So today a member of one of the AP message boards posted that he was going to be getting rid of his system. It's complete - heck, it's up and running with fish and plants - but would anyone like to come pick it up?
I checked to make sure his phone number was in an area code I recognized before I called.
It's a 340 gallon fishtank, an 8'l x 2'w x 12"d raft trough, some 1" - 4" tilapia, and all the plumbing and pumps and everything. I hadn't been planning a raft system to start, but I can either convert that to gravel or just add on some gravel beds. He's also including some books, videos, CD's, etc.
Okay, so how far away IS it? 4 hours. Each way. And the tank is too big to fit into a pickup truck, so I'll be renting a moving truck. And feeding it at 10 MPG. And hiring day laborers on each end of the drive to do the lifting. And a hand truck. So at the end of the day it won't actually be free any more. But I've priced out what I can, and it's still going to cost less than $400. ZOMG.
Oh, and I'm not going to be moving the 340 gallon tank when it's full or anything. He's going to transfer the fish to a 55 gallon drum for transport. For those of you who don't automatically know what a 55-gallon drum of water weighs, let me help you. Alton Brown tells me that "A pint's a pound the world around." There are 2 pints to a quart, and 4 quarts to a gallon. So a gallon of water weighs 8 pounds. 50 gallons (I'm sure it will have some head space) will therefore weigh 400 pounds.
I'm going to pick it up next Saturday and set everything up on Sunday and actually have a working system *that fast*!
So what's the first thing I did when I got home? Check the measurements of the components to see if they'll fit into the inexpensive 7'x15' hoop greenhouse I saw (they will) then measure the outside patio to see if that will fit (it will) then order the greenhouse. It should be here in plenty of time, so my new arrivals will be properly protected from kids, cats, possums, and the dust storms of the gardeners.
I'm going to have a system! 6 months sooner than I expected! OMG I'm so excited I can barely stand it!
Here she is in her current home: