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What are your thoughts on system design?  Media vs raft.  Deep media beds vs shallow.  Siphons vs timers.  Tell us your thoughts and let's get the conversation rolling

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Wasn't sure if this is the right discussion for this question, but... Since it won't stop raining I was just about to put some time into a spreadsheet for keeping track of fish types and quantities across multiple tanks or even multiple systems, including feeding schedules, temp readings, test results, general notes, etc., but figured a few of you techies may already have a good one you would be willing to share. Or perhaps even standalone software for such things, though I personally am on a mac, so that is sure to be limited. So chime in, if you think you have something, and if this proves to be interesting enough to the membership, perhaps we should make a separate thread for 'care and maintenance' or something. Aloha -- Shawn
I was thinking of working on something on like what your thinking, but I was also going to include plant info. I wonder if it is worth the effort or just making more work. I am considering a wide range of vegetables so it might mean a ton of data entry.

Shawn said:
Wasn't sure if this is the right discussion for this question, but... Since it won't stop raining I was just about to put some time into a spreadsheet for keeping track of fish types and quantities across multiple tanks or even multiple systems, including feeding schedules, temp readings, test results, general notes, etc., but figured a few of you techies may already have a good one you would be willing to share. Or perhaps even standalone software for such things, though I personally am on a mac, so that is sure to be limited. So chime in, if you think you have something, and if this proves to be interesting enough to the membership, perhaps we should make a separate thread for 'care and maintenance' or something. Aloha -- Shawn
Yeah, I hear ya on the data entry bit, I don't want to create another tedious task, but I do think it would be an important record for figuring out what works best for each system. Just the basics, and as far as plants go, one could just note what was planted, and then what succeeded or failed. I wouldn't want to go out with a tape measure and notepad ever day!

Jeff Givan said:
I was thinking of working on something on like what your thinking, but I was also going to include plant info. I wonder if it is worth the effort or just making more work. I am considering a wide range of vegetables so it might mean a ton of data entry. Shawn said:
Wasn't sure if this is the right discussion for this question, but... Since it won't stop raining I was just about to put some time into a spreadsheet for keeping track of fish types and quantities across multiple tanks or even multiple systems, including feeding schedules, temp readings, test results, general notes, etc., but figured a few of you techies may already have a good one you would be willing to share. Or perhaps even standalone software for such things, though I personally am on a mac, so that is sure to be limited. So chime in, if you think you have something, and if this proves to be interesting enough to the membership, perhaps we should make a separate thread for 'care and maintenance' or something. Aloha -- Shawn
You will definitely want at lest a notebook for tracking water test results. The a notebook might be good enough for keeping track of plants (at least taking note of planting dates what was planted where etc and you can later go back and note if it seemed successful or not.) I usually track the fish numbers on a post or board next to the tank with pencil (note when I remove or add fish and the date/total number) And fish weights usually get recorded just before cleaning, we weigh them and take a picture or at least weigh and write down the weight. I've generally tracked that on my BYAP forum system thread. Maybe some day I'll go through it all but probably not.

I do know that several people over there (BYAP) have set up programs or something to track things in their system usually more to do with water tests and temperatures and such though. If I ever get a good sensor that can track temperatures and long time then maybe I'll start tracking that too but I'm not likely to do it manually.
Just a thought or two,
I feel there is no better way to grow lettuce and the like, than floating raft. It is just wonderful. Lots of water in the system which lends itself to good stability in both pH and water temp. You will need to find a way to filter the fish waste solids out of the water before it goes to the floating raft/s

Gravel or media based grow beds are terrific for tomatoes, sweet corn, fruit trees, cucumber, peppers and lettuce and the like.

It is not too hard to make a combo system that has elements of both methods.

For overall simplicity and reliability when starting out I really like the humble gravel grow bed. It is the bio filter that you grow veggies in. Now that is a good deal. A dual purpose component !!!!
Flood and drain has proven to be a very reliable method of getting the water, nutrient and oxygen to the good bacteria and the plants.
Flood and drain in the grow bed can be achieved by the use of, float switches or timers or auto siphons. Float switches are too problematic, timers are great if you make sure you get a really good one, and auto siphons are just wonderful.
Murray, thanks for the thoughts. I'm very interested in the combo idea - do you recommend filtering the solids first in a gravel bed then sending that water over to a raft, then back to the fish?

Murray Hallam said:
Just a thought or two,
I feel there is no better way to grow lettuce and the like, than floating raft. It is just wonderful. Lots of water in the system which lends itself to good stability in both pH and water temp. You will need to find a way to filter the fish waste solids out of the water before it goes to the floating raft/s

Gravel or media based grow beds are terrific for tomatoes, sweet corn, fruit trees, cucumber, peppers and lettuce and the like.

It is not too hard to make a combo system that has elements of both methods.

For overall simplicity and reliability when starting out I really like the humble gravel grow bed. It is the bio filter that you grow veggies in. Now that is a good deal. A dual purpose component !!!!
Flood and drain has proven to be a very reliable method of getting the water, nutrient and oxygen to the good bacteria and the plants.
Flood and drain in the grow bed can be achieved by the use of, float switches or timers or auto siphons. Float switches are too problematic, timers are great if you make sure you get a really good one, and auto siphons are just wonderful.
Yes, that is the way it is normally done. In the balance of things for a home based system you need more gravel type grow beds than you do floating raft. That is if you are planning to only grow lettuce and the like in the floating raft.
A good number of well constructed gravel grow beds act as a wonderful solids filter for the floating raft bed.
At my place we have a floating raft bed that is 6' x3' and that can be growing 45 lettuce at any given time. For my Darling and our visitors we have heaps of lettuce from that.
The water is pumped or run through the floating raft bed after it has passed through the gravel grow beds. There is still heaps of nutrient in that water. Lettuce and the like are not big feeders so it works just fine.

Sylvia Bernstein said:
Murray, thanks for the thoughts. I'm very interested in the combo idea - do you recommend filtering the solids first in a gravel bed then sending that water over to a raft, then back to the fish?
Murray Hallam said:
Just a thought or two,
I feel there is no better way to grow lettuce and the like, than floating raft. It is just wonderful. Lots of water in the system which lends itself to good stability in both pH and water temp. You will need to find a way to filter the fish waste solids out of the water before it goes to the floating raft/s
Gravel or media based grow beds are terrific for tomatoes, sweet corn, fruit trees, cucumber, peppers and lettuce and the like.
It is not too hard to make a combo system that has elements of both methods.

For overall simplicity and reliability when starting out I really like the humble gravel grow bed. It is the bio filter that you grow veggies in. Now that is a good deal. A dual purpose component !!!!
Flood and drain has proven to be a very reliable method of getting the water, nutrient and oxygen to the good bacteria and the plants.
Flood and drain in the grow bed can be achieved by the use of, float switches or timers or auto siphons. Float switches are too problematic, timers are great if you make sure you get a really good one, and auto siphons are just wonderful.
Makes a ton of sense. I'm having dreams about getting out of the greenhouse and back onto the deck for the summer. I'd like to rig up something like this. You've convinced me!

Murray Hallam said:
Yes, that is the way it is normally done. In the balance of things for a home based system you need more gravel type grow beds than you do floating raft. That is if you are planning to only grow lettuce and the like in the floating raft.
A good number of well constructed gravel grow beds act as a wonderful solids filter for the floating raft bed.
At my place we have a floating raft bed that is 6' x3' and that can be growing 45 lettuce at any given time. For my Darling and our visitors we have heaps of lettuce from that.
The water is pumped or run through the floating raft bed after it has passed through the gravel grow beds. There is still heaps of nutrient in that water. Lettuce and the like are not big feeders so it works just fine.

Sylvia Bernstein said:
Murray, thanks for the thoughts. I'm very interested in the combo idea - do you recommend filtering the solids first in a gravel bed then sending that water over to a raft, then back to the fish?
Murray Hallam said:
Just a thought or two,
I feel there is no better way to grow lettuce and the like, than floating raft. It is just wonderful. Lots of water in the system which lends itself to good stability in both pH and water temp. You will need to find a way to filter the fish waste solids out of the water before it goes to the floating raft/s
Gravel or media based grow beds are terrific for tomatoes, sweet corn, fruit trees, cucumber, peppers and lettuce and the like.
It is not too hard to make a combo system that has elements of both methods.

For overall simplicity and reliability when starting out I really like the humble gravel grow bed. It is the bio filter that you grow veggies in. Now that is a good deal. A dual purpose component !!!!
Flood and drain has proven to be a very reliable method of getting the water, nutrient and oxygen to the good bacteria and the plants.
Flood and drain in the grow bed can be achieved by the use of, float switches or timers or auto siphons. Float switches are too problematic, timers are great if you make sure you get a really good one, and auto siphons are just wonderful.
I think I hit upon a possibility for lettuce the other day when I needed a solution for distributing the flow into my GB a little more evenly- I found a 4" drain pipe- the kind that is perforated for in ground seepage- and found that if I turn one row of holes to point sideways into the GB, it leaves the other row of hole along the top, which looks perfect for planting some lettuce in each hole. If, as Murray says, lettuce doesn't hog much of the nutrient stream, there will still be plenty for the GB, and their roots will make an excellent solids trap in the pipe. It would then be easier to clean out the pipe than the whole GB. And I'm sure there will still be enough solids getting though to keep my little worm friends happy. How's that for a hybrid system- anyone ever try anything like this? Here's a pic:

Cool idea, Shawn, but from the picture it looks like you would be positioning the lettuce before the media bed...so the lettuce roots would be acting as the solids filter, which wouldn't work. Do I have this right? Aloha

Shawn said:
I think I hit upon a possibility for lettuce the other day when I needed a solution for distributing the flow into my GB a little more evenly- I found a 4" drain pipe- the kind that is perforated for in ground seepage- and found that if I turn one row of holes to point sideways into the GB, it leaves the other row of hole along the top, which looks perfect for planting some lettuce in each hole. If, as Murray says, lettuce doesn't hog much of the nutrient stream, there will still be plenty for the GB, and their roots will make an excellent solids trap in the pipe. It would then be easier to clean out the pipe than the whole GB. And I'm sure there will still be enough solids getting though to keep my little worm friends happy. How's that for a hybrid system- anyone ever try anything like this? Here's a pic:

Hi Alan, I think the really big thing to come in high density food production will be the conversion of Hydro systems to Aquaponics. Hydro nutrients are skyrocketing in price and the bain of Hydro is pythium. Some industry insiders say that up to 20% of Hydro crops are lost due to pythium outbreaks.
The problem is almost non existant in Aquaponics.
The nutrient provided by the fish does supply all the elements needed to run a Hydro system and it does it organically

Alan said:
I've been following these boards with great interest. So firstly a big thanks you all for sharing so much info.
I've got a small barrel ponics system (Travis Hughey) working well but....I want to go commercial.
Before this interest in aquaponics I had a large hydroponic set up using NFT. Now in storage. So here I am with almost 2000 linear meters of NFT pipes, fittings etc and no source of information on how to convert toa continuous flow aquaponics system. Seems such a waste if I do not use all this stuff.
So questions,
1 Why so little info on NFT conversion? Any scientific reason(s)?
2 There seems to be loads on info on tank size to grow bed ratios etc. Is there some way to computer flow rates and nft runs per 1000 litre tanks etc.
Additonal info. I'm based in Thailand with had a warn climate all year round.
Plan on raising Tilapia and growing salads. I am thinking say 4 no 1000 litre tanks all connected (so I can harvest fish every 5 weeks or so). Set up a continuous 'flow' system.
Help me out here please.
talking about trying to filter solids with the lettuce roots so that you won't have to clean a grow bed. The truth is, if you have enough grow bed for the amount of fish you have, then you don't need to clean out media filled grow beds (that only happens if you are expecting a really small amount of gravel to filter a rather large amount of fish tank.)

Your lettuce will do far better if the roots are not all gunked up with solids. And if you add some composting worms into a grow bed, there should be no need to clean it out provided you are proving enough grow bed for your system.

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