Aquaponic Gardening

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Hey all, im in the process of building my system which consists of, 200 gal of fish tank, 120 gal sump tank, 4x8' growbed, 88 ft of 5" nft channels folowing that, 1 drip bucket for tomatoes or green tea tree, and a 4 tier e+f seedling system.  Im about 3 days out from completing as im waiting for some supplies to come in to from local hydro store.  Ill share the pics that i have so far and will keep everyone updated as the system progresses. Im planning on growing tilapia in this system. There is one window in the room for supplemental light; for the rest of the plant lighting, i will have 1 1000W dimmable HID on a light mover, 1 400W dimmable HID on a light mover, and some T5 single strip lights for more supplemental lighting. The last picture shows that all the sides r zippered and velcro-ed for roll up walls (needed in order to plant and harvest nft channels.  Thanks for checking my future system; ill update when i put in the nft channels going vert.up the walls.  :)   Also any suggestions are always gr8!


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Hi AJ Grottke

Great system, huge for indoor! and utilizing maximum space with those verticals and all in one room? Waiting to see what the finished product looks like, so best of luck, and keep posting.

I am also adding another 4'x8' grow bed in the adjacent room and 4 2'x4' trays stacked on shelves, all to be attached to this system.    This pics are from a week ago, will put up more pics once im finished.  I have had 4/6 uniseals as well as the pre-built drains on the stock tanks leak on me.  Its been taking while for me to get those glued up.  It could be operator (me) error with the uniseals, but i will defiantly do it with bulkhead fittings in the future, b/c i have never had a problem with those.
Really impressed with your creative effort and presentation, great going so far.
every thing looks great, do you have any ventalation to get rid of heat and humity?  I origially had a water cooled light but it did not work out due to high algee, but have since switched to air cooled tubes. I had a major humity problem in my house, I fixed with small 300 CFM vent fan that I mounted high above the garden.  I am running 2 400s, that 1000 of yours is going to get hot.  You also need to be able to adjust the light up and down.  Have you thought about a area with some flouresents to start seeds and clones?

regarding your bulkhead plans....I tried putting a couple resivors together with some bulkheads and found them to be very unforgiving for any kind of solid connections.  I have had some success using them with flexiable hoses but solid conections between large soild tanks I have decided they are a no go for me.  that may be why your uniseals leaked they may have had some type side load put on them

nice looking setup.

Thanks Mitch


as to humidity and temp.. i try to take one thing at a time. i have 4 years of indoor growing experience (my biggest system had about 15 lights) so i know about those issues. 1 thing i have learned is to add things as u need them.  I have ran this setup with lights on and temps are ok especially since all my ballast are dim-able (the 1000W can be run at 500 or 750W if temps are to high.)  Also i have a large volume of water than can take some heat as the normal water temp is 60 F.  I will not need to adjust my lights height as i am only growing basil on a perpetual harvest ie. they will always be the same height, and i put them in when they are already 4 weeks old, harvesting and planting every week.  But either way i have fans, dehumidifiers,  & portable air-conditioners all lined up if/when i need them.  As to starting seeds, i have a 4 shelf e+f system w/ a 2x4' tray on each shelf.  I am almost done constructing everything.  Right now i am trying to get the flows right for my nft channels.  I have one channel that inst draining well because the drain tube is kind of a long distance. Im probably going to take it out, but i will fiddle with it before i remove it.  For CO2 the fish will put out alot, and i will add worm bins and mushrooms on any of the extra floor space i have.  This whole system is kind of experimental if you would, so it is taking me a little bit to work out some odd kinks.

sounds like you got it well thought out, you might try in one of your beds using the clay balls in pots if you are going to be rotating through plants like that you could almost have like a raft style where every week you could harvest a couple of rows of pots and push the next ones through in a rotation, best of luck can't wait to see some plants going in it


JR, thanks for your input, that is pretty much what im doing.  Im using 3.75" net pots, for all my plants even in the e+f trays.  But i will still have hydroton in the bed around each net pot to increase mineralization, bio-filtration, and root zone space; also i am using 3 plants per square foot for my basil, and about 1.5 plants per square foot (8" spacing) for everything else. i plan to move the basil from the shelving e+f (4 weeks of growth) to the 4'x8' e+f where they will go through 2 harvests over an 8 week period. The double harvest will minimize seed use, use the large root mass to grow qiucker than starter from seed again, and give me time to start seed for my NFT channels and my other 4'x8' e+f tray (which isnt pictured)  I didnt end up having to take out that NFT channel, i just slowed the flow down and it worked out :)
that sounds very smart, that is going to be one of my biggest challeges is just getting the timming down of the plant rotation.  I am growing a buch of differnt stuff and plan on putting overflows outside througout the summer to get my timming down pat
Timing is gr8, but i dont find it to be essential to growing food for personal use; for my own food i kind of just go with things.  But as to selling produce, timing is paramount to success. Farmers markets, restaurants, and coops need things on weekly schedule and as a grower you dont want to waste any time which reduces efficiency and output.

I wouldn't be surprised if you were even able to squeeze a third or fourth harvest out of your basil once your system matures, as long as you don't cut it down more than 2/3 of the way each harvest.  


If you can get away with selling basil leaves (and not stems) your plants will regrow incredibly quickly.  Of course, it's more labor intensive and produces less weight to harvest just the leaves.


BTW, I still have a packet of Blue Spice Basil for you two if you are at all interested...  :)

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