Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

I bought a 275 gallon tote. I am going to make the tote a fish tank with a smaller lid at the top. I am thinking I should primer the entire fish tank tote and paint it to help keep the algae build up to a minimum and also help with the heat in Arizona. The Tank it self will be covered most of the day with only getting sunlight from early morning until about 11am. the plan is to have tilapia in the tank. Can anyone help by letting me know if I am on the right track or should I do it differently? Any and all help will be appreciated. Thanks in advance

 

Richard

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Welcome to the group.... What are you going to use as media? I use ibc totes as grow beds and fish tank and sump tanks... I don't run into alge problems , the fish seem to take good care of the alge.

As your group leader I would highly recommend you follow these rules, first dont do any painting, second forget about using any rock media and start by using water in your grow bed and use 1" thick pink or blue board to hold your net pots full of gravel, lava or hydroten. I have successfully grown tomatoes, peppers and squash in water. If you dont believe me talk to Dr. Brooks!

Thank you Jeremy for the welcome. I am still working out the details but I was thinking a IBC tote for one bed and blue barrel or 2 for the sump.

I have a few questions about Location. How much cover do I need for the fish? Summer is coming and I do not want to make fish soup:) . Also how much sun light do I give the plants in the hot AZ summers? When is comes to the sump. do I need to worry about algae? Will using barrels help with that?

Thanks for your help

Jeremy K said:

Welcome to the group.... What are you going to use as media? I use ibc totes as grow beds and fish tank and sump tanks... I don't run into alge problems , the fish seem to take good care of the alge.

Thank you for your help David. I will keep the advice in mind when I start.

Richard

David Schwinghamer said:

As your group leader I would highly recommend you follow these rules, first dont do any painting, second forget about using any rock media and start by using water in your grow bed and use 1" thick pink or blue board to hold your net pots full of gravel, lava or hydroten. I have successfully grown tomatoes, peppers and squash in water. If you dont believe me talk to Dr. Brooks!

Your fish in morning sunlight will be OK as that is not the most intense heat of the day. A friend of mine told me he uses 40% shade cloth for the summer for his plants. I would recommend you check out our upcoming May 5th tour, you would learn lots!

Richard said:

Thank you Jeremy for the welcome. I am still working out the details but I was thinking a IBC tote for one bed and blue barrel or 2 for the sump.

I have a few questions about Location. How much cover do I need for the fish? Summer is coming and I do not want to make fish soup:) . Also how much sun light do I give the plants in the hot AZ summers? When is comes to the sump. do I need to worry about algae? Will using barrels help with that?

Thanks for your help

Jeremy K said:

Welcome to the group.... What are you going to use as media? I use ibc totes as grow beds and fish tank and sump tanks... I don't run into alge problems , the fish seem to take good care of the alge.

Hello Richard,

Welcome to the wonderful world of Aquaponics and to the Arizona group.  There's lots of smart and experienced people on this forum so you'll get good input for what you want to do.

What you've started should work well. Painting the IBC is a good idea.  When the summer gets really hot, I'd make sure that the water temperature doesn't get too high. If the water temperature gets over 90F you need to start thinking about how to keep it from going higher.

The one thing I really recommend you do is to plan out your system in advance, before you stock with fish and plants, because it's very hard to move things around when it's all up and running.   As part of that planning, think about how you are going to add additional growing space to your system, because, if you are like most other people that do AP, you'll quickly find that just a few fish will feed a LOT of plants.

Good luck, and please drop any and all questions you have in to the forum.  There's no such thing as a dumb question, and asking a dumb question is a whole lot more fun than killing a tank full of fish.

Hi Richard, welcome to the group.

The biggest and most important thing you should understand is there are many ways to make aquaponics work. 

This is what I have gleaned after several years of AP.

Because it's Arizona we have to do things a little differently.  Best "desert" advice would be to put the fish tank and sump below grade as many here have done.  Some are tanks are flush with the ground surface.  This helps stabilize the temperatures in both summer and winter (which is a bigger problem than summer).  You will need to temper the blazing sun with burlap or shade cloth in the heat of the summer for both fish and grow beds. While the blue barrel will work, it may not be enough volume for your sump if you decide to enlarge your system. 

The most successful mature system I've seen is using two IBCs. One for a fish tank and another for the sump tank.  Both IBCs are buried flush to ground level with a large grow bed directly above the IBCs for space savings in a modest greenhouse.  Building a separate grow bed and leaving the lid on your IBC is a good choice.  It helps reduce evaporation and supports the tank if you decide to put it in the ground at a later date.

Secondly, you will probably need/want more grow bed space than just the lid of your IBC.  That said, you can use the IBC lid as a media bed to filter out solids and to act as a bio filter.  Cinders seem to work just fine for media, though many are putting hydroton or pea gravel for the top few inches for ease of planting, which I agree with.  This also saves plenty of money as the fancy media gets expensive in a hurry.  Downstream of that media bed both raft, NFT (nutrient film technology, needs shade) and media beds are good options.  Remember we are growing bacteria here first,  fish and veggies are just byproducts.  Without the bacteria you have nothing. (right Dr. Brooks?) 

Media:  I just purchased a ton of maroon cinders for $38 at A&A Materials on McDowell and Alma School,  just off the 101 or 202 near the Tempe/Mesa border.  If you choose to use them, use the hose to rinse the cinders while still in the truck or wheel barrow before putting them in the system if you can.

Make sure your system is fully cycled with ammonia before adding fish.  Most of us will be happy to help you with cycled system water or trading cycled media to get things going faster.  I will have tilapia available in a few weeks.

Add me as a friend so you get the tour info, and put yourself on the member map so we can reach out to our AP neighbors. 

Choosing to build your system until after the Cinco de Mayo tour (5/5) may save you lots of time, treasure and hard work.

Hope to see you on the tour, it's a "Group Hug " event open by invitation only so we all can learn more about our addiction

All the best,

Jim

Thank You Jim for the warm welcome and all the valuable information. I am a few weeks from adding water but now I have more of an idea. It is nice to know I have a great bunch of friendly people I can ask all my questions to. Thank You all.

Richard

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