Well converting over will be hard on the plants since you would need to dump your nutrients and rinse as much of the salt build up away and flush it all with fresh clean water before re-filling and preparing to cycle up the bio-filter.
What sort of Hydroponic system is it? What will be your bio-filter? How big? How much fish tank?
There is a little more to aquaponics than simply pumping fish tank water through NFT pipes, that usually doesn't work very well and you need to make sure you have enough filtration.
right now i have 3 2'x3'x12" DWC tanks and now am trying a 2'x3'X12" hydro media bed ( kind of an experiment ) and 1 8' NFT tube I will prob. get out of the system. For a bio-filter I was going to try my media bed and if that does not work I have some mechanical filters from some old aquarium if i need to clean it a little more. and i will probably use a 55gal tank. but any suggestions would be appreciated as to tank size.
I understand that it is not just a fish-tank and some tubes, that's why I am am asking some questions as to what the switch would take. As i have found very little that talks about the conversion.
I just was wondering if the plants will stay alive for the time it takes the system to cycle?
got any pictures of the plants as they are now?
A 55 gallon tank is just barely big enough to grow out edible size fish but would be just fine for smaller ornamental fish so it depends on what your goals are for the system.
As for the 2' by 3' by 12 inch deep media bed, that will make a nice filter but only for a limited amount of fish. The rule of thumb for getting started is that 1 fish that could grow out to edible size per cubic foot of media bed. So six fish that might grow out to edible size could be supported with that. You might want to read the rules of thumb section if you haven't already http://aquaponicscommunity.com/page/aquaponic-gardening-rules-of
As to how to go about switching over, It might be easier to do that when it's time to change over your plants anyway. If you have lots of big plants going they may suffer some lack of nutrients for a while as you try to get the biofilter cycled up since this can commonly take 3-8 weeks (nitrates start showing up usually within three weeks but the bio-filter isn't usually up to a big fish load for a bit longer.) Trace elements are often supplemented with seaweed extract during this time but if you have some big greedy plants already going strong, they will experience some nitrogen deficiency for a little while after the flush out until the bio-filter is able to convert ammonia into nitrate.
actually that sounds like great advice. Will require a separate pump and altering some plumbing but you could get your media bed cycled up for the aquaponics and only affect those plants while leaving the other parts of the system running as hydro until after the Aquaponics is ready to support them. Then flush them out and hook things all up as Aquaponics later when it is reasonable.
Good Idea Sylvia.
that sounds great Sylvia, a easy way to do it but just never thought about it.
here are a few pics, I don't have room right now for a tank of size that i could grow out any large fish. I hope next year I can look to do some expansion.