Aquaponic Gardening

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Hello all,

I am new to the Aquaponics Gardening Community and new to aquaponics as well.  I recently purchased a comerrical sized greenhouse which I will be errecting in the springtime.  I am looking for advice on alternative ways to heat it.  I plan on dedicating 1/3 of the sq footage to aquaponics and was hoping to get some advice on what type of system to build.  I am planning on using IBC totes.  I have been researching designs and have noticed some have sump tanks some don't.  I have seen others both with and without biofilters.  I am confused and not sure what I need and what I don't need.  What is the purpose of a sump tank?  Is it necessary? 

 

I currently am building a small barrel ponics sytem as a test run.

 

Thanks for all your help.

Cliff 

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Sorry for chiming in with a generic answer, but decreasing the flow rate to your bed should take care of the problem. Did you do something that might have caused an increase in flow? Adjusted some pipes or close a valve? I think you could just about split this community down the middle with the timed flood and drain vs. autosiphon debate. I'm in favor of the autosiphon for this reason: a timer based pump doesn't blow your mind every time it turns on and off :) Although I haven't had any problems with my siphons yet, if I do end up finding them unreliable, I will probably switch sides. But for now, they are just too awesome to give up.

I thought about using timers but that is just on more thing that can go wrong.  Plus my basement system is a learning experience for the bigger one I am planning on building this summer in my greenhouse.  I was hoping to work the kinks out now.  I am trying to adjust my flow rate.  Hopefully that will solve the problem.  I did make some adjustments to my flow rates but I did this after I started experiencing problems.  The only real change I made was adding plants.  I don't think this could be the source of the problem though because the root systems aren't large enough to clog anything up.  Its funny sometimes it functions properly then other times it doesn't.  It is not consistent.  I will just keep playing with it. 

Timers are can (and do) go wrong when they are of the ultra cheap and crappy ilk. These type of timers I relegate to 'non-critical' applications like grow lamps and such. If it fails to activate/de-activate it's no big deal...however, my pump and it's proper working on the other hand, means enough to me to invest in a 'proper' repeat cycle timer...who's working life will certainly out live my pump.

I'm not about to go and try and convince anyone, because both sides of the siphon vs. timer have their positive and negative aspects. Just saying that the "one more thing to go wrong" line of though is easily remedied by spending more than 5 bucks on a good timer. There is equipment who's failure (in a host of industries) would be much more critical  and costly than mine our your AP systems....who's proper working is entrusted to such higher quality timers.

What kind of timer do you use for your pump?

 Omron H3CR...there are other good ones too...

http://community.theaquaponicsource.com/forum/topics/timer?commentI...

I have recently read a few articles on biodigestors as a way to heat a system. It would be another resource loop to close in an aquaponics system. Here is an article on biodigetors; https://www.google.com/search?q=Biodigestor&ie=utf-8&oe=utf...

Here is another site you might wish to look at; http://www.slideshare.net/ElisaMendelsohn/microscale-biogas-product...

Problem one solved. (at least for the time being)  I was able to get the bell siphon working consistently again.  I added an extra valve on the main pipe from the pump leading back to my tank to decrease the water pressure.  IT seems to have worked.  Thanks all for the recommendations.  Vlad thanks for the recommendation on the timer.  I may go that route when I build the bigger system and Debra I like the biodigestor concept.  I will have to do more research on it.

Debra, I am all for bio-digestors, and I have dabbled in design and use in aquaponics, but keep in mind that the energy must come from somewhere to heat your water and growing space. If there is not much energy in the input feed, there will be much less energy available from the waste after the feed was eaten. Where bio-gas is used, warm climates in ag areas (like viet nam, central america, China), it takes several animals waste to just supply cooking gas. A family sized aquaponics system won't produce enough waste to power a candle. 

Jon, you are correct. A bio-digestor may require a fairly large amount of waste to create enough energy to power the needs of a family. It is simply another piece of the puzzle towards sustainability. I believe that a solution can be created with a bit of creative thinking...
http://seedstock.com/2012/02/01/wisconsins-future-farm-sustainable-...



Jon Parr said:

Debra, I am all for bio-digestors, and I have dabbled in design and use in aquaponics, but keep in mind that the energy must come from somewhere to heat your water and growing space. If there is not much energy in the input feed, there will be much less energy available from the waste after the feed was eaten. Where bio-gas is used, warm climates in ag areas (like viet nam, central america, China), it takes several animals waste to just supply cooking gas. A family sized aquaponics system won't produce enough waste to power a candle. 

Indeed, and agreed, Debra. I just thought I'd bring out that there may be better ways to recycle nutrients and energy than biodigestors, unless you have copious amounts of wet poo created on your farm (which many do). Ambient temperature is often ignored when considering biodigestors. If it is cold, there is little to no digestion, and small units may not even create enough methane to warm the digestor itself. They are great for processing waste back into plant usable nutrients, though. Carey Ma, a forum member here, uses biodigestors and I think he even sells some. If you're into pursuing digestors, Carey would be a good source of info.

Are using the totes for growbeads? I had the same problem with my siphons. I notices that when I filled up my growbeads with media, they pushed the bottom of my growbeads and made them bumpy around the supports which was where my siphons were. They were unleveled just enough to make my siphons not work properly. It was a nightmare. I eventually had to empty them and reposition the supports and everything now works beautifully, just like clockwork

First question is what part of the country are you located.  I am in FL, 30 miles north of Clearwater.  Sunlight and 95 to 99 degree heat burns everthing up during the sumer, so I have a 10ft x 20ft portable car port and a 26ft x 42ft "hoop house" 12 ft high. We are expecting 38 degrees tonight and 35 degrees tomorrow night. So I have everything buttoned up with tarps. I have also tented my fruit bearing tomatoes and placed drop lights with 75 watt bulds burning under the tents.  I also have a kerosene torpedo heater with a thermostat switch, I will fire up tomorrow and set the thermostat at 50 degrees for tomorrow night.

A number of root crops do not due well  (carrots being one) I will be building some 4ft x 4ft "grow boxes built from 2" x 6" lumber for these grow boxes for root vegtables.  These will be filled with a mix of sand and compost and watered with "fish water".  I am doing well propagating fig plants from cuttings. 

  

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