Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

Robert Rowe
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  • Phoenix, AZ
  • United States
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Robert Rowe's Discussions

Increasing CO2 levels in a greenhouse

Started this discussion. Last reply by Robert Rowe Apr 14, 2015. 9 Replies

The following site drew my interest in elevating CO2 levels in my greenhouse:http://www.co2science.orgAnyone interested? or knowledgeable?Continue

The Nitrogen Underground

Started this discussion. Last reply by Robert Rowe Jun 14, 2013. 4 Replies

Ref: 2013-06-13 The Nitrogen Underground - Discover July-August 2013 By Claire Panosian DunavanWhat caught my eye was the references to excess Nitrites & Nitrates.Continue

Water Temperature Control

Started Oct 19, 2012 0 Replies

Discussion posted by Robert Rowe on October 15, 2012 at 11:57 am at Arizona Aquaponics and moved to water topics 2012-10-19.This topic is an important issue to everyone…Continue

PVC Plumbing

Started this discussion. Last reply by Robert Rowe Aug 2, 2012. 2 Replies

PVC is impacted by Ultra Violet.I Bury when practical, paint with protectant when exposed.Continue


Robert Rowe's Page

Profile Information

How did you find us?
a friend
Are you an aquaponic gardener already?
If so, what type of system? (pick all that apply)
flood and drain media, raft
How old is your system?
Less than 6 months
What type of fish do you grow with? (select all that apply)
How big is your fish tank?
220 Gallon w/ 200 Galllon Sump, addition of 700 Gallon Geodesic Dome enclosed tank under construction.
Please tell us something else about yourself.
I am a retired Methods Analyst (Industrial Enginering).
I have been container gardening for several years.

I presently follow Mel Bartholomew's square foot gardening paradigm. I modified it to what I call Round Foot Gardening, using 10 ft lengths of 12 in. schedual 40 PVC pipe with 4 in diameter holes every 12 in. Loaded with the equivalent of "Mel's mix". This was done to reduce water usage.
I already have a 220 gal fish pond reservoir and am anxious to add some aquaponic planting beds.
I am not a seasoned gardener but am about 90 percent successful on my round foot set up.

Bob's AP Journal

This is an an attempt at learning my way around this environment and to explain Where I stand going into aquaponics and how and where I want to go.


Our home is on a small hill and faces to the East. Our garden is on the top of the hill against the West wall and faces the early morning sun.

I have used a lot of diamond wall block in walls in front and the rear of our lot as well as surrounding trees etc. for aesthetics and continued this with the pond wall.

For the past year I have been absorbing Mel Bartholemew's Square Foot Gardening Paradigm and putting it into action.(Let me add, I am most comfortable wandering out of the box) .

Round-Foot - Early on I came to the realization that our low humidity and the "Square foot garden" wasn't going to work, so I jumped out of the box and shifted my growing bed to my "Round Foot Paradigm. I came to the conclusion that the chlorine in the Phoenix water system was detrimental to my garden and have been holding water in drums to "boil off the chlorine" and hand watering my gardening. I decided to install a reservoir to get rid of the chlorine, and was in process of setting it up when Larry introduced  a friend and I to his garden.

I am now expanding my efforts to include Hydroponics then Aquaponics while continuing to improve my Round Foot Garden.

On-going dialog - My intent is to journal my plans, efforts,successes & failures in this document and present photo details in my albums.


Fish Tank -  My in-process 220 gallon pond is expandable to 1000 gal(approx.) by adding 4 more courses of block (The design limit for Diamond Wall is 4 foot height)I would also have to find an approx 16 x 16 ft liner) and I hope to eventually utilize it to serve all three schemes. The free form liner drove me to the wall shape. If I were to do it again I would make it round, which would have resulted a more regular inside wall surface.

2012-08-01 The pond cover is to low blocking to much sun from the water hyacinth, even though water temp is 80-81 degrees. I will be raising the "Ceiling" 8 inches. Re: pond cooling, my preformed poly? pond is surrounded by at least 12" of sand which should be a thermal mass benifit.

Bio-Filter -  I am taking a different approach regarding my Bio-Filter. Instead of using 12" deep media beds, I am limiting the media beds to 6" and building a stand alone Bio-Filter/Digestor.

The filter design in its present form is 20 ft of 6" PVC sewer pipe(low cost) packed with red lava stone. The upstream end presents a concave plastic strainer to the water source. The strainer holes are a maximum 1/4". The discharge end also is equipped with the same strainer component to prevent the lava stones from migrating through to the rest of the system.

The intent is for water from the pond(Highest element) to flow through the filter with air flow above the lava and to incorporate red wigglers to digest the fish waste.

First hitch in design: I intended for the pipe to be level and flow a function of the incoming water level. I failed to account for the drag in the pipe and possible air pockets. I ended up positioning the pipe about a 1/2 bubble off to allow adequate flow. The flow is slower then I expected.

2012-08-16 Plan to raise the Bio-Filter pipe to it's upper limit(about 6"). This should make a significant difference in the maximum bed feed line height.


Water Distribution - at the downstream end of the filter is terminated in a manifold which, "with no demand" passes the water through a 2" pipe return to the 100 Gallon Sump from which it is pumped back to the Fish Pond.

A 1" priority port, below the 2" port is the source for my planting beds and will be controlled via "yet to be designed" apparatus.

2012-08-01 I closed the loop today, my Pond to Bio-Filter/Digester to Sump to Pond,  loop is running. I had to go to a smaller pump to avoid overflow on the Bio-Filter inlet.

2012-08-06 Trouble strikes - My system depends on overflow from the pond to meet the demand of the Bio-Filter and the grow beds. The pond is not high enough to provide enough flow. Back to the drawing board.

2012-08-16 Plan to redesign the Bio-Filter exit manifold.



Moved the 100 Gallon Sump into the mine shaft (See yard photo) this would drop my lowest point by 50",.and raise required pressure head by 50"

My present pump will do this with no problem.
System Chemistry

2012-08-01 12 Hrs after closing the loop and replacing 20 gallons of water lost during plumbing changes PH @ 7.4, NH3-4 <0.50 PPM, NO2 @ 2.0 PPM, NO3 @ 10 PPM.

2012-08-04 Bob's gone fishing. Test numbers PH 7.4 NH <0.25 NO2 0 NO3 30

Added 15 Goldfish to start, plan to add 15 in a week if no problems

I planned to add 2 Plecostomas but supplier suggested waiting a month or so and informed me that the Plekies will not tolerate our winter water temperatures. I am thinking solar should be able to keep the water up to 80 degrees in the winter.


Water Temperature -

2012-08-16 Well the excessive heat has taken its toll on my fish population. I tried adding a second pump to chill more water, but that wasn't much help. I then put a 16" fan, running at the lowest speed, blowing over the water surface, which has kept the water temperature between 78-83 degrees, with no further fish losses. I am not sure about the resulting population. I'm thinking it's down to 4 fish of the original 15.


Media Beds - My first media bed is in place as a flood and drain design utilizing a 10 ft length of 6" PVC sewer pipe packed with hydroton  and drained with my Mason Jar Bell Siphon. The Bell Siphon is located at the center of the 10 ft pipe to maximize flow.  Currently growing 1 pepper plant as a stand alone unit draining to a trash can.

I plan to add a raft bed, a flood and drain 2 ft x 10 ft bed  and a Nutrient flow pipe.

Let me add that I am very open to suggestions, or pointers to get me on track and positively effect my outcome.


Coming up

Research "FAP" valve for flow control - This is a hose which has been permanently flattened at the end, which will allow water flow from the hose but not in reverse. Acts like an agua diode.







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Comment Wall (6 comments)

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At 4:05pm on January 19, 2013, Jim Troyer said…

HI Bob:

Not sure but I think I owe you a phone call...

The the look of your posts your system dealt with the cold effectively, good job with your diligence and hard hard work!  Did you create your glass inclosed solar panel yet?  I didn't read anything about it recently but then I'm not trying to keep up very well either.

I brought my 7" tilapia in from the cold before I lost them.  The 5 adults I got died on the first cold snap in December with a 49f water temp, j st before I got the solar collector hooked up for the season.  I thought I caught all the little guys but there were 3 - 7" fish dead in the bottom of the pond 2 days later.  I saw another one hiding under the bridge with the gold fish and after several hours I caught and brought her in the house too.  She was unable to handle the switch in temps even after I tried to bring her up slowly, but she died 36 hours later.  The lowest pond temp reading I saw was about 46 degrees.  The turtle has been sunning himself the last 2 days so it must be warming up nicely in there but I haven't checked lately.

I saw your post regarding the heater and watched the you tube vid of the guy piecing it together, did you ever build this electric heater? below 11/11/12

I have been thinking I will create an electric backup heater for next year's cold snap.  Since the pond has a kink of neck in it where the water fall water comes in I thought I cold make a barrier mounted on the bridge that hangs into the water leaving about 3-4" of clearance for fish and normal water flow during the day.  In the evening, the barrier would trap and hold warmer water under the bridge where the fish like to hang out anyway.  In one face of the barrier I would mount a similar electric heating element and run it through a timer and thermometer set around 55 degrees. 

I also think all that PVC he used is over kill.  I plan to just use a capped single length of 1.5" PVC to hold the element, then create a series of slots in the pipe on the table saw to allow the water to pass through via convection while keeping the fish safely away from the hot element.  I'm also planning to float a sheet of foam under the bridge to reduce vertical heat loss.

Hope all is well with you.


At 3:21pm on November 11, 2012, Phil Slaton said…

Thanks for the invite!

At 12:01pm on November 11, 2012, Phil Slaton said…

Hello Robert and thanks for the contact.  Tomorrow I am building heaters, similar to this idea and installing them with controllers in my tanks.

I'm told that these should do the trick and raise my Koi and Catfish water temps to the 75 degree temperature that I am looking for.

At 9:53pm on August 19, 2012, Dr. George B. Brooks, Jr. said…

Greetings. Thank you for the kind words. You wrote "I am now thinking that this approach would deplete the nutrients needed by the grow beds. "

Please elaborate. What do you mean ;-)

At 10:49am on August 17, 2012, Scott Bloom said…

The expanded PVC and ABS is really cool stuff, they can be worked with just like wood and are very light.  Any plastic distribution business will carry them, I go to Sabin Polymershapes.   There is also Curbell and Desert Star.  The down side is that Jim is correct, the stuff can get pricey the thicker you go.  I have seen thicknesses of 1".

At 8:58am on July 23, 2012, David Schwinghamer said…

Are your long cylindrical tubes filled with dirt and how are you watering them? Im also interested in where you got the pvc looking white ones?

Robert Rowe's Blog

Robert Rowe - AP Journal year 4

Posted on April 4, 2015 at 1:04pm 0 Comments

2015-04-04 I am changing the form of this blog to show the present state of my garden which is mostly Aquaponic.


2013-12-28 Changes to Water Temperature Monitoring, Controlling & Recording…


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