This is my first attempt at aquaponics. I used two IBC totes. One is cut to 12", leaving the bottom half to the fish tank. The other is cut to 18" and 20", using one as a media bed and one as a raft (with the option to switch to media if preferred). The media bed is up top, gravity draining to the two lower rafts and back to the fish tank.
The media bed is going to house lava rock and be a constant flow (no bell siphon). I put the drain pipe roughly 1/3 from the bottom of the tank to create a reservoir of water which has 2 airstones oxygenating that standing water. We built a 1/2" PVC frame, drilled with 1/8" holes to act as a drip system over the lava rock. We believe this will work like the Dutch Buckets or a recirculating deep water culture.
Each bed and the tank has 2 airstones (8 total) with an air pump that pushes roughly 4 cfm. I aerated water for 24 hours and added 11 goldfish to get the system cycling. The fish were a little stressed from a rough transport but they are doing much better this morning and even ate all of the duckweed that came with 5g of water from a friends aquarium.
Please feel free to critique and leave suggestions as this is a learning experience for all. I will be added vertical growing space on the walls and a plant starts table after I get the rafts cut and painted.
Good stuff, thanks Adam- looks great, thanks for sharing and thanks Jon- now it's off to learn about SLO and gravel gaurds. Looks like a good place to start is:
Awesome suggestions Jon, thank you. I already had to lower the fish tank exit pipe for exactly the reason you mentioned. I may just put the pump in the FT. Now that the outflow is 4-6 inches lower, there is plenty of overflow capacity. I am picking up a 50g barrel to use as a sump because once I add vertical space on the walls, I'll need a place for that water to collect before being pumped up into the media bed.
I've been playing with the idea of doing gravel guards, just haven't come up with the design yet and wasn't sure if it was necessary but sounds like something I should do!
Great "newby" set-up, Adam! I ran into David at the Fair (just before the belligerent family came by!), and he was excited about your system!! And thanks for posting here, and generating a nice discussion.
Jon, I was thinking about the best way to put in a self-filling sump on my way to work this AM. Any suggestions/visuals? This seems to be a critical piece missing from anything I've run across so far.
Also, would the French Drain corrugated from HD or other irrigation/farm supply stores work for the gravel guard, and preclude the need to cut perforations?
I moved the pump to the FT, towards the floor, just seemed easiest at that point. It's working well and everything is moving as it should. I also raised the piping 2' to make it easier on the pump to move the water around the system. Using extra PVC and some window screen, I made a cover for the FT too.
Great photos, Adam!
And thanks, Jon, for the feedback. Still unclear to me how on keeps the sump from filling while water has filled the grow beds, then not overflow when that water returns to the sump. Is it in part because the float valve filler simply takes some time to fill, and the return from grow beds can "catch up" before too much water is added.
Also, I had to ask myself a critical question when I heard that a system like Adam's can "lose" upwards of 50 gallons per day in a Sacto Summer: is the claim of water-use-efficiency for aquaponics as valid for such systems as for ones where the system is tightly controlled ("uses only 10% of water compared to commercial agriculture" is one common claim I see/hear).
Jon, as always, this makes TOTAL sense! Thanx! Tim