Hello from Ft.Lauderdale. After 2 years of reading, planning and saving, I finally built my system. I read Sylvia's book, IBC's of Aquaponics and every forum thread I could find before I decided on a CHOP design.
I have 6 GB around 100 cubic feet in total, 500 gallons of fish tank and 500 gallons of sump tank. The whole system is made up of IBC totes with a recycling bin fashioned into a radial filter. There are 2” lines for overflow and 1” standpipes. The FT are whole IBCs, the sump tanks are (4) half IBCs plumbed together and the GB are IBCs cut vertically about 16” deep. I also cut the cages vertically and welded them together to support all 6 GB. I pump from the sump tank to the fish tank and then overflows through the filter to the growbeds where it drains through auto siphons. As per requested by my wife, I covered it in stained plywood to make it look nice :)
Not sure if I'm an aquapon yet, but I now know the joy of washing 3 tons of gravel. I am using a previously bought pond pump from an old project and it seems to be a bit too small, I can't get all six siphons to trigger, but I can get five. I tried an old spa pump thats about 2x the flow needed, that turned out to have no head height. Ordered the correct pump yesterday.
It's been a little over a week of cycling and the nitrites measured off the chart today while the ammonia which has been holding steady at 4ppm has finally started coming down. I haven't added any more ammonia for a week once it got to 2ppm.
I know they say not to be impatient, but it hard not to, after all the construction, planting my seedlings, and chasing down where to buy tilapia here in south Fla. So I've been working on a shade cloth cover for the growbeds. I welded the frames and halfway through sewing the shade cloths together, my ye olde sewing machine broke. :( Hoping I can fix it or buy a cheap one at the pawn shop.
I just want to fast forward to the part where I'm posting pictures of all my gorgeous tomatoes and peppers, like I see all the time in these forums. (also what spurred me on to build this!) But for now here are some pics my wife took during the building process.
That's a nice looking system there.
A couple months in and everything is going nuts. Despite the humidity and excessive heat down here, I'm still growing pretty much everything I put in the system. Learning a lot about plants and fish so far. I can spot a caterpillar from 50 feet and am quite practiced at releasing ladybugs in the early morning. My tilapia had babies which I keep in an aquarium in the living room, but apparently my skill at sexing the fish is not so good. (oh well, more free fish!) Everyone who sees the system is very impressed and wants to start their own. Hope I help start a trend down here. A couple update pics to compare. Tomatoes, Peppers, Lettuce, Herbs, Cucumbers, onions and more to come!
looks good. lots of hard work.