Aquaponic Gardening

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 I would like to know what others are doing to keep their systems winterized especially how well it works during this extreme weather Missouri is having. My husband built me a heat exchanger today for my system. we had one mishap due to me slowing the flow down too low, so we added additional stainless pipe and it has been running 15 minutes and the temp running out of the out put is 10 degrees higher than the in put so far... the water is pumped from the sump and part of it is channeled to the  heat exchanger and the other directly into the heat exchanger

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I use a tech foil to insulate our fish tanks... an insulated lid to cover the fish tanks and good old electric heaters to heat the water. 

it looks like your pipes are galvanized, which could be an issue for the fish. the main thing to be careful of when running water through a heater is pressure build up... be sure to have a release valve and/or build it  with an open top T so the water can drain out of the pipes when the pump is off.

happy heating

Thanks Rob,

  No, I am positive they are stainless steel and cast iron elbows- My husband has worked with pipe all his adult life as a sprinkler fitter :-).

Is tec foil expensive?

 I have covered my tank and pond with glass as passive a solar collector and then I cover it Styrofoam at night. During the day the water temps have raised as much as 10 degrees when the sun is out all day and that was before we put the heat exchanger together.
  the temps in southern Missouri are supposed to get in the single digits and even possibly -8. I have not seen these types of temps in 20 years. :-(


Rob Nash said:

I use a tech foil to insulate our fish tanks... an insulated lid to cover the fish tanks and good old electric heaters to heat the water. 

it looks like your pipes are galvanized, which could be an issue for the fish. the main thing to be careful of when running water through a heater is pressure build up... be sure to have a release valve and/or build it  with an open top T so the water can drain out of the pipes when the pump is off.

happy heating

  http://pesn.com/2006/03/15/9600246_Candle_Power/Candle_heater_stand...

Heat trace, is an electrical cable used throughout industry to prevent extreme cold events from bursting pipes. It can be used as a process heater but should only be installed by someone who understands how to control it properly. A handy alternative is "Heat Tape" found at most home improvement stores. They generally have a fixed setting built in thermostat meant to keep the temp above freezing only. With your husband's background he might tackle the trace cable.

 http://www.chromalox.com/productcatalog/Heat+Trace/Light+Commercial...

 

Another purely emergency heat for small exposed areas like your above photo suggests is candle power in flower pots. Much like "smudge pots" keep the frost off of orchards in a pinch.

Hello Shelia,

we're in North plains,or and also going through some extreme cold weather, we built one of robs electric water heaters, and built a lid similar to a hot tub cover on top or our ibc tote, , then lined the interior as much as possible  with straw for insulation, and a few extra bales  between the back walls and the plumbing. we stated with a medium baseboard style heater, and swapped it out for a electric oil filled type on a timer, so were still hanging in, nothing has died or frozen, we have been crossing our fingers everyday this last week.  


 Thanks Mark,

  I have thought about placing straw around the outside of my hoop house, but I was not sure there would be a huge benefit no longer than the straw would last outside...

  I am really pleased with my heat exchanger.  The temp out side is 9 degrees and the fish tank and pond only lost 1 degree over night and it was 72 degrees in the fish tank and pond,  the air temp was 50 now  the sun is shining,  so I am sure it has risen several degrees inside the green house.  What is the most impressive is that the fire was almost totally out the stove door was cool to the touch at  4:45 am just a coal or two and the water had not cooled off any more than that now the air temp when I first went in was in the 30' s but the pond held it's heat. I had it covered with Styrofoam last night- on the nights I have left off the cover  the air temp is better -usually 40's even when the fire has went out, but the temps have been in the teens and not single digits.

  Good luck keeping your green house warm.


mark gordon said:

Hello Shelia,

we're in North plains,or and also going through some extreme cold weather, we built one of robs electric water heaters, and built a lid similar to a hot tub cover on top or our ibc tote, , then lined the interior as much as possible  with straw for insulation, and a few extra bales  between the back walls and the plumbing. we stated with a medium baseboard style heater, and swapped it out for a electric oil filled type on a timer, so were still hanging in, nothing has died or frozen, we have been crossing our fingers everyday this last week.  

Sounds like it's working well.

I've got a propane water heater. Wanting to put a barrel stove in to use the dead wood I have laying around.

Shelia is your heating system a closed system so the waters don't mix? Dose it have a separate pump? How can you regulate the temp in the fish tank? I like the idea, looks great. Is the fire box airtight? You’ve given me some inspiration for what I will face. I'm thinking of a closed system. an old hot water tank a pump run pipe through a wood stove to the hot water tank and run pipe in and under the media, loop it through the fish tanks and back to the stove. Hot water tanks have a TP valve for safety. You can set the pump on a thermostat to keep a constant temp. The old radiant  heat system 

 HI Anthony,

  No, it is not a closed loop. The materials are fish safe, stainless steel and cast iron 90's because that is what we had on hand,  we only use one pump.  The pump is in the pond and pumps water to the fish tank and to the heat exchanger which has a valve to control the flow. I have enough water going through that the water that exits the heat exchanger is 73-74 degrees, before I increased the flow it was about 87. The water temps have stayed in the 70's -74 since we made the heat exchanger.  When the sun is out the water temps have raised between 76-78 in part because I have glass over the pond and fish tank to collect the solar heat.... I will try to get a few more pictures later after I do some chores.

 

 Anthony here are some more pictures.  Yes, the firebox is air tight it is a king heater. The exchanger is laid on top of the stove and we have placed a stainless steel top on top of it to keep more of the heat around the s.s. pipe and I also placed pieces of rod near and on top of the s.s. pipe so more heat is transferred by the rods touching the stove and the pipe. After I added more steel rod on top and to the side of the pipes the heat increased several degrees and I increased the water flow.

   I  came across a blog last night when looking for more information on breeding fish and found someone that may have made the same type of heater you mentioned making. I am including a link. there is an email at the end of the blog for questions....
 http://www.raycotechnologies.org/Raising%20tilapia%20at%20home%20.htm

I also place glass over my pond and fish tank to collect solar heat and that helps raise the temperature several degrees.


Anthony Payne said:

Shelia is your heating system a closed system so the waters don't mix? Dose it have a separate pump? How can you regulate the temp in the fish tank? I like the idea, looks great. Is the fire box airtight? You’ve given me some inspiration for what I will face. I'm thinking of a closed system. an old hot water tank a pump run pipe through a wood stove to the hot water tank and run pipe in and under the media, loop it through the fish tanks and back to the stove. Hot water tanks have a TP valve for safety. You can set the pump on a thermostat to keep a constant temp. The old radiant  heat system 

I think that truly the best way to insulate your system is to build the whole thing out of insulation from the beginning.  I build my tanks from repurposed freezers and my grow beds out of 2" foam board with foam board covering the top as well.

If you heavily insulate and air seal the whole thing you can reduce your heating bill by a factor of 10.  At least that's what I've seen.

Insulated fish-tanks and grow beds- way forward  greenhouse ,propane gas heaters are good surprisingly T 5 grow lights throw out quite a lot of heat finding about 5  degrees difference  in the greenhouse ,they also help to warm up grow beds Gas heater set gives about ten degrees outside temperature 1 degree ,at the time of temperature  reading  -when light is on adds extra heat  ,also take into account heated fish tank  water- perspex I would consider over glass to keep warm .In retrospect I wish I had built a custom made greenhouse -side walls say three feet hight insulated -perspex side and roof ,fish tank separately housed and insulated .Looking inside of your greenhouse you could build inside greenhouse  to give you extra warmth.

Sheila, I was just looking at your heater and noticed the duct going up and through the wall. Most of that heat that you are sending outside can be used to heat the GH. I just expanded my GH and ran the exhaust duct from the heater to the other end of the GH through the top of the GH. I have thermostatically controlled fans in the ceiling to blow the heat down in the GH. Works great. I also have a thermostatically controlled propane heater for backup when the wood heater goes out at night. It is facing the FT (not too close) so that the heat not only heats the GH but the water as well.

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