Aquaponic Gardening

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I'm starting this in hopes, that if you have a little tip or trick, that doesn't seem 'big' enough to have it's own can post it here.

Hopefully, this won't get bogged down by too many 'casual'  responses.


OK, let's see your tips and tricks :-)




    When I clean my swirl filter or bio-filters out, I like to use the water on my citrus trees and other things growing in dirt. Scoopping it out with a small bucket gets to be a pain quickly.

   So I started to use a pump. Holding the house and moving  around for small plants is's another story for the trees.

   I use a 'no moving parts' sprinkler...that way, the solids can pass through it.  (No pun intended)



   Sometimes the spray goes further then I want. So now I have a very short section of hose between the pump and the valve ( in the picture below) and a longer hose going to the sprayer.

   I can reduce or enlarge the spray pattern, simply by opening/closing  the by-pass. Any extra sprays back into the tank, that I'm trying to drain.






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I have a similar but slightly different set of hole saws. I'll try one of those and see what happens. Did you notice whether or not the speed of the drill made any difference? I'm also using the DOW blue board material from Home Depot. Thanks for your help... I really like this tips and tricks section.

Sylvia Bernstein said:

JD, I really recommend you look into these hole cutters that attach to your drill. Back in my hydro days, and hopefully soon in my AP days, I've drilled hundreds of raft holes using these bad boys. They work like a charm - you can do about 10 holes a minute.

JD Sawyer said:
I did try heating my box cutter blade and that helped a little and I've definitely heard of people making hot wire cutters for cutting the foam so that would probably work, but admittedly, I'm not sure how to do it. The straight cuts aren't a problem, it's the holes. I also want something that is relatively easy to perform multiple times over.

JD, you mentioned running your drill/holesaw backwards for plastics.....I do the same with the styrofoam. I seem to get a cleaner cut.
The Blue board will dull hole saws in time I've noticed and I would recommend cutting out in the open air and where you don't mind the bits of foam dust or where you can easily sweep them up. First time I cut holes in foam, I got in trouble for the mess I made inside.

I usually try to do cutting and stuff away from the system so that the dust doesn't wind up in my water. And then after I've gotten the majority of the chunks and dust swept away from the piece I'm working on, I can use the hose to wash away the rest of the dust off the raft.

Granted, I've not done a whole raft system, just a few test rafts that I had put in my sump tank. I wasn't impressed by the results but I probably didn't give it a very fair trial.
Here is a tip that has made connecting up drain lines a bit easier for me. I used rubber couplers to give me more wiggle room and to be able to re-configure things if need be.
Did I already say this some where?
instead of windex or any soap product to insert pipes into uniseals,
Try rubbing alcohol. I know AES catalog says windex but they are probably figuring that people will rinse everything well before fish go in. When I got my first batch of uniseals from them, they actually told me in person that rubbing alcohol would be better since it will evaporate and not leave any soap/detergent residue that might hurt fish.

The thinner the wall of the tank you are plumbing through, the easier it is to push the pipe through the uniseal. If trying to push a pipe through a uniseal that is through a 1/2" plywood and liner, that is really really hard. If the wall of the tank you are pushing through it likely to flex much it can be harder to push. If you can place the uniseals in such a manner that the angle for pushing the pipe through is easy, it will be far better. Trying to push at a bad angle and through a thick material can sometimes mean pulled muscles.

I've found that putting a T on the end of the piece of pipe being pushed through the uniseal gives a farm more comfortable handle to push on though it sometimes gets pushed onto the end of the pipe so hard that it can be tricky to take back off.
3" sewer pipe and 3" schedule 40 plumbing fitting tricks.

The outside of a 3" sewer pipe fitting is often very close to the outside size of normal schedule 40 pipe. So instead of needing an adaptor and pipe to go from one size to the other, I've often been able to glue a schedule 40 fitting over the outside of a sewer pipe fitting. I've also pushed the sewer pipe couplers though a 3" uniseal before.

Examples of where I have used this is the 1 1/2"-3" adaptors glued over the 3" sewer pipe Ts on my drain set up.

I have used the uni-seals too, they are ok. I perfer to use DIY bulkheads instead, they cost about the same, about a dollar for each adapter....and there's a whole lot less 'pushing' going on !

I use a male and female pvc adapters from the electrical dept. These have 'straight' threads and can be screwed all the way against each other. The plmbing adapters have tapered threads and won't screw together. ( the electrical pvc conduit and fittings are the same sizes as the plumbing)

The hole you drill does have to be pretty there is only a small lip on the face of the adapter, where it touches the tank/drum. I use a little silicone on both faces.
Cosmo mentioned using the 3M boat caulking/cement, which is a better choice. Make sure to get the 'quick cure', even it needs 24 hours to cure, The regular, says it needs a week.

If you look at the picture of the barrel(s) in this disscussion can see I used them there.
Beware threaded fittings and bulkheads down in the dirt if your system is near enough to trees to have roots go seeking water. I found that roots were working hard to intrude into my threaded fittings I had below grade on my old sump tank when I pulled it out to replace it.
Contingent on hole size, have you tried using a roto-zip or a dremel with the circular tool? Seems like that might work if it's a 1" or larger diameter hole you need. Speed would probably need to be adjusted down to avoid searing the edges...

JD Sawyer said:
I'd like to know if anyone has good tips on cutting holes in the polystyrene raft sheets. I've tried holes saws and tapered punch out bits that some have recommended and they still chew up the raft and leave lots of little fragments. For straight cuts I use a box cutter or fine jigsaw blade and either of those works pretty well.
I've used these too. They go - almost - all the way through 2" styrofoam insulation board. Then i punch them the rest of the way with a hammer or the heel of my hand. (There is some dust, and stray bits.) The pieces that come out have a flare on one side, and I put them back in any holes that aren't occupied by plants to keep the sunlight and toads out.

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