WillsC

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About WillsC

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    Advanced Member

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  • Biography
    Run a small fig farm with 350 varieties of figs and aiming for 600 in a couple years. Adding an aquaculture system of 28 IBC totes.
  • Interests
    Figs, Gardening, Greenhouses, Aquaculture

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  • Location
    Inverness, FL

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  1. It is a bit awkward. The stove comes with a long handled ash scoop, in fact mine came with 3 of them:) They were wrapped together and I assume the employee doing the packing did not notice?? So picture a metal dust pan welded to the shaft of a metal golf club. It works and there is not that much ash. In the aprox 30 days I burned it I believe I cleaned it out 3 - 4 times, took a couple minutes each time. I might have got a 5 gallon bucket of ash total from all the clean outs, wasn't much. Not like a normal wood stove where you are burning a lot of volume of wood. Each fill is like 3-4 pieces of 5" wide 5" thick and 15" long pieces of wood so low volume so low ash.
  2. Early, I apologize for invading your thread but Andre wanted some pics of the setup. The heater inside the tote. The surround I mentioned, before the gap was filled with perlite. Btw i filled it with loose perlite, not perlite cement. From memory I think it took 16 cf. Looking down in the burn chamber. The air enters between the side wall and that metal plate and the plate extends to about an inch from the bottom so air is forced under the fire, though there is no bottom grate.
  3. Ande. I will post them for you, I had a thread on it on my fig forum so already have the pics.
  4. Had posted this today in greenhouses but saw your post and thought it might help.....if cross posting is not allowed just delete. his may not work for you but........ I have two greenhouses, a 24'x50' A frame about 15' tall at the peak and a 20'x30 arched. The larger GH holds 28 IBC totes with tilapia, 14 totes down each side plus two more IBC totes that each contain home made RDF filters (that are AWESOME) down the middle of the GH are 6 600 gallon lined tanks. I use the water in the tanks to not only raise tilapia but also to heat the GH. I own a fig nursery and start about 2000 fig plant cuttings a year for spring sales and they like to root with bottom heat and they sit on shelves over 3/4 of the top of each tote. Last winter I relied on 1000' of 1/2" black tubing strung back and forth along the rafters of the GH in 4 runs and pumped water through those lines and back to the main sump. This system worked but given the volume of water I could only gain 4-5 degrees per day if it was nice and sunny and on a very cold night (28 F) I would lose 6 degrees. Being in central FL it worked out as we dont get a LOT of cold generally. Front comes and the tanks drop 10-15 degrees over the course of a few nights then weather gets warm and using thge solar could bring it back up. Even still if a front came through and stayed cold and especially cold and cloudy it saw a constant loss of temp over several days and lowest the water got to was 50 but last year was a pretty mild winter. I knew that if we had an exceptionally cold winter that we get perhaps once a decade it could be a real problem and would have a LOT of dead fish and a too cold GH, was just a matter of time. Did a lot of reading and finally I settled on a plan. My first thought was a wood fired boiler but they use a LOT of wood and are smokey and while I am not in the city i'm also not rural either so I crossed that one off. What I did was buy a wood fired hot tub heater, think some call them cowboy heaters? The one I purchased from a company in Canada is called a Timberline volcano. It is small, 38"H x 27"L x 11.5" wide made from SS and the body is aluminum. Even that small the manufacturer stated it was 100,000 BTU but I was dubious about that claim to say the least. The entire heater sits underwater except for the feed shoot that sits 6" or so above the water line and the fill lid acts as the draft control. I did not want it inside the GH so it was situated about 40' away outside the GH and inside an IBC tote. I placed the tote so it was the same height as the tanks in the GH. Added a second small 1/2 hp dedicated pump and ran a 1" line from one of the IBC totes that holds one of my two homemade RDF filters. Because the hot water return pipe would flow back to the GH by simply gravity that line was 2". I knew the ground would chill the water stealing some of the heat in the buried hot water return pipe so I ran 4" non perforated drain line and cut a slit the length of it. The 2" line was placed inside the 4" line and then made batches with the cement mixer and filled the pipe with a combination of 1 part portland cement, 1 part sand and 6 parts perlite to make lightweight insulating cement. I wedged the 4" pipe open so i could fill it and when the 4" line was 80% full I laid the 1" supply line from the new pump on top of the 4" line and poured more cement over all of it to a depth of about 2" above the 1" line. The IBC Tote that is 40' away and holds the heater I was a bit concerned about it losing heat to the atmosphere especially on a windy day and our cold normally comes with a lot of wind. My solution was to bury 4 4"x4" PT posts 6" out from each of the corners and built an enclosure around the IBC tote using recycled black plastic twinwall GH material. In the 6" gap between the twinwall andtote I poured more perlite completely filling that airspace up to about an inch from the top of the tote insulating it. I added another piece of twinwall to the top and the 6' tall 6" wide smokestack comes out through it. The 1" line was run into the tote about 1/2 way down the tote and the 2" heated water line is through the tote 1/2 way down also then elbowed and runs up and pulls the hot water from just 1/2" under the surface. To say it worked is a collossal understatement. I was BLOWN away. On a cold day I would light the heater and in 45 minutes the water at the surface was already 120+ degrees........now if you stick your arm down in the water the water just a foot deep was still cold. You can touch the outside of the heater underwater while the fire roars inside and it was just warm to the touch, maybe 85 degrees or so? My setup which is roughly 12,000 gallons of water the heater would raise the water temp in the system 1.5 to 2 degrees per hour. The heater being small uses up very little wood and once burning well is 100% smokeless. I never even bothered to use the 1000' of 1/2" solar lines at all during the winter. I would let the heater run 6 or so hours and refill it about once an hour but each fill is only 4 pieces of small firewood. Once the heater is running(and pump on) temp in to the sump would settle at about 85 degrees and the 1/2 HP Goulds pump pushes a LOT of volume. It was a dang good idea I put it in as this winter was our coldest in over a decade. Without that heater the fish would have been dead as we had front after front move through in a 30 day span of time. With the heater my water never dropped below 65 and I ran the heater total maybe 30 days. Also and this was simply an accident.....in the late afternoon I would fill the unit with wood and close the lid/damper completely. I did it so I would have a nice bed of coals in the morning and would not have to relight it, even though lighting the thing is so easy and fast. One morning before I had added any wood and the pump was off and had been off since the previous afternoon I was in the GH and happened to walk by the sump and noticed the temperature gauge on the outflow water and it was at 80 degrees. I looked at the temp gauge in one of the tanks and it was 70 degrees. Thinking the other digital gauge was broken I pulled it out and put the sensor in the fish tank where it dropped to also 70 degrees so it was working. Popped it back into the outflow pipe and put my hand down in to the sump water and sure enough 80 degree water was flowing out of the pipe even with the pump not running. Came back in the house and googled and found the answer I had made an inadvertent thermal siphon.....had no clue such a thing even existed. So even without the pump running cold water still goes to the tote and warm water still flows back to the sump. I plan to drain the heater tote of the fish water and add piping to plumb it in to my inground pool to also heat that, just need to see if chlorine will harm the aluminum before I do it. I have no affiliation with Timberline at all and I know other companies sell similar heaters. If I had had the time I would have probably welded one myself but my aluminum fabrication is generally not pretty, to say the least. Also was worried I might not be able to get it 100% waterproof.
  5. So going on two years since I installed the first homemade RDF and I LOVE it. A couple of observations.....I took the advice and added a screen of sorts, PVC standpipes with small holes in them to all 28 IBC totes that have fish to prevent fish entering the drains because as was pointed out they will and did:) . I never got a blockage though as if a fish did lodge in the holes that go inside the RDF the water level in the tanks would all rise and the pressure would pop them out, they would be dead of course but did not happen often. Mostly I just got tired of having to net the fish out of the rdf, BUT it does make a GREAT fry trap. Since the original post I have also added 6 more 600 gallon rectangular tanks to the front GH and plumbed them in as well. Because of the added volume I added a second RDF of the exact same design to the first one and each one filters 14 IBC totes and 3 600 gallon tanks. I was using well pump switches to sense and trigger the on /off cycles but it proved to be clunky and hard to fine tune meaning the barrels spun more often than needed and much longer than needed. I switched to micro switches also triggered by the rise and fall of a jar inside a 4" line connected to the two filter totes. Going that route I also had to add a solid state relay to trigger the sprayer solenoid and a regular automotive relay to take the electrical load off the micro switches as they can't handle it. All easy and very cheap. Originally I was using very very fine silk screen material around the barrel but it proved to be a bit wimpy. The second attempt was using a sewing machine (with the help of my wife) and attached the silk screen material to window screen for strength. That worked perfectly as the silk screen material still did the filtering but the window screen gave strength. The only issue was they proved to be throw away screens as after 3-4 months of use they would get mineralized blocking the fine pores in the silk screen material making the filters spin more often than needed. I tried acid washing them as that is the only way to remove the build up but that made the silk screen material fragile. While sewing the two materials together was not a hard thing to do I decided to bite the bullet and bought a 100' long by 40" wide roll of 320 mesh (44 microns) 316L stainless steel cloth which was a bit pricey, $500 but enough to do a dozen filters I suppose. When it gets mineralized every 3-4 months I remove it from the drum which takes about 2 minutes, soak it in an acid water bath which dissolves the minerals and 5 minutes later it is good as new. What I will do with the rest of the roll I have no clue but buying a roll was the same price as the material to cover just the two filters which makes NO sense at all. At first I was using an old dewalt drill motor 12V that had been retired to power the spinning of the drum which worked but about 6 months in it died and replaced it with a MUCH larger motor that is designed to roll the tarp back and forth on dump trucks, $125. With the new microswitches you can fine tune it and all the drum does now is turn 1/8th of one revolution which is enough to bring a fresh screen segment around, so it has to come on 8 times to make 1 complete revolution. It takes about 3 seconds for the drum to turn that far and the sprayers also spray just 3 seconds. Because of that the amount of water used that goes to waste has been reduced by 95%. As I said before (I think) the waste effluent water that flows out of the now two RDF's comes out looking like chocolate milk, well actually much darker than that. Flows in to a common sump, a half buried blue barrel. When the water level rises in that barrel to 3/4 full a pump kicks on and pumps it 100 feet or so to an IBC tote in the back GH. Because the effluent is MUCH more concentrated now with the 95% reduction in water going to waste what fills the tote is a thick sludge that looks like chocolate pudding. That sludge has got to be the BEST fertilizer I have ever used. It takes about a year to fill a 300 gallon IBC tote to the top with that fish poop sludge.
  6. This may not work for you but........ I have two greenhouses, a 24'x50' A frame about 15' tall at the peak and a 20'x30 arched. The larger GH holds 28 IBC totes with tilapia, 14 totes down each side plus two more IBC totes that each contain home made RDF filters (that are AWESOME) down the middle of the GH are 6 600 gallon lined tanks. I use the water in the tanks to not only raise tilapia but also to heat the GH. I own a fig nursery and start about 2000 fig plant cuttings a year for spring sales and they like to root with bottom heat and they sit on shelves over 3/4 of the top of each tote. Last winter I relied on 1000' of 1/2" black tubing strung back and forth along the rafters of the GH in 4 runs and pumped water through those lines and back to the main sump. This system worked but given the volume of water I could only gain 4-5 degrees per day if it was nice and sunny and on a very cold night (28 F) I would lose 6 degrees. Being in central FL it worked out as we dont get a LOT of cold generally. Front comes and the tanks drop 10-15 degrees over the course of a few nights then weather gets warm and using thge solar could bring it back up. Even still if a front came through and stayed cold and especially cold and cloudy it saw a constant loss of temp over several days and lowest the water got to was 50 but last year was a pretty mild winter. I knew that if we had an exceptionally cold winter that we get perhaps once a decade it could be a real problem and would have a LOT of dead fish and a too cold GH, was just a matter of time. Did a lot of reading and finally I settled on a plan. My first thought was a wood fired boiler but they use a LOT of wood and are smokey and while I am not in the city i'm also not rural either so I crossed that one off. What I did was buy a wood fired hot tub heater, think some call them cowboy heaters? The one I purchased from a company in Canada is called a Timberline volcano. It is small, 38"H x 27"L x 11.5" wide made from SS and the body is aluminum. Even that small the manufacturer stated it was 100,000 BTU but I was dubious about that claim to say the least. The entire heater sits underwater except for the feed shoot that sits 6" or so above the water line and the fill lid acts as the draft control. I did not want it inside the GH so it was situated about 40' away outside the GH and inside an IBC tote. I placed the tote so it was the same height as the tanks in the GH. Added a second small 1/2 hp dedicated pump and ran a 1" line from one of the IBC totes that holds one of my two homemade RDF filters. Because the hot water return pipe would flow back to the GH by simply gravity that line was 2". I knew the ground would chill the water stealing some of the heat in the buried hot water return pipe so I ran 4" non perforated drain line and cut a slit the length of it. The 2" line was placed inside the 4" line and then made batches with the cement mixer and filled the pipe with a combination of 1 part portland cement, 1 part sand and 6 parts perlite to make lightweight insulating cement. I wedged the 4" pipe open so i could fill it and when the 4" line was 80% full I laid the 1" supply line from the new pump on top of the 4" line and poured more cement over all of it to a depth of about 2" above the 1" line. The IBC Tote that is 40' away and holds the heater I was a bit concerned about it losing heat to the atmosphere especially on a windy day and our cold normally comes with a lot of wind. My solution was to bury 4 4"x4" PT posts 6" out from each of the corners and built an enclosure around the IBC tote using recycled black plastic twinwall GH material. In the 6" gap between the twinwall andtote I poured more perlite completely filling that airspace up to about an inch from the top of the tote insulating it. I added another piece of twinwall to the top and the 6' tall 6" wide smokestack comes out through it. The 1" line was run into the tote about 1/2 way down the tote and the 2" heated water line is through the tote 1/2 way down also then elbowed and runs up and pulls the hot water from just 1/2" under the surface. To say it worked is a collossal understatement. I was BLOWN away. On a cold day I would light the heater and in 45 minutes the water at the surface was already 120+ degrees........now if you stick your arm down in the water the water just a foot deep was still cold. You can touch the outside of the heater underwater while the fire roars inside and it was just warm to the touch, maybe 85 degrees or so? My setup which is roughly 12,000 gallons of water the heater would raise the water temp in the system 1.5 to 2 degrees per hour. The heater being small uses up very little wood and once burning well is 100% smokeless. I never even bothered to use the 1000' of 1/2" solar lines at all during the winter. I would let the heater run 6 or so hours and refill it about once an hour but each fill is only 4 pieces of small firewood. Once the heater is running(and pump on) temp in to the sump would settle at about 85 degrees and the 1/2 HP Goulds pump pushes a LOT of volume. It was a dang good idea I put it in as this winter was our coldest in over a decade. Without that heater the fish would have been dead as we had front after front move through in a 30 day span of time. With the heater my water never dropped below 65 and I ran the heater total maybe 30 days. Also and this was simply an accident.....in the late afternoon I would fill the unit with wood and close the lid/damper completely. I did it so I would have a nice bed of coals in the morning and would not have to relight it, even though lighting the thing is so easy and fast. One morning before I had added any wood and the pump was off and had been off since the previous afternoon I was in the GH and happened to walk by the sump and noticed the temperature gauge on the outflow water and it was at 80 degrees. I looked at the temp gauge in one of the tanks and it was 70 degrees. Thinking the other digital gauge was broken I pulled it out and put the sensor in the fish tank where it dropped to also 70 degrees so it was working. Popped it back into the outflow pipe and put my hand down in to the sump water and sure enough 80 degree water was flowing out of the pipe even with the pump not running. Came back in the house and googled and found the answer I had made an inadvertent thermal siphon.....had no clue such a thing even existed. So even without the pump running cold water still goes to the tote and warm water still flows back to the sump. I plan to drain the heater tote of the fish water and add piping to plumb it in to my inground pool to also heat that, just need to see if chlorine will harm the aluminum before I do it. I have no affiliation with Timberline at all and I know other companies sell similar heaters. If I had had the time I would have probably welded one myself but my aluminum fabrication is generally not pretty, to say the least. Also was worried I might not be able to get it 100% waterproof.
  7. Ravins, I will check the temps, maybe you are right and there is a variation in temperature among the tanks. Just a degree or two could cross the tipping point. Vkn, I'm pretty sure it is not phosphate as I am on a lime rock well and they mine (or use to) phosphate here in central Florida.
  8. Ravnis, That was my first thought also but the tanks are side by side one thriving one dead.....same temperature as they are all plumbed together. I can't figure it out.
  9. I'm not 100% sure this is the right forum for this and if not Mods please feel free to move it. I have 28 300 gallon totes plumbed together. 14 have tilapia in them and the other 14 have duckweed and azolla, no fish. On the plant side of the greenhouse the pumped water comes back to those tanks a couple inches below the surface so no splashing. The azolla has grown amazingly well could not be happier with it except for some reason that baffles me a tank of it will start to show a little brown and within a couple of days the entire tank of azolla is dead and gone but the duckweed mixed in remains alive and happy? The tank next to it meanwhile is full of azolla and perfectly happy? All the water is the same, it is all one system. Any ideas why this happens and has anyone else experienced the same? There are some tadpoles in the tanks but I would assume they are in all the tanks without fish. They are tree frog tadpoles if that matters.
  10. Just as an update.....the RDF has been running for almost 2 months now I guess and has performed flawlessly. Not a single issue has popped up so far.
  11. Cecil, I went the other direction and bought a whole house propane generator. Not as fast as yours as it won't come on for 30 seconds but it will do the job and as a plus keep the house AC units running:)
  12. Phri, Hmmm........you are right that if a fish larger than 2.5" gets in that pipe I will have an issue. I will cut out the section between two of the 2.5" holes on the next one to correct that, perhaps I should just install a downward facing 4" T in place of the 3 2.5" holes. The piping of the shaft itself is glued but the 90 degree at the intake end connected to the shaft is not so if it happens I can pop the pipe off to get the blockage out. I have complete access to the inside of the drum. The fabric is held on by wiggle wire in wiggle wire track. I can open the drum up and close it back up no tools required in under 30 seconds. The screen I am using is temporary while I wait on the screen I really wanted, it is still 80 microns but it is as thick as denim and it is beyond tough, you could toe a truck with it easily. I don't think the 4" pipe will deform under the loads this unit will see. If it happens though I will upgrade it to schedule 80 pipe. The entire load is carried on the toilet flanges which are located right next to the 4" Uniseals so in essence the load is actually carried mostly by the tote. The 4" pipe is submerged, the water level in the barrel comes up just barely over the 4" pipe so the highest temperature it will ever see is about 90 degrees. Redundancy is a good thing and that is why there will be two of these units, one per side of the greenhouse. Did it more for convenience then redundancy though. Far as the rinse water those few gallons a day are not of any concern as far as water exchange in the system. I have a solenoid, part of the greenhouse watering system that puts water back in to the system, partial water change every day. The water that leaves through a port at the high side of the lowest tote runs to a bed where I will grow duckweed. Trying to make it all as automated as possible to save myself time.
  13. Phri, Good morning. As to reliability as you say time will tell but it is a very simple design.......I do not see where a failure could occur. The drum spins slowly and yes I have seen some of the commercial units that spin much faster but I see that as no advantage and as you know with speed comes more chance of a failure. With water as the bearings there is no wear parts and even if something did fail how bad could it possibly be? The sprayers work on pressure from the well, same as my home and it cleans the screen completely so see no need for an additional pressure pump. Granted the spray heads use more water that those that would be higher pressure. I am not concerned with conserving the water as it is all captured and used anyway. If I wanted to minimize the waste water the addition of a booster pump for a lower flow higher PSI heads would be a good decision. I am curious where you think a failure could occur? I just do not see many weak spots. The only point of failure I could determine was IF the water level in the IBC tote fell due to a failure in the solenoid to trigger or a motor failures the drum would get VERY heavy as the water in the tote dropped but I solved that by making 3 of the screen panels breakaway and the screen would come out of the wiggle wire at that point and release the load of water. Yes in aquaculture you really do not want to filter out all of the fertilizer, I understand that but my set up is for aquaculture. I have a fig nursery with 500 or so varieties but they are not in this loop other than the in ground plants benefiting from the fish water.
  14. Gary, Thanks for the words of support. It really is not a hard build and I think the only tool needed that most probably don't have is a lathe for thinning out the toilet flanges. The commercial systems I looked at for ideas I think over complicate the system and add a LOT of unneeded cost.
  15. Mike, I think your questions are beyond me friend.......but I doubt it. The size of items in water that might hurt you like bacteria or the like would pass through a 80 micron screen like a BB going through a tennis court net......no effect at all. For filtration for the fish you don't want the filter spinning fast as all that would lead to is breaking the waste up in to smaller pieces that could go through the 80 micron screen or could make the waste be soluble in that water. This device would not be a good aerator, it is a filter. The koi people use it a lot as it leads to very clear water. I can notice the difference in my water after just a few days of running. Over time the mesh builds up a bio-film on it which will make the pore size even finer. When it gets to the point the filter is cycling too often the bio film can be removed easily but up to a point I think the bio-film is a good not bad thing. It is basically a time saver as it cleans itself and removes the bio-load from the water. The water will flow out and to a barrel with a sump and is then stored in a tote as I want that nutrient rich water as a fertilizer for my plants (own a fig nursery).