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rhoptowit

noobie build, 33 gallon grow out w/ 30 gallon sump.

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hello, brand new to the site as well as aquaponics. This is my first build and im pretty much starting from a zero knowledge base, so any help, opinions, or critiques will very much be appreciated.

to start it off im going to be building a system with roughly 50-60 gallons of total water volume. A simple stand with the grow out on top, and sump on the bottom. Plumbing will be as simple as possible, with one overflow set for auto siphon and another overflow for safety/redundancy. im planning to just drill the bottom of the grow out tank and use a couple bulkheads. still deciding if i want to just have the return go over the edge of the grow out tank or drill a hole in the grow out tank for it. here are some pics of what im planning.

Aquaponics_2.png

Aquaponics_1.png

the grow out will be a custom plastic container, hopefully my friend can get me a sweet deal on one. the bottom tank will be a standard 30 gallon fish tank. return pump im thinking ehiem 1260. idk what kind of fish to get for this small of a system that would be ideal. i was thinking tilapia.

couple questions i have thus far are: is surface skimming important in the grow out tank? also you guys think i should paint the fish tanks sides black? want to avoid algae since this will be sitting in sunlight.

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Hi Rhoptowit,

That was quick.

We have a number of members who run similar small AP systems......so you there'll be no shortage of help when you need it.

.....what kind of fish to get for this small of a system that would be ideal. i was thinking tilapia.

Tilapia seems the ideal choice to me - given your location.

couple questions i have thus far are: is surface skimming important in the grow out tank? also you guys think i should paint the fish tanks sides black? want to avoid algae since this will be sitting in sunlight.

Not usually......it tends to more important in high protein diets where there's the likelihood of an oil slick on the surface of the water.

You could also clad the support structure so that the direct sun does not hit the fish tank......sort of like cupboard. That way, you can easily control the environment in which the fish live.

Gary

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^thanks for the reply and tips, but sad to report that my friend was laid off of his job. sucks. not for me but for him.

i went ahead and emailed the company about the custom plastic container anyways, but knowing hawaii prices it will prob be more economical to find an alternative.

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Thats sad about your friend. Best wishes for him.

My system is similar. I used plastic storage tubs found in most any big box store. The growboxes are small clear plastic tubs, the kinds that fit under a bed. They seem to be working fine, though they do seem a little small for great root growth. I did spray paint the sides black to keep down the algae growth. In mine I put a 1/2 in pipe coming out the sides which drain the water back to the fish/sump. I can run this system in a constant flow, but only do it for 15 minutes an hour. I have the down side of always having water take up space in my small growbeds, but the boxes allow for a constant water level for the fish.

Still new to this, but I'd look at how the auto siphon fills your growbeds and the amount of water left for your fish. I remember reading about barrelponics, the they guy said at most he had 20 gal of water in the fish tank, and was able to raise 4 tilapia to .5 lbs. Some of the other systems I've seen that just run from the fish tank to the grow beds do so with a NFT type of grow bed. That will help keep a constant water level.

Look forward to see your system.

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well i decided to take this project in a new direction. stopped by a local feed store and picked up two 26 gallon grow out tubs and one 30 gallon fish tub.

aquaponics_3.png

thinking about getting or making another container to act as a sump. i want to keep the water level within the fish tub constant. also i was wondering if i should just run this system 24/7 and let the auto siphon do its thing. or should i get a pump on timer? if i went the pump on timer route, i would prob get two pumps, one for the fish tub circulation and to prob run through a filter, and the other which will be turned on periodically via timer to fill up the grow beds.

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Hi Rhoptowit,

Your new design is certainly feasible from a functional perspective.

As to whether you use auto-syphons or standpipes and timers......they both have their benefits and disadvantages.

Timers and standpipes are very simple to set up but the constant stopping and staring of the pump will eventually take its toll on the pump......they are simply not designed for it.

Auto-syphons enable continuous operation of the pump but they can be a bit fiddly to keep operating effectively.

You have a 3rd option......continuous flow. It allows the pump to run continuously and is much less fiddling around than auto-syphons.

Gary

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Hey Gary, I'm pretty new to AP myself. I'm currently working on cycling for the fist time. I just wanted to ask what you thought of the continuous flow method, since you brought it up. I've read about it a few times but I've never seen anyone actually suggest it as a feasible third option. It's always about flood and drain.

Metallidog

Hooked on Aquaponics

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I have a continuous flow in my system. Its not bad, and doesn't take up much space. You can pretty much have a system like the pictures above. Main thing to watch is where you put the drain pipes, you'll want to keep some water at the bottom of the grow beds. Its simple to build, just have your grow beds above the fish tank, no sump tanks or bell siphons, just a simple drain hole. Mine is on the side, keeps about an inch of water in the beds at all times. The pump is on a timer, but once it kicks on, water instantly drains from the grow beds back into the fish tank, so the fish keep a constant water level. If someone is worried about space, or wants something really simple, then I'd suggest this.

I've read that they aren't the most efficient at nutrient distribution. Depending on the depth of the grow bed, you could end up with dry spots on the top, so starting seeds would be a problem. My beds are shallow, so the top is moist under the top layer, but I worry about root rot seeing how the roots don't actually have much room to stretch. This could limit what plants you grow. My lettuce is fine, but I have a small pepper plant that is top heavy, it can't anchor itself down well in the shallow bed.

Theres a few things I've noticed. Great for space and simplicity.

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got the project underway over this weekend. got bricks and laid them down were the system would stand. made the stand for the system itself and then coated it with a water seal. after the stuff dries in 12hrs i will get plumbing done over the week, then hopefully the cycle can begin.

IMG_8550.jpg

IMG_8552.jpg

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Hi rhoptowit,

Smart looking support frame there. Good work.

Metallidog....

Hey Gary, I'm pretty new to AP myself. I'm currently working on cycling for the fist time. I just wanted to ask what you thought of the continuous flow method, since you brought it up. I've read about it a few times but I've never seen anyone actually suggest it as a feasible third option. It's always about flood and drain.

I like continuous flow for its sheer simplicity and reliability.

I found that controlling water movement by timers and float switches a pain in the rear......they would either overfill or fall short depending on how much bio-film was in the pipework.

While I like to play with auto-syphons (I love the noise that they make and the sight of the water as it surges back into the fish tank), they tend to be unreliable......or the amount of water that goes through the system is limited to what the auto-syphon will cope with.

The other thing about continuous flow is that, since there is no fluctuation in water levels, you don't need a large sump.

You can do it two ways:

  1. Surface - using a water distribution grid. Plants are planted alongside of the holes in the watering grid - aeration is excellent.
  2. Sub-surface - where the water flows through the grow bed at a pre-determined depth. Generally used in conjunction with clay pebbles (which hydrate and wick the water up several inches into the bed).

In my experience, both methods work just as well as flood and drain.....and there is no difference in terms of plant growth.

In saying that, let me remind you that all of my systems have either trickling filters or moving bed bio-filters (which means that I don't rely on grow beds for nitrification).

Gary

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IMG_8847.jpg

been completed for awhile now. experimenting with various plants now. so far i have tomatoes, japanese cucumber, string beans, zucchini, and eggplants.

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