Hello Everyone, I'm a newbie and up until about 3 weeks ago I had never heard of Aquaponics. Now, I'm obsessed with gathering as much info as I can and am eager to get started. I think my best bet is to start with an already established backyard pond that, as you can see by the photo is way overgrown with aquatic plants. The aquatics do fabulous in my pond and keep the water pretty clear and mostly free of algae because they cover nearly 98% of the water from sun. I have gold fish in the pond, though not nearly as many as I used to thanks to BirdZilla (Blue Heron) who frequently comes by and robs me of my fish. But there are 3 left and will add more if needed. The pond is also home to frogs and there are hundreds, if not thousands of tadpoles in the pond. The pond is roughly 8'x12' with and avg depth of aprx. 2 ft.
So with this being my starting point I am looking for any and all advise on what size grow bed(s) I can support with my pond? How many more fish should I add? Will the frogs/tadpoles cause any problems growing veggies? Should I clear all or most of the aquatic plants from the pond so the nutrients are used by the gb's and not the aquatic plants? If I do need to remove all the aquatic plants should I cover the pond to shield from the sun to avoid an algae bloom? I'm sure there are a lot more questions that I haven't even thought of yet but as they say, "you don't know what you don't know".
Anyway, any advise, gb system plans, etc would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
First of all, get yourself a Blue Heron decoy off eBay. Make sure to move it around the perimeter of the pond daily. Blue Herons do not mess with another Heron's pond. If you keep moving the decoy around, it will fool BirdZilla to thinking another Blue Heron is in residencia.
I'd build a open lattice patio cover over it, with 1" square slats, separated by 1’’ gaps. That will break up the Sun and also help to keep the flying predators out. Put up 6 – 10 veggie grow boxes or start with 6 and add it others later. I suggest that the size of the boxes be in the neighborhood of 18" deep and about 4’ long and 2’ wide. For filtration media in the grow boxes I prefer is 1/3 of the box filled with 1 inch+ Lava rock, with 2/3rds Lava rock pea gravel (3/8ths inch minus) on top of the more course lava rock.
I’d circulate with total of 4,000 to 6,000 gallons per hour with one submersible pump. I really believe in moving water. I would pump, through a manifold outside the pond to each of the grow boxes individually and drain them back through an exit manifold to a single discharge pipe back into the pond.
Before the discharge pipe gets into the pond, and I am assuming that it will be 2’’ PVC I would step down to a 1’’ pipe for about 4’’ inches and then step back up to a 2” pipe back into the pond. That discharge pipe would go all the way to the bottom of the pond and be angle cut on the end. I would drill a ¼” hole in the step down1” pipe. The water would speed up going through the 1” pipe and make a venturi. The water would swirl going through the 1” pipe and draw in oxygen through the ¼’’ hole that you drilled in it. That oxygen would aerate the pond and you will see the bubbles coming up from the bottom of the discharge pipe. Or you could put and ell at the bottom of the discharge pipe and run a PVC pipe from there for the entire length of the pond. You could also discharge into 2 or 3 locations in the pond using the same discharge pipe construction method.
I’d rip out all the vegetation in the pond. Your pond is about 1,900 cubic feet and I would plant to 50 to 75 channel catfish fingerlings in it. Feed them 2 to 3 times a day with a feed that is 40+% proteins and 15% fat. When they get big enough, they will love the tadpole and gold fish snacks. I sometimes release 50 feeder gold fish into my breeding pond and boy does all heck break loose! Catfish love treats!
Some others will be along with their ideas. There are a 1000 ways to work with your pond … all of them good.
I didn't know that about Blue Heron. I thought I was just going to have to stand guard with my varmint gun until Birdzilla returns for the rest of my goldfish :-) Though, right now there is so much vegetation in the pond it's doubtful he even knows they are still there. I thought they were all gone for 3 months until one poked it's lips out one day to get a mosquito.
I figured I would need to clear out the aquatics leaving the pond exposed and figure a way to sun shield it. I like the lattice idea but husband is not really on board with making any aesthetic changes to the pond. So, will have to keep working on him.
I didn't think the pond would support as many gb's as you recommend so that's good but now I have to figure out how to build them with left over lumber scraps and such. I'm trying to do this on a budget and keep the pond area as natural looking as possible for aesthetics so wood seems to be a better fit than rubber tubs. Do you really think the pond is deep enough for channel catfish? I thought it had to be deeper?? Anyway, we'll probably just stick with goldfish in the pond while we're learning and when we expand to a larger system in our green house maybe look at cats.
As far as the pump and plumbing you recommended that sounds ominous to me. I'm going to get my husband to read it to see if it's something he is capable of because plumbing is a bit scary to me but he's pretty good at it. BTW, what is a venturi? My thought on the gb's was to use river pebbles and use a basic constant flow pumping water into the top of the gb and draining out the bottom through a spout directly back into the pond. I figured between the constant draining through a spout (creating like a fountain effect) and the existing waterfall feature in the pond that would still be enough aeration, no? But again, Plumbing is definitely not my forte.
Anyway, I'm looking forward to everyone's ideas as well. One of the key things is that the pond area needs to also remain decorative and aesthetically pleasing, otherwise hubby will not be on board.
Phil Slaton said:
First of all, get yourself a Blue Heron decoy off eBay. Make sure to move it around the perimeter of the pond daily. Blue Herons do not mess with another Heron's pond. If you keep moving the decoy around, it will fool BirdZilla to thinking another Blue Heron is in residencia.....
I start off with lots of fingerlings. You never get 100% to eating size. I have 3 cats that love the fact that my hobby is Aquaponics. By the time they get to 2 pounds you may have 30-35 left.