleaning.  Then the bio-filter or "net tank" depending on your design and then a tank with boko air pumped in to degass any unwanted dissolved compounds before the water continues on through the system.

I don't have experience with the bio-bale or any of the other specialty medias.  I'm kinda partial to the low tech gravel bed.

There are a couple choices for degassing, Towers but that requires that you pump the water up to let if fall through the tower so you would only be able to send the water to one place that happens to be where the water falls after it goes through the tower.  Pumping right after your bio filters to use a degassing tower will probably put you into a situation of having to use two pumps unless you re-arrange the layout from what is normally done.  (normally the one water pump from these kinds of systems is somewhere after the raft beds to pump back up to the fish tanks and gravity does the rest of the work.)

Or, the more common way to do it after a settling tank and non heavily aerated bio-filter would simply be a degassing tank where you let the water flow through it and have lots of air pumping into it to allow the outgassing.

Swirl filters and settling tanks are sized according to flow rates.  Yes you need the PVC connecting everything sized to keep up with the flow rate of course but if the settling tank or swirl filter is too small for the flow rate, it won't be effective at settling the solids or swirling them out.  The bigger the tank the more time the water is resident and thus, it is moving slower and the solids are more likely to fall or settle out of suspension. 

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