Aquaponic Gardening

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Hi All,

 I went out and got 2 330g IBC tanks that will be my FT's. I have a few more questions if you don't mind.

1) With oxygen: I was wondering if the rules still apply for pressure needed if you go through the side of the FT, with a bulkhead fitting then attach your air stone with a backflow preventer vs. going up over the top of the FT down the full volume to the air stone. Also I read about oversaturation. I have some Stainless Steel brewing Carbonation stones. They are a .5 micron. If I used these, one in each tank, will that oversaturate the water with oxygen? Would it be feasible to put them on a timer to avoid oversaturation?

2) With my 2 FT's to keep the water level equalized, I was going to use 3" pipe at the bottom of the FT. Will I need to put something over the pipe to keep the fish from swimming back and forth? The fish will all be the same, maybe. Or should I use a bigger size so the fish can swim back and forth without getting to big for the pipe?

3) I am going to use different types of beds in my system. I am going to use media beds and float table. I am trying to use 1/2  barrels, cut short way, for trees and bushes. I am trying to wrap my head around how to set those up. Should they be on a continuous drip with drain holes in the bottom or flood and drain like traditional media beds? Would it depend on the plant going in the barrel and what they like for watering?

4) Pumps. I think I will need 2 pumps. I have read all over that you only want to use one pump. I don't know if we will have enough height to be able to raise up the 2FT's so we can use gravity. What size pump(s) would you recommend? I was thinking somewhere in the range of 700 GPH, is that to big?

This is a diagram of what I want my system to look like, or something similar. Since drawing this up and going over it with my Dad, who is very good with plumbing and the way of water, I have changed a few things already. The sump tank will actually be a 275g IBC tank buried. The main pipe size will be 1/2", delivery pipe and everything else 1", Is the sizes workable? the dump return line will be 1 1/4" for better flow. Any insight or suggestions will be appreciated. We got our tax return and I want to buy some more parts.

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Replies to This Discussion

Item # 2 use this strainer, you can get it at home depot.


Item # 4.  Get 2 spare pumps.  Breakdowns are common.  Also get a spare aeriator pump.  eBay has them.  Get flex hose on eBay also.

If this is your first aquaponics endeavor then you are trying to bite off a lot at once. I have 2 IBC tanks side by side, 1 halfway in the ground. I simply have a 1" overflow pipe in the higher tank draining out into the lower tank with one 360 gallon pump. Probably would go with a little bigger pump to accommodate the height next time but one pump keeps it simple. Pumps up to the GB and drains to the higher tank then back to the lower tank. Going to rearrange the pump lines today. The same overflow would be sufficient for your tanks as well. 3" is not necessary and is much more expensive.


Hey Vance, first join our IBC group HERE and read through the posts.

Second, there is no place in your plan for any 1/2" pipe (go either 3/4" or 1" THINWALL for extra flow and lower cost). I would design for all gravity flow from the FT to the GBs and they should be 1 1/2" outflows to to the GBs. The pump can be a single, into 1" pipe and will do everything except perhaps tall vertical GBs. I used a Little Giant 1100gph (I paid 70.00) and it does everything in our 2000g system and still sends extra flow back to the sump via a "bypass". You can expect at least 5 years from an LG pump and since it is rated for pond scum :-) and your sump is clear water, it might just last for ever. Mine has been non stop for 2 yrs now with no fade or any maintenance what so ever. Hasn't ever been removed once.

You have gone for what I consider the BEST design with a 275 or 330 below grade sump so take advantage of your design and KISS. Pump out of the sump to the FTs and drain from the FTs to the hip (waist) high GBs (best working height and leaves room for those 8 foot bean and peas and tomatoes) and from there it flows back to the sump. It doesn't get any simpler or better than that. (not everyone can bury the sump so we are the lucky ones) (See my pics)

I use a "slotted along the bottom" pick up pipe with a 12" to 16" stick style air stone (Walmart 2-4 $) wire tied to the top over the slots. (see my pics) The air creates a current that draws the fish waste to the PU pipe. Saves having to clean the FTs all the time. That pipe 90s to a pipe up the front wall to a "T" at the height you want the FT water (about 8" from the top). The "T" is threaded for a male ELECTRICAL threaded adapter and is slotted for a skimmer at the center of the T. (see my pics) Just like in a swimming pool. Bottom drain and top skimmer. That will keep the FTs as clean as possible without much effort as you will get floaters and sinkers and this addresses both.

Go 1 1/2" for the manifold from FTs to GBs BECAUSE that is the smallest size where you can get SWEEP 90s rather than sharp 90s which restrict flow. Go 2" for the manifold from your GB siphons back to the sump and VENT that manifold well so it does not effect the siphons. Giving you a heads up here on things we learned the hard way.

DO NOT connect the 2 FTs with that 3" pipe. Expensive, leak prone, and totally unnecessary. You will want the fish kept separate for different sizes or species. Use the outflow Ts to set the level in each tank and fill those tanks to about 8" from the top for max volume (about 300g in a 330 IBC). Don't cut the tops off. Just cut hatches the width of the IBC and about 8-10" in depth. Leave about four 3/8" "hinges" at the back of the hatches (see pics) No other hinges or covers needed (except shade in one form or another, in my case a metal roof over the "fish room").

Go to my pics HERE for lots of pics and examples rather than post them here. Save the exotic items that might require a second pump for down the road. KISS and learn the ins and outs of AP first before you go nuts all at once. You still have so many fish to kill before you get your AP mojo on

Vance, Re: item one. The only likely situation that would result in over saturation is an air leak on the intake side of you pump. If you use a submersible pump, this will never happen. For the air stone, the more the better.

Also, I missed #1 above. Makes no difference at all. Pressure is pressure regardless of how or where you enter the FT. Avoid any holes in the sides that are unnecessary. I use a piston oilless air pump off Ebay that has no problem pushing to the bottom of five 330g IBCs. Vibrator types will not do it and the "solenoid" types are so noisy that you will hate them. Figure about 40-50.00 for a used industrial air pump on Ebay that sells for up to 450.00 new and will give you years of service between rebuilds as opposed to at least annual rebuilds for the others I mentioned.

When purchasing on Ebay simply go by the vendors FEEDBACK and rating to stay safe. Ebay rocks if you use a little common sense. I am still waiting, after months now, for some 3" pvc caps I purchased off Ama..n. Ebay would have refunded my money and thrown that !?*&! vendor off Ebay months ago. I have not made a single purchase from Ama..n since. Just a heads up with all that refund cash in hand.   Spend it wisely. Also Sylvia has lots of good deals right here on this forum under the "Shop" tab above.

RE: #1, I should have clarified my statement - I meant an air leak on the intake side of the WATER pump, not the air pump.

I've often wondered if this is could be used to an advantage in a serious low-oxygen event, or when the pump does not feed the fish tank directly - i.e. to the grow beds.

It won't matter BUT it will reduce the pump output. It does blast the water with very fine bubbles which will correct an anaerobic situation fast but it might make your fish a bit giddy

It can be done by adding an air tube that runs from above the surface to a point right in front of the pump intake. Takes a bit of tweaking tho. Some pumps have it already set up. I prefer 2 separate systems (air and water pumps) We knew what you meant

Terry Healy said:

RE: #1, I should have clarified my statement - I meant an air leak on the intake side of the WATER pump, not the air pump.

I've often wondered if this is could be used to an advantage in a serious low-oxygen event, or when the pump does not feed the fish tank directly - i.e. to the grow beds.


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