Aquaponic Gardening

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I am working on planning my first system.  I live in a 700 square foot apartment, so it's going to have be pretty compact and tidy (it's going in my living room).  Still, it's important to me to grow food fish (tilapia).  I have my eye on a galvanized steel 175 gallon stock tank (6x2x2), and I have a 4x2x1 fiberglass sink I'd like to convert to a grow bed.  It sits on a steel stand, which I hope to modify to sit over the fish tank. For lighting, I was thinking 4 x t8, but am still exploring. The grow bed will sit directly in front of a large window that gets direct morning sun, so that will help quite a bit.


I want to do drain/fill, but don't know how to set it up yet.  There's so much marketing and crap to wade through doing searches... can anyone direct me to some good reading to further my project design? Also, any feedback on my ideas so far would be more than welcome.




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Cool!  I am excited to try this out!  I'm planning to start building in a couple weeks.
Ellen you can use more water but in aquaponics it is a funny balance of water to growbed of at least 1 to 1. If you fill your tank to the 240 gal level you should have the matching volume in growbeds. This formula is the standard and you can tweek it  if you want BUT. You will have low nitrates and plants will suffer or the other end of the spectrum. To much nitrates and not enough grow bed to filter and clean the water. There is a hundred variations and I am just giving you the conservative end of aquaponics. Once you run your system for a while you will probably add more grow beds than the 240 gal. This seems to happen in the 2 year as the system matures. You should only keep about 1 fish per 10 gal of water or in your case 24. This is only if you have 240 gal of growbed. Hope this is clear as mud.
Right - I've got you now. I'm planning to slowly build up and stock pretty light.  This is more an experiment in keeping tilapia for me than an attempt to produce a lot of fish.  I would like to build a bigger system when I buy a house in a couple years - this build is mostly an attempt at "getting my feet wet," (though hopefully not too literally!)
Ellen if fish is your goal then still use the formula. 1 fish per 10. 160 gal is plenty of room to start tilapia. Many systems use 50 gal barrels and the fish do fine. Have fun just lean to the light side on stocking and the heavy side on grow beds. Trust me I lost a butt load of catfish learning this..................gonite.
Dude, that pic is amazing!  Now I must wonder what else is suited to home aquaculture?

Chi Ma said:

BTW, my profile pic is a crayfish - I keep marmokrebs in my turtle tank *turtle snack!*


I keep 'em, but they still give me the creeps.  I am definitely arachnophobic, and these little guys are just close enough to spiders! lol


Chi Ma said:

I have a bajillion marmorkrebs in my tank. Good snacks for the fish and they eat the leftover food.

Ellen Roelofs said:

BTW, my profile pic is a crayfish - I keep marmokrebs in my turtle tank *turtle snack!*


I keep 'em, but they still give me the creeps.  I am definitely arachnophobic, and these little guys are just close enough to spiders! lol


Chi Ma said:

Do you also have Red Claws?

how has it gone - keeping them with other fish?

Chi Ma said:

The trick with tilapia is that if you have mixed gender in a tank that is warm enough for breeding, it's gonna get hard to control your stocking density.


And if you have equal grow bed volume to fish tank volume you can still flood and drain all at once, the fish tank will fluctuate but it is within the tolerance level of tilapia (tilapia are very tolerant fish.)


However,. if you get to the point where you wish to have more grow beds than a 1:1 you do have to deal with water level fluctuations, there are ways to deal with this too.  In a system where there is not sump tank, you can simply use an indexing valve (but this takes a strong enough pump to operate it and a repeat cycle timer.)  Or I suppose you could go multiple pumps on timers but you had better get a good aquarium wave timer or something that will ensure the timers don't get out of sync. 


If using timers, generally you don't use siphons since there are benefits to fast fill on the grow beds and letting them slow drain since this will give some extra water/media contact time and some extra time for roots to get the nutrients they want while also allowing the solids to slowly settle out of the water into the grow bed.  Fast drain on grow beds will pull more solids right on through though these will only be fine suspended material.

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