Aquaponic Gardening

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Hi all,

I am in So. California I am extremely NEW to aquaponics, I have been doing research for between 4-6 hrs a day for a couple weeks now, and I am building my 1st system. I am hoping that someone can answer a couple questions for me, and possibly stop me if I am doing something wrong.

My system is / will be this:

220-250 G Fish Tank ( IBC tote ) W/ about 30-40 Tilapia

2) 3'x8' gravel grow beds w/ Bell Siphons( and backup overflow pipes )

1) 3'x8' Raft style grow bed. (and backup overflow pipe)

1) homemade swirl / vortec filter.

1) Sump tank with a particulate screen (just some type material that is a fine mesh)

1) 800 GPH pump

I am building these grow beds out of 3/4" plywood and lining them with 15-17 mil. vinyl pond liner.

Here is how I am planning on piping my system:

which is better?

A.) From the FT it will gravity feed to the swirl filter, then to the sump, (through a particulate screen) from the sump pumps to the gravel beds, FT, and raft beds, which will return to the sump. 

B.) From the sump, pumped out to the FT, then gravity fed to the swirl filter, then to the gravel beds, then to the raft beds, then back to the sump( screened through a particulate filter)

My questions are:

Will a bell siphon work in a gravel bed that large?

Should I put a partition in it to make each 3'x8' into 2) 3'x4' beds?

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The bell siphons will probably take a very long time to siphon off such large grow beds.

I also you don't need the filters. You can have your growing beds act as a filter for your DWC. I made a hybrid system, and it is doing very well. The roots are nice and clean in the rafts. 

Thank you Michael. I started building the beds today and desided to put a partition on large bed.
I see what you mean by having enough gravel beds, although I will at least have a swirl filter So I can put the droppings in my soil garden.
I would really like to hear more about your hybrid system..

What do you want to know? I have the flood and drain beds evacuate into the DWC. I am indiscriminate about what I plant in the F&D, and only planting leafy greens in the DWC.

While I understand the want to sequester and remove fertilizer for your garden, I believe you will run into more nutrient deficiencies, as you will have less solids to mineralize for your AP system. You can always over stock your tanks, to insure there is enough fish solids for both, but such an overstocked system requires much more maintenance time; time is money, and you will need to do regular filter cleaning.

Oh I see now, thank you. I will just keep it as you said and not put in a swirl filter. It will be easier that way to gravity feed it all. Talking with the wife about it all yesterday and she might want to add more of the same size beds or 2 this summer. We want to see how these will work first.

Yes Mike. If your GBs can filter the water by all means don't separate the solids. You spend a lot of money to create those solids so use all of them that you can.

Dont forget to put some worms in your media beds to convert the fish waste into absorb-able nutrients and minerals!

Since I last posted I have got my system flowing. I have used Prime by seachem to disperse the chloromine, and have air stones in all the tanks to gass out. I have noticed that my PH is 8.0-8.2, ammonia: 0.50 ppm, nitrite and nitrate are both at zero which is expected for such a new system, right?
We have planted lettuce is the raft beds, and a few chili & onion plants in the grow beds,.
I have Maxi crop on the way to help with the plants, I also ordered "Microbe Lift II" to help with the nitrification of the system. My question for you all is: am I moving in the right direction here.? My water temp was holding steady at 58.5 degrees but have added a heater and a thermal heater to bring it all up to around 70 hopefully. My whole system is insulated with styrofoam and FT is insulated with 1-1/2.
So am I going in the right direction.?

Seth, the worms have been put into their worm box, and are waiting for the fish to be put into the tank so i can put them into the GB.  

I have them now in a worm box, waiting for the fish to be added to the FT. thank you for the recommendation.

Seth R. Connell said:

Dont forget to put some worms in your media beds to convert the fish waste into absorb-able nutrients and minerals!

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