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Old 12-22-14, 10:23 AM   #1
Daox
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Default Anyone doing aquaponics?

I've read up on it a bit and it seems very interesting. I also love fresh vegetables, but lack the time to do much gardening. So, aquaponics sounds like a good match. I was just curious if anyone here has a setup and can give some advise, pointers, etc?

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Old 12-22-14, 03:06 PM   #2
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You might find something useful here.
Search Thingiverse - Thingiverse
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Old 12-23-14, 11:56 AM   #3
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I have done it in the past. It is pretty simple to set up and run. The main issue with the systems is keeping the water in balance. Even that aspect is no more complicated than maintaining a swimming pool.
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Old 12-27-14, 02:41 PM   #4
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You will need a indoor heated space , even a swiftly constructed shed of the desired proportions to house the tanks and pumps and vegetable growing area. Also a heat pump for climate control.


You could Dig a few big holes / ponds to act as the fish tank with piping joining holes / holding ponds / water reservoir. The vegetable garden itself needs room temperature water to flow over the roots.


Here is a great video on the subject , showing a small commercial system.


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Old 12-28-14, 10:38 AM   #5
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I ask because I recently talked to the owner of this site: Frosty Fish Aquaponic Systems: Slash Your Winter Food Bills with a Backyard Aquaponics System. He specializes in aquaponics in cold climates and actually only lives about 2 hours from where I live.

I ordered some (free) plans from him based on an article I read on mr money mustache, a financial site, and it seemed very interesting. As I mentioned, I love the home grown produce, but lack the time for a traditional garden. This seems like an ideal solution.
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Old 12-28-14, 11:14 AM   #6
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I think your underestimated the ease of gardening and over estimated the ease of a aquaponics operation.

One could construct a greenhouse from salvaged windows or just use plastic for a greenhouse.

Commercial greenhouses use drip feed / hydroponics to reduce the work load and increase production , the systems used are cheap and easily available to a home gardener.

timers pumps and drip line / drippers and your system is up and running.
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Old 12-28-14, 03:10 PM   #7
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Daox, have you experimented around with hydroponic systems before?

If so, the aquaponic cycle will not require such a steep learning curve. The addition of the fish into the system actually brings a form of self-regulation into a purely hydro system. If you have had experience with growing with a hydro system, you already know what a huge resource the local grow store is, both in the collection of specific parts and materials available and the knowledge of the staff. Many of the better grow stores also deal with commercial hydro growers, who use the same type and size (larger than hobby scale) materials that even a modest sized aquaculture system demands. They may not carry the common plumbing fittings (that you can get at a big-box store or plumbing supply house for less), but those specialty items (fittings, manifolds, strainers, pumps, etc.) will be on a shelf or in their warehouse.

Since you have an expert near you, who serves the industry/hobby market, I would definitely schedule some kind of tour or meeting at his place. Just as a picture is worth a thousand words, actually being there is worth a thousand pictures. For your first aqua setup, I would drive there with an empty truck or van and a wad of cash. Figure out how big you want to start out, get what materials you need to assemble a starter system, and leave broke with a van full of awesome. Kind of like getting your first tattoo, finding a good artist and not getting something too big and elaborate will greatly increase your satisfaction.

If you have no prior experience with hydroculture, there is a whole whole lot to get your head around before you start. If you don't have time for a dirt garden, beware. Even if you go out and buy a somewhat prefab system, There is a considerable amount of assembly, commissioning, and maintenance involved. As with any working mechanical or organic system, there is a set of tools and test equipment you need to collect to ensure your success. Plumbing tools, water chemistry test equipment or kits, cycle/nutrient/troubleshooting charts and planning schedules exist that greatly simplify keeping your system going in the right direction.

Not to mention the capital investment in materials and living organisms. In these systems, error-proofing and overbuilding components to ensure durability is the norm. As a general rule, a corner cut to save some time or expense will nearly always come back to haunt you. For containers or tanks, I've learned to use items that are at least as durable as a rubbermaid or tupperware container. Even many of those don't do well when exposed to sunlight for a season or two.

Gremlins have a way of running rampant and ruining your day if not planned against. It is always a good idea to test-run a new system or addition for a few days with plain old tap water and no plants or fish in it to expose the gremlins and flush out all the dusty stuff and contaminants that can cause clogs and chemistry issues. For a first system, I would definitely just buy something smallish that has the bugs worked out of it. Save the grandiose DIY setup for sometime later, after you have some time under the hood. Once you experience the awesome potential these systems are capable of, you may find you don't need such a massive system to produce more than you expected.

Just like the first tattoo, you're going to pay more for the first one. Either you find an artist who does you right, or you end up going back to get what you really wanted in the first place. The value of standing on the shoulders of those before you in this realm is pretty much priceless at first. Forming an acquaintance with your local supplier is essential early on, as the rest of pretty much everyone will not understand the subject at all.
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Old 12-28-14, 08:15 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ecomodded View Post
Commercial greenhouses use drip feed / hydroponics to reduce the work load and increase production , the systems used are cheap and easily available to a home gardener.

timers pumps and drip line / drippers and your system is up and running.
In a sterile, feed-tank or ratio-injector type setup, yes. These setups typically drain to waste. The dripper emitter / spaghetti tube / micro mister / aquarium air hose type water delivery devices are neat. Kind of like playing with Lego's. These units are for raising seedlings and clones. The mass planting field and fish tanks are a whole nother world.

My two favorite units of this type are the rainforest and the waterfarm. These are the two big winners of the General Hydroponics lineup. Rainforest for propagating clones and seed starting, waterfarm for the hardening off area shortly after they have grown roots and begin to stretch. Both are incredibly easy to operate, hard to kill plants in, and easy to break down for rotation or cleaning. Plus, they don't hold enough stuff to ruin your day if something fails.

The rainforest design can be hacked together out of an old school, disc slinger type vaporizer head, a rubbermaid container (I like the underbed garment containers with casters), a 2 inch hole saw, and some dixie cups from the bathroom. Or you can spend 300 more dollars and buy one from the growstore. Throw in some compost tea and water, plugger in and watch your cuttings not die!


RainForest with 2" pots


WaterFarm 8-pack Kit

The waterfarm unit patent has expired, so its main parts can be had at the growstore for next to nothing. I believe they sell a kit for like 9.95 now that includes the water column bubbler, drip ring, and rubber bucket fitting with air hose. Naturally, if you buy more, the price drops or you get freebies (buckets and/or lids). Pick out a couple of sizes of lids (for different crops), a bag of grow rocks (hydroton is my fave), black buckets, and an air pump. Voila! Or, just buy some FarmKits for however much they are now. Hit the dollar store for some extension cords and a power strip on the way home.



BTW, these kits make an awesome Cub Scout or summer school project! Kids' parents will come begging for more once the plants take off. For a starter setup like this, buy a 3-part florakit for nutrients. The stuff mixes like kool-aid and has enough buffers and conditioners in it to make acid rain good to grow with. Best thing is, it has coloring in it, so you can take a water sample in a week and immediately tell how strong your solution is. Just add water until it looks the right color again, top up with fresh nutewater, and you're good til next time. The stuff can get strong like root beer and not burn your roots.

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Old 12-28-14, 10:26 PM   #9
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I like the simplicity of the bucket method , nice to know the attachments are so affordable , I might try this sometime , it certainly looks like something I could look after.. adding water and fertilizers seems reasonable enough to do as I do not want to dig and weed in a garden either.

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http://generalhydroponics.com/site/g...m_8pack_01.jpg
WaterFarm 8-pack Kit

The waterfarm unit patent has expired, so its main parts can be had at the growstore for next to nothing. I believe they sell a kit for like 9.95 now that includes the water column bubbler, drip ring, and rubber bucket fitting with air hose. Naturally, if you buy more, the price drops or you get freebies (buckets and/or lids). Pick out a couple of sizes of lids (for different crops), a bag of grow rocks (hydroton is my fave), black buckets, and an air pump. Voila! Or, just buy some FarmKits for however much they are now. Hit the dollar store for some extension cords and a power strip on the way home.

Last edited by ecomodded; 12-28-14 at 10:45 PM..
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Old 12-29-14, 01:47 AM   #10
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I tossed a simple system together on the back porch this year. It consisted of the following:

1. An old kitchen table that had been replaced and moved out on the porch to die
2. A few "window box" plastic planters (2 long ones - 4 ft and 1 short one - 1 ft)
3. Some bamboo tiki torches left over from a party
4. A large rubbermaid tote - maybe 40 gallon
5. A solar fountain pump that pushed 8 feet of head pressure
6. A dozen feeder goldfish

I filled the window boxes with leftover perlite and some super-pro soilless potting mix, probably 75-80% perlite. I put the little fountain pump in the bottom of the rubbermaid container and added around 30 gallons of water to it. I plumbed the pump to 1/2 inch black neoprene fountain hose and teed off the top to each window box. I drilled holes through the table for the supply hose and below the drain holes of each window box. I let the system run for a few days to let the dusty stuff drain into the tank below. When I checked, there wasn't much silty stuff in the bottom to speak of, so I just ran with it the way it was. I threw some goldfish in the tank below after getting the pH down to 6.8 and planted a tomato in each box. I put in like 1/4 cup of floramicro and a tablespoon of bloom and fed the fish.

My wife said she wanted basil and peppers, so I grabbed a basil plant and a green chile pepper from Wal-Mart that week. I put one in each box later that week when I fed the fish. The pH had not changed, so nothing got added except fish food to the tank.

For the next week or so, the weather got dreary, and it rained a lot. The tank almost overflowed. I only went out to feed the fish a couple of times after work. The tomatoes had already begun to stretch. When it got sunny again, I went out and put a couple of tiki torches in to support the tomatoes and tied them up loosely.

For the next 3 months, all I really did with the system was add water and bloom nutes, pick tomatoes and peppers, and feed the fish. Sometime in July, the pump clogged up with uneaten fish food, so I yanked the pump, blew out the hose, and rinsed the pump off. I siphoned out a couple gallons of water while sucking out some of the muck in the bottom of the tank.

The pH had risen slightly, so I added a little lemon juice to bring it down. Maybe a half pint did the trick. I topped up the tank with bloom juice and water and let it ride for another month. By then, the feeder fish had grown to three or more inches long.

For the rest of the season, all I did was harvest veggies and feed fish. I had to extend the tiki torch trellis so it tied into the rail of the porch, so the tomatoes wouldn't tip over the flower boxes. I triangulated the tops, so the tiki torches I added formed an M. I took some cuttings, which were propagated in the small window box and hand-watered with tank water every day or two. Most of the clones went tonew homes after I had two tomatoes and a basil in one long box and a tomato, a pepper and two basils in the other. I probably gave away two dozen clones.

Sometime in August, I started giving away extra tomatoes and basil leaves. Everything produced too much for us to eat. I had no problem giving away fresh vegetables. More of the same all the way to first frost. It took out the basil, but not the peppers or tomatoes. The peppers quit flowering but not the tomatoes. We kept harvesting green tomatoes until the cold set in. I retired the system sometime in October, dumping the spent plants and media in a gopher hole in the yard. The 5-6 inch goldfish went into my parents' pond. They looked happy not to be crowded.

These systems are not any more difficult to set up and operate than you make them. General guidelines are to keep it simple, and don't overdo it. When you try to push the envelope, fish get sick, plants get diseases, and your water won't balance. Then it's an uphill battle for a while until things settle down again.


Last edited by jeff5may; 12-30-14 at 04:38 AM.. Reason: wordsmithing
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