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I was punching volume #'s earlier today and was wanting to get people who have used both systems opinions on space needed for each system.

The way I figured it, one zip tube is about the same as one square foot of ebb & flow grow bed. Each zip tube would also need about 4 sq. ft. of room. The great idea about them is you can grow more plants vertically than you can in the same 4 sq. ft. horizontally in a grow bed. This is great if your looking to grow a BUNCH of vegetables, but not so great if you want to raise a BUNCH of fish.

35 Adult fish would require (according to what I've learned so far) a 245 gallon tank. So far so good because I'll be looking at a 500 gal tank anyway to start out with probably a 100 gal tank as a sump. This is based on:

1) 1 adult Tilapia per 10 gal of FT.

2) 1 adult Tilapia per 20 gal of GB.

Now the assumption I'm having to make, because I have not been able to find any info on it is, does one zip tube, roughly 1 sq foot each (7 gal) work better as a bio-filter than 1 sq. ft. of ebb & flow grow bed?

So, a 4'x10'x1' deep ebb & flow table would represent 40 sq ft., and I could only fit about 10 sq. ft. of vertical towers in the same yard space. I would get more plants, but would not be able to have as many fish due to less bio-filter area unless the zip tubes are more efficient somehow than the grow beds.

Anyone have any experience with figuring out just how many fish you can have given a specific # of zip towers? Are the zip towers somehow a more efficient bio-filter than the ebb & flow grow beds? I've seen all the video's on youtube on the zip towers, and the only mention of how many fish were in this one guys system that he did not say how many towers he had, sounded astronomically high. I think he claimed to have about 3,000 fish in his tanks, but it looked like he couldn't of had any more than a few hundred towers set up at the most. 3,000 fish filtered by 300 sq. ft. of bio-filter sounds a bit incredible to me. It would take 6,000 sq. ft. of grow bed to filter that much fish poop from what I've read.

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If you have 40 cubic feet of filtration than plan on 40 cubic feet of tank. 40 cubic feet is 300 gallons. If you are only doing towers you will need some kind of filtration, like a swirl filter and matala filters. You can use the same sort of equations that are used for DWC and those tell you your feed rate should be between 200 and 350 grams a day for 40 cubic feet of biofilter. Then you decide how many fish at what age will eat that much food. My calculations are based of Dr Rakocy's figure of 60-100 grams/day per square meter of DWC

Thanks for the reply.

I plan on running 40-50 cubic feet of ebb & flow, then as many towers I can fit in the space that becomes available when I move. I want to do a small scale setup to see how it all works for when I can get some property up north and do it on a larger scale. (A real fish farm / ranch)

I'll be starting with 35 Mozambique Tilapia (minimum order for fingerlings from USA Aquaponics close to my area in LA), and the 40-50 cu ft of ebb & flow, then work up from there. I want to divide the tank with screen and keep 35 large fish, and 35 smaller fish going all the time in the one tank for a perpetual harvest every 5 months or so. I plan on using the sump for the fingerling nursery with a few smaller tanks for breeding purposes. So, 35 adult, 35 medium fish in a 500 gal tank, and 35 fingerlings in a 100 gal sump all hooked up as one system, with the breeding tanks separate using aquarium filters, or some small ebb & flow to keep their water clean and the plants happy.

This stuff gets my head spinning sometimes when trying to figure out a perpetual harvest. It would be nice to be able to pull 7-8 1.5-2lb fish per month out for eating. Eventually, I hope to be able to pull 7-8 fish per month out fresh, and not have to wait every 5 mo so I can have fresher fish and not have to freeze so much.

The vertical zip towers impress the heck out of me and I want to try them for strawberries and a few other veggies, but I really don't see any published filtration information on them anywhere using any search engine.


If you are not taking solids out of the system by using a media bed for filtration then you need far less feed input, so fewer fish. You can cut the feed by about 80% and still have plenty for the plants. Remove some solids and have more fish.

Go on youtube and search for "swirl filter aquaponics" They are pretty easy and cheap to make. Some people call them radial flow filters too. Another type of filtration is called a "clarifier".

Many people who harvest use 4 tanks harvesting one every 6 weeks so you can keep your feed inputs steady. 

I would recommend doing both ebb and flow and zip grow towers if you've got the space for it...both have benefits. Are you gardening indoors or outside?

"Many people who harvest use 4 tanks harvesting one every 6 weeks so you can keep your feed inputs steady."

That sounds like a good idea. I don't think I'll have room enough in the backyard garden for multiple tanks though. I'll need to divide the one big tank. When I get my land up north I plan on having quite a few tanks, with not all of them interconnected. That way is something bad happens, all the fish and crops are not lost. I'm not one for putting all my eggs in the same basket.

"Are you gardening indoors or outside?"

I'll be doing everything outside in the backyard setup. I may attach a small half loop house setup against the garage to try some indoor outdoor stuff the first winter.

When I get my land up north, I plan on having one or two BIG natural style ponds outside, and one large one per greenhouse. One of the outside ponds I'll try raising Koi, and the other one will be a mix of different fish and crawdads. I'm thinking the FT's in the greenhouses will be for the tilapia since they can't stand chilly water. In the greenhouses I plan on having ebb & flow in the front under the glass, and vertical behind that, as well as hops growing on vertical strings. The hops won't be giving me much filtration. At least not as much as the zip towers. I'll be growing hops in and outdoors.

Also, in the setup I'll have small isolation tanks for new fish before adding them to the system. I wouldn't want to contaminate my system with some disease after taking a month or two of initial cycling, or after I have healthy fish in there with crops going. I plan on breeding my own fish as well, so that would be even more tanks.

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