Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

Hey there Sacramento folks (present and future):  would love to hear what your aquaponics system is, or if you haven't got it started yet, what you're planning to do.  A bit about mine to start things off:  I've got two small flood-and-drain growbeds and two fish tanks, about 200 gallons total, on a south-facing porch in downtown Sac. You can see a short video of it at   http://youtu.be/WrwNJNP1Rko.  Raising mostly bluegill at the moment, with a few goldfish for good measure.  Started raising black soldier fly larvae this summer to feed the bluegill, but not enough to represent a big part of their diet (yet).  Still got lots of basil growing but about to replace it with lettuce.  Am open to visitors if you ever want to check it out in person.  So--how about yours?  (Susie, I know about yours, but feel free to post it here for others to hear about too).

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Hey Paul, are those double wall polycarbonate sheets in the background? Where did you find them locally?
 
Paul Trudeau said:

Wee bit of change with my system:  since I'm not raising any fish that eat duckweed, and because I'm having some doubts as to the nutritional benefits of duckweed anyway, I converted  one mini-growbed to deep water culture.  Instead of floating raft, am using a rigid board (discarded polyethylene cutting board) about 1.5" above the top of the water, a la Glenn Martinez @ Olomana Garden in Hawaii.  Room enough for 5 net pots.  Added 4 kale seedlings and a ground cherry seedling with hydroton in the net pots.  (If you don't know about ground cherries: they're a relative of tomatoes and tomatillos.  Fruit looks like a small tomatillo, but it's sweet.  Fun plant!  You peel back the papery husk like unwrapping a little present, a tart, tasty little treat.  We'll see how it does in AP vs. soil. I've got several growing this year.)

Yep, "twinwall" aka "Polygal".  Interstate Plastics off of Expo Blvd. near 160.  Pricey, but really nice stuff.  I got the 0.315" (8 mm) thickness; you can get thicker (with increased R value) but that costs more.  It comes in 4' x 12' sheets for something like $120 each (I can't remember the exact price).  But they had some 4' x 4' remnants that the guy offered to me for $10 each and which met most my needs.  If you look the stuff up on the web, there are all sorts of channels and connectors to use with the stuff, but Interstate didn't have those and I didn't use them.  There's also this specialized perforated "vent tape" that you're supposed to use on the cut ends to keep grit out of the channels but allow moisture to escape.  I bought a roll of that (also pricey) and used it in some spots but for my application, it seems like maybe it wasn't necessary.  If you decide you want to use the tape, you can use the partial roll I have left.  Sheets can be cut with woodworking tools or (with some difficulty) a utility knife.  If you're thinking of bending it, I learned a few things by trial and error, happy to share.

Fishy McFisherson said:

Hey Paul, are those double wall polycarbonate sheets in the background? Where did you find them locally?
 
Paul Trudeau said:

Wee bit of change with my system:  since I'm not raising any fish that eat duckweed, and because I'm having some doubts as to the nutritional benefits of duckweed anyway, I converted  one mini-growbed to deep water culture.  Instead of floating raft, am using a rigid board (discarded polyethylene cutting board) about 1.5" above the top of the water, a la Glenn Martinez @ Olomana Garden in Hawaii.  Room enough for 5 net pots.  Added 4 kale seedlings and a ground cherry seedling with hydroton in the net pots.  (If you don't know about ground cherries: they're a relative of tomatoes and tomatillos.  Fruit looks like a small tomatillo, but it's sweet.  Fun plant!  You peel back the papery husk like unwrapping a little present, a tart, tasty little treat.  We'll see how it does in AP vs. soil. I've got several growing this year.)

Have wanted to expand my AP system but am out of room at my condo.  Put out a request on my neighborhood email list asking if anyone had an underused backyard they wouldn't mind having a greenhouse in, in exchange for some veggies once in a while.  And sure enough found a perfect match:  folks I've known for 10 years or so with a good attitude and a fenced-in south-facing back yard with no obstructions.  Have been busy with design and site prep ever since. 

Will be building a 10' x 12' greenhouse, because 120 sf is the max allowed in City of Sacramento without a building permit, as noted by Fishy in his "8x15 Greenhouse Build" thread.  Because my neighborhood is an official Historic Preservation District, such a structure does require a City approval for the "appropriateness" of the design; got that (and paid the significant fee as well).  Framing will be 3/4" electrical metallic tubing (EMT conduit) (easy to work with, low profile, sturdy, won't rot any time soon in contact with the ground, and is recyclable unlike PVC).  Covering for the upcoming warm months will be something more to keep dogs/raccoons/children out than to keep heat in.  Planning to use a glass door recently removed from our shower stall.  Here's a basic drawing:

Aquaponics setup inside will be a version of "tray-ponics" design by Glenn Martinez at Olomana Garden in Hawaii.  Basically 2' x 3' x 8" plastic cement mixing trays (from Home Depot, about $13/each) as raft tanks and media beds/biofilter, plumbed in series on standard plastic-top folding banquet tables (also from Home D), with a 90 gallon fish tank under one of the tables.  90 gallons is less than what I have in my current setup on my porch, but the new setup will have something like 10x as much plant growing area.  : )

The thing I like about both the greenhouse and AP system designs is that both can be broken down and then moved or stored in a relatively small space, which may be necessary at some point if things change for either my neighbors or myself or both.

Don't know if I'll have the system up and running in time for our June 10 tour but if not, it won't be for lack of effort...

Looks like a great project- let me know if you could use another set of hands, I'd be glad to help!

Paul....how exciting and great drawing!  I keep hearing from ALL greenhouse people how important "ventilation" is in a greenhouse. Be sure and plan a way for air to flow through that greenhouse.  Also in our heat, how do you plan to cool that thing??  Our greenhouse got 140 inside it last summer

!  I bought an Aluminet shade cover (40%) to put on ours this year.  Also need to buy a larger swamp cooler.  May have to do "misters" too later.... but maybe with all the water in it, I won't need misters.  So don't forget that aspect....(you didn't mention, so I was just concerned)!  This helps figure the "flow" of air you need....  http://www.littlegreenhouse.com/fan-calc.shtml  Can't wait to see it finished.  I'm really excited for you Paul!!

Thanks JP, may very well take you up on that!

Jp said:

Looks like a great project- let me know if you could use another set of hands, I'd be glad to help!

Susei, yeah cooling/ventilation is definitely an issue.  I think for the summer, I may not use any polyfilm at all - maybe just shade cloth.  And/or make sides "roll-up".  And maybe mechanical ventilation too, we'll see.

Susie Gehri said:

Paul....how exciting and great drawing!  I keep hearing from ALL greenhouse people how important "ventilation" is in a greenhouse. Be sure and plan a way for air to flow through that greenhouse.  Also in our heat, how do you plan to cool that thing??  Our greenhouse got 140 inside it last summer

!  I bought an Aluminet shade cover (40%) to put on ours this year.  Also need to buy a larger swamp cooler.  May have to do "misters" too later.... but maybe with all the water in it, I won't need misters.  So don't forget that aspect....(you didn't mention, so I was just concerned)!  This helps figure the "flow" of air you need....  http://www.littlegreenhouse.com/fan-calc.shtml  Can't wait to see it finished.  I'm really excited for you Paul!!

Oh thats a great idea Paul.  Roll up sides would be awesome with shade cloth. I'm waiting for some young whippersnapper to help us put our aluminet up.....



Paul Trudeau said:

Susei, yeah cooling/ventilation is definitely an issue.  I think for the summer, I may not use any polyfilm at all - maybe just shade cloth.  And/or make sides "roll-up".  And maybe mechanical ventilation too, we'll see.

Susie Gehri said:

Paul....how exciting and great drawing!  I keep hearing from ALL greenhouse people how important "ventilation" is in a greenhouse. Be sure and plan a way for air to flow through that greenhouse.  Also in our heat, how do you plan to cool that thing??  Our greenhouse got 140 inside it last summer

!  I bought an Aluminet shade cover (40%) to put on ours this year.  Also need to buy a larger swamp cooler.  May have to do "misters" too later.... but maybe with all the water in it, I won't need misters.  So don't forget that aspect....(you didn't mention, so I was just concerned)!  This helps figure the "flow" of air you need....  http://www.littlegreenhouse.com/fan-calc.shtml  Can't wait to see it finished.  I'm really excited for you Paul!!

Just got back from the river, beautiful day. Lot's of people out and about, hiking, biking, rafting, and such. I was catching lady bugs with my 7 year old- fun stuff! 

I'd be happy to help with the aluminet too- I've been recuperating from an auto accident and looking for things to do!

Here's a quick video from Chico Aquaponic

Finished the cooler just in time for this heat

Wow, great job, that's really something.

thanks for sharing that!

Thanks.  I had an idea that I might want to go commercial, so I built a very small scale system indoors where the environment could be controlled year round.  I'm glad I did a small scale system first because I have experienced a lot of small problems that were not too difficult to fix, but I'd rather know about them before investing heavily into a aquaponics.

I'm still evaluating and learning before making a commitment to a commercial system.  I'm sure it will be several years before I make that move.

Here's my pond. I have a tomato and a fig tree growing in the stream so I guess it qualifies too.


Jp said:

Wow, great job, that's really something.

thanks for sharing that!

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