Aquaponic Gardening

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This is my first year with Tilapia in an IBC tote, I have them in my greenhouse. I am wondering what others will do for winter? Ie, insulating tank, running grow beds, heater???

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Angela,

   I think that all depends on what part of the country you live in. Tilapia do need a warmer water temp, than a lot of other fish do, so a heater may be needed. This should help keep your greenhouse warm to, depending on its size and make up. You also will have less light in the winter, so artificial light may be needed, less so for greens like lettuce.

   Insullating your tank will help keep the temperature fluctuations down, and hold in some heat. Most of your heat lose will be from the top of the tank, but don't button it up so well that the tank won't have enough oxygen.

Hi Angela,

The steel cages do suck the heat out of the tote so an inch or more of foil covered foam cut to fit around and on top of the tote can make a real difference. The foam boards are available at Lowes, etc for around 8.00 per 4x8. I will be using Duct tape to close up the corners. That and solar hw and a woodstove which will heat the solar hw storage during long cloudy Winter days is in the plan here. I will keep everyone up to date as it comes together. The bypass (extra water from the pump) will pass thru the 100 gal hw storage system up on a rack near the 10' high roof which will then dump into the underground 275gal sump. All is housed in a 24 x 24 pole construction green house originally designed to be 16 x 24 but I could not resist extending the S side a bit to allow more space for the wood stove and 12 55gal barrels filled with water to soak up heat on sunny days and of course a hot tub also heated by all the above and adding another 250 gal of mass.I will dig out the front area over the winter and build a stone wall foundation which will soak up more heat. Mass is the key to heat storage. Next year the expensive hard plastic covering will go on and I will double insulate inside that.

Hope this helps you somehow.

That all looks very nice. More like WOW!  Going into this I had no idea of what "more" I would have to do and think of outside the box. Always learning. I thought I was going to be ok with just my greenhouse Im in SW MI. Snow, wind and cold. One day it was 40* the next day 70* for fall temps, typical. 

Currently I have my fish in a smaller tank. From my 275 gal IBC tote to a 55 gal drum. I wrapped my drum with R19 and have installed 2 tank heaters. I still have the system running through the grow beds.

Im "thinking" of  not running the beds this winter and using a filter???? Im not very enthused about heating my greenhouse 10x16. Its been hard enough finding wood to heat our house!

I posted, asking what others think of the new pellet stove on the site? Curious!

Thank you again for all your suggestions, Good luck to us all!

Angela,

   I think a person really has to do some concidering as far as how to heat their greenhouse/home. The pellet stove seems like an ideal option, if you have a source of pellets cheaply. You also have to look at your life style. Do you work full time? Do you raise children? and several other things that occupy a persons time. These stoves have to be filled on a regular basis I imagine, and can involve some heavy lifting. I looked into a sunflower seed burning stove, but was told to concider my life style. I really couldn't see myself raising acres of sunflowers, and then harvesting and drying tons of seed practically. The same goes for a wood stove. You need a source of wood to burn that is cheaper than say natural gas, or electric heat. Just my opinion on the subject, so to be taken with a grain of salt.

Matt

Exactly! Im trying to take it all in.  Electric is so far the  option. Im nervous about that choice, our electric is already high!

Solar panels do not work well in my location. SW MI. Fine for Spring. Winter, not enough sunlight and snow. We experience many days of no sun. 

All of these options, how would one regulate the heat? One minute it could be very warm, the next too cool, right?



Matt Tanking said:

Angela,

   I think a person really has to do some concidering as far as how to heat their greenhouse/home. The pellet stove seems like an ideal option, if you have a source of pellets cheaply. You also have to look at your life style. Do you work full time? Do you raise children? and several other things that occupy a persons time. These stoves have to be filled on a regular basis I imagine, and can involve some heavy lifting. I looked into a sunflower seed burning stove, but was told to concider my life style. I really couldn't see myself raising acres of sunflowers, and then harvesting and drying tons of seed practically. The same goes for a wood stove. You need a source of wood to burn that is cheaper than say natural gas, or electric heat. Just my opinion on the subject, so to be taken with a grain of salt.

Matt

I couldn't agree with you more Angela. I am in SE WI. right across the lake from you. The lake pretty much controls the weather here, with temp changes and or snow, every time the wind changes. I decided to raise the fish in the basement, and plants with artificial light. I would like to build a twin walled polycarbonate greenhouse on the south side of my house, and maybe use it to house the plants. I would still need to supplement with grow lights in the winter, and pump the water up from the basement. I'll grow leafy greens in the winter, because they need much less light. The house will help warm the greenhouse at night, and visa versa in the daytime. I'm still new at this, so we'll see how it goes.

Angela Pierce said:

Exactly! Im trying to take it all in.  Electric is so far the  option. Im nervous about that choice, our electric is already high!

Solar panels do not work well in my location. SW MI. Fine for Spring. Winter, not enough sunlight and snow. We experience many days of no sun. 

All of these options, how would one regulate the heat? One minute it could be very warm, the next too cool, right?



Matt Tanking said:

Angela,

   I think a person really has to do some concidering as far as how to heat their greenhouse/home. The pellet stove seems like an ideal option, if you have a source of pellets cheaply. You also have to look at your life style. Do you work full time? Do you raise children? and several other things that occupy a persons time. These stoves have to be filled on a regular basis I imagine, and can involve some heavy lifting. I looked into a sunflower seed burning stove, but was told to concider my life style. I really couldn't see myself raising acres of sunflowers, and then harvesting and drying tons of seed practically. The same goes for a wood stove. You need a source of wood to burn that is cheaper than say natural gas, or electric heat. Just my opinion on the subject, so to be taken with a grain of salt.

Matt

I am new to this and read you conversation from last year. I do not have near the cold you do, but was wandering what you learned ?

How is your home heated Matt t., Angela? If your home is on a boiler, you could use the boiler to help heat the greenhouse. I applied radiant tubing into my slab, and also wrapped the tubing around my ibc which is buried in the ground with 2" of insulation keeping the warmth directed to the tank. Yes the metal crate conducts the heat but it radiates it to the ibc. I live in the center portion of Wyoming and with our week of -20 weather, my greenhouse did not freeze. The edges of the beds did freeze but continued to cycle. Unfortunately, my fish died a while ago, because of my ph level being too acidic, still working on that. I am new to this and can't wait to have the results that are seen on many other systems. Tilapia may have been a poor decision on my part and starting later in the year, I am looking at another species of fish to raise. Trial and expensive error.

Hey Tim, try Trout and use wood ashes to naturally bring up your PH. I put about a cup at each inflow of our 5 ibc GBs and it buffers nicely. The bio-char in the ashes is great for bacteria growth as well. Trout fingerlings are very sensitive to ph as we learned the hard way last Fall. The more mature fish showed no sign of stress but we lost 30+ fingerlings in 2 days before the light went off and I checked the water and the only thing off was the ph so I tried the wood ashes and bam all was well. I repeat them about once a month now as mature system (2yrs old now) tend to go acidic if left to it's own devices. We heat our AP system with our woodstove so they are right handy anytime we need them (ashes that is).

As to insulation we have none yet as we have lots of our own hard woods and a beast of a woodstove that heats the water and air easily even below 0F but we plan on 2" foam in the North side fish room walls and double poly 6 mil GH plastic for now on the GH side. Eventually Polycarb panels for roof on the GH side and 6mil underneath for insul. I walled off the fish room so it can be controlled separately from the GH side. That has worked amazingly well and I highly recommend it.

Just realized this thread is so old I had not posted a pic of our woodstove here which I built since. Got us thru 0F and below no problem and heats the water as well. As you can see everything was (and is) under construction. Far cheaper than pellets and great exercise. Keeps us old folks feeling young and we have about 5 acres of hard woods with 100ft trees to tend anyway. Running 4 woodstoves right now between our cabin (1) our house (2) and our GH (1). At the moment I am building a whole new wood gasifier design that is based upon 50 yrs of heating with wood and designing my own stoves, should be amazing. Outdoor wood boilers in the gasifier class are about 12,000.00 and this design should come in at under 500.00 including solid state controls. Last time we purchased a wood stove for the livingroom it was about 3000.00 and that was a baby compared to this design. So we will build our own when it is not for show (like in the living room:-). My wife likes our GH woodstove so much (it is very automated and a pleasure to load and use) that she requested another for the main house heat but I never make 2 alike as I learn from each one. We are very excited to get this next one done. This will be about the 5th design.

BTW, the pellet stoves feed the pellets in on their own in many cases so you do not have to tend them that often. I am just way too cheap and do not trust the supply chain in an emergency. I like being my own supplier, preppers that we are. That is also the attraction of AP for us, having our own source of healthy food right here in our yard year round. Doesn't get any sweeter and on a sunny day when its 20F out and 80 in the GH, wow! We find every excuse to work in the GH on such days.

Thank you very much for the help. I tried using powder calcium carbonate and my clay pebbles now have white crystallization all over. Did not help, just frustrated me even more. Nice setup with the woodstove. We in Wyoming have a limited supply of wood living in a high plains desert area. yes we have mountains, pine and ash trees being the wood to burn. I would imagine that the ashes of the pine, would not be very alkaline, as the needles are acidic, which was told to me by a gardener.

I like your setup. Have you seen my post of my greenhouse?

Hey, speaking of IBC insulation our son in law has taken a temp job at a furniture retailer and the couches often are covered in a double layered bubble wrap that goes into the dumpster after delivery. He brought a few home and they are spectacular for wrapping the tanks. Check out your area. I'll try to post a pic tomorrow. Another great freebie. Perhaps I should start a freebie thread

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