Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

Hey Gang!  Thought I'd share my setup with you.  It's not pretty but it works.  I chose to enter aquaponics to keep my water change bill down as I was 'fish sitting' this winter.  My neighbor needed somewhere to keep his fish after he closed his pond so I agreed, seeing as I had a 30 gal tank with almost no residents.  I never saw more than 10 goldfish at a time so I figured I was good. Not so.  His water was so full of algae that I never saw all 60 at once!  That put me into emergency mode and I dragged my 55 gallon rainwater barrel into the basement and set up a filter with powerhead. 

After the two tanks cycled I realized that I'd have to do water changes very often to keep nitrates down.  Then I thought about aquaponics!  I'd seen the idea before, but never really considered it because an outdoor setup around these parts would only run for maybe 4 or 5 months out of the year before freeze up.  I did have a light stand in the basement with the barrel though.  So I chose the raft system simply because I had rafts on hand from messing around with hydroponics last year.  I grew lots of lettuce, but didn't like flushing old nutrient down the drain.  Now I don't have to worry!  I built the GB out of lumber with construction poly as a liner, ran some plumbing from the barrel to the GB, found an off season pond pump at the local home improvement box store (75% off!) and rigged it up to pump back into the FT.  Drilled lots of holes in foam to fit pudding containers I drilled more holes in and filled them with gravel, plopped them into the holes in the foam and plunked seedlings into them!  Confused yet?  I am.  Plugged in pump and watched!

Oh yeah, almost forgot.  To keep nitrates down in the 30 gal fish tank, I used some previous experience with aquatic plants to handle that.  4 weeks ago all my aquatic plants in there were just sprigs, except for the sword plant, but it's grown alot too.  I mixed up my own fert (micronutrients, P, K) so that the limiting nutrient would be nitrogen, and so far so good.  Only have hard scale algae at present, and that's very slow growing.  I'm not sure if I need the CO2 injection with so many fish.

Nitrate is almost unreadable for a few weeks now in both tanks.  It was quite scary high before the plants got going. 

Anyway, here's some pics for it all to make sense!

Here's an overview of basement system:

Lettuce view:

30 gal tank upstairs at feeding time!

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The grow bed wouldn't be higher than my barrel, so about 8 feet to the top of the grow bed from the top of the water level in the barrel if it stays constant.  Currently I'm using 160 watts of light power 16 hours per day.  Thank goodness my province has the lowest electricity rates in all of North America.
Just think, you will be able to run more grow bed outdoors and not need to add any more lighting and get way more growth.

Mr. Sukhbir I do not know which University you attended but the golden rule is "look before you leap "

Harold Sukhbir said:

Yes you're right about the difference between coal and charcoal. The article was not appropriate for discussion. Research has shown that wood burning can increase methylmercury in fish fivefold at toxic levels. Even though the mercury released is in small quantity the effect comes from biomagnification as it progresses up the food chain. Since AP has a similar Eco-system as nature I'm wondering if it will have the same effect.See these


Ok, here's an update... finally!  Today I did a little New Years cleaning and yanked the few spindly old lettuce plants.  Up came hordes of redworms and springtails in the roots.  That's a good thing!  No evidence of fish gack gumming up the space between charcoal bits.

I have to admit a certain degree of neglect to the plants.  Half the grow bed is a carpet of moss.  Moss!  It actually looks pretty cool.  I read about someone here using peas under lights so I thought what the heck and tossed 3 pea seeds into the bed at one end.  I've got basil and lettuce seeds I'm about to start too.  I also am doing an experiment with a plant (that I don't know the name of...) that did really well in just plain water, so now it's going in the GB to see what it does.

It's time for new bulbs in the light fixtures, they're all well over a year old.  Way past time.

Still saving up for a bag of clay balls to cover the charcoal with.

Wanted to post a few pictures but Windows is causing issues...

Here's a picture of my moss collection!  At least 3 different kinds of moss including spagnum, but not sure about the other two.  It's grown best where I didn't have any plants.  Think I need more light?  

 Anyone have any idea if the moss has the ability to clean the water like our regular plants do?  I'm thinking it's a reduced ability as it has no real root system.  I'm planning on keeping a small patch and filling in the rest with plants again.

Hum, maybe you can use some of what you take out to start a patch of moss graphiti somewhere

Moss Graphiti google search

I think it looks really cool by the way.

Yea, probably need more light.  And while I'm sure moss uses some nutrients, It probably doesn't use a lot and definitely not like some fast growing greens or greedy veggies.

Hey Paul cool stuff. Moss is better than algae:) 

That Moss Graphiti is pretty cool!

My pump packed it in today.  It's running but doesn't provide enough flow to reliably run the autosiphon.  I have picked up a new pump but have to buy some plumbing bits to finish the job.  Hope everything is ok until tomorrow after work.

Pump is installed and plumbed.  Used 3/4" pipe and fittings I had on hand from making my Affnan auto-siphon.  The pump is much louder than the old one.  It's almost bordering on ridiculous. It really wouldn't matter outside but it's in the basement under my bed!  Maybe it's the white noise I've been looking for so little things around the house don't wake me.

Affnan also gave me an idea that I used on the auto-siphon output.  For the last two years whenever it cycled the splashing noise was quite loud.  So I got to watching his videos and noticed one pipe design he tried had holes drilled through it.  I tried it out and it's awesome!!! I can't even tell when my setup is cycling when I'm standing right beside it!  I'm thrilled with that.  I don't even have it vertical yet as it's not cut to length yet.  I don't even have all the holes drilled.  Maybe I don't need any more than I have.  Seems to work just fine.

If it works, then it works. (about the siphon silencer that is)

As to the noisy pump, that is generally not such a good sign.  Make sure it isn't just vibrating against something that is amplifying the sound.  My experience is that loud pumps are rarely as energy efficient or long lasting as their quiet counterparts.  Excessive noise is usually a sign of something not running as smooth as I'd like.

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