Aquaponic Gardening

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Hello all I am in the processing stage of taking my system to a different level and need to know if it has anything that will make it not work correctly or be a major pain to keep up. I have made a hand sketch of what I am thinking of doing. I was trying to use google sketch but it was more work to learn will get back to that later. I am wanting to use this system with the fish tank being the highest point and the water flow is all by gravity to the media beds then the sump then onto the DWT friendly style with one pump pushing the water back up to the fish tank to start the whole process over again. I am not sure if this will work with the auto siphons in the loop but if it does this setup to me gives you the best of both worlds and keeps the fish tank super clean with the gravel beds being the first thing the used fish water goes into. Please let me know if this looks like it would work or is there something else I need to think about before I take my system apart to set this up. Any and all suggestions are welcome.

 

HybirdAquaponicsSystem.pdf

 

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Hi Wes,  I think that this looks like a fine system and the layered approach is a nice one.  If you are adding in the DWT bed at the bottom of the system then it may pay to also add in some extra filtration.  There is disagreement on whether this is necessary or not, but if it is relatively simple to add in then it is likely to be worthwhile.

I am also starting a new system soon and was going for the layered approach like this and will probably add a simple swirl filter between the fishtank and the first growbeds.  This will add just a few dollars to the cost of the system but should help a little.

Good luck with it though, and am happy to share ideas as we both start building these systems.  Here is my plan so far... I was so bored I even coloured it!

Nice to see people heading towards mixed media "hybrid" systems... they are the future of aquaponics IMO... especially for those scaling up towards more "commercial" systems..

what is your opinion of pre-filtering the water before the grow-beds Rupert?  I have seen vociferous arguments on both sides of the fence but little actual scientific evidence to back up either side really.  Commercial seems to do it. backyard seems not to for the most part.  What is your take?

Wes, I really hope that your design works since I'm about halfway through a similar build :) I opted for timed flood and drain using a repeat cycle timer and an indexing valve, since I have 8 IBC media beds it seemed much easier than dealing with all those siphons. Should you decide on pre-filtering, you could always use your sump as it seems to be before your DWC troughs. I'm assuming you plan on using e.fetida or some sort of red worm in your media beds to help out. 

Mr. Chris Smith suggested a 25 to 30% media bed to raft ratio. Due to space I'm closer to 20% but , I've made my media beds deeper (14 to 17 inches) to try offset this a bit and and provide more total surface area within the same square footage. 

I too have been following the "to pre-filter or not" debate and have opted not to pre-filter (with the option of adding on at a later date should the need arise). Fish stocking densities and to an extent flow rates seem to be at the forefront of this discussion. You will probably need to decide for yourself based on your situation, but again your sump seems like it would lend itself easily to doubling as a sort of fines filter.

i recently had a overflow symilar to yours into a growbed and quickly rerouted the drain down to the sump. first problem i had was that way to much water was coming into the gb for the siphons to turn off (about 10 -15 cycles an hr instead of 4 was like waterboarding the plants). i couldnt slow the flow because i would backup the flow and it would overflow, lost water caused the pump to run dry. solution is easy have the overflow from the swirl go to sump then T off the riser from the pump to the gb, add another T and valve so you can send a pipe ending in a spray down into water  back to the fish (what if the air pump dies or you want to work on the nft?) and remember to add valves before the nft to control the flow. by adind the valves you can control the flows to each area and "tune" the system. duckweed needs full sun and dead duckweed sinks can the pump handle that? or will you need to screen of an area of the sump to get a green free zone?

I don't see the need, or benefit to pre-filter before the grow beds... particularly in a hybrid system...

 

The whole purpose of a hybrid system is to utilise the grow beds to capture and mineralise solids that would otherwise have to be removed before a raft or nft component...

Just remember the greatest benefit of mineralisation in grow beds is acheived by incorporating compost worms to break down the solids material...

 

There are some that suggest that solids removal is still necessary, or desireable for media grow beds... and that they will "clog" and/or require cleaning.... but they're usually coming from a point of view of higher stocking densities... whether by intention or by miscalaculation....

Essentially grow beds will only become "clogged".. if they are undersized for the feed level, and/or stocking density of the system... and such systems probably are probably not only on the edge of filtration... but also on the edge of oxygenation requirements... (Tilapia probably excepted)....

People often totally overestimate the amount of fish required to sustain a large volume of plant growth...

 

Vlad is absolutely correct.. that stocking densities should be at the forefront of the discussion... but in terms of the filtration, and oxygeantion capacity required to service the level of feed for the density of the stocked fish...

And essentially, one should either stock to the filtration capacity available in your system... or if you aim for a specific density... to work your filtration capacity requirement for the maximum feed load.... into your system design from the very beginning...
 
Japan Aquaponics - アクアポニックス 日本 said:

what is your opinion of pre-filtering the water before the grow-beds Rupert?  I have seen vociferous arguments on both sides of the fence but little actual scientific evidence to back up either side really.  Commercial seems to do it. backyard seems not to for the most part.  What is your take?

Wow thanks for the input from everyone I need all the insight I can get. It makes me feel good that even when I first set my system up from the start I designed it for both types of troughs, the only thing I didnt take into consideration was the height of the fish tank and using gravity for most of the water flow. My system right now has the pump pushing all the water to the troughs and gravity feeding back all the water to the main sump tanks. I will post a hand drawing of what I have right now.

This is my idea for a 4 tote system.  I was thinking to bell siphon from the media bed to the rafts.  Then gravity to the sump.  please open the attachment.

 

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wes said:

Wow thanks for the input from everyone I need all the insight I can get. It makes me feel good that even when I first set my system up from the start I designed it for both types of troughs, the only thing I didnt take into consideration was the height of the fish tank and using gravity for most of the water flow. My system right now has the pump pushing all the water to the troughs and gravity feeding back all the water to the main sump tanks. I will post a hand drawing of what I have right now.

Very nice setup looks like a winner to me, what did you use to draw it with, I hate these hand drawings and need a better way to show what I am trying to do with the system.
 
David W. Russell said:

This is my idea for a 4 tote system.  I was thinking to bell siphon from the media bed to the rafts.  Then gravity to the sump.  please open the attachment.

 

Yes clay you bring up some of the issues I was wondering about with flow for the media beds and the auto siphons.
 
clay hartwig said:

i recently had a overflow symilar to yours into a growbed and quickly rerouted the drain down to the sump. first problem i had was that way to much water was coming into the gb for the siphons to turn off (about 10 -15 cycles an hr instead of 4 was like waterboarding the plants). i couldnt slow the flow because i would backup the flow and it would overflow, lost water caused the pump to run dry. solution is easy have the overflow from the swirl go to sump then T off the riser from the pump to the gb, add another T and valve so you can send a pipe ending in a spray down into water  back to the fish (what if the air pump dies or you want to work on the nft?) and remember to add valves before the nft to control the flow. by adind the valves you can control the flows to each area and "tune" the system. duckweed needs full sun and dead duckweed sinks can the pump handle that? or will you need to screen of an area of the sump to get a green free zone?

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