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Hi All

We just got 4 IBC totes today and are trying to plan out our system. These totes contained liquid smoke for a meat packing plant.

Our current plan is to use 1 for the fish tank, 2 for 4 gravel grow beds, and 1 for the sump and a floating raft grow bed. Today, we only had time to begin working on the fish tank. It took a lot of work to get all of the "liquid smoke" out of it.

We are planning to use gravity to transfer the water from the fish-tank to the grow beds. Will the nozzle on the bottom (see picture) work for this? I have seen more elaborate setups for getting the water out of the fish tank, but since these already have a working ball valve, it seems  more economical to use this rather than buying an extra one. (Has anyone done this?) To get enough gravital pressure, we are wondering if we should elevate the fish tank as we want the grow beds a comfortable height to work in.

Currently we are hoping to raise either blue gill or green sunfish. We are kinda leaning towards green sunfish as they have a bigger mouth, therefore grow faster, and are more native to south Louisiana than the bluegills.


We already have 2 worm farms that started with 500 worms each, growing in order to feed the bluegills/sunfish.

Any advice on whether this setup looks like it will work, or if we are making a mistake. Please advise as nothing is set in stone yet. We are just starting the setup. We have not purchased the plumbing yet. That'll probably wait until next weekend.

Thanks!

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Gerrit, looks like you have got a good start. I wouldn't use the existing valve to drain the tank unless you move it to a higher location. Think about it this way, If the power goes off, your fish will run out of water very quickly. After a power outage, you want your system to restart on its own, without your help. Hope this helps.

Tony is right, you don't want to put the drain down low. Besides, if you are going to gravity feed the beds, think how high the your FT will have to be. And don't use soap to clean out your tanks. I am not sure what should be used, but somebody will add that suggestion, I'm sure.

I started our system with 4 IBCs and it is working well. If I had it to do again there are a few things I would do differently. The main change would be to sink the sump tank into the ground, so everything else would be lower. The forth tank we use as a rain barrel and that has came in handy a few times. Our sump tank holds +/- 160 gallons and that is where the pump is.

You can see our system in my amateur videos on YouTube. Search: HOWponics.

Just do it!

Look up SLO drains.  I would figure out the water height you want and then get a uniseal (like 3") and install the hole for the SLO drain just slightly lower than your desired water height in the fish tank.

I would also not recommend using the ball valve but it is more because they are not that big and not that easy to keep the fish from swimming into them.  Believe me, you don't want to realize there was a fish half way in the valve after you have already closed it.


If you are putting the grow beds right next to the fish tank, you may not need to elevate the fish tank much to have the water flow by gravity to the grow beds.  The tops of the grow beds just need to be several inches lower than the water level in the fish tank as long as the pipe you use for the fish tank drain is big enough.

Here is a link with diagrams that might be helpful for you

http://www.aquaponiclynx.com/aquaponic-lynx-llc/aquaponics-in-detai...

You have to maintain your FT regularly as well as your growbeds, so you certainly wouldn't want to raise the tank unless you want to build a deck around it to reach things. :) 

Regardless of your configuration, part will be pumped, and part will be gravity. You want to always have a design that protects the system from failing pumps, overflowing growbeds, and drained fish tanks. This is why some seem to be elaborate. After you analyze the needs and study the designs, what seems elaborate now will become practical and rather simple. It just seems overwhelming at first.

In our experience, our first system was simple and we took a few shortcuts. We've since rebuilt the entire system because we learned that shortcuts only worked for a short time, but not for the long run.

In our new system, we used 3-1/2 IBC's & a couple of 1/2 barrels. We have one 330g for the fish tank, one 275g for the sump (both are sunk in the ground using a chop2 system), and one split in two for two media growbeds. We also added the growbed from our old system for a raft bed, and the two 1/2 barrels for crazy-root plants like tomotoes. The growbeds sit over the tanks, so the total footprint, excluding the barrels, is 10' x 5', and the height of the growbeds is about 3'. 

This is a pic when it was first put up, before the barrels & the raft bed were added:

The fish tank is only open in the front; we didn't take the whole top off. We use the cutout as a lid (tilapia jump!), so it looks like we didn't cut it open at all. the PVC around the top of the growbeds is to keep me (a natural clutz) from getting scratched on the cut frame. :)

And this is the raft, which sits lower and is shorter (one of our shortcuts that didn't work, hence, the reason it's a raft bed and not a media bed).

There are any number of designs, so choose one that suits your needs best, but be very careful about "simple" and "easy." They can come back to bite you later. :)

Thanks, I don't know why i did not think of that.

Tony Gilliam said:

Gerrit, looks like you have got a good start. I wouldn't use the existing valve to drain the tank unless you move it to a higher location. Think about it this way, If the power goes off, your fish will run out of water very quickly. After a power outage, you want your system to restart on its own, without your help. Hope this helps.

Thanks for the advice.  one of our plans were to sink the Sump so that the grow beds would not have to be too high and not have to raise the FT too much.

I look forward to checking out your youtube videos.

John E Windsor said:

Tony is right, you don't want to put the drain down low. Besides, if you are going to gravity feed the beds, think how high the your FT will have to be. And don't use soap to clean out your tanks. I am not sure what should be used, but somebody will add that suggestion, I'm sure.

I started our system with 4 IBCs and it is working well. If I had it to do again there are a few things I would do differently. The main change would be to sink the sump tank into the ground, so everything else would be lower. The forth tank we use as a rain barrel and that has came in handy a few times. Our sump tank holds +/- 160 gallons and that is where the pump is.

You can see our system in my amateur videos on YouTube. Search: HOWponics.

Just do it!

thanks

what did you use to clean out your totes?
that's a neat looking setup.



Sheri Schmeckpeper said:

You have to maintain your FT regularly as well as your growbeds, so you certainly wouldn't want to raise the tank unless you want to build a deck around it to reach things. 

Regardless of your configuration, part will be pumped, and part will be gravity. You want to always have a design that protects the system from failing pumps, overflowing growbeds, and drained fish tanks. This is why some seem to be elaborate. After you analyze the needs and study the designs, what seems elaborate now will become practical and rather simple. It just seems overwhelming at first.

In our experience, our first system was simple and we took a few shortcuts. We've since rebuilt the entire system because we learned that shortcuts only worked for a short time, but not for the long run.

In our new system, we used 3-1/2 IBC's & a couple of 1/2 barrels. We have one 330g for the fish tank, one 275g for the sump (both are sunk in the ground using a chop2 system), and one split in two for two media growbeds. We also added the growbed from our old system for a raft bed, and the two 1/2 barrels for crazy-root plants like tomotoes. The growbeds sit over the tanks, so the total footprint, excluding the barrels, is 10' x 5', and the height of the growbeds is about 3'. 

This is a pic when it was first put up, before the barrels & the raft bed were added:

The fish tank is only open in the front; we didn't take the whole top off. We use the cutout as a lid (tilapia jump!), so it looks like we didn't cut it open at all. the PVC around the top of the growbeds is to keep me (a natural clutz) from getting scratched on the cut frame.

And this is the raft, which sits lower and is shorter (one of our shortcuts that didn't work, hence, the reason it's a raft bed and not a media bed).

There are any number of designs, so choose one that suits your needs best, but be very careful about "simple" and "easy." They can come back to bite you later.

Hoe deep should the growbeds be?

how about the floating raft?

Thanks, Garrit.

These only held calcium, and they had already been cleaned. We rinsed them really well and set them out in the sun for a while. The sun is a great sanitizer.

I would think you'd be fine doing the same. If you use a detergent (soaps can leave a film), just rinse it very thoroughly. I haven't heard of anything bad about using detergent to clean them, as long as you don't leave any in them. I'm sure some might argue that point. You could also use straight ammonia to clean it; any ammonia residue would only benefit your startup.


Gerrit Nathan King said:

thanks

what did you use to clean out your totes?
that's a neat looking setup.

Professional!  Thanks for sharing Sheri.  Very nice!

Sheri Schmeckpeper said:

You have to maintain your FT regularly as well as your growbeds, so you certainly wouldn't want to raise the tank unless you want to build a deck around it to reach things. 

Regardless of your configuration, part will be pumped, and part will be gravity. You want to always have a design that protects the system from failing pumps, overflowing growbeds, and drained fish tanks. This is why some seem to be elaborate. After you analyze the needs and study the designs, what seems elaborate now will become practical and rather simple. It just seems overwhelming at first.

In our experience, our first system was simple and we took a few shortcuts. We've since rebuilt the entire system because we learned that shortcuts only worked for a short time, but not for the long run.

In our new system, we used 3-1/2 IBC's & a couple of 1/2 barrels. We have one 330g for the fish tank, one 275g for the sump (both are sunk in the ground using a chop2 system), and one split in two for two media growbeds. We also added the growbed from our old system for a raft bed, and the two 1/2 barrels for crazy-root plants like tomotoes. The growbeds sit over the tanks, so the total footprint, excluding the barrels, is 10' x 5', and the height of the growbeds is about 3'. 

This is a pic when it was first put up, before the barrels & the raft bed were added:

The fish tank is only open in the front; we didn't take the whole top off. We use the cutout as a lid (tilapia jump!), so it looks like we didn't cut it open at all. the PVC around the top of the growbeds is to keep me (a natural clutz) from getting scratched on the cut frame.

And this is the raft, which sits lower and is shorter (one of our shortcuts that didn't work, hence, the reason it's a raft bed and not a media bed).

There are any number of designs, so choose one that suits your needs best, but be very careful about "simple" and "easy." They can come back to bite you later.

Thanks, Roger! I'm really happy with how well it's working. We have a bunch of sprouts now, but the heat is a killer here right now, so we're pretty much in survival mode...

A handy standard for grow bed depth is 12 inches deep (this give enough depth for a wide variety of plants as well as a good working depth for the bacteria to filter for you.)

But a grow bed can be deeper or shallower.  Just remember that your fish stocking needs to be based on how much filtration you have.  For example, if you do the standard IBC system with just the top cut off and flipped over as your grow bed, you will only be able to stock a limited amount of fish.  If the grow bed is 12 inches deep that means the bed is roughly 12 cubic feet of media, so the recommendation would be to only stock 12 fish if they might grow out to be 1 lb each.

I think IBC's cut in half as grow beds are grand since they are deeper than 12 inches.  (I'm the person who things 100 gallon rubbermaid stock tanks are great grow beds too and that is 24 inches deep.)

I have used shallower beds for a few limited things and while shallow beds may work fine in particular situations, they are definitely more limited.  I use shallow beds for seedlings in pots and for water chestnuts and things like that.

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