Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

this is a site for the aspiring aquapon to post their questions and have them answered by the more experienced members.  No question is too basic!  This is a great opportunity to tap into advice from some of the most experienced growers in the country.  Go for it!

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It's a reasonable question, Aaron.  What happens is the media in the grow bed displaces about 2/3 of the water that goes into the grow bed, so the water level only goes down by about 1/3 and it doesn't seem to be a problem.  Much more than that, however....like if you were trying to achieve closer to a 2:1 ratio of grow beds to fish tank and you should go to either a sump tank solution or use an indexing or sequencing valve.

Aaron said:

Great newbie question,

 

Imagine a flood drain system with, lets say 100 gal tank, and 100 gal volume of grow bed.  When the pump sucks the most water from the fish tank the water that remains in the tank is the volume of media in the grow bed?  That seems right but don't the fish go a little crazy with 1/3 the space for 15 min every hour?  Thanks for the reply in advance -Aaron

Hello to all. Wonderful forum. I am really exited about starting my journey in aquaponics and have been thinking about making the jump for some time. My three year stint in the “big city” as an engineering consultant is just about at an end, and I cant wait to get back to the countryside that I love so much. My earlier forays in growing food with poly tunnels, regular ‘ol gardening as well as Isreali made “Queen Gill” irrigation systems were both enjoyable and successful (not necessarily financially, just that I succeeded in growing and giving away a lot of food J...

My plan is to build a floating raft system using four,  200 galllon fish tanks and two, 8’ by 20’ floating beds. (with some type of swirl filter and clarifiers)

 Since I live in a temperate climate zone where it can get rather cold, I will be housing the AP system inside of a polycarbonate greenhouse. My goal is to passively (and actively) heat the greenhouse by lining its (outside) 3’ high foundational wall with compost. The compost ‘bin’ will run the entire length of the greenhouse. I plan to use direct air vents as well as two pairs of water filled polyurethane heat exchange hose  to direct heat from the middle of the steaming pile to some old radiators inside of the greenhouse. I hope to raise California trout in the colder months, and yellow perch when it is warmer.  

I live in a country that is not in the E.U and is still feeling the effects of a decade of war and economic sanctions, so at times its been kinda tuff to buy/find everyday items/supplies that I had learned to take for granted in the United States. So I’m sure that I will need to be creative. Stuff is also REALLY expensive here as well…

 

My question (one of a thousand) is how successful would using a media filled ‘ebb and flow’ grow bed be as a sort of “primary” solids filter be? How significant of a quantity of solid waste would stay in the media bed? Is there a medium that would be better than another at trapping solids?

 I’m thinking that I will probably still need a swirl filter once the water is drained from the grow bed, but could the swirl filter then be smaller or not so efficient? I’m sort of worried about the filtration, as I’d like to have my fish in decent and clear water (since it seems that is what trout like) and I’m worried about solids building up on my roots.

I would greatly appreciate any thoughts/ideas/experience anyone may have. (sorry about the mega long post, its my first)

when using media beds as your initial solids filter, you probably won't need secondary swirl filter or mineralization tanks but the media beds do need to be big enough to handle the amount of fish in the system or they may tend to clog.  (If the system is designed with plenty of media bed for the amount of fish tank you never need to "clean" the media beds but if you are expecting say 50 gallons of media bed to handle 800 gallons of fish tank, that poor media bed will be overloaded and suffer clogging issues eventually.

 

I expect you may actually need more plant beds and less fish tank.  In the Friendlies micro system design, 4 foot by 16 foot of raft bed supports only about 20 fish.  So you need to decide which is more important, the fish or the plants.  If you want to raise more fish and not more plants, then you probably want to put a swirl filter before the media bed so you can remove solids from the system as needed to allow you to grow more fish without needing to grow more plants.

Thank you. I'm sorry, I seem to have mixed metric and imperial in the same dimension... I just noticed that I wrote " 8’ by 20’ floating beds" I meant to say 8' by 64' floating beds (or 20 meters long...oops :) So more plants it is...

 

When you put it like that, it sure does seem like I'll need a bit more media beds than I'd like...

 

4' by 16' with 20 fish  =  4' by 64' with 80 or 90 fish...so I guess I'm in the ballpark there...

 

Your reply helped to reinforce my desire to keep it simple and not 'mix' systems. I should probably stick to my original plans of fish tank, swirl filter, clarifier, raft beds. Thanks again TCLynx.

 

 

 

 

Now some media beds might not be a bad idea for you.  But the swirl filter collecting the solids before the finer suspended solids went to mineralization in a media bed might be the better way around for control and avoiding clogging.

 

But it sounds like you have the basics down.  You might set up a separate media bed system for say raising the fry or quarantine or something to give you more variety of plants to grow.

Vlad,

Chris Smith has a system like you are describing, It has a swirl filter, before a small media bed which drains to raft beds. He has pictures here on this site. Search his photo's, I think you will like what you see.

Thanks, I'll check that out.
Thanks Richard, I'll have to check out Chris' pics in more detail when I get home from the dentists...but from what I was able to briefly see...WOW! Thats pretty much the type of set up I had in mind...minus the great weather and palm trees :)

Right on. I now see that I just need to re-order the set-up...swirl filter FIRST, then media bed. Makes sense now. Am I correct in assuming that a certain size healthy (red worms included) media bed would annul the need for the "spaghetti mat" mineralization bit? Or would that still be a necessary component?

 

Yes I was kicking around the idea of a small independent flood/drain media bed.

TCLynx said:

Now some media beds might not be a bad idea for you.  But the swirl filter collecting the solids before the finer suspended solids went to mineralization in a media bed might be the better way around for control and avoiding clogging.

 

But it sounds like you have the basics down.  You might set up a separate media bed system for say raising the fry or quarantine or something to give you more variety of plants to grow.

The media bed should be able to handle your mineralization and give another place for plants :)  I too have dreamed of a system like Chris's. What a beautiful garden.

Might want to check with Chris Smith as he has the most real experience about if getting rid of the "net tank" for mineralization in exchange for a media bed is working well or not.

In theory I would say YES you could get rid of the spagehetti mat mineralization by replacing it with a good media bed with composting worms.  Keep in mind, I'm not running a raft system myself.

Thanks TC, I appreciate your input nonetheless. My current thinking is that one added benefit to keeping the spaghetti mat mineralization tank (other than than mineralization and filtration) is that I could HEAT that tank (in the winter) to something that the DWC plants might like. Since the trout thrive in an environment that is quite cooler than that of the plants).

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