Aquaponic Gardening

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transferring new system. need to borrow 55 gallon barrells, a fish babysitter, and maybe a visit...

Hi.  I'm new here and am getting a running system this weekend (or next).  I learned about AP last week, got a good deal, grabbed it and now realize there is more to it than i thought.  book is on the way in the mail and while i try to make sense of it on this site I feel like i'm waisting time where I could be prepping my water.  I'm still not clear on what to put in the water i have off-gassing, what i need to buy and where i need to buy it. 

i will be getting 10 1-2 lb fish with the system and want to keep them alive.  It was suggested to me on the main forum that i try to find someone in AZ to take my fish for me while I cycle my system.  i hate to ask but thought i'd go with the suggestion and at least post it for now, then figure out if that would make sense or not for my situation.  i  hate to ask for things!  but i'm on a role, cuz i'd also like to see if anyone has any 55 gallon barrels i could borrow to transfer water and if anyone by me (Ahwatukee) has a system i could see and a chat so i could learn more of what i need to do!  

also, if anyone can post any ideas and advice as to thoughts on how i should be getting started-what stores do i go to to get what products that'd be great!  i heard to get hydrated lime from a hardware store so far but i don't know what to do with it.  i have a pool ph tester from a friend so hopefully that will tell me something for now.  for now i have 2 10 gallong fish tanks, the large recycling bin and a couple of coolers off-gassing. i may end up emptying them anyway to use them to transport as much water from the running system as i can to get it home.  thx much!

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i'll have to see what kind of test kit the gentleman has who is selling me the system.  he showed me something that went in the water and i think it measured PH and temperature.  is the fresh water testing kit different?  any chance the ph pool testing kit my friend gave me will work?  i thought not but they're moving and don't need it so gave it to me to try.  thx,

Hi Kim:

You will want to be able to test ammonia, nitrates, nitrites and pH.  It's a freshwater or saltwater test kit, make sure you get fresh water.

Sunday is good for me, sorry it got too late for me to call, I'll call you Friday.

Jim

Jim, thx for the response.  u were working hard on your system I bet!  :)

The person who is selling us the system has been too busy to commit to letting us know when we can pick it up.  i hope we're still able to purchase this.  we've taking on a rather large undertaken, but if we had to build from scratch i think it'd be a harder undertaking, more $, and not sure when we'd get started.  hopefully i'll have more news by then.  our only options are saturday, sunday or next sunday.  then the seller moves.  he so far has said this saturday is out but i told him we could pay him before he leaves the house that morning and then do our job if he's comfortable with that.  so, those are the 3 days but if u r not available when we set it up we could prob keep the fish in a small tank with a pump. 

for now we bought th largest net petsmart has, but it's pretty small.  not a big deal i suppose but is petsmart the best place for buying supplies?  i don't know of any specialty fish stores in ahwatukee.  thx for the advice!

oh jees, good, friday is today.  talk with u sometime today!  i'm working this eve and have a thing for my kid from 10-noon.  other than that should be good!  thx!

Kim, do you mind my asking how much you're paying for the system? If the sale doesn't go through, don't give up because you can build a system for a pretty reasonable cost.

Your bin should work fine for the media if it holds water. A 55 gal would work, too. Just fill it with media and cover it with water. The fish tank water is what you should use (as much as possible) because it has the ammonia and nitrites the bacteria need to survive. You can transport it on a tarp if you keep it wet and put it into fish water as soon as possible. If 1/2 of your bacteria survives, you'll be in fine shape.

Sheri, i think the sale is going to go through afterall.  still crossing my fingers, anyway.  heard back from him today.  $350 for 1 -- 295 gallon GBC/fish tank-paiinted and i like how he cut a square hole in top instead of cutting off the whole top
2 -- GBC Media beds with rocks, bell siphons and Plant
1 -- 200 gallon sump
1 -- 600+gph pump with warrantee and all the piping
10 Blue Tilapia, 4@2 or more lbs each and 6@1 or more lbs and in the sump, 3 blue tilapia that are less than a pound. 

couple 10 or so gallon fish tanks

ph test kit

shade

cylindar blocks. 

leftover fish food

(all the goodies will be nice!). 

he said with the size pump i could add on a couple of garden beds which i know we'll want to do with a family of 5!

thx for the tips!  i'm really excited, but still keeping my fingers crossed all goes well and sale will go through.  i'll rest when we get it home.  then the fun begins.  :)

Update: have 3/4 of the system home.  getting the system home without Jim Troyer would've surely been a nightmare and the fish would've definitely died.  getting the system home was an all-nighter, but thank God for Jim!  He knew what he was doing and took charge.  he even talked us out of the place we were originally going to put the system, on the side of our house and the neighbor's house cuz he's seen too many instances where people's aquaponics did not work in that spot of the yard. 

the fish are safe and sound at Jim's and we saved the bacteria on the media and started getting nitrites the NEXT DAY!  THEN... i killed it.  My first mistake-I was so tired the next day and after having seen a crazy video on you-tube when I read a text from Jim my mind went to 1 CUP of amonia instead of what he said, one CAP.  i had to dump 3/4 of the water and then to find it killed the bacteria.  Jim is going to bring me some good bacteria water and the fishtank this weekend.  (we got the sump and grow beds set up and pumping).  i have the set-up where my garden was, under the grape arbor.  i was hesitant to get rid of my dirt garden ,so i am able from day one to string up the plants to the grape arbor.  Jim also had a great idea to set the system up differently than how it was when I bought i.  the fishtank will be buried 20 inches for added insulation and space to add extra amt of  space to add a couple of other grow beds once I have my feet wet enough. 

we struck gold with Jim and I am excited to get the system cycled!  i can already see 2 grow beds is definitely not enough for a family of 5. 

Awesome!  Good to hear!  I had to laugh about the ammonia - I did the same thing when I first started.  I dont think you killed the bacteria, you just over fed the hell out of it.  I ended up doing a complete 100% water change - you'd be amazed at how much ammonia will stay around especially in the media and the only way I could get back to normal readings was to do the complete water change.

Hi Matt and thanks for the kind works Kim!

The bacteria did not come back after Kim's water change even though the water was gassed-off.  That's a "live and learn" for sure.

The past owner of this system did a really nice job of setting it up.  I was surprised to find that I actually had consulted with him while he had just the first tote sitting there waiting to be cut.  We discussed location and plumbing etc.  he work was well done and it came out really well.  Kim has gotten a great jump on the AP world. 

The builder setup the sump to act as supports on the center ends of two tote top grow beds with the sump centered in the middle.  The GBs drain straight down into the sump with bell siphons.  Where we are setting it up under a grape arbor we were about 20 inches short of enough space to have 4 tote sized GBs.  So, we are sinking the fish tank to be flush with the sump top edge.  This way we can use the 20 inches of the FT for support of a right and left GB when the future expansion is developed. The center GB will be supported by the sump on one end and by the FT on the other. It is a great solution to the space/design issue.  We'll have re-plumb part of the system because the FT is lower but it will be minimal.  Pictures to follow!

I brought the system's mature fish to be placed in my enlarged jacuzzi system in the fish tank the other night.  I'll deliver the empty FT tomorrow and put it in place.  Then fill it with water from my system delivered in a second tote.  When the water is good in the new system, I'll take the fish to their new home.  Hopefully this will kick start the cycling process.

Thanks for letting me help Kim! 

well, the water Jim brought over from his jacuzzi helped me to cycle in a day!  amazing.  it's been a lot of work moving a live system over with almost no knowledge of aquaponics, but Jim's been so great all along the way!  there would've surely been many more mistakes.  the idea of partially burying the fishtank to help insultate it and so we could fit in two other grow beds was genius I'd say.  :)  as soon as i can get my hands on another food grade tote we are going to add it onto the system.  first, i'm finding we need more power outlets outside cuz i need light for the pump, the chickens, and we're getting quail.  also, i have to get a heater and once the fish are in and I'm caught up with life a bit I can start looking for a tote.  for now, even though the fish aren't home, yet, it's amazing to see that plants that i pulled from my garden and that came with the system are making it.  some of the scrawniest plants are beginning to show new growth!  i planted some seeds and cut off a couple pieces of veggies to see if they'll grow to experiment.  i'm sure there is a guide of what u can and can't grow in aquaponics but haven't come across it yet.  for now i grabbed what i had in the fridge and am going to see if I can get some regrowth out of them: 3 bottoms of romaine lettuce, the bottom of an onion (where the root was), a piece of celery, and the bottom of a celery root and planted those. 

Awesome, Kim!

If you're looking for a tote, we have four. the 275 is $110 and the 330 is $150. We get them in every now and then. :)  We don't get to that part of town often, but when we do, I'd love to see your system, and you're always welcome to come by our place if you're in the Gilbert area.

Sheri, thx for the offer!  let me catch up a bit and then see...  I would love to see your system and ofcourse u r welcome to stop by, too!

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