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So, I am in the early stages of starting my new basement system, I needed a reason to cleanup my basement and paint the walls, Aquaponics provided that reason... :)

 

Here is a diagram of the system design, it's fairly high level, if any of you see major flaws and can help me avoid newbie mistakes I would love some feedback...

 

So the only thing that is set is that we have obtained 3 275 Gallon IBC containers, so we are thinking that we cut them and make tanks and grow beds from them.  Beyond that it's all up for grabs.

 

I do have concerns about lighting, I'm thinking "budget" florescent for the short term, should I consider putting all four Grow Beds right next to each other to maximize the grow area for the lighting?  I would like to gradually supplement or switch to LED what is the consensus on them?

 

I am painting the walls white and putting a reflective insulation on the ceiling to ensure we maximize our lighted area, what other things should I be thinking about?

 

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Looks good. I created aluminum foil light curtains for my system when it was in the house. I just taped the ends of the foil to wooden dowels and hung the curtains from the fluorescent's down to the grow beds. That way, they can be rolled up when working on the beds. On thing I found was that ventilation is a must, especially if you have a tight house. I just ran a 4" inlet pipe from outside and ran a bathroom extraction fan setup for the exhaust, again to the outside. A noticeable improvement in the plant health.

Ian - You have a short growing season and long winters, how do you contend with lighting needs of you plants?

I use SunBlaster flourescents. I looked around for the best intensity light with lowest energy use and came up with these. Sourced reasonably locally at a green house supplier. Also, 0.06/kwH electricity helps a lot as long as I don't exceed 1200 kwH/month. Then it goes up to 0.12/kwH. I did some experimenting with reflector designs, but found that the aluminum foil curtain right down to the grow bed really helped a lot.Mind you, its a very small set up. 12sq. ft. of grow bed. Got my  first crop of Swiss Chard and spinach  third week of April. The system was fully cycled by 1st week of March, about 60 days from start to plant.

I am seriously looking at LED lighting, especially as am considering getting a larger system by the end of the current summer cycle.

 We are in a relatively poor economic area, and any source of wholesome, reasonably priced produce during winter will be taken advantage of very quickly.

Updated design...  Thinking about wisest use of light, reducing the "wasted" light on the fish tank and sump and simplification of the overall infrastructure...

 

Another question...  Why not grow duckweed in the sump tank?  Assuming you can somehow keep the pumps from pumping it all out by stopping them before water gets too low?  Would save a tank and floor space...

 

i read that flat white paint is better than foil.. something to consider

HD sells 3/4" foam panels with a Mylar skin for $7, cheaper than drywall, mud, and paint.

One thing to consider about duckweed in sump is that returning water will drive the duckweed down to intake level of pump. Pump will then distribute DW to growbeds, where it will rot and attract fungus gnats. In order to eliminate this, you could have your return lines dump under the surface of the water, but then lose extra aeration. Also, fluctuating levels in DW tend to deposit most of the DW on the walls as water level lowers, and it clumps and dies. I'd keep the DW separate.

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