1st post. Hello. Been doing small basement aquaponics here in Indianapolis for just over a year. Started tiny and have grown into three 2'x3' grow beds (mason tubs) and just expanded from 30 gallon aquarium w/ 2 gold fish to 125g aquarium.
I use a light mover in a feeble attempt to save on electricity. I am sure this system uses far more energy than I'd ever admit but it is very fun. Those 2 goldfish pump out serious amounts of waste and my nitrates have never been low.
I have 15 blue tilapia on order from Sylvia and can't wait till they arrive on Thursday. I am slightly concerned about the bed/tank ratio but have fish filters I can run if the beds aren't keeping up. I can also move the goldfish back to their 30 gallon home if I find ammonia levels spiking after adding the tilapia.
I hope to be able to breed the tiliapia perhaps in a separate tank.
The beds use bell siphons and drain into a sump. Pump is constant on and I am still messing w/ the homemade overflow box that lifts from the bottom of the tank. (see kitty litter pail.)
In this photo, the pipe along the wall is not in use. That was my original setup that was replaced by pipe running in front of the beds.
Hey John, ("As for things to watch out for, I guess I would say the bell siphons are sort of a pain.")
If you are interested in some advice on your bell siphons please post a picture (accurate drawing or photo) of the actual guts of the siphons and I can advise you on how to make them more reliable. It is simply a matter of broadening the range of starts and stops and avoiding traps and snorkels as they both will cause undue trouble down the road. Size of pipes and funnel tops and use of 90's below and VENTS are all critical based upon your pump and flow and design, so the broader the range the more reliable. Ours have been on line for 2 yrs and the only maintenance is rotating the gravel guard every month or two to cut off any roots that have found their way in. Takes about 20 seconds at most per siphon every few months.
Also make sure the flow of fish waste thru your GBs is as long as possible for maximum exposure to the bacteria before it cycles back to the fish. The water coming out of your GBs should be very near, some would say right on, POTABLE (drinkable). The fish appreciate it that way. That is why I enter at one corner of our GBs and exit at the far adjacent corner for maximum travel thru the GB (manifolds around the GB with small holes WILL clog up continuously so I would advise against them unless you are removing ALL solids prior)
Also if you are sending raw fish waste thru your ball valves they will clog up in no time so I use a balanced gravity flow with no valves, just rotating 90's that run wide open but are still controllable by rotating them and even those require a finger cleaning occasionally. 30 cents as opposed to 5 or 6 dollars as well. Yea, I'm cheap
I couldn't help but notice that my last post here shut this thread down for a year. I hate it when that happens. I like this thread.
"As for things to watch out for, I guess I would say the bell siphons are sort of a pain."
Wanted to add to this old post to show off the harvest. At just under a year old, most of the fish are about a foot long and are between 2 and 3 pounds. These are White Brook Farms White Nile Tilapia and are a year old and really have outgrown my tanks. I now have a 125g aquarium (pictured above) and added a 75g aquarium to the system in hopes of getting some breeding going. I never got them to breed. I think it was just too crowded in there. So time to harvest some out and will leave a breeding set to see what happens. They are so big though I may just harvest all of these and start over. Was a great year. I get tons of veggies on those tables (shown above) and even though I'd say the tanks are a good amount of work to upkeep and the electricity bill is high, this is all totally worth it. My next upgrades will include a complete redo of the sump and plumbing system. Everything works pretty good but not perfect. I also had to clean out the hydroton this summer as the worm castings and fish waste were causing the siphons to act up. I harvested 9 of these giants today leaving about 8-9 that may hit the dinner table next month.
It is not clear to me......what is the volume of the fish tank that you raised these tilapia in to that size in one year? And how many tilapia were in the tank?
I started with 25 fingerlings in the 125 gallon aquarium. When that seemed too crowded after about 7 months, I added a 75 gallon aquarium and moved the smaller fish to it. In the end, the 125 gallon aquarium had 9 x 2.5lb - 3lb fish that were one year old.
I am using a 55 gallon barrel (no airstone at present - just ordered one; aeration is via a venturi for now). I have three large tilapia in there (two 4-inch and one 6-inch) and another 15 small ones (about 1.5 to 2 inches long). I have been advised that it is not possible to achieve plate-size fish in a 55 gallon barrel. Also I may be impatient, but these guys don't seem to eat enough in that they don't come to the surface and eat aggressively. Pellets don't disappear in five minutes. They (big ones anyway) eat a few gulps and then lower themselves in the tanks. Two to three hours when I check - no pellets floating!
Also there appear strings (two to six inches) I assume of fish excrement either floating around or attached to the fish. I was informed that his means that I am over-feeding and the food is not digesting properly.
I need to decide if I can at least start with my 55 gallon tank; note visible growth; and maybe if necessary split them out into other tanks (I have read online that a 55 gallon barrel can grow ten tilapia to plate size).
I am impressed with your growth rate. What are you feeding your tilapia? How often are you feeding them? Does your tank have aeration via a bubble stone?
Let the return water splash as much as possible to provide additional aeration. Fish can be shy sometimes so feed em and close the lid then go back and check for floaters. The more they eat the faster they will grow . Check out these videos if you want some Tilapia entertainment.
This is his newest and shows how big they can get