Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Gary in Texas

Planning first system in Texas

92 posts in this topic

hydroton is good, but pricey....

I use Black Lava Rock in the bottom for drainage, just deep enough to cover a 1/2 piece of drainage pipe laid down the middle of the grow bed, with river gravel over that, and it works great.

The one problem with some local river gravel is that it has some percentage of Fossilized Sea Shells in it, and that will keep your Ph high, depending on the amount it contains.... A small amount is ok, and helps with buffering when you are feeding your fish heavy, but to much, will hold your Ph to high, causing Nutrient Lock Out from your plants, with Iron being the most common one lacking.....

Be sure to wash the fines out of the lava rock and gravel, as you don't want that in your tank or the rest of your system.

Gravel washing is a rite of passage for AP'ers, and is hard labor in almost any way you do it.......

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dr Wilson's design tool will give you pump size in gallons per hour needed to flow into the grow bed. (always on). You would just let them flood and drain as the siphons wished. http://www.aquaponic.com.au/backyard.htm

What size pump do I need? If I have four 3' X 6' grow beds that equals 72 cubic feet of space. If 40% of that is water and the rest media, that would equal 72 x 7.48 x .40 or 215 gallons of water. If I want it to flood and drain four times an hour I get 4 x 215 or 860 gallons per hour. I never want to go small (or cheap) on the pump so I need a 2,000 gph pump. Make sense?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

jobney,

I'm sure it is my ignorance but I find the design tool frustrating. I have purchased the 275 gallon IBC. That is the fish tank. I have another 275 gallon IBC and that is the sump tank. As noted before, my plan is to build 4 - 3 x 6 grow beds. I plug these numbers into the design tool...275, 14, 1, 45 and 300 (I put in these numbers because it was the only way I could get the fish tank sizes to match up). The output says I should have 17.8 square feet of leafy greens (one grow bed) and/or 9.5 square feet of fruiting plants (one half a grow bed). That is another question, is it plant both the leafy greens and the fruiting plant square footage or one or the other? What am I missing?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bahaha nah man that doesnt sound right at all, i'd go with a 1200 or 1500gph, and then u can adjust the flow to your liking.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree, you need at least a 1500GPH pump, and a bipass valve into a spray bar in the ST, then adjust the bipass valve, so that the FT overflows into each of your grow bed inlet valves and adjust them, till your bell siphons in each GB, Flood and Drain in the flow window that they work in. It takes a little tweaking to get each GB in that operational window, because you have more than one GB.

A bigger pump is better than a small pump, as any excess flow goes to the bipass spray bar

you may need a 3" overflow or 2 2" overflows, to have enough flow to run as big a GB's as you have effectively, and have fast F&D times.

i run 2 2" overflows into my 3 inside GB's with one 2" providing for the 3rd smaller GB.......

Bell Siphons Rules, if the water level in the GB is low and will not stop flowing, than its getting to much input flow, if the GB water level is high, and the siphon will not start, than the input flow is too slow, So Tweak them into that operational window

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

RS_

Your response leads into another question I have. How many times per hour should the beds cycle through the flood and drain? Does this number change with the average temperature?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The F&D times are based on the volume of the GB, and the size of the Bell siphon Stand Pipe Vs Input Flow. The bigger the stand pipe, the faster the F&D....... i wish i had used 1 1/2" stand pipes Vs the 1 1/4" that i used on the new Inside GB's, but i went cheap on the Bulk Head fitting at 1 1/4" and did not take the advice of Kevin at the place i got them at, and go with the 2" model, so i could adjust them easy....... my F&D times on these GB's are a good bit slower than i would like to see them......

no, the F&D times do not change with temp as far as i can tell.......

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The reason it says you should have only 18 ft² is because that is all the plants you can have at such a low stocking density (14). The model is calculating flow for 18 ft². To use all of your planed grow beds (72ft²) you will need a stocking density of 56 pounds/250 Gallons. (the max is 60 according to Dr Wilson). Your flow rate (combined) into the grow beds would then be 154 gallons per hour constant flow. If it was a chop 2 style system with a central sump this number would only be for the part of the water going into the growbeds not the fish tank. Oh, ignore "Suggested fish tank volume" that is only for people that don't have sumps. The UVI system has 4 fish tanks, harvesting and replenishing all at the same time. The stocking density stays the same. They can grow a set number of plants independently of fish growth. With only a single tank if you don't stager your harvest of fish and harvest all fish replacing them with all new ones your stocking density would be constantly in flux. The stocking density above is the maximum for leafy plants. If the density drops because you just removed all the full grow fish with fingerlings you'll have to decrease your planted space. If you are not growing all leafy plants and want to grow all fruiting plants the grow area at 56 pounds/250 Gallons is 38 ft². And to answer your question... The leafy plants and fruiting numbers in the design tool are each system totals assuming you are planting the whole system with a single crop.

Because of the previously mentioned stocking density flux I plan on only stocking my system with ornamental fish and not harvesting them. Maybe oscars or koi.

One thing to note. To mineralize all your fish waste at that high stocking density you would need 127 ft² of gravel bed. You will need to remove and throw out some solids before they enter the beds.

texasAP.gif

jobney,

I'm sure it is my ignorance but I find the design tool frustrating. I have purchased the 275 gallon IBC. That is the fish tank. I have another 275 gallon IBC and that is the sump tank. As noted before, my plan is to build 4 - 3 x 6 grow beds. I plug these numbers into the design tool...275, 14, 1, 45 and 300 (I put in these numbers because it was the only way I could get the fish tank sizes to match up). The output says I should have 17.8 square feet of leafy greens (one grow bed) and/or 9.5 square feet of fruiting plants (one half a grow bed). That is another question, is it plant both the leafy greens and the fruiting plant square footage or one or the other? What am I missing?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jobney you know your Dr. Wilson sizing model...it's almost exactly what he just told me in an email. He also cautioned me against a high fish density (because I'm new to aquaponics). Seems like good advice. I'll ease back on the grow bed throttle and build only three or plant them sparsely.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds like a good plan, slow and easy always works the best..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am two or three days (if all goes well) from installing the bell siphons in the three grow beds. I found nothing at Home Depot that would get me through the bottom of my home built tanks. The bottom of each bed is lined with pressure treated 1" x 4" (plus the pond liner) so the distance the bulk head??? would need to travel is about 3/4" (plus enough thread to attach the bottom piece to). I found a few sites on the web searching for "tank fittings plastic". http://www.plastic-mart.com/class.php?item=1045 The cheapest I saw was about $20 each plus shipping. Am I missing something obvious or is this the correct product?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gary,

2" or 1 1/2" bulk heads from D i c k s o n Brothers are your best choice, may not be the cheapest source, but will WORK and are local....!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is there a particular water testing kit that anyone recommends? I should be finished with the system sometime tomorrow and ready to start.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Look for a freshwater master test kit.That will cover the five main tests you need to do.. Ph, High Ph, Ammonia, Nitrite, and Nirate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is the type I use (and that everyone uses that I know of):

http://www.amazon.com/Aquarium-Pharmaceuticals-34-Testing-Ammonia/dp/B000255NCI

You want to use water tests with vials and drops, not the test strips. The strips aren't as accurate and can be too easily damaged by moisture. This type of test kit comes with all the vials and drops, and clear instructions for use.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

WASHING ROCKS SUCKS. I think they gave me half mud and half rocks. It doesn't matter how many times you wash them more dirt always appears. It's like perpetual motion.

More important...Two of my bell siphons don't want to work. The bed closest to the sump, about six feet, works like a charm. The other two (about 18 and 26 feet from the sump) are not happy with their set up. They are all two inch stand pipes with a four inch bell that is notched at the bottom with about one inch between the top of the stand pipe and the top of the bell. I'm thinking it is the distance or the angle of the long drain lines (all the drain lines are two inch and have a 90 under the stand pipe and a 90 going into the sump).

Suggestions are appreciated. I need to figure out the two bells and wash two more beds of rocks before Tuesday morning when I leave for two weeks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well,lots of reason for bell Siphons not to work, and easy fix would be placing another sump near the other two grow beds with a gravity feed to the main sump.. The reasons for the two Bell siphons on to work are to numerous to list.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Two of my bell siphons don't want to work.

Please be more specific. Do they not start siphoning? Do they not stop siphoning? Do they not drain the water quickly enough to lower the level of it? Without knowing what exactly is failing, it is difficult to diagnose the problem.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That is usually caused by insufficient water pressure/volume into the growbed for the size of the drainpipe.

Though I'll admit up front that I don't use a siphon. I fiddled with them the first week and decided it was too much bother. I use a timer with a quick fill and slow drain. But plenty of people do use them successfully, so it can be done if you're willing to fine tune it right now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Also, I don't remember if you're using a siphon with a reducer or not, and can't take time to look right now. A reducer will greatly assist in starting the siphon. If you're not using an Affnan style siphon, you should try that first.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I got the middle bell to work. The far bed will have to wait till I get back. I'm pretty sure it just needs a little more water flow. I can't take from the other two bells so I will run a line from my sump down to that bed and all should be fine. My mother-in-law will be at the house adding ammonia and testing the system while we are away. Hopefully it will be cycled be July 6 and I can start the which fish do I stock part of the puzzle.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gary,

adding another 2" pipe from the FT will make that work, or reduce the stand pipe to a 1 1/2" and it should have enough flow to start with what flow you currently have.

don't add to much ammonia at a time, or the nitrite bacteria will not be able to start growing..........

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0