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.


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What could be more pricy is making mistakes that cost you a lot of money over the long haul. When you are dealing with a greenhouse, and what it takes to control the environment in a northern climate such that life can thrive in it, small decisions make large differences.

A commercial size greenhouse comes with big-time energy considerations. Food for thought anyway.

Cliff Dillon said:

I am planning on heating the water.  I had hoped that would be enough to heat the air but I wasn't sure.  I am not sure what kind of fish I will be raising.  I was thinking of tilapia or trout.  I will be using common gold fish for my test run with the barrels.  Is there any reason I couldn't raise more than one type of fish in seperate tanks on the same system?


  I did check out Nelson & Pade  The workshop is really pricey.  They want $995 for a 3 day workshop.  That's a little out of my range right now.   

Vlad, I live in Louisiana and the only way I ave heard of most people eating a carp is in 'carp balls" I have not tried that fish in any form but might if there was a way to make it palatable. The main complaint I heard of was the interstitial bones.


Well I can't say I have ever tried Asian Carp.  I have nothing against it and wouldn't be against it as a food source.  That being said, I thing I would prefer to raise catfish.  I know my family will eat catfish.  I can't say the same about the carp.

My greenhouse is 45' x 17'.  It will not be used commercially.  I described it as a commercial greenhouse referring only to its size.  I bought it used from a local guy going out of business and got it for next to nothing.  I couldn't pass it up being the avid gardener that I am.  That being said I wasn't sure what to do with such a big space.  Since I have always enjoyed gardening and I used to raise fish when I was younger, I decided to combine the two hobbies and see what happens.  This is really just an experiment for me.  If it works and I can do it inexpensively I may eventually expand it and try and turn it into a business but for now it is a hobby and to raise food for the family. 

Jonathan, I hear what your saying about mistakes can be costly and I don't disagree with you.  However I really can't afford $1000 for a workshop for a hobby.  I know I will make mistakes.  I expect that.  Thats how we learn.  That being said I am doing as much research as I can and speaking with as many experience people as I can to try and avoid the big costly mistakes.  Thats why I am hear on the forum. 

As far as heating the greenhouse, I have thought about walling off half the greenhouse.  LEaving one half a cold house and heating the other to try and keep costs down.  I have also been looking into heating the house using hot compost, rocket heaters, solar ect.  I was hoping some kind of combination of the above along with the heated water from the aquaponics would suffice and I would not have to install expensive heaters or deal with the expensive heating bills. 

To be honest, I haven't really considered carp. I'm not against the idea. And I'm all for losing government propaganda! I've spend the last couple years of my life forgetting everything I've ever learned from "the cultural norm."

Vlad Jovanovic said:

Yeah, yeah I know...but "you Americans" (un-called for European snottiness I know   should really, objectively and honestly re-evaluate Carp. Forget all the government propaganda you've been raised on...invasive species, garbage fish, and all that...I grew up in the States and thought all that stuff as well...Until I actually tried Carp. It is absolutely no better, nor any worse tasting than say, tilapia. and like anything else, largely depends on who cooked it, and how it was cooked.

They'll do well at very low temps (kinda like trout), yet high tilapia type temps don't phase them either...yeah i know that psychologically it might be a difficult barrier to overcome (kind of like legalizing marijuana after all those decades of zero tolerance), but if you think about it (in AP terms) rationally and objectively (and actually bother to taste a decently prepared piece of carp) certain species of carp seem like a  very, very attractive temperate climate AP species...

Alex is right. Heating water is generally easier and cheaper than cooling it.

@Pat, there are many good carp recipes out there, (drunken carp being one of the better ones that I've tried) and yup, there is a definitely a certain way to fillet them so that you don't have to deal with the bones as much while eating. But, nothing that can't be learned. (Hehe...think about what eating the Thanksgiving turkey would be like if the person doing the carving, just cut it up the same way you would a meatloaf :)...

@Alex, if cultural de-programming has only taken you a couple of years, you've probably got most of us beat by a mile :)

@Cliff, I think you're on to a good idea with creating a "green-house within a greenhouse" thing and then heating that space. I have similar such spaces in my GH that I heat using Metal Halide bulbs. This obviously has the added benefit of those young plants some extra light for vegetative growth. Since as well as being cold in the winter, the days are also really short, so using the heat and light from MH has work out really well for me so far in the seedling troughs.

I can't say as I've had carp, either, but I do have 3000 growing out in the tank right now, and picking up more on Friday. Hey, you know what they say, "10 million china-men can't be Wong".

But I did find a decent carp recipe:

1.) Place the Carp (seasoned with butter and garlic) on a cedar plank. 
2.) Cook the cedar plank Carp on your BBQ for about 10 minutes so it gets a nice smokey flavor. 
3.) Once the Carp is cooked, throw it away and eat the wood plank.

I get your joke, but those cedar planks make for a great tasting meal.  There are also cedar wraps for about a buck each. The planks are reusable. 

I'm often guilty of hijacking, so I better say something on topic.  I did not see anyone mention that a 3/4" media bed will filter the solids.  Sure a raft bed will provide nitrification, but the roots will get mucked up if the solids are not removed. 

Jon Parr said:

I can't say as I've had carp, either, but I do have 3000 growing out in the tank right now, and picking up more on Friday. Hey, you know what they say, "10 million china-men can't be Wong".

But I did find a decent carp recipe:

1.) Place the Carp (seasoned with butter and garlic) on a cedar plank. 
2.) Cook the cedar plank Carp on your BBQ for about 10 minutes so it gets a nice smokey flavor. 
3.) Once the Carp is cooked, throw it away and eat the wood plank.

i've got yellow perch and tilapia doing well in my basement.. the blue's have spawned a couple of times with water at 62..(water is now at 58f, niles and blues doing fine) even with 140 yellow perch a few babies made it to the sump, but the rest became food for the yp..(one of my intentions!).. i've got a few bluegill in the tank as well, but they've been slow growers.. i attribute that to the stock i purchased..

yellow perch will handle the cold and keep feeding..and the tilapia still graze on quite a bit of duckweed

i'd close off the aquaponics part of the greenhouse for the winter to minimize the area you will have to heat (and double panel the walls if possible)



Well I got my first sytem up and running.  IT is a small ebb and flow Chop system.  It is currently cycling fishless and has been for a little over a  week.  It has been working flawlessly until last night.  One of my bell siphons is failing to shut off and I am not sure why.  It was working fine last week.  The suction is not breaking.  I tried making the opening at the base of the siphon larger and I added an air tube on the side.  The suction starts to break.  You can hear the air enter the siphon.  It looses pressure and starts to break but the water doesn't stop flowing out completely.  The water flow drops to a trickle but keeps running preventing the tank from refilling.  Any suggestions??  Thanks

Ahh...the joys of siphons...Sorry I can't help you much there...other than a generic answer like "increase, or play around with" flow...I abandoned the siphon idea after playing with some and chose a timed flood and drain deal with standpipes. (Seemed much more reliable to my particular set and setting). I'm sure someone else will chime in with something a bit more useful)...

Nice to hear that you got your system built Cliff! Congrats!

Put a small cup or cap under the opening of the snorkel tube. Google 'bigelow brook siphon'. I have gotten siphons to work for a couple months at a time, but they always eventually require adjusting. Very annoying! I prefer constant flood or timed f&d.
Ditto. For the bells I still employ, I drill a drain hole in the standpipe, and time my pumps as well. This gives me a proper bell siphon when it is working, and timed flood and drain regardless. The only negative thing is that pumps tend to need more maintenance when timed (slime grows a little faster, snails have time to cruise into the impeller, etc)

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