Aquaponic Gardening

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I'm building a small DWC system, and am trying to decide what kind of filter to use for solids removal.

Is a swirl filter better, or should I use one of those filters with a sheet running through the middle the the water has to go under.

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Lowes sells a 5gal paint filter that fits over a 5gal bucket.  It has real small holes in it.  They have smaller ones but I think that the 5gal size would be less trouble. 


you can get around having to use a filter if you use shrimp in your rafts. I used red cherry shrimp and i don't prefilter at all and my roots are bright white with no gunk.

Thanks Steve.  That's really interesting.  I'd heard of shrimp in AP but didn't realize they could be so helpful.

If shrimp can consume that much fish waste, you would think they'd have a waste product.  Don't they?

im new to this, so please excuse all the questions..........but is a "swirl filter" the same or similar as a skimmer in a salt water aquarium?????? protein skimmer??? or is it just more of a vortex that breaks up the solid waste

More like a vortex that settles solid waste.

A swirl filter is basically a round culligan water bottle with a drain at the bottom.  The water comes at an angle and swirls around till it goes out the output port on the other side (not the drain).  For some reason having to do with the outside moving faster than the inside a lot of solids drop out.

Still looking for an answer on swirl vs. "plate" (I'm not sure what there are called) filter.  I wish there were a way to bump posts here.

Keep in mind if you have a sump after your media GBs you already have VERY filtered water just right for sending to your DWC or Raft bed. That is how I am doing my new 12'x4' bed. I am simply extending the run to my woodstove heater coil on over to my DWC. I was originally going to make yet another (3 already on line) of my swirl/biofilter before the DWC when I saw all the new systems that drain directly from the Media bed into the DWC (thank you Rob) and then back to the sump. Then the light went on!! I am all set and I didn't even realize it.

BTW my swirl/bio-filter is BOTH. Check it out. I have simplified it somewhat since then as you can see in some of my more recent photos. Remember you want to trap the sinkers AND the floaters just like in a septic tank. Most filters I see only address sinkers.

the reason I ask is 1) ive kept saltwater fish for along time.....freshwater too 2) I bought out a local petstore that went under  several years ago and so there is TONS of extra equipment and supplys....I think I have 3 or 4 skimmers rated at 180 gallon range......some less some more.........cases of ph up or ph down........pumps........tanks, lights, UV clarifiers.....chems meds....test kits out the wazoo....idk an entire store full of stuff and trying to figure out what would be useful for aquaponics and what to look elsewhere for a use for lol

Some of it might be useful.  I'm not real familiar with skimmers.  Aquaponics has super high stocking ratios so traditional filters don't last.  Same with clarifiers.  Most fish like dirty water anyhow so they can hide.  Clean water is for showing off your system :)  Gotta be careful with that stuff if you'll be eating the fish.

You can use tanks for medical isolation, and to keep your fish in for a few days when you get them to check for disease.  Also good for finishing your fish in cold water without feed.

Lights are good for plants.  Few hours after sunset in winter will keep growth going in Dec.-Jan.

Most folks just use calcium carbonate or potassium for PH up.  You get bonus nutrients that way.  If you need Ph down it's usually because you added too much Ph up.

I've been looking for a high Nitrates test kit (up to 500+). You have one of those?

I would have to look through stuff to see if there is a test kit like that. I doubt it but then again I wouldn't be surprised lol..... most of the stuff is for aquarium fish, the testers and buffers ect.........I accualy set up a lot of the tanks and lights dry and used them as seed starters for this years conv garden..........the lighting for saltwater is INSANE.......10k /actinic/MH ect and worked good for that......

this place was big on aquarium fish and pond fish (koi ect) and the equipment so there are a lot of big pumps and UV sterilizers.

here is a link that explains skimmers easier than explaining it myself lol

Here is the protein skimmer portion of my swirl filter. The T/45 combo keep the floaters in while the swirl action drops the sinkers to the bottom. Nearly every swirl filter I see does not trap the floaters. Intake 90 on upper right creates the swirl action and the 45 on the exit faces backwards to avoid the solids in limbo from getting out. There are 3 kinds of solids after all.

I like it jim :). ive always considered trying one of my saltwater ones in a freshwater tank or pond but always heard they didn't work nearly as good in the freshwater as the saltwater.......something about water chem idk...........I never bought  it anyway I just haven't got around to trying it. im sure it would work with a bit of tweaking....maybe defuser for smaller bubbles ect. has to be a way.

im still learning about aquaponics though so I may be ropin wind though lol....

I know the stuff in the collection cup of my saltwater tanks is liquid gold to me. mixed at around 1cup to a gallon its awesome on a conventional garden as fertilizer....and as a consentrate strait from the cup its the base for my trapping lure in the fall.

Why remove plant food? So a protien skimmer wont do much of anything in freshwater you don't make enough foam and also you have no need to remove loose proteins from the water. Its toxic to coral but not at all to plants so there is simply no reason. Why is your skimmer full of food? In salt water you want no organics breaking down into ammonia then nitrtite and nitrate because coral and most salt water inverts are very intolerant of nitrogen levels. Thats why they are used in salt water but in fresh water you want a nitrates of 40 - 80. 

To larry Your the first person I'v ever heard of using there protein skimmer scum for something wont the salts buildup in your soil over time? There is a TON of salt in that stuff. Also that will permanently stain anything it touches. 

this is from drfoster smith

 Why do you need a protein skimmer?
Maintaining good water quality is the single most important factor in establishing a healthy and beautiful marine aquarium. In order to successfully house marine species, the aquarium water needs to be free of toxic substances such as ammonia and nitrite. In an established aquarium, ammonia and nitrite are promptly converted into a less toxic substance called nitrate through a natural process known as the nitrogen cycle.

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