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I will be using the top of my tote as a grow bed, on top of a plywood surface. Is there any shimming with wood needed underneath the bed? The cap in the middle seems to sit lower than the two indented outer areas do. Its also somewhat warped, and bulbous. It seems as thou the center should be supported better. I am not planning on using the center cap as an outlet for the siphon, I want to mount it on the indented end where it sits above the fish tank.

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Did you already cut the tote?

See if you cut the bottom to be the bed, the pallet will support it well and then you can flip the top over to sit on the ground to be the fish tank. 


Yes, you will probably need shimming so that the different surface heights are supported, otherwise the weight of the gravel will "sag" the tote plastic liner.  Do not underestimate the weight of the gravel and water (about a thousand pounds) like I did, I ended up having to empty the beds out again, and put 3" steel angles one direction and then 1-1/2" steel angles the other way. I supported the grow beds with (6) concrete "half" blocks "legs" under each growbed.

If you are not using gravel as media, it will be lighter.

NOTE: If I had it to do over again, I would only use the bottom half of the totes for grow beds... I regret not doing so.  :-)


Here is picture of steel I ended up going with, anything less I feel would be unsafe



TC, Yes I did already cut my tote. I'll just have to learn from my mistakes this time. I will expand eventually, and will try it the way you suggested. I appreciate your input.

TCLynx said:

Did you already cut the tote?

See if you cut the bottom to be the bed, the pallet will support it well and then you can flip the top over to sit on the ground to be the fish tank. 

Bradly's picture looks like a good way to support the IBC with the angle Iron.

I did build a sturdy platform with 4x4's. The 3/4 plywood top is supported underneth with four 2x4's and the legs have 1x3 gussets to keep it from sway and tilt. I will also use hydroton to keep the wieght to a minimum. I'll attach a pic as soon as I figure out how to get it off of my phone. I do like the set-ups Bradley, and Phil have also. Phil. Where did you get those awesome round tanks from? Those look perfect for this sort of thing!

This is what I have so far, minus the gussets to be added soon.

Phil, Is there anyway I can get away from using the six inch diameter gravel gaurd for the siphon? I hate to think about buying a twelve foot section (smallest I can buy here) and use only a foot of it.

Phil Slaton said:

I too do not use the IBC cap for the siphon to go though.  I used a 2'' through wall fitting on a flat area in the corner of the grow box.  When you  screw the cap on, use plenty of silicon.  It will still leak, but not as badly.

You will need more than plywood to support the IBC top.  It will be holding about 400 - 500 pounds of media and probably a 100 gallons of water or 800 pounds of water.  As you can see in the photo below, first I use 4 x 4s - 6' long and then I cross them with 2 x 4s on their wide side.  The warping and bulbousness will will fill out when the IBC gets filled with media and water. 

I used 6 foot 4 x 4s so that I could place the IBC grow tank further to  the rear.  I bracketed them down with clips see next photo.

But ... be cautioned.  When filling the grow bed with media and it back to the rear more you have a center of gravity [CG] problem if the fish tank is empty of water.  To prevent the grow bed from flipping backwards, put a 2 x 4 ''dead man'' brace under the rear of it.

Here is another shot where you can see a tank with an uncut 2 x 4 support sticking out the side of it.

You will likely have to shim the rear of the grow bed after the media and water are in it.  I used 2 x 4 scrap between the 2 x 4s and 4 x 4s and used a lever to lift the grow bed.  I then had to adjust the water height in the grow bed because the water was too deep and I wanted a couple inch water free area on the top of my grow beds for my plant roots.

In closing, plywood alone will not support that load.

PS - The hardest thing for me to build right were the IBC grow tanks and grow bed.  Compared to the IBCs the 1300 gallon tanks and plumbing them was a walk in the park.

I use polypropylene  food dehydrator mesh stitched into a tube using a zip tie.

Looks simple enough. Funny thing is that I was just looking at your pics, and came across this one when your e-mail came through! How do you attach it to the bed, and is it strong enough not to colapse under the stress of the gravel?

Thank you...

I don't attach it to the bed.  Just kinda hold it in place as you start filling in the media around it.

I've been using them in 2' deep beds full of heavy grave.  Any light weight media no problem.

Do protect them from the sun, the polypro is not UV stabilized.

This def a major issue i have been trying to figure out, because the main video i  watched was backyard aquaponics video on how to make there one tote system. They dont cover there plumbing that in depth. They just say add a 2 inch threaded fitting and a media gaurd where the cap is located 

    I just want a play by on a system design just like the one in backyard aquaponics, but with a siphon, sump/ sump- size, and  one grow bed. Down to pump used pipe size, bulkheads needed, size of hole drilled everything


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