Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

Hello One and all.  What a great site layout.  Thank you to the site owners for taking the time to offer this resource to the world.


I am located in the "Central Valley" (San Joaquin) of California, USA.  I am currently constructing a hatchery and i have pics of the mock layout in the gallery.  You will notice the 100 gallon containers "cascading" in step.  This is NOT for a waterfall effect as i do not wish to overflow the containers down but rather i plan to run an exhaust under the containers so the "rise" is necessary.


This aquaponics system will be the first "rocketponics" system that i know of.  I plan to heat the entire setup throughout the winter to maintain 80-90 degrees for optimum growth.  If the concept proves efficient enuf i will be duplicating it under a 1600gal stock tank supplying a 50' raft(already constructed).  I will be using wood chips supplied by tree pruning services as the wood fuel.  a free and locally sustainable resource.


back to the hatchery layout.  i have some questions that i hope others with more experience can assist with.  First, Is it necessary for the bio filters to recieve sun light?  I am currently planning on running the exhaust exit above two 30gals prior to exiting the greenhouse.  I am planning to have the bio filters completely encased within the thermal mass so NO light would penetrate.


second, i need ideas on how to plumb the 6 fill lines so that each container would receive an equal amount of fill water?  my idea is to drain from bottom into metal piping within the heat exchanger/exhaust duct. It would then enter the bio filters and return back through heat xchanger to the combustion chamber area.  It would then be at optimum heat after exiting combustion chamber and then needs to fill the 6 individual breed tanks somewhere and enter each container equally?


Ive been thinking of using a venturi atop a "U tube"prior to a chamber to increase DO.  I will not be runnin any power with the exception of a single recirculation pump.


So if you see the pics you can see the basic layout.  I'll be constructing the frame to build the "rocket thermal mass heater" next.  I"ll be using some fire brick, vermiculite, cement, and metal drums for this.  I plan to loose fill around all containers with vermiculite to provide the thermal mass around the containers. this can be easily removed in the future via large shop vac.


well, that was a lot to type and i hope it gives the basic design concepts.  Im not sure this has been tried before but hopefully others can share any similar experience.  ive heard from many people that heating water is ineffecient and costly.  im hoping my design is a major breakthrough.  


all suggestions/help is greatly appreciated.


Arik Alan

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If you completely enclose your bio-filters.  Where is the aquaponics coming in?  How are you going to grow the plants?


P.S. you can insert the pictures you have uploaded here into your discussions so it is easier to understand what you are describing.

Hi Arik.  

I was raised in Modesto and went to school at UC Davis - I know your stomping grounds well!

You have some interesting, ambitious plans here.  Thanks for sharing them!  I'll make a few observations that you might find helpful, and leave the plumbing comments to  others that are better at that than I could ever hope to be

I'm a little concerned about your 80 - 90 degree target.  As water temperature rises oxygen gets forced out of the solution.  Above 90 it's pretty hard to keep any oxygen in there at all, and it sounds like you are trying to avoid extra oxygenating equipment.  Oxygen is one of the most important components of an AP system.  Be careful there.

The bio-filter does not require light, but it does require oxygen.  Again, be careful about enclosing your biofilter and make sure it has plenty of opportunity for air exchange.


Best of luck, and I'm really looking forward to seeming updates!

Regarding to the penetration of sun light and the biofilter, I would say that light is not the important parameter to the bacteria in the filter in contrast light will bring your filter troubles instead. For instance, with the presence of light and dissolved oxygen algae will grow rapidly in the filter leaving your filter lack oxygen. However, you have to be able to control the suitable  temperature for the bacteria living in the filter. You better know that light is the precursor to the changes of temperature in your biofilter and these changes can affect the growth of bacteria.
A couple things...

-80-90deg would be great for Tilapia but not plant production. You need to look at the temp requirements of the plants you plan to grow as well.

-Nitrifying bacteria prefers darkness. As Chandara said, light gives you problems because of algal growth. Keeping the filter insulated is fine but you will want to be injecting air via airstone or venturi into the biofilter.

-For plumbing, a simple manifold with valves will allow you to regulate the flow going to all of your different tanks.

What will you be using as your heat source? You say exhaust but from what?
Wood Fuel. ie.woodchips being combusted within an efficient combustion chamber.  research "rocket mass heater". i will be adding an automated hopper at some point.

@TCLynx  Many options for growing systems within the hatchery. some will be vertical, drain via gravity back to tanks.  others may just be drip.  I can "bleed" some water off into cooling/fertigation tank for timed feedings.  The hatchery will have less plant variety and may end up more RnD botanical. Not sure yet.  I have constructed a large system based upon Joel's raft system in australia. very similar. This is where the commercial production will take place.   the fingerlings will be transferred there weekly and will be grown in cages suspended within the stocking tank. the hatchery food production is more for personal consumption and specialty RnD.  Im thinkin of some hops as well.

Hi Sylvia, come visit me in Turlock next time your in the area. so do you think a "u" tube prior to an add o miser will not be sufficient to oxygenate the entire system?  I could locate those components just prior to biofilters.  many thanks

Thank you Ryan and Chandra for bio filter info.  I am confident to move fwd.  As for heat source it will be combustion chamber that heats the water 2 ways.  Through piping in heat exchanger(exhaust) as well as combustion chamber and then into tanks.  I will also be heating the thermal mass the tanks are enclosed within via heat exchanger.  thats the plan but well see if it works.

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