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.
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.
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.