Aquaponic Gardening

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Hi everyone, I hope you are all enjoying this rain!

Well, I am in the final stages of building my system am looking forward to more growing space and fewer problems, which brings me to the why I am posting.

In my last system, the by-the-book Chop II system from Murray Hallam gave me plenty of issues, the pump problem I have mentioned in other posts, the system was very high maintenance, the sump was too small and the beds were never coordinated so the sump would overflow or go dry stressing the pumps, there is no filter for the solids so clogging of the pump was a big issue and a few smaller problems.

My new system has two sumps, bigger gravel beds and two raft beds which we have set up but as you all know I am not very experienced in designing the plumbing I am at a loss as to how to go about it.  I can make it up as I go but I really would like a system that works better with less problems and maintenance.

If anyone would be willing to help me design it, (I can do the building) I have a greenhouse and can grow anything so maybe we can trade I can grow you some spring seedlings. I also have a huge selection of seeds.

I also have a couple of 1/3 cut up IBC beds I can part with.

Thanks everyone. I am itching to get this thing going and planted.

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Replies to This Discussion

Janet,

I would be happy to talk with you some time.  I need to post some pictures of my system, but I am out of town on business this week.  A little more information would be good to have such as Size of Greenhouse, everything contained in that space or do you want the ability to have expansion outside,  can you dig down, and special needs/ access?

Tom HAck

Hi Janet,

Congrats on getting started, and thanks for the fun question.

My first thought is not to part with your cut IBCs too quickly.  You may need them for additional sump capacity.  Those nice big gravel beds look large relative to the sump tanks under them (although I realized much of the volume of the beds will be taken up by gravel, not water).  Besides, might you need a fish tank?  Or were you thinking of having your fish in the sump tank?

Looks like you have 2 of everything.  You could run 2 separate systems or one big one.  I'm inclined to do the former; if one breaks down, you'd still have the other to get you through.  Takes 2 pumps, but perhaps worth it in overall system resilience.

So if I were doing it, for each system I'd make the gravel bed the high point with sump & FT's below, and raft tank at intermediate height.  Water flow would be:  Pump in sump tank --> gravel bed with bell siphon (and I like external bucket siphon a la Glenn Martinez for ease of maintenance) --> raft tank (with standpipe outlet to set constant water height) --> FT (with outlet at desired constant water height) --> sump tank.  This is essentially the configuration of both my greenhouse system and porch system.

Now, one of the benefits of this forum is that there are a lot of bright minds out there and maybe someone will have a better idea.  If so, and if I can swallow my pride (good spiritual exercise), I might learn something.  Excitedly awaiting any other posts that might be coming...

Whatever design you end up with, I'm happy to help with the nitty gritty of the plumbing.  One of the funnest parts of this practice for me.

Paul

Thanks, Paul. I do have the fish tank in the back plus the 2 sump tanks underneath.  I am not sure if the beds will be too much for the one tank of fish to handle although I would like to set it up so the sumps can have some other fish like a few catfish and some crawfish as well as the tilapia in the large fish tank.

I may be able to add a sump under the raft beds if I have to. It will be a large system either way.

Do you have a link with instructions for the Glenn Martinez external bucket siphon?

I am on a concrete slab which is about 12 by 17' and it is pretty full so far. No greenhouse over it although I may cover it somehow next winter.

Thanks,any help I can get would be great. I seem to be good at over growing my seedlings in the spring so I will have plenty to share.

Tom Hack said:

Janet,

I would be happy to talk with you some time.  I need to post some pictures of my system, but I am out of town on business this week.  A little more information would be good to have such as Size of Greenhouse, everything contained in that space or do you want the ability to have expansion outside,  can you dig down, and special needs/ access?

Tom HAck

Hi Janet, I don't have a link to the bucket siphon, but you can see mine in action if you like, or if I work on yours I'll show you how it's put together.

PT

Janet Little said:

Thanks, Paul. I do have the fish tank in the back plus the 2 sump tanks underneath.  I am not sure if the beds will be too much for the one tank of fish to handle although I would like to set it up so the sumps can have some other fish like a few catfish and some crawfish as well as the tilapia in the large fish tank.

I may be able to add a sump under the raft beds if I have to. It will be a large system either way.

Do you have a link with instructions for the Glenn Martinez external bucket siphon?

Janet,

I prefer to have my pump move cleen water and to have a solid lifting outlet in my fish tank. The included picture is my current system that fits in a 10' x10' space. It consists of a 250 gallon fish tank, a 4x10 foot constant height media bed, 2 half barrel flood and drain media beds, a half barrel duck weed tank, and a half barrel DWC tank. The whole thing runs on a single pump. My fish tank and the large media beds are plumbed together so the water height is the same.

I need to get some more pictures for you.

Tom
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Beautiful-looking system, Tom!

Can you say more about your "solid lifting outlet"?

Sounds like a really well thought out system, what kind of maintenance do you have?

More pictures sound good too.  I we have a tour this year maybe you could be included in the tour?

Paul I would love to get a look at your bucket siphon, when have you got some time available?



Paul Trudeau said:

Hi Janet, I don't have a link to the bucket siphon, but you can see mine in action if you like, or if I work on yours I'll show you how it's put together.

PT

Janet Little said:

Thanks, Paul. I do have the fish tank in the back plus the 2 sump tanks underneath.  I am not sure if the beds will be too much for the one tank of fish to handle although I would like to set it up so the sumps can have some other fish like a few catfish and some crawfish as well as the tilapia in the large fish tank.

I may be able to add a sump under the raft beds if I have to. It will be a large system either way.

Do you have a link with instructions for the Glenn Martinez external bucket siphon?

I fear this will not be strong enough.  Some cross bracing may help, but those vertical 2x4's may not be strong enough to secure cross bracing to without a horizontal brace at the top. 

If you intend to line the boxes be sure to run the liner down over the outside.  Otherwise water will find it's way between the OSB and the liner and rot the boxes.  But you will first need to beef up the lateral support.  Those 2x4's are not enough.

Fiberglass works well for tanks without bulkhead, but it's a lot of work and gets pretty expensive.

I would advise you to use the 1/3 IBC's instead.   IBC's accept a Uniseal or bulkhead better than OSB and plywood or OSB will swell and contract causing bulkheads to loosen over time.

I planned on putting in the liners in today, I was concerned about the plywood getting wet and was planning to paint them as well as bringing the liner over the sides.  I am using some one inch Styrofoam for insulation and as a soft liner for the rubber liner. The guy who was my inspiration for the boxes (http://urbanfarmfanatic.wordpress.com/2012/07/07/646/) just used the 2x4s for support also and I wondered about the weight, right now we have cinder blocks on the corners but I would feel more comfortable with more support also.

I need to find a lighter medium for the gravel beds, I cant afford clay medium, don't like the feel of the volcanic rock so anyone got any suggestions. Someone said there was a place in McClellan park that had nice gravel like shale? But I cannot find it.

I am not sure what you mean about the fish tank, I am using the old one I had before a full 300 gal. IBC.

Thanks Bob

Bob Campbell said:

I fear this will not be strong enough.  Some cross bracing may help, but those vertical 2x4's may not be strong enough to secure cross bracing to without a horizontal brace at the top. 

If you intend to line the boxes be sure to run the liner down over the outside.  Otherwise water will find it's way between the OSB and the liner and rot the boxes.  But you will first need to beef up the lateral support.  Those 2x4's are not enough.

Fiberglass works well for tanks without bulkhead, but it's a lot of work and gets pretty expensive.

I would advise you to use the 1/3 IBC's instead.   IBC's accept a Uniseal or bulkhead better than OSB and plywood or OSB will swell and contract causing bulkheads to loosen over time.

Janet,

Very little maintenance on the plumbing. I did use a 1000 gallon an hour pump which some may say is over kill since the total system water volume is about 500 gallons, but I have no issues and the water quality is really good with that much flow.

My biggest problems are pests- a cat has taken a few small fish, a raccoon ate some of my trap door snails, slugs eat my plants, and aphids and white flys piss me off, but now that the system is covered and lady bugs are captive in the greenhouse, and when I am home is spend time most nights hunting slugs- which my fish really like as a food supplement, things are looking much better.

Picture and more description will follow.

Tom

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