Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

It's finally almost time... I have some plumbing to do then I can get at least one table up and running with a temporary fish tank in place till I can build my pond. Plumbing is the easy part. I really want to buy some hydroton but at 7 each 50L bags for 1 table it's going to get real expensive real quick. I'm going to visit our local hydroponic store but we're probably looking at around $30 a bag. I have a "top soil" business right up the road that I can get pea gravel real cheap. I figured I'd ask the experts first. Your feedback could definitely save me big time!!! 

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Why would you want ot take 6 hours to fill your table?  If you ask around or read some more I think most would fill their table in an hour or less.  
Jeremy Cook said:


Oh wow!!! Completely understood now. When you say slowly you REALLY mean slowly. I definitely have some calculations to do to determine what my water volume will be with medium in place to determine what the input flow rate needs to be to fill my table in 6 hours. Knowing this I will need to add a throttle valve to control the volume flow to my table. What is the optimal time to fill the bed?


Perhaps I misunderstood. Lloyd stated "You will want to have the growbed fill in less than six hours, but the drainage will probably take about one minute."


This is why I asked "What is the optimal time to fill the bed?"


Linda, you would suggest an hour or less? All I was stating before is that I can change the flow rate to determine how long I want the beds to take to fill up by simply using a little math and some physics. I really don't know what the optimal time to fill the beds is.


My brother uses a halo bucket system which trickles around his plants. This is excellent for tomatoes and peppers. This feeds and waters his plants regularly but also leaves the roots completely airated all the time promoting excellent root growth. Unfortunately, it is required to have a positive pressure in the bucket to force the liquid from the bucket into the straw that is attached to the halo and I cannot do that on a flood & drain system.

>.. You are very ambitious for the first aquaponist. Most of my work was of the practical variety. No plumbing experience and little in the way of calculating anything. I even put my tanks in wrong the first time and they were buried in the ground! Fixing that was a lot of work!

>.. I would still prefer that you avoid anything complex until you've got the system working. I'm certain you have it all worked out in your head, and it appears to be a good head indeed! But my experience has shown me that sometimes it can be difficult to get the system just the way you want the first time.

>.. On the other hand, starting with a 1 gallon per minute pump is beginning to sound pretty practical as you will have 75 gallons to fill (half of the total volume, I'm guessing). But as you lower the surface to growbed height, you may easily reduce that to much closer to what you want.

>.. By the way, how big is that fish tank? If it's not well over 100 gallons, you may want to think about a sump tank to handle the volume of water needed. Fish don't like have their swimming volume affected much. As in water from the grow beds goes into the fish tank (always fresh) overflows into the sump and is pumped into the growbeds.

>.. Also the length and the partial filling of the lines with fish waste, (and if not light-tight, algae can grow in them, too), will also slow the volume over time. That why we don't glue our PVC pipes, because we are going to clean them every few months.

>.. You are doing GREAT, and I am excited for you.

>.. Time to fill and time to aerate are pretty variable. The old Romans used slaves to fill their tanks 3-4 times a day and did well. Modern manuals on Hydroponics say you can do it every six hours (flood and drain). I am not certain of the BEST times. Mine, like Linda's, cycle every 20-25 minutes and I have three growbeds. I try to keep them separated so they dump their water individually. But they system is calculated to allow all three dumping at once. Sump tank greater than the fish tank.

>.. I agree with Linda to have a somewhat faster cycle time; then, you can slow it down and see what works for the fish and the plants.

This is getting exciting; keep up the good work!

Thank you very much for the compliment!!! I don't take them well so please bare with me :)

Ironically, I have a vast knowledge of systems. Working on submarines I deal with pottable water, reverse osmosis, trim & drain, lube oil, feed water, steam plant, etc. etc. etc. I've been doing this for a decade but never really was able to find any real application outside of work and basic plumbing till now. I absolutely love the though of a completely self sustaining eco-system that produces volumes of food and plants without all the thorns and thistles.

>.. Well it isn't as hard as submarines, but it will take day to day monitoring at first. Once the system stabilizes and the testing hits it's norm (2 weeks to a month), then you will have a less of a need for daily monitoring. Of course by then you'll have some plants popping up that you'll want to admire and show off (and they taste good)!

>.. Have you thought about the starter system that AP Source has? It worked a treat for me! It's in the shop here on the site. It basically gives a jump start on getting the bacterial system up to break down ammonia to nitrites then to nitrates which the plants need to grow. Once the Nitrates are stable then you can back away from worrying about your system, as much.

Everything takes fine tuning... Can you please send me the link to the starter system that AP Source has?

>.. How I got there: I went to the top of this page > clicked "Shop" > then on the shop's home page clicked "Search" >searched for "starter kits" but that did not give good results. Went back to Search and simplified the search to "kits" and on the 2nd page of 13 I found the starter kits, you're looking for.

>.. The smallest kit is the one for you (<100 gals ). It would also work on a 5000 gallon one, just take longer.

>.. Sorry I was delayed in answering, I have several sleep problems and they give me odd hours some days.


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