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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Very clean looking setup. Nicely done.

 

Looks good, Jason. Are the beds on a siphon, or just a top-fill to bottom-drain? Usually indexing valves are used for bottom filled ebb and flow, but I see your fill-rails on the sides. May I make a suggestion? Ebb and flow is in my opinion the best use of a media bed. Auto-siphons are cool, and work well for some, not so well for others. The idea of flooding a bed to just below the surface means that all media will be wet, and the subsequent drain insure all wet media will get air. The dry time can be several hours, saving on electricity (however a constant flow keeps FT cleaner and oxegenated), and the dry surface prevents algae and discourages mold and fungus gnats. When pumping from the bottom, the pump need only to run long enough to fill to the level of an overflow. When the pump stops, the bed drains back through the fill tube and pump, unless the design of the indexing valve prevents this. Just throwing that out there in case you're not stoked with the current plumbing.
Also, I prefer a pump for each bed set to a different ON/OFF cycle, as opposed to one pump and an indexing valve, because FT will still get filtration if one pump fails. If your are servicing more than 3-4 beds, then indexing valve may make more sense. IMO of course.

Thanks, and yes, suggestions are welcome. So, the grow beds arent on a siphon. Top fill and bottom drain, with a stand pipe to controll the water level. But, as you said, the media is getting soaked up tp the top. I was hoping the stand pipe would keep the water at my desired level, but the water is being pumped in faster than it drains out of the top. And I tried to slow the flow to the beds by increasing the flow back in to the FT from the aeration bar. That didnt work, there wasnt enough pressure to get the indexing valve operating properly. I don t really want to make any drastic changes at this point. Maybe I'll add another drain with a stand pipe several inches below the surface to help keep the water level down? That may be the easiest thing to do for now, not sure if it'l work though. Or, flood each grow bed for shorter period of time? At 10 minutes the water is still below the top of the media, at 12-14 the media is floating. Although I'm still not certain of how long I should wait between flooding? I like idea of multiple pumps, but right now its not an option, maybe before next season. I suppose then I can get rid of the index valve?

Thank you! Still working out the kinks though
 
Fishy McFisherson said:

Very clean looking setup. Nicely done.

 

How 'bout this? It sounds like your stand-pipe is simply too small. So rather than redesign your system now, maybe remove existing standpipe from existing bottom drain, and add a larger diameter, additional drain and stand-pipe to each grow bed. Then you can keep the flow rate up while filling each bed. As soon as you start filling, the small dia. original drain will begin to drain, but not fast enough to prevent filling. As soon as the level reaches the new, larger dia. overflow, it will drain to take care of overfilling. When the pump shuts off, the bed will slowly drain through the original bottom drain. Standing water in a grow bed is a big no-no, and can lead to big melt-downs. Continuous flood systems work if they have enough flow, but time, roots and solids will usually also lead to trouble.

I like that idea. That shouldnt be too difficult to do with everything in place. I'm going to try to get that done by tomorrow or the next day.

On a side note, tomorrow I'm going out to buy a fish tank to put in my orchard. I mentioned our conversation about that to my wife and she's excited about it. When those Sac Perch are ready to ship,I should be ready for them.  Nutrient rich water for the trees and fish for our bellies.

Cool cool. Be sure to include a gravel guard for both the drain and the overflow when you do it. I use 4" black corrugated plastic flexible drain pipe from home depot, like $6 per 10 ft. Then I set my table saw to about 1/8", and make lenthwise cuts, so that the outermost ribbing is cut and the inner ribbing remains intact. This will provide a ton of "holes" for drainage, and only takes about a minute to make each one, amd is big enough to get your hand all the way to the bottom for cleaning and service.

Another person on this site, can't remember who, came up with a brilliant way to remove media to access the GB floor. Use a clean shop vac. Just suck up media until you have sufficient space work, then dump it back when you're finished and move go the next hole.

 OK, I have a question. I have my timer running now. To start its running for 10 minutes, shuts off for 1 minute, turns on again activating the next index valve port/grow bed in sequence. How fast should I have the drains in the grow beds evacuating the water? As it is now, each bed is fre of water for approximately 25-30 minutes before being filled again. Any input would be greatly appreciated!

Perfect. Flow rate in and out should matter as long as bed gets filled to overflow and totally drains every cycle.

I ran the system all day on the timer. Everything seems to be working great. Water temp is at 7o degrees on its way to 75? Is that a good temp for the fish?

75 is great for temperates, and ok tipapia. I prefer 85-95 for tilapia, as they grow faster, but it becomes very important to keep DO high. My outdoor shallow wading pools are already over 80, my 1000 gallon water tanks about 70

Finally figured out camera on my phone.  Waiting for specific shade cloth ordered over the internet; for now, put a tarp up for some working shade and started moving a few components in (tables, grow trays).  Testing the waters (so to speak) to see if this draws any attention from neighborhood vandals or thieves.  Thanks Anne for help with groundcloth etc.

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