Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

I started messing around with tilapia 2006-2010

2010 - the end of july i had to take  my system down

i am currently trying to get a piece of property to set up a scaled system.

basickly i dont have a system that is running

but i want to share my last 4 years with aquaponics

with members.......


Views: 11091

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

The building and setting up of my system took time and I did bit for bit as I was going on.

The changes on the system were miner...breathers in supply line to grow trays.

With the separation of the stones I also.......
First got rid of the +-6 mm stones...then after I had done half of the system I found the stones still to I started from grow tray 1 again and repeated this exercise again but now only keeping what would not go through
Ø19 mm wire fence wire sift I made.

10 1 2008 the first plants in this grow tray

and 21 10 2009 was the last wide tray i made narrow.

Fed this to worms

new narrow tray in place...all the smaller stones i used on my pathways between my grow trays...did not to move them to far..worked well with keeping clean

In my system I did not have any solid removal before going into my grow trays and the bigger stones improved the filter/grow trays with better flow less maintanance..... important

I also had to add plastic baskets in my grow trays so that I could catch most of the solids coming through.
I found in my system I would change the outflow into grow trays...if I do again.....I had the problem of the furthered point becoming the collection point of all solids.
On this end I did have a maintenance entry so I could flush the solids out...was easy enough but waste of water.

The solids would build up in the pipe and then aventualy flow into grow trays and only doing this on the far end mostly.

the last few months of summer i had a few fish in my dam and with the good temp i used 50 kg of fish food per month.

Feeding twice per day and no ate all I fed them.

some days i would feed 2+ kg of food but my water parameters would not allow for this every day ...

more or less this amount of food has to come out as solids in system.

This was where these baskets helped. From the baskets i would then feed the solids to a worm bed that i only used for fish waste...solids...


With controlling my water level in my system I used a flout switch (rolling ball in housing) but after having problems with accuracy of turning my pump on and off and after buying my second of these flouting switches I changed over to a switch that was not to expensive but worked 100% better...this switch has three rods in the water and with this arrangement it tells the pump to come on when the water level is reached...worked excellent...within mm’s every time... very good investment I made....never had problems again.

With my system evolution little fish, lots of fish, little plants, lots of plants, lots off feeding little feeding I finally got to the point when my system flow did not add enough oxygen to the water in the cycle...I had to get more oxygen into the water...I then added a 110 l air pump with 12 off Ø25mmx100-150 long air stones into my dam. These I spaced equally around the diameter of dam and they all were lying on the bottom of the dam pushing bubbles...
All and everything I talk about on this thread are my experiences and by no means am I insinuating that this was or is a good system, basically my findings with my pilot project.


This was the most fish i ever had in my system

Going through my experience with my pilot project I can never say I had this system under control......

did I have a completely balanced system ever NO...

but I had plants and fish growing happily in an eco system...

why happy...because they ate and looked healthy 

having the experience of living closer to nature...

This in the beginning was a way forward of hopefully making money from aquaculture but....
As I am telling this experience you can see... aquaculture the initial idea....Aquaponics, worms, plants, trees... it branched off in a few directions...and I believe all these small entities that can make up some of your daily running cost are important.
Al these entities became part of my system because of 100% no waste...everything was used recycled. All these plants were grown using my backwash water...not flowing away. The worms in the system breaking down the solids.... The worms in your worm farm making vermicasting...all these and other things that eventually form important links in this chain.

nothing of what i mention here above is new
Only Me thinking and reminding myself.


Keeping records of your system is a must...even going through the worst?
In the beginning I did regular tests of ammonia, nitrites and nitrates.
Then also water hardness, alkalinity the ph and temp.
Did not bother with anything else except oxygen... never had checking meter but I relied on the fish to tell me when they wanted oxygen...only really became a problem towards the end.
Logging these on charts and keeping for record.

Then the photos of my system through the years are very good references...on record I have photos for almost every month throughout this period...2006-2010

I kept my electricity and water readings logged.

Lots of this water was more than i used but because i left tap open and next morning water all over. something that happened often...i was always in a hurry and the closing of the tap ...well slipped my mind a few times.

This is in 2008 the fish I started with...

my fish that had survived the previous year of life and death situations the whole year through...

After this i never bought fingerlings again ....

i left nature to do its fish were happy breeding baby's to sell and me restocking trying sexing and only adding males to the big dam...


fry out of my duckweed sump.kept separate before i introduced in big dam

later i started flouting  a small dam in the big dam...less work and less worry

from here I separated the bigger fish from the smaller

the smaller fish being females i would then try and sell in fingerling size and the fish that i thought would be the males i stocked back into my dam

For all my fry i left it 100% for nature to do what it has too.

I stocked my duckweed sump with 15 biggish tilapia and after the 1st summer i never had to buy any fingerlings.


Love your documentation and records.  And sharing all your tips even when things went wrong (like leaving the water running, I think most all of us have done that.)

Hi Francois,

No wonder things grew in your ecosystem.Even in nature,when conditions degrade from nominal levels toward unfavorable conditions, life fights to live, although it does so in reduced numbers, there is will always be life.   

Francois Lemmer said:

My system was never a balanced or scaled but in all the time I had good plant growth.
My dam held 7000 l water
My grow trays volume was 2912 l.
My duck weed sump could hold 1920 l water
Total water +- 11832 l in system
Grow bed was only 14.8 sq meters.
Now taking these figures and you start doing some calculations then did he get to design a system like that.
Very very green and over keen...a child with a new toy. The big dam I bought having big ideas...wanted to grow tons of fish...
I soon realized that I took a bigger bite than I could chew....and that the budget allowed for.
It was build and that was what I had to start my journey...addiction of Aquaponics
But in short this out of scale system still amazed me with the fish and plants.

This was water going into my makeup tank

This flow i coud speed up if needed


I had a tap to adjust flow of the water into system makeup tank (drum/barrel) and I had a tap for the out flow of the makeup tank. This was where I would add ...calcium...iron...and brewed vermin tea ...



The flow of this water was linked to each pumping cycle so it only flowed every 10 min for 17 minutes
So 17 min filling and 10 minutes to empty.
From out of my makeup tank the water flowed with gravity back into the system.
Before the water flows into the grow trays.
This ensuring the water is mixed before entering the grow trays....



 This is a breather i added later and later started using as my inlet from makeup tank.

The red tap is my control of the flow from my dam.


This is a photo of the other breather on the far side of my pipes i had to add.

 this was also an maintanace tap .....

axis to insides of all your pipes

Hi Harold
Kept as simple as I could
Closed my eyes and gave it a go...
Killed the fires as they popped up....  

Harold Sukhbir said:

Hi Francois,

No wonder things grew in your ecosystem.Even in nature,when conditions degrade from nominal levels toward unfavorable conditions, life fights to live, although it does so in reduced numbers, there is will always be life.   

The growing of peppers in my system was good and baddddd...

this was back in 2008

I only had a few plants and they did well

Then 2009 i had good and bad growth

Then the bad


All these pepper plants ended worm food

This was some type of chinese cabbage

grew well in my system conditions...planted and left

Reply to Discussion


© 2021   Created by Sylvia Bernstein.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service