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Winter Keeping Build Advice // Tilapia

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BLUF: Bringing the fish indoors for the winter and would like design advice using (2) 55-gallon drum barrels.  I have (3) 5-gallon buckets as optional usage.

First of all, hi everyone.  I'm so glad to have found this community and looking forward to learning/sharing.

I am a relatively new AP guy.  I have a 350 gal, three-tiered IBC-based AP system. Top tier (largest) houses the fish, middle tier is the grow media/filter, and the bottom is the sump w/ DWC (raft).  I use a single pump from the SUMP back up to the main IBC tank.  The system was started back in June and finished cycling around mid-August (took a little longer than expected).  I used feeder goldfish for cycling.  I've since added 4 adult Tilapia (8-9"), 16 medium Tilapia (4-5"), and approximately 25 feeder goldfish (1-3").  The media grow bed (lava rocks) is growing with plants (half-filled).  The sump is currently empty.

My water parameters are as follows (pH/Ammonia/Nitrite/Nitrate):  7.2/0.25/0/3).  The Nitrate's are a little lower than desired but so far it's been just OK.

Anyway, winter is approaching out here in the high desert of California.  The nights will drop down to high 30s (F).  I am going to harvest the remainder of my plants and am deciding to bring the fish inside vice heating the tank.  I purchased two 55-gallon drum barrels and also have multiple 5-gallon buckets to use.  Anyone have any design ideas specifically for just keeping the fish warm and comfortable through the winter?  

I was thinking keeping the fish in a 55-gallon drum that would overflow into a 5-gallon swirl filter and then into a 5-gallon bio media filter and where a small pump would feed water back into the main tank.  Any other ideas?

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Hi Hooked, welcome to APN.

Sounds like another interesting build, and now move.
Ive never needed to heat during winter here in OZ, so can not offer too much advice.
House insulation rolls have been used to great efficiency, if you can get them at a good price.

Cheers
Toga

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Kinda hard to offer ideas since you didnt mention how much room you have to play with, or if it'll be totally dark.  

In my opinion keeping that many fish in a 55 gal drum is a bit inhumane, but that's another discussion.

I think you're asking for trouble stacking that many fish in such a small place with only a small swirl filter and small biodigester and recirculating the water back to the fish-laden tank.  I think you'll need a filter to remove the solids from the circulation and some way to deal with the ammonia buildup from so many fish.  If you have a fair amount of room, look into a small iAVs/sandponic setup.  You will be filtering the water, growing a few plants and the plants will help with the ammonia situation and help keep the ph under control.  You may need to add some plant friendly lighting, also.  

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10 hours ago, Toga said:

Hi Hooked, welcome to APN.

Sounds like another interesting build, and now move.
Ive never needed to heat during winter here in OZ, so can not offer too much advice.
House insulation rolls have been used to great efficiency, if you can get them at a good price.

Cheers
Toga

Thanks!  Sorry for the ignorance but is it because it doesn't get that cold during the winter months?

 

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Hi Hooked,

Yes, my winter water temps only drop to 12-15c for a very short period.

It is not uncommon practice for those with larger systems to cycle 2 species per year.
Warmer water perch, cod or barramundi during summer months and a cooler water fish like trout during winter months.

Cheers
Toga

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2 hours ago, Aufin said:

Kinda hard to offer ideas since you didnt mention how much room you have to play with, or if it'll be totally dark.  

In my opinion keeping that many fish in a 55 gal drum is a bit inhumane, but that's another discussion.

I think you're asking for trouble stacking that many fish in such a small place with only a small swirl filter and small biodigester and recirculating the water back to the fish-laden tank.  I think you'll need a filter to remove the solids from the circulation and some way to deal with the ammonia buildup from so many fish.  If you have a fair amount of room, look into a small iAVs/sandponic setup.  You will be filtering the water, growing a few plants and the plants will help with the ammonia situation and help keep the ph under control.  You may need to add some plant friendly lighting, also.  

Aufin, thanks.  Sorry I left out some additional info:

It'd be in my garage and there's some windows on the garage door for light to come in.  I can probably put all the gold fish in an indoor tank and keep just the tilapia in a 55-gallon.  I know it's still too tight but unfortunately that's all I got right now.  Maybe I can use a second 55-gallon and split the fish up at least.

 

 

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