Unfortunately I started construction on my first AP system before I found the Newbie mistakes thread. But everything seems ok so far.
I have a 1200 gallon fish tank (in the ground)
Three growbeds, One of which is only 5" deep. (The bell siphon is a little iffy)
Grow towers and NFT system are next to research. I just wanted to get my feet wet before committing to a larger system.
I had planned to run the system on one pump and still think I can with the use of an indexing valve.
I left the spaces for all you aqua elders to tell me what I did wrong and how to fix it. The tank is the only thing I am not really interested in changing right now. It is in a 19' x 23' building and that is a big hole to have to fill.
Yes the indexing valves require the flow to stop and start (either by the pump stopping/starting or some other means like automated valve.) Easiest way is generally pump on a timer. I usually only stop the flow for about a minute then it comes on again so that wouldn't be a problem for the NFT.
Bigger problem for NFT will be pumping water directly from a fish tank to a NFT pipe will have fish poo building up in the NFT and cause a stinky mess and poor plant growth. Water should be well filtered before being sent to NFT.
There has been much debate about flood and drain times but it seems that they all work. Constant flood can work and some plants like it well. Siphon flood and drain systems work. And timed flood and drain where the beds only get flooded for 10-15 minutes an hour work. Some plants seem to like one method while others like other methods. Just make sure you are getting ample aeration and filtration for the fish side and bacteria and you should be in good shape.
for some trace elements many people will use a little maxicrop seaweed extract during initial cycle up but that only provides potassium and trace elements. Generally you can put the plants in and don't worry too much about it, once they are over the transplant shock the nutrients will probably be coming available. Just understand that the first season will be a slow start.
Am I correct in thinking the pump has to switch off before the valve indexes to the next port?
How long can the flow be interrupted in a NFT system before plants start to suffer?
I ask because I still want to run a single pump.
I used a pool liner to retain the water, is there a problem with the liners breaking down releasing unwanted chemicals? A friend of mine had just replaced the liner in his pool. In the process of refilling the side of the pool split in two so the liner never had anything but fresh well water in it.
Also, I finished one of the larger grow beds today. It takes the bell siphon about 7 minutes to drain the bed. Is there a recommended time the roots should be submerged or does it make that much difference?
Is there a nutrient solution that can be used to feed the plants while cycling the system?
Sorry for all the questions but it is taking longer to cycle the tank than I thought. I have seedlings that are overdue for transplanting. The cold water in the tank is slowing the process down I think. Now that the outdoor grow beds are returning to the tank the temperature should start rising.
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