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I am new to aquaponics and I'm looking for a little direction... my fish tank will be 250gallons, I am using IBC's for my system..

I am using 3- 275lb IBC Totes total - 1 for the FT, I would like to make 3 GB and the ST with the remaining 2 

 My system will be placed outdoors and I live in SW Florida and would like some ideas since I will be fighting the heat, sun and heavy rain...

 - also how do I determine the amount of grow bed media for each GB as well as how many fish i should put in the FT. I'm looking to raise Blue Talapia. Any advice would be much appreciated.

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Here is a link that will allow you to take measurments and figure out the cubic feet or inches of your beds and enter that number to find out how many liters or gallons or cubic yards you need.

Thanks, I'll check it out...

TCLynx said:

Here is a link that will allow you to take measurments and figure out the cubic feet or inches of your beds and enter that number to find out how many liters or gallons or cubic yards you need.

If you are going to do Three beds and a sump tank out of the remaining 2 IBC's, you may be cutting it a bit close on sump tank capacity.  Any chance you can get a 4th IBC?

See I like to max out grow bed volume and if my only choice of grow bed and fish tank materials were IBC's

I would make a system using 1 IBC as fish tank

2 IBC's cut in half to make 4 grow beds so I would have twice as much grow bed as fish tank.

And then I would have a complete IBC as sump tank (or if that was not possible, cut it in half and connected together near the bottom with a really big pipe.)

I usually like my sump tank to be at least 50% or even 60% of the total capacity of my grow beds.

I was leading along those lines too, thanks for the reassurance.. I will be picking up a 4th IBC this weekend... I'm so excited, I've read everything I can find and can't wait to get my system going...

On another note...My other half is a jack of all trades and he suggested that I have the FT pump into the ST and from there the water from the ST will be routed to the GB's and so on... well I've read that it should be the other way around and so I'm a bit confused. I know that there are many difference configurations that can be used, can you shed some light on that one...

I will recommend the CHOP or CHIFT PIST design or even CHOP II

You will probably have to look those up.

Anyway there is a link to some diagrams that might be useful.

I highly recommend a One pump constant height in fish tank design of some sort.  So instead of pumping from the fish tank into the sump tank, you would be pumping from the sump tank into the fish tank.  Then there is the choice of do you simply have everything get pumped to and then drain back to the sump CHOP II which needs a slightly larger pump but is a bit more flexible in layout.

Or do you pump to the fish tank and have the fish tank overflow (through a SLO or solids lifting overflow drain) to the grow beds which will then drain back to the fish tank.

I recommend you go to BYAP and download their IBC of Aquaponics

Hi Francis.

About the size of the sump tank. I am using the IBC based system also. I just started circulating water through the whole completed system yesterday. My grow beds are the tops and bottoms of the IBC's filled to 9 inches with 3/4 inch gravel, then 3 inches of Hydroton on top (to keep my wife's fingers from getting scraped raw  ) to get a depth of 12 inches. This follows the design in Murray Hallam's "Do it Yourself Aquaponics". My sump is 16 inches tall (inside measurement).

I was also concerned about the size of the sump so I ran a simple test. To test the critical levels of my sump tank, I filled all three of my beds to the level that they start to auto-siphon to make sure the pump would still be under water. Then I let them all auto-siphon at the same time and shut off the pump so there would be maximum water in the sump when the grow beds were emptied. I am only using 3 grow beds. If you go with a fourth bed as described by TCLynx, you might be cutting it a bit close. A deeper sump would be best.   

My results were pretty convincing. When all three beds are full of water my pump is still under water (just barely). When all three beds have dumped their load into the sump, I still have quite a bit of room left. Not sure what a fourth bed would do though. Keep in mind that the grow beds aren't filling up with water. The space between your grow media is filling up with water. The media takes up quite a bit of volume.

Hope this helps

John Orme




I built an IBC tote system about 5 weeks ago. I have 4 ebb and flow beds (filled with half lava rocks and half expanded shale) and one floating raft bed for a total of five beds! I originally planned to do only 4 ebb and flow beds only to discover that a second sump (per Murray hallums designs) was necessary to accommodate the water flow. Since we added the second sump, we also placed a floating bed tote cut to the same dimensions as the ebb and flow beds. I also did my plumbing slightly different from Murray's chop II. I have a 600 gallon per hour pump moving water from the sump to the fish tank AS WELL AS all of the grow beds. Each bed and the fish tank drain into the sump. To get even more water flow, we created a siphon from the fish tank to the sump where when the water fills to a certain point in the fish tank the siphon is created and drains the fish tank about 2 inches where a hole drilled in the side of the PVC that kills the siphon. This creates a lot of movement of water in the fish tank as it drains about every 10-15 minutes.

I'm still trying to work out some of the kinks. We're still having high pH issues (which I believe may be due to chlorinated public water source). My system cycles fine (ammonia -> Nitrites -> Nitrates) , my only problem is getting enough fish in the system to have a steady supply of nutrients for the plants. I'm adding fish weekly (locally caught minnows, store bought goldfish, and one foot long carp I caught with a casting net!) in order to balance the system and find that "sweet spot" (I'm adding granulated ammonia to supplement my lack of fish). My water is super clean since I added a bio filter to all water before it enters the floating bed (which I'm not sure is entirely necessary due to the four ebb and flow beds). So far I'm having amazing plant growth even with the small amounts of nutrients I have. I had tomatoes and strawberries two weeks after planting (small plants purchased from local nursery).

Believe it or not we have only had about 10 minutes of rain in the last 6 weeks since I started this project. We set up a small 70 gallon water collection system so we can avoid using chlorinated water in the system. We have some rain forecast for the week so hopefully we'll have some backup water that can possibly help us to keep that pH down. Its starting to get hot here in Houston, TX so I'm curious to see how the project will fare through the summer!

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