I'm in Melbourne Australia, but lived and worked in Omaha Nebraska as a teacher for 12 months, so I can understand your imperial units! Here we are lucky to have a year round growing climate. I am thinking about building a system using a 1500L Spa as the fish tank (about 600 gal?). The growbeds will be made from IBCs.
The good thing about the spa is that it has a built in heater if I need it, and I figure it will have better insulation than an IBC. It is lined with a type of rubber however, do you guys think that this would be food grade? I figure it will be safe if people can use it.
I have a couple of new guy questions:
- Can I do rafts in the system? How would I do that?
- How many grow beds would I need for that volume? I will be using 12 inch deep IBC grow beds.
- What are the pros and cons of a sump tank?
I am looking at siting the system near the kitchen window, where it can get full morning sun and is close to a power outlet. The area is paved so I probably won't bury anything. Is there anything else I should be thinking about regarding system location?
Thanks for reading! I appreciate your time. If you can think of any beginner tips that might save me some trouble I would appreciate them!
Hi Alan, welcome to the site!
I would recommend getting a hold of Sylvia's book (aquaponic gardening a step by step guide to growing fish and plants together) and reading through that. It covers all the basic theory and should help you get your head around things. Murray Hallam down in Aus has some good dvds that are all in metric units as well.
As for your points:
- Yes you can do rafts, but need to be mindful of filtration to avoid buildup of fish waste on the plant roots which can hinder growth. Having a couple of grow beds in the system in addition to rafts should help with this this.
- A good way to go as a beginner is a 1:1 ratio of fish tank to grow bed volume. This gives you leeway and time if anything goes wrong, as there will be a larger bacteria colony and more plants available for nitrate removal. I would go with 3 or 4 grow beds with that spa as a FT.
- A sump tank is a good place to put your pump and centralize your plumbing. It also allows you to keep your fish tank at a constant water level and if some plumbing breaks it will be your sump that pumps dry instead of the fish tank. In your case you could probably make a sump tank that has a raft on it as well. I'd recommend using a sump if this is your first system.
Best of luck with it all!