Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

Hey everyone!  My name is Mike.. I recently found out about aquaponic gardening and became immediately intrigued.  I actually just about finished building my first DIY indoor setup over the past weekend and just need to pick up some hydroton, then I can pick up some fish and plants to get started.  

I've picked up so much useful information on this site already!  Hoping that anyone would be willing to chime in on my setup and critique it a little and give me some feedback or ideas that may help things go a little smoother based on their own past experiences or just general knowledge of aquaponics..

My setup includes a 30 gallon rubbermaid tote for my fish tank that measures 32"L x 20"W x 18"D and 2 - 10 gallon rubbermaid totes as my grow beds that measure 24"L x 16"W x 9"D, filled with hydroton and bell siphons on both beds draining back to the tank below..  

I ran 1/2" PVC from a 300 GPH adjustable pump in the 30g and feeding both beds with ball valves to control flow in multiple locations as well as a "tee" feeding back to the fish tank and a small piece of capped PVC with holes drilled to agitate the surface of the water in the fish tank constantly.  

The bell siphons are from a design I found on YouTube and so far have been able to make them work every time without hesitation even with minimal flow into the beds.

Is the size of my tank in comparison to the GBs ok?  Or should I run with less than the 30g that the tank can handle?  I just figured a little more water in the fish tank would leave no chance for tank running down and water height fluctuating so close to the bottom..

I plan on using regular goldfish in the tank but I'm unsure of what type of plants to start with other than some basil.  What else could I grow in a setup of this size?

Any advice, ideas, questions on my setup please let me know!

Nice to meet everyone, looking forward to getting my system up and running in the next couple of weeks!

Here is a picture of how things are looking so far.. Don't mind the mess, still "under construction" here  


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Alright Philippe, I think I got you now, although I'm not sure what the significance of the solids being crushed has and still a little confused by this..  Are nutrients broken down and less available when the solids are mashed up?  

I am thinking of just building a stand for my fish tank, next to the shelving unit that I am using giving me the ability to let my FT be higher than the GBs and gravity flowing into them..  

In this scenario, will extra filtration be necessary?   Should I be adding some type of filter material where the water from the FT is spilling into the GBs?  Filter material around the pump in the sump?  Anywhere else?  

Another question I have is the amount of water when I initially fill the system.. If I had a 28 gallon FT, 2 - 10 gallon GBs and a 30 gallon ST, obviously I know the FT needs its 25 or so gallons that I would fit in the tub, assuming the ST will need at least the amount of the FT to continuously flow into the beds without disturbing the height of the FT?   So would I be basically starting with around 50 gallons (25 in FT, 25+ in ST) to be sure the pump doesn't run dry?

Thanks again for all your help, as much reading and research as I have done, this actually clears up many questions I had..

Hi Mike, your drawings are helping a lot and the last one is good in concept.

About the solids: First of all they aren´t ready nutrients, for exception of the minerals contained in the fish food. To get the nitrogen for your plants they must go through the nitrogen cycle, that's the corner stone of aquaponics.

Lots of people put Red Californian worms for further mineralization, I do it always.

Anyway you should dig in for iron and other inherent deficiencies.

Solids are organic matter and you garden will gladly welcome them.

To finalize with the solids matter: You may remove it with a finger when they are not mashed up by a mechanical device and after that you have the headache to remove as much as possible of the fine ones. In your last drawing put something where the water comes out of the FT to the GBs there are lots of options. Have some activated carbon at hand that's useful if they get out of control (the fine ones) and to revert an algae bloom.

That answers your second question. You don't need to protect the pump in the sump as far as there are no fishes in it, the SLO in the FT will prevent the fishes to go gardening in the GBs.

Water volumes: "assuming the ST will need at least the amount of the FT to continuously flow into the beds” this is not true. As a theorical minimum you would need 40% of the total GBs volume say about 8 gals. The remaining 60% being the accepted volume for 3/4" gravel. Calculate your flood and drain and consider a timer.

But your interest is to have as much water as possible in your system. You will see that aquaponics does consumes water, more in greenhouses, it's evapotranspiration. Furthermore lot of water shall increase system stability.

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