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  • Woodbridge, VA
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Burton's Discussions

Raising FT on a concreate slab?

Started this discussion. Last reply by Averan Mar 7, 2012. 1 Reply

The stats:Based on my calculations my growbed would weigh close to 1k lbs., and my DWC would also weigh about 1k lbs. when filled.The fish tank will weigh 2k lbs. 20" tallThe goal:I would like to…Continue

Tags: concrete, raised, tank, Fish

Humidity indoors

Started this discussion. Last reply by TCLynx Apr 3, 2011. 29 Replies

I am interested to hear from people with indoor systems. My parental figures who think I will always be their "baby" were worried about my AP project because some far off acquaintance of the family…Continue

Fishwater in hydroponics?

Started this discussion. Last reply by TCLynx Mar 28, 2011. 12 Replies

So I was thinking the other day about my future system and was wondering if anyone has tried this and if my concerns are founded or not. So the idea would be to have two or three systems to use all…Continue

Plywood tank questions

Started this discussion. Last reply by Larry Reinhardt Aug 16, 2011. 23 Replies

I have been scowering the net looking for a good written out plan on the wood needed to build a 300 - 600 gallon tank and have been unsuccessful. I have seen koi ponds with no details to the wood…Continue

Tags: construction, liner, EPDM, tank, plywood


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aquaponics diy
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Please tell us something else about yourself.
Dietary vegan looking for a more sustainable food source

Future plans


Over the last week I have been researching hydroponics, aquaponics you-name-it-"ponics" in order to learn how I might go about building a system in my two story condo.


Not surprisingly I have not found what I would consider medium to large systems contained inside a home outside a basement or garage; the former I have.


The overall plan

I am planning big, 300 gallons, 26sqft grow beds and maybe some NFT near the back end return. But there are several issues I have been coping with, the main being weight and space. My goal is to produce enough food for myself and maybe someone else in the future. I know it will not substitute for all the foods I eat because being vegan I eat many grains and beans which, from what I have read, are not suggested for growth in AP as you need soil vs media. And while I have money to invest in an expensive premade system there is no fun in building it, researching it, and solving my problem; that and saving money is nice :)


The location in question:

I own the bottom two floors of a 4 story condo, my neighbor owns the two above me, and the free room I have is over their garage with my office next to it which is over my garage. Maybe I will upload floor plans later :)


Free space available:

  • Free room above my neighbors garage (gets a lot of light) 11.5' x 12.4'
    • has 2' x 7'ish closet
  • Free space in my master bedroom about 11' x 6' (its a big mstr bedroom)
  • Free space on main floor (concrete under carpet)
    • Whole Living room 10.5' x 8'
    • Space in Dining room about 3' x 11'
    • Space in garage about 3' x 6' and 2' x 17' (I believe my HOA states I can only use my garage for things you would "normally use a garage for" including storage and parking. So the space above is with my car parked in the garage.
  • My office, which while it currently is my office I could move it to either space above and it is above my garage and adjacent the empty room. 11.5' x 10.8' with balcony (accessible by both rooms again) 3' x 6'ish
  • Second FULL bathroom on second floor also has two sinks


So knowing the space I have free originally I only wanted in my "free room" on the second floor till I considered the weight, which is pretty big. So now my thought is, do I put it on the first floor entirely or do I get really ambitious and do a multi-floor integrated system. I own this place so it is possible.


Tank location Ideas

So far the best place for the tank is probably going to be on the first floor. Being I am vegan and dont plan on eating the fish I could either breed fish or just keep decorative fish in the tank and not breed them. If I place the tank in the dining room I would probably have to place the majority of the beds in the living room next to it. If I place it in the garage then I could place the beds in there (so long as I button it up from exposure) or feed tubes through the ceiling to the second floor rooms above (office / empty room)


Media / beds / etc

  • Media
    • I am primarily looking into getting lava rock because it is only $30 more than river bed rocks and it is much lighter. My google spreedsheet I made shows me having to pay $1700 for the hydroton I would need if I went that route and only $170 for lava rock. Seems like a no-brainer even though it would be ncie to have the hydroton.
  • Beds
    • These will be constructed most likely from wood and pond-liner so I can maximize the space I have for ease of use and crop growth. My main concerns will be the same as they would for tote based systems, a good tight seal.
    • I have debated, given the locations above, having two layers of beds one on top of the other to again maximize space.
    • Each bed will be 1' deep and minimal bed area, given from the free backyard spreadsheet I found, states 26 sqft.
    • E & F will be used and each bed will be filled up at the same time, even on the tired system
      • I should preface this by stating that I dont think a E & F would work on the second tier if the source is rushed into it from the top tier unless it is collected into say a sump first then pumped from there
    • Standard adjustable bell valve with very large return diameter where all beds will return water to the sump and or main tank
  • NFT
    • It would be nice to have NFT near the end of the system so most all solids are removed from the water before it reaches this stage. These would be great for maximizing space on smaller plants because they could take up otherwise unused wall space.
  • Drip
    • Again would be nice to have some drip supplements to maximize space for smaller growing plants only. Not only that other windows could be used other than the ones nearest the beds so long as the pluming is in place.
  • Pump and other goodies
    • I already have two pumps in my posesion from when I had larger fish way back when, and one from a massive watercooling system I made for my computer. One is medium large, and the other is a massive koi pond pump (like 10" x 5" x 4"ish)
      • The smaller of the two was used to pump 5gpm at 12' of tubing 1/2ID
      • The larger of the two has never used in any system because it was overkill but should be perfect for this project
    • I have all the tools required to build anything I will need to build
    • I will most likely use PVC pipe and not flex tubing, if I do use flex tubing it will be black to reduce algae risk
  • Tank
    • The tank will be more dictated by its location as far as dimensions are concerned and less about materials. But it will be a minimal of 260 gallons.
    • IBC ? Not really feeling them as it seems it would make more sense to have more bed area for each tank than the little part you do end up getting. Now this isn't to say you couldn't expand the beds but if I did get one it would have to be in the garage as it wouldn't be attractive to have anywhere else lol. BUT that said 150ish for a clean one isn't a bad price. I have not spec'ed out the cost of a wood tank yet.
    • Will be made from wood with 2.5" foam insulation around or in the tank and will use a pond liner
    • Will most likely have two tops made, one with netting the other with insulation depending on the location the water could get cold.
    • Fish will be decorative if kept inside, or koi / goldfish if kept in the garage.
      • Side note I have debated making a raised floor in the dining / living room area and building a 1' to 1.5' tank on the floor so essentially its a koi pond in my living room. So about 40sq ft a 6' x 7'ish pond, could be any dimensions though. The space under the false floor could be used for seedlings or basic storage.
  • Lighting
    • While certain places have natural light I don't believe it to be nearly enough to "feed" my crops so supplemental lighting will be a MUST, not an option.
    • LED
      • I have been looking seriously into making my own LED array, having a near major in EE it wouldn't be too hard and the cost could be kept down by doing it myself. That said I am still doing research into coverage area.
      • The main attraction is the savings over time versus other methods of indoor electrical lighting. The results I have seen in the "other" community using LED arrays has been very impressive as well
      • My concern is just how much lighting I will need for my project and how much it would cost to implement. If its way too much (like over 4k if I make it myself) then I might reconsider the design or their use.
    • OTHER
      • I have looked into other common forms of lighting, my main concern with them is heat and cost over time



  • Since half of the food I eat are plants, and there really are not any I dont like, a large variety will most likely be planted. However I have yet to look into the life-cycles of plants to see which I would have to plant every say 4 days to ensure a supply in the future. So right now it is up in the air.

As I think of more I will append this note


Burton's Photos

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Burton's Blog

Looking at my system

Posted on March 3, 2012 at 1:01pm 0 Comments

Finally going to start getting the tanks together ... finances are not perfect but getting better so hopefully in a month I can have it up and cycling. (being realistic here)

My general numbers used for questions / concerns below:

  • 300g stock tank filled with about 240 gallons of water (4" gap at top)
  • 275 IBC split in 2 as GB's filled with 16" hydroton (110 gallons of hydroton in each half and 96-103gallons of water displaced when both are…

12 down need input

Posted on April 13, 2011 at 8:45pm 2 Comments

I was looking over my photos and was curious to know what exactly you would like to see in this assembly guide.


Currently I follow these steps per unit.

  1. Preselect LED's for each "string" and put them in a breadboard so I can just grab them as I need them, not a necessary step but I still do it.
  2. Start at string 1 and solder in the resistor after bending the leads.
  3. Place each LED in the string in the board, make sure it lays flat, then bend leads…

First of 40 done

Posted on April 8, 2011 at 10:54pm 4 Comments

This is to serve as a teaser while I compile the images I have take, two for each item soldered on so its a bit.

Also it should be noted this unit has not been tested beyond a short "pretest" of the LED's before soldering in place. I will try to get a working picture of this tomorrow when I solder on the main leads and the Jumpers for the other leads to jump to then next board.


This stated here is some goodness for you to look at. TLeft is 1, TRight is 2, BLeft is 3,…


LED project, beginning pt 1

Posted on April 5, 2011 at 7:00am 1 Comment

Ok if you read my last blog post, and mainly the comments, you know I am still waiting for items to come in and I ran into a snag with the PCB hole spacing not being ideal for my ultra compact LED layout.


To review that is this layout

The problem is simple, if you place two LED's in with the anodes (positive side as indicated by the purple/pink…


Comment Wall (3 comments)

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At 4:39pm on April 16, 2011, Matthew Adam Byrd said…
thanks! ;)
At 7:31pm on March 18, 2011, B. Pearcy said…

I like your link:


Are you thinking of using it for a grow bed? Any idea how many gallons it is?

At 4:50pm on March 5, 2011, Sylvia Bernstein said…

Welcome Burton,

Thanks for joining the Aquaponic Gardening community!  I hope you find it a fun place to explore aquaponics.  There is a real blend of experienced and new aquapons in this community, so please don’t hesitate to get in there and start asking questions.  Everyone is quite happy to help out new members – no question is too basic.  
A great place to start is to read the “How to Use This Site” link on the upper right corner, “Start Here” section of the Main page.  You might also find the “Aquaponic Gardening Rules of Thumb” guidelines helpful.

Please add a profile image, participate and check in with us every day!  We are constantly posting news about aquaponics and the good food movement.

Thanks again for joining us, and I look forward to getting to know you.



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