Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners


Northwest Aquaponics

To discuss regional issues with those in the Northwest

Location: Washington
Members: 157
Latest Activity: May 5

Discussion Forum

Passionate about Aquaponics!

Started by Devon Watkins. Last reply by Vic Wagoner May 5. 2 Replies

Hello everyone!I am currently a student at Edmonds College and have a major passion for Aquaponics and plan on building my own aquaponics farm one day. Does anyone here give tours of their aquaponics…Continue

Can I visit and collect data on your aquaponic garden in the Northwest?

Started by Joel Bidnick. Last reply by Joel Bidnick Apr 17, 2016. 3 Replies

Hello, fellow aquaponic practitioners! I’m Joel, a grad student of horticulture at UW, and I’d like the opportunity to visit your system if you use flood-and-drain (or ebb and flow) grow beds within…Continue


Started by Phil Slaton. Last reply by ArrowNeous Mar 14, 2016. 2 Replies

Food Grade held Washington Apple Juice. Dirty. Some held stagnant rainwater and others used for rock and sand filers for my trout grow out tanks. 14 IBCs - $55.00 each or make your best offer for 2…Continue

Fish for NW Aquaponics

Started by Jeff Guykema. Last reply by Jeff Guykema Mar 11, 2016. 16 Replies

I'm brand new to AP but have been reading and, hopefully, studying for about a year or so. During that time, I knew I wanted to have tilapia as my fish, but am fairly sure I won't be able to sustain…Continue

Comment Wall


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Comment by Jim Fisk on June 27, 2014 at 7:23am

Here is my block diagram showing the bypass:

Comment by Lloyd Booth on June 26, 2014 at 6:47pm

Hey Joe, good to hear from you!

Growbed size is a function of desire and capability. That is, if you want a huge number of growbeds, you can do that. [That is desire.] Capability is how much water your system has to share between the fish and the growbeds. As a rule, fish love a stable height of water in their tanks. But the sump can grow as needed.

Another limit on growbeds is desire for the food or flowers produced. If your family is Hot on meat and cool on vegies, I wouldn't attempt to grow beyond your current system. Although, more fish is good for meat-eaters, and more fish need more growbed space as they mature (to filter the water for them).

Loop back: is accomplished with a T joint and a valve and piping back to the sump or fish tank. It may not be necessary if your first planting does well. If you plan the loop, put it where it can be used later for expansion of your system.

Is your garden outdoors, in the house, or somewhere else?

Comment by Joseph Michael Martino on June 26, 2014 at 6:31pm

Hey All,

Thanks for the great feedback!  Again I will get a picture up ASAP.  No I didnt follow the barrelponics PDF although I am aware of it.  I used to have the pump in the sump and thought I might not be getting the solids out, and had decided that in some instances, there is a reason for the turnkey system...they work great!  I also really wanted to experiment with a SLO because again, they are awesome!

I am currently in the process of cycling the system, and have not seen ammonia rise quite yet.  It does take some amount of time though.  I am introducing about 4 caps of seaweed per day (started that yesterday, was using 1, then 2, then 3 caps) though I did notice the nitrites came out a little darker than the light blue I am used to.  

I will definitely look into the bypass, though I am sort of struggling with "seeing" that.  My mind initially went to get a T, get a ball valve, (I already have ball valves over the bed) and throw the T in between the pump (in the sump) and the fish tank.  Does that sound about right?  Also, someone mentioned expansion: how many more grow beds you think I could slap on this puppy?

Great idea about testing plant growth and flavor.  Thanks all!!!


Comment by Lloyd Booth on June 26, 2014 at 1:40pm

Good afternoon Koji, and welcome!

>.. My growbeds average 25 minutes from drain start to drain start. But I've seen others that have fill times measured in hours that seem to do well. The roots seems to need "some amount" of exposure to air, but the amount is unclear. Most floating rafts have aerators in the water below to give that air to the roots.

>.. An older review of hydroponics showed common acceptance of flood, immediate drain and wait 6 hours before repeating. So, in excess of 5 hours of air time for the roots between flooding. No studies that I know of show faster cycling is better or worse. There was some discussion in the hydro literature about twice a day flooding with immediate drainage, but that has been more fringe than common practice [though reported to do well].

>.. This high variability is what makes the field of Aquaponics so interesting to me. A friend of mine taking an agricultural degree reported that the plants and animals he worked with had not read any of the books he had, and persisted in acting in their own fashion. Which I interpreted to mean that plants and animals outside of the narrow research limits do as they can with what is presented to them - HUGE VARIABILITY.

>.. So the basis of my recommendation of fast-growers is that these plants seem to do well in rafts, and should work well in Joe's system. Would the next round of Autumn Harvested vegetables do as well? Why not?

Comment by Koji Yugawa on June 26, 2014 at 1:00pm

Hi Joe and All,

I'm a newbie here but thought I would share that I had a similar problem with my system when I started it up. I read somewhere that bigger is better in pump size so I got a 9.5 GPM (570 GPH) pump that I knew would exceed my needs.  When I started up the system I was close to overflowing the FT because my 2" outflow couldn't keep up!  Added a bypass like Jim suggests and that solved the problem and I'm glad to have the extra capacity for expansion.  I have 3 beds and they are all different sizes so the fill/drain times vary from about 10 to 20 minutes (haven't timed them with a stopwatch).  

Comment by Lloyd Booth on June 26, 2014 at 12:22pm

Good Morning or Afternoon Jim,

>.. You've got a good alternative plan there, and it certainly does allow for expansion. I'm just curious how the plants will grow at that frequency. I think they may be good to go, but it will be instructive in any case.

Comment by Jim Fisk on June 26, 2014 at 12:18pm

Hey guys, all Joe has to do is run a bypass back to the sump or where ever the pump resides. That way it doesn't matter how over sized the pump is. I had to do that from day one BUT that gives you great ops for expansion. Look at it as a loop with taps to the GBs. Just put a ball valve at the end to control how much is sent back.

I just got my DWC bed on line so the bypass is nearly not needed now, 2 yrs. later. Man would I love to be able to focus on my AP system but life just keeps getting in the way. Approaching 400 bell siphons sold now to folks all over the planet. Great fun helping to spread the AP story.

Comment by Lloyd Booth on June 26, 2014 at 12:07pm

Good Morning Joe,

>.. There is a free pdf file called barrel-ponics, or similar, out on the web. Did you follow that is setting up your system? If not, you did an outstanding job without it!

>.. So, we are looking at 2@ 39 gallon tanks. You lose between half and 60% of that volume depending on the fill (larger pebbles to smaller ones) for the media itself.  Not knowing the fill, let's use 50% so you are pumping 396 gallons per hour (396GPH labeled pump), that fills the tanks roughly every 5-6 minutes and drains once within that time.

>.. I suspect that you are over-pumped for your system. But free is free, and NOT to be spurned.

>.. Consider though, that I have no experience with faster fills and drains than I use. The frequency of drains may allow the roots to be aerated (exposed to air) enough, or even better than my system. Although hydroponics has been around since at least roman times, aquaponics is young and vibrant and full of experimentation and tons of excitement. However, there are few turn-key systems [and there's not as much fun in those, I think].

>.. Plant some vegetables that you are willing to eat, and see how they do. That will be the best test. I would start with some fast-growers, like lettuce or kale, or mixed salad greens. They can be harvested in 3-4 weeks. If they grow well and you're happy with the flavor, add variety. 

>.. For the next crop, continue some fast growers and some autumn harvested vegetables, as now is the season to plant those.

Please let us know how things work out. I, for one, am interested and I'm sure others will be also.

Comment by Joseph Michael Martino on June 26, 2014 at 9:39am

also should probably double the area and volume because i only ran the calcs for one bed and forgot to do so meself

Comment by Joseph Michael Martino on June 26, 2014 at 9:38am

Hey All,

Jim and Lloyd, thank you.  To answer your questions Lloyd (there will be photos to follow) my grow bed area and volume are (gunna get down to the 16th!) listed below.  The grow beds are a 55 gallon barrel cut in half hot dog style.  


2 grow beds at 20.9375" x 36.375"= 761.602

761.602/144= 5.289 total sq ft

volume:  34.81 cubic ft (used one of googles wonderful calculators).

Piping from sump to fish tank is 3/4" with a rise of 3' 10.5" until it hits a 90 (still 3/4") and then another 90 within 5" to drop into the fish tank.  Fish tank is an upright 55 gallon barrel with the top cut off and a 2" SLO that comes out the very tippy top.  

This drops immediately into a 90 and also is converted back into a 3/4" pipe.  This flow is restricted by ball valves, and the autosiphons consist of 1-1/2" bells with 3/4" stand pipes.

The pump I actually dont know how big it is.  I came to work one day and found a (literally, a milk crate had been placed by my front door...) full of pumps (small ones) and aerators and air stones.  About 2 months later I found a power drill on the side of the road.  It was a pretty solid time in my life.  

Anyways, upon further investigation of the pump, its an SDH 230 from  .3 amps, 20W, max head 6.5' at 396gph.  I havent been able to find a pump flow chart for it on the net.

Anyways, those are the specs!!

Thanks for  all your help dudes.  I also have a sump thats filled with ~20 gallons, and the fish tank is pretty much full up.


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