As the title implies, I'm based in Cape Town - South Africa and I've learned some stuff in the last 7 weeks.
I came across the concept of Aquaponics by accident, when I misread a thread title on the adventure biking forum I frequent. I was skimming the thread titles and thought it said Akrapovics, (a type of after market exhaust). Bike forum
I was hooked at the 1st pic, a single IBC system with towers draining into the back of the GB.
A few posts down was a before and after pic showing a month of growth. Wow
I read the whole thread, 27 pages and decided to try it, as SWAMBO had been suggesting/reminding/encouraging that I make a veg garden just that morning again...
I got 3 pre-cut IBC's from a dude that had a 100 sets and had decided to build a big commercial system.
He was using a continuous flow system so there were no holes in the tanks or beds. But the beds had been cut off at the 200mm mark. I only figured out at that was a bit low later in the build.
This was the site I chose in the backyard
This is the other side of the wall. The bed with the one panel precast wall around it, is the old veg garden I was supposed to resurrect.
The Kids had dumped kitty litter in there so it was actually a toxic waste site.
The site other side showing the radio active zone and prolific weed patch.
I cut down a portion of the wall, dug out and leveled the old veg garden. I used the precast panels to pave "the site"
After a lot more work than I thought, this was what the Grow Bed site looked like after the 1st saturday.
The next weekend I was able to finish off the spike covers, a big chunk of the time.
I also figured out a quick way to black out the tanks and beds without having to paint them. I bought a roll of 300mm DPC. I just taped strips of DPC around the tanks and put them back in their cradles
I also got some of the piping done.
The next day I did the supply line from the sump to the tank. I used the the cracked lid from the IBC to make a SLO.
And also make my next big error, I sized it The SLO and supply line to the beds at 32mm...
I also made some pretty cool inlet sprinklers.
Here is a close up of the inlet sprinklers in action.
Bed 3 - 22-6-2014.jpg
Bed 2 - 22-6-2014
Then after all the activity I had to sit and watch while the chemistry sorted itself out.
To pass the time, not a lot of it, I built a worm bin
Also found a local red wiggler supplier R50 for 200 (US$ 4.65 AUS$ 4.98)
So while passing the rest of the time waiting for the water chem to come right, I got to thinking...
I have a left over IBC well most of one. It's missing the top 200mm.
I was going to use it as a rain water tank but the mozzies would love that.
Decided to add a Deep Water Culture tank to compliment the grow beds.
Figured it would be a nice addition and it will boost the water volume by just under a 1000 liters.
Figured it wouldn't be too much work ... right
There was a last piece of precast wall left adjacent to the beds and I figured it would make a nice platform site for the DWC tank. Sorry for the hazy pic.
Cut the post and removed the panels.
The ground behind it was full of small rocks... Heavy going on the digging
After a quite a bit of digging in that infernal rock infested patch. Sustained by a few beers.
I finally got the 4 precast posts left over from the rest of the wall dug in and leveled as a base for the wall panels that would make up the base.
Had to make that little retaining wall at the back from reclaimed pallet wood because, that is the entry point for the border collie's race track that stretches all the way round the perimeter. She kept smashing soil back into the troughs, she'd come belting through the bushes and slam on anchors when she saw me there.
I was quite chuffed because that means there has been no waste. I reused the whole wall
Had to varnish the planks (ugh I hate painting stuff) because it's not treated wood. Hopefully it'll last a bit.
The panels in place to for the tank base.
Put the tank into position after a bit of a wash.
The fish arrived this weekend after 42 days of fish-less cycling.
They are orechromis mozambicus hybrids.
The problem was one fish blocked a feed to the beds and the other 2 feeds couldn't cope with the extra water so the tank backed up and over flowed.
So this is how far manged to get since early May when I first accidentally crossed paths with Aquaponics
And the plants grew a bit in a month too so I must be doing something right
Nice!!! I made the same mistake with the fingerlings and lost a couple through my SLO. Can I see a picture of the grid you made for your outflow?
Actually I only fleetingly thought of snapping a pic then didn't, I was trying to prevent anymore deaths.
My SLO was a 50mm 90° bend into the lid of one of the IBCs. I heated the end that poked through a cutout in the top of the lid and melted the 2 together. In the final install this lid portion hovered 31mm above the tank bottom. Didn't think anything of it till it started sucking up fish. Hence the urgent need for a grid to fill this gap.
The This is a sketchup representation.
It was a 31mm slice out of an old bucket. I cut grooves all the way round with an angle grinder. When i slipped it under the SLO it fit perfectly. The slo actually sucked down and pinned it in place. The grooves are 2mm wide.
Hope you can do something similar to sort your issue out. I watched closely to make sure the tank did not start backing up because of the restricted flow - all good.
I got my DWC (deep water culture) tank plumbed into the system this weekend, the levels all work and the grow bed siphons seem to be cycling fine still.
This is a pic of the beds this morning (18/8/2014) - It's starting to grow faster than we can eat it. I've cut about 20 salads worth of leaves, using a rate of R20/salad the system has paid back R400 bucks in the few weeks we have been harvesting.
If I factor in the input costs of food and power, the system would have paid itself off in another 9 months shorter once I get the Tomatoes and bell peppers going in the DWC tank - even shorter when we can chow down on a fish or 2.
Also included a pic of the SLO pickup I made for the DWC tank. Made it from an old bucket. I also managed to re-use most of the piping that got "wasted" when I had to upgrade the supply line to 50mm
and from underneath
Now just to finish the raft, have everything I need now just need time. I have all the materials I need to finish the raft just need to apportion the time. Speaking of which I'm gonna go and paint the underside of that translucent sheet black to keep the sun out of the DWC tank.
Fixed the deck to the float
DWC - Raft underside
The top side
and dropped it in the tank. Worked well.
Then I cut a few slices of the Neoprene noodle I skollied from Sondor plastics. They gave it to me for free because they didn't have the colour I asked for.
The inserts were really easy to make. Just slice a disk off then make a slice in to the center. I did make the ones for the tomatoes a bit taller for more support.
DWC - Tomatoes
They're ready to get inserted
This is what it look like by the end of the day
DWC - Plants going in
DWC the days effort
Here's a closeup
My daughter had a cooking thing for school and decided to do Leek Chicken... at the last minute of course.
Then went to the shop to get the parts for the concoction, she came back in a huff with a fair amount of stomping to say they didn't have leeks.
It was so cool to say there were leeks in the AP.
She did chirp that they might still have some pee in them, but being between the bottle and the label, she did agreed to accept my humble contribution.
Back to the system, well close..
I've been quite busy at work so not a lot of time to do much else, I'm the HR dude and times are tough so we all know what that means.
Anyway, a mate of mine on the bike forum is going nuts buying stuff to build his own AP system. He posted that he had bought some of those peat-moss pellet jobbies.
I commented on the coolness of the acquisition and that I didn't know we could get them in South Africa. Till then I'd only seen them on overseas forums.
Next thing he sent me some in the post - man I was stoked, when the post office slip arrived I even got up early to go get 'em.
I planted some pimento pepper seed and some bell peppers seeds - Collected from actual peppers.
Will be interested to see if anything sprouts.
Not sure if the stuff we get in the shops is genetically engineered to the point where the seeds are sterile is that possible??
It been 12 days since my last confession.
I've been doing snippets of work, a few minutes here a few minutes there.
Today I finished off the great Tomato trellis.
It's made from old electrical conduit I salvaged.
It's basically 2 frames with some overhead struts.
I'm not sure if the Heinz tomato's I have are the vine type or the bush type.
Either way it's a bit like what Adam said to Eve the 1st time "Stand back girl, not sure how big this thing's gonna get"
Some of the research pics I saw had plants growing round the green house roof.
Across the back frame, I have Twine stretched across and the plants are secured to that.