Aquaponic Gardening

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Hello all.  I am seeking a bit of help in designing an aquaponics  system to work with what I have already set up in my backyard.  I have a 1500 gallon fish pond that is established and all of its residents are happy and have been living there for four years now.  I am currently using a bio-filter that is not quite keeping up with the waste.  I was considering joining two more Rubbermaid containers or plumbing to an ebb/flow grow bed setup in my hoop-house.

I was viewing  AlohaMahiai's channel on YouTube and was wondering if I could duplicate what he is doing in growing zone 6a (Cincinnati) with a single pump.  He is using his pump as a return from his last grow bed/sump back to his fish tank.  The difference between what he has and what I have is that his tank is above ground and mine is below ground.

My goal is to have a single pump powered by a few deep cycle batteries charged by a couple solar panels.  I have 3-375 gallon rain barrels but don’t know how to use them in the system.  I wanted to run the idea across this board to get some input.  Here is what I currently have.

Figure 1 Existing 1500 gallon tank

It is December in Cincinnati so I pulled all of my elephant ear and Cana Lilly out of the bog.  In 5 years, this pond has never frozen over solid as long as I keep a small air pump running.  I hope to run 3” pipe back to the hoop house where I will be using a Rocket Mass-heating system.


Figure 2 Current Bio-Filtration tank

If I go with ebb/flow gravel beds in the hoop-house, I will keep this tank and plumb the return line from the hoop house back into it so I still have my little waterfall into the water garden.  If I go with a raft system, I might be able to put the pump here.

Figure 3 White goes to grow beds, Red is the return.

I was thinking of putting a single pump in the current bio-filter to pull the water through the system.  I don’t know what size pump to use to do this.


I also have 3 - 375 gallon rain barrels that I could include in the system.

Figure 4 Hoop house                                                     Figure 5 Rocket Mass heater burn chamber


Figure 6 Red is 6" duct for Rocket Heater.  Yellow is cob bench wrapped in plastic.  Orange is grow bed.   Blue is water plumbing.

This is how I envision the inside of the hoop house.  The rocket stove is in the foreground of the lower right corner of figure 4.  The exhaust of the stove runs through a 6” duct shown in red.  The duct will be encased in rock gravel and cob (clay, sand straw).  The cob bench will be a solid base for the grow beds to sit on.  I will put a raft-style grow bed on top of the cob base so that the warmth of the cob transfers to the water in the grow bed.

The grow beds on the left will be ebb/flow gravel trays.  I really should be running the water from the fish tank into the ebb/flow gravel trays first before running into the raft system, but I am thinking I should heat the water through the system to keep the room temperature up.  If anyone has any thoughts on this, please let me know.

I really would like to set this up with a single pump.  I welcome all ideas on this.


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Wow - it looks like you have thought about this extensively. My two cents:

- Obviously to use only one pump, the primary consideration is that the pump needs to be located in the lowest area of the system and be pumping to the highest area of the system. The remainder of the system has to be planned to allow gravity to feed each of the remaining parts of the system. In your case, this would appear to me to require the pump to be in your pond, and feed directly to the highest part of the grow beds in your greenhouse. Also if you are using only one pump, and still want a waterfall, ALL the growbeds in the greenhouse have to be located higher than the top of the waterfall.

- I'm not an engineer, but the pipe run from the pond to your greenhouse looks quite long and would seem to me to require a very large pump. Keep in mind that gravity is not going to keep a water flow as fast as your pump is likely to be pushing the water, so pipes going back need to be larger than the one connected to the pump. My 1" pipe going into my fish tank (from the sump tank) overflows though a 3" pipe draining into my grow beds though four different 1" pipes (some with purposely reduced flow). If my pump is off, the 3" pipe eventually empties, but if the pump is on, the 3" pipe fills at least halfway up before the water flow equalizes. All this explanation to point out that a gravity feed back into the system through a pipe run that long is likely to need a very big pipe (a scientific term relating to the diameter of the pipe). Perhaps an engineer on this forum can correct my personal hypothesis on this.

- You might consider putting one of the rain barrels on a platform above the grow beds and above the waterfall height, and pump from the pond into the rain barrel. The rain barrel could then provide the water pressure to gravity feed the remainder of the system. (Though you still have to plan each remaining part in succession, making sure each is low enough to get gravity feed from the prior section.)

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