Aquaponic Gardening

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Hi all! I'm from Portugal (not intending to going anywhere :P )

I'm starting out with "sorry!" big post... and it will grow as long as I have time and questions...

I live in the country side, I have some land to plant and grow all kind of vegetables, cereals, fruits,etc
but I came across a back problem on my payed job and I struggle to use the soil (and a good one it is...)

most of the vegetables that I want to grow (and eat) are hard to maintain since the weeds are strong here... I don't like to use any herbicides of pesticides but weeds are a pain to control...
my payed job does not leave much time to take care of the land everyday so I'm turning to aquaponics as a backup. I will still use the soil for bigger things but I won't need to care as much for the weeds on those crops.

I'm in the way of starting a small/medium aquaponics system (hopefully a modular one).

I need some information from more experienced aquaponists from around the world in order to reduce the problems, fish kills and so on.

I'm yet to add the sizes and pipes but I have a layout ready:


the growbeds are cut in half blue barrels (100Lt each 16 on a first phase - not all of them planted as the system needs to grow the bacteria and so on)

for a sump its a 1000Lt IBC
as for fish tanks I have more than one since adding them later would make have to change to many things around, so I'm starting with more fish tanks than I need (later on I will need only another sump to add more growbeds)

I'm going to make a radial flow filter with a 160Lt barrel

then a bio-filter with a 200LT barrel (since I'm not able to find a commercial bio-filter media locally. I'm going to fill it with leca (same as the grow beds)

since the leca won't swirl around much in the filter, I may have to add a couple of aquarium wave makers in order to force the leca around (plus some air stones in the filter)

for pumps: I want a 2 pump system (if one fails... the system goes on until replacement) and the DC backup water and air pumps (for the fish to survive :D)

at this stage I'm calculating a minimal 3300Lt/h pump about 4600Lt/h ideal (with extra oomph for system evolution)

the pumps would be in the sump tank (lower one on the system) as the example:

the fish tanks will drain to the radial filter then bio-filter then sump (all from gravity I hope)


I'm planning to have a bell siphon (with breather tube) for each growbed (I know it will be a pain to have them all working right but... its truly simpler on the build)

the outlets from the growbeds will be 1" draining into a half-cut pipe and then either directly to the sump or to the fish-tanks (actually, its a ready made rainfall collector for catching rainwater from the roofs) 

- could anyone tell me, is it better to drain into the fish tanks or to the sump? on the build side is just about the same maybe some differences but noting much)

the fish tanks drain/radial flow/bio-filter are 1-1/2" pipe (50mm) is is to little? 2" seems a bit to much and the uniseals I could get were 1-1/2" ones.

I'm hoping I can avoid 90º curves on all the pipes (except the siphons) in order to reduce the friction and optimize the flow.

for the output from the pumps I'm planning to use 1" poly tubing for the fish tanks and the main line of the grow beds (with all the valves needed)
then for the growbeds I will take taps for every growbed with a valve on each to control the flow on every growbed.

the media for the growbeds would be Leca also...
and I have the Sera aqua test kit on the way to me.

for fish I will be starting out with goldfish right after my system cycles and stabilizes but I would like to have some tilapia, wide mouth sea bass. maybe trout (depending on the temperature I get in the water since tilapia and trout are just about in the opposite temperature ranges...)

the space I have for the the system is not a greenhouse. its cosy and comfortable but it lacks some shelter (being planned at the same time as the system since the wood comes from the same place)
I still need to clean it out since its been storage for roof tiles and some bricks, etc.

I need opinions on what I'm planning wrong in order to correct it before its to late.

I have a "stupid" budget since I want this made and I like doing it. tools are not a problem (some parts are) money could be a issue... I'm about to loose my job since my back does not let me work like my boss wants (and I can't do more than I'm doing now, and even sometimes I get worse because I did something I should not have done at work...)

I'm tired of heavily poisoned (pesticides) vegetables from the supermarket and I'm hopping to be able to have some fresh vegetables all year long (maybe some artificial lighting later on)...

for now this is just about what I have. I'm trying to plan all parts of the system in a way that I could share and re-use on other systems later so as I go along I'll try to post the most information I could to help others (I don't care if the information is not perfect. that is a problem we all have to figure out by ourselves and adapt to our circumstances.)

I car get water hyacinths, 'salvinia' and duckweed.

I want to grow the fish food since the commercial ones have fish flour, chicken and some other stuff that I don't want to remotely be near... I might have "some" commercial feeding around for the start and the panic times but... not the main diet.

btw, if anyone feels that can help. hop on! you can reply to "just one" of my questions. all information is a must at any time :D


until my next 200 page post, see you around :D

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most of the parts needed for the system will be were in 2 weeks! the main hardware of course :D
the drain pipes are almost counted to order, some parts for the feed line are being selected...

the roof over the system should not take me much to get build, but then I have a few other things to build at the same time...

I'm going to really have some killer vacation in 2 weeks! I'm getting things started! :D

I'm going for 30% to 40% leca joined with 60% to 70% "river rock".

the rock I'm finding at better prices is man-made from quartz and silica. its sold as river rock but it is a sub-product from making glass or something like that. I can't even find the actual process to make that rock. I only know that its based on quartz & silica "sands" processed.

after production it is rolled around in big tumblers so it gets round and smooth(er).

do anyone understood the "rock" I'm writing about?

I've been reading about sand grow beds... I might to for a mid-term. I can get a "sand" raging from 2 to 5mm sizes.

its used on filling the empty space between the tube and soil when well drilling.

I have a bunch of it to test it out for PH problems and after that I'll decide if I will use it for some grow beds,

I will have some rock/leca beds anyway... at least for some more "permanent" plants on the system, since a rock GB should be easier to clean...

my permanent plant should be some grape plants providing some shade to the fish tanks.

the sump should be finished next week. painting the walls around the system is an ongoing process and will probably be still incomplete my the end of the week (I have a day job...)

the roof over the system is scheduled to about 4th August and will take some time, as long as my back allows me... (maybe it will take one week to fully build it)

the materials for the roof should be all delivered before I start my vacations so I'll probably prepare must of the work by the end of the day when I come from my day job.

I have a tight schedule to have some things done just before the roof... I'm might seem pessimistic but, by the way this is going... I'm not starting the roof in another 2 or 3 weeks... :(

Congratulations on breaking ground! That's wonderful that you're seeing your vision materialize. Love seeing the pix.

Hi!

"all" the materials for the roof and barrel support are here ready for workings! today I got caught by the rain but managed to finish pressure washing the walls to get them painted! still need some work, some cracks should be covered... today did not fix the cracks since the rain would spoil the work.

I have no new photos. I can't take now and its still raining... maybe tomorrow before starting on the paint job (weather conditions this as well...)

I did find the time to take into consideration some details on the system so I've spaced it out more in order to be more comfortable working on it. here's an image:

some details are still to be added but are taken into consideration :) (some of them are on paper notes like I always do. computers do fail sometimes...)

just for fun pictures: I've been playing around with some bees that come here to get a sip of water, they are abnormally calm and don't care/bother if I'm around or almost touching them :D

and here, about to take off. a wasp got there to drink some water either, they seem to dislike the wasp and quickly flew away :D

I don't blame them. I don't like wasps either...

more about this tomorrow (I hope)



Ms. R. said:

Congratulations on breaking ground! That's wonderful that you're seeing your vision materialize. Love seeing the pix.

Hi all!

photos taken today! work still ongoing :D

materials:

the finished sump:

it will take about 2400 liters of water (full capacity) I probably won't need as much but then, its nice to have a bigger buffer and it costs about the same (man hours) to build a little bit bigger.

with this I can expand the system with no problems of running out of sump

walls before:

after the first diluted coat of paint:

tomorrow I'll have the paint finished, will be filling the hole around the sump back with dirt, and starting on the roofs

some day (later) I'll replace the windows from that side of the house, those are a wreck but I can't take them out since it rains at least once a week... during the summer.... damn climate changes :(

more tomorrow :D

Hi!

photos from yesterday finished paint job. today I did not take any new photos but I've started the hard constructions part.

the hole around the sump is covered up (finally!) some other details are done (more on those tomorrow) and hopefully by the end of the day tomorrow I'll be placing the roof on the structure! :D

I can't wait to see it done. and I'm really tired! I only did a small cut on a finger... by now I normally have some more cuts and bruises...

the photo:

if I find the time, I'll take some photos of the roof structure tomorrow.until then ;)

le photo!

but I only took it at night with a projector (that I use when I need to work night time)... tomorrow I could get near the end of the roof. now its simple since its mostly done :P

can't wait to start on the system itself!

until tomorrow! :)

Back,

I got distracted and only took some photos at night again...

I've got the polycarbonate sheets installed and tomorrow I'll install the metal sheets on the fishtanks side.

I've got a 10cm mistake on one of the supports and I'll have to fix-it tomorrow. somehow I got it off-level :P

and the woops :P

I'm way past bed-time! tomorrow I'll get the roof finished and I'll try to fix some details before I'm "free" for the system itself.

at least now I can work even if it rains :D

the other details I have to fix around the house is mainly because of rain... old house need maintenance...

good night!

Hi!

the roof is done! tomorrow I'll just have to finish some details to prevent "any" water to go where I don't want to :)

pic:

I took this one with daylight! but before I finished the last metal sheet...

at least now I can start working on the system even if it rains :D

during next week I'll install the lighting for maintenance/caring/using the system before I get the growbeds in the way and make the job hard... plus, I could use them to work on the system when I come from work at the end of the day :D

my father likes the look of the fresh paint on the walls so he is wondering on painting the rest of the house :)

I will even help with that! the kitchen (recent construction) is simple to paint. the rest of the house needs some serious work so I know that is for the next year. we still have lots of work around the house...

tomorrow I will probably skip the photos but sunday I could have something to show :D

Sleep time!

I'd swear you have a team of people working with you, judging by how fast a job you are doing. Great work.

Btw, it's amazing that the bees by you are so calm!

Hi :D

its a team allright. I plan, I buy, I prepare, I start, my father helps out sometimes, my brother-in-law helps out sometimes, my mother helps out sometimes :P

I can't do all this alone. the heavy lifting I get help. the metal sheets on the roof are 30Kg each so I need help to place them. the woodwork is mostly done by 2 persons. distributed weight makes this possible :D

my back acted up last night when I was on the ladder. not doing any weight lifting. just a bad position...

this roof took 1 week for about 12H of work a day, 1 painkiller, 2 "big" mistakes (corrected easily) and will accommodate my aquaponics system :D

this bees are surely calm! I intend to build 2 top bar hives and try to populate them with this honey bees. I still have to study about that some more...

my to-do list is long...:

- top bar hive

- black solider fly composter box

- aquaponics system

- more paint on the house

- electric distribution on the house (unfinished on half of it. I was remaking it all since it is really outdated and even dangerous on most parts...)

- water well wood house (took the lazy way & bought one pre-built for that :P )

- the water heating system needs more parts (electronic temperature sensors and "intelligent" control - heat pump and maybe solar collector)

- photovoltaic panels to minimize the power consumption of the system and/or some other parts if the house

- pool sand filter (similar to the system filters :D)

- have time for myself, but I like to make most of this things...

- list goes on :)

Ms. R. said:

I'd swear you have a team of people working with you, judging by how fast a job you are doing. Great work.

Btw, it's amazing that the bees by you are so calm!

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