Aquaponic Gardening

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Custom vs. kits - the joys a building an aquaponic system from scratch

A happy new Year to you all. Happy fishmas, too :) It is summer here in  South Africa and I was hoping to show off my crop by now but all I've got is a leaking growbed and a bunch of lessons learned. In particular I am wondering what your experiences are with respect to custom vs. kit Aquaponics. How much did you spend or save in terms of cash and effort.

I've put together a little post to show my own progress. I think it is going to be a beautiful setup but judge for yourself:

I am planning to finalize it before I have to return to work, but have a questions: Can I still start the system now or should I wait for African spring?




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Comment by Alex Veidel on January 14, 2013 at 9:21pm
Oops, actually that's 21 square feet per growbed. I have two, so thats actually 42 sq.ft. Yeah, hydroton is expensive stuff, in hindsight i probably should have filled it half way with a cheaper medium. And yep, the frame is all wood and screws (and a few brackets).
Comment by Hans Christian von Stockhausen on January 8, 2013 at 1:05am

Looks very nice. Is your frame made entirely from wood, Alex? I think I spend about the same so far - my wife keeps track of the budget :) but I also had to build a roof. Would have liked to use expandable clay but it's so  expensive and I couldn't get a bulk discount anywhere.

I agree - it's certainly an experience - a lot of fun and very frustrating at times (and I haven't even got a single fish or plant yet).


Comment by Alex Veidel on January 7, 2013 at 5:21pm

Oh, custom build all the way! Let me tell you, I feel such a bond with my system, and way more accomplished. Building your own allows you to know the in's and out's of your system and it forces you to do the research yourself, causing a wider base of understanding in the world of aquaponics and the market for the various components. I learned so much about various pumps, grow lights, and different media choices. It really teaches you the value of what you're doing. Not to mention the experience I was able to obtain by building my own grow beds and autosiphons, doing my own plumbing, and getting to know my local hardware store like the back of my hand as I walk in there for the 12th time today 'cause I forgot to pickup some dire component for the job :) For me, it was cheaper as well, I think I ended up paying around $1500-$1600 for my system total, including filling both beds completely with hydroton. And that was for a 300 gallon fish tank with 21 sq ft. of grow space, a 300 gallon sump (overkill) and room for expansion. Plus, I think it turned out pretty good aesthetically. Feel free to check out the pics on my page :)

Comment by Steve Bradbury on January 7, 2013 at 10:54am

I think TC lynx and or Sylvia have good indexing valves

Volume isn't an issue for me, fish tank is about 1800 gallons, half in, half above ground feeding 3 separate nodes........we just run the whole shebang at once

Comment by Hans Christian von Stockhausen on January 7, 2013 at 9:07am

Hi Steve, we decided to divide the growbed in two and only use one half this season. I need to look for an indexing valve or perhaps a second pump. Thanks for your comment. Glad you like it. Now we need to wait for bitumen to try properly again and then hopefully in a week or so we should be able to add gravel etc. Believe me, I cannot wait. This has taken far too long already :)



Comment by Steve Bradbury on January 7, 2013 at 8:25am

Hans, the system looks like its going to be really good looking ......did you solve your water volume issues yet?

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