RupertofOZ

Critique of the latest suggested "vertical tower" implementation

34 posts in this topic

As the forum has shown significant interest lately in critiquing various systems designs...

 

Perhaps members might like to discuss the merits or shortfalls of a recently posted "vertical tower" implementation...

 

Especially as "vertical towers" seem to be the hot topic at the moment... not only commercially, but in backyard adaptations..

 

The schematic was publically posted in Murray Hallam's Facebook page

 

https://www.facebook.com/PracticalAquaponics/photos/a.168228429936009.38280.165999393492246/803858563039656/?type=1

post-3396-0-21540200-1426584270_thumb.jp

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Hi,

 

It's the same old CHOP2 "poop soup" arrangement with a media grow bed and vertical  towers.  Poor fish!

 

Do we know anything about the vertical towers thing (that was apparently first suggested back in 2010)?  It would have to be those bits of extruded PVC pipe that we were all discussing on BYAP back in 2006, would it not?

 

I don't anticipate this thread will get to be a long one, Rupe.   Do you?

 

Gary

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OK I'll give it a go...

 

Declaration...I have not built a vertical grow tower so I can't say what physically works or not But I do have one question...

 

All the Chop 2 yardy dardy dah aside I'm wondering what the function of the grow bed is?...Does anyone want to take a guess?...I get the strawberries will grow in the towers...But an Auto syphon...OK I get that, even though I think it's complicating things...But the grow bed....What does that do?...

 

Cheers.

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Do we know anything about the vertical towers thing (that was apparently first suggested back in 2010)?  It would have to be those bits of extruded PVC pipe that we were all discussing on BYAP back in 2006, would it not?

 

It often is...

 

OR it may be incorporating the more "refined" zip towers... which if you remove the media beds is basically the same schematic that Nate Storey posted in regards to the "zip towers"...

 

I don't anticipate this thread will get to be a long one, Rupe.   Do you?

 

Vertical towers are all the rage across every Facebook group, Youtube channel.. and various forums Gary.... 

 

Not only among newer backyard AP devotees... but it seems within almost every new "commercial" proposal

 

I think as such it's a topic that deserves some serious debate as to the merits or shortfalls.... of suggested designs.... and/or whether they represent any real value as an idea...

Edited by RupertofOZ (see edit history)
crsublette likes this

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OK...

 

So the towers are just tubes filled with media right...

 

I can't see how they won't work....I'm happy to see benefits and non benefits...

 

Maybe the top plants of the tower get all the nutrient first?...I'm not sure..And the next ones down get less and less?...

 

Cheers.

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Nearly everyone that fills towers with media reports issues with them clogging rapidly... with both solids and roots..

 

Resulting in water losses through overflow... and poor plant growth... most probably because they've become anaerobic...

 

Putting media filled towers draining into media beds would very likely compromise the underlying media beds them selves IMO...

 

Pumping unfiltered, or semi-filtered (rolls eyes) solids a la the schematic posted... would appear to be just plain asking for trouble...

 

And given the discussions of years ago.. as suggested by Gary.... it would seem an extremely retro-grade step...

 

Similar discussions surrounded media filled horizontal pipes... which again seem to have become flavour of the month.. including "A frame" implementations.... and usually referred to as NFT... when in fact they're more a "shallow water culture"....

 

The same issues as media filled towers becomes apparent rapidly....

 

But it seems for some reason that people feel an urge to go "vertical"... often cited as the "future" of plant production...

 

Even with loose void media like the matala media that's incorporated in the "zip towers".... are the claimed benefits real???

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Hi ROZ

I didn't know it was the "NEW" hot topic You got some other links to any new forum discussions ? I'm not on Face Book

 

But it seems for some reason that people feel an urge to go "vertical"... often cited as the "future" of plant production...

 

Even with loose void media like the matala media that's incorporated in the "zip towers".... are the claimed benefits real???

I think the reason or need for vertical growing is easy explained in, lack of  space (urban/city)

Also the Idea of covering building walls/roofs with plants  creating "green lungs" have been high on the agenda in city developement for years.

I see it as a good idea, if one also, can incoorporate producing food even better yet.

 

cheers

Edited by ande (see edit history)
crsublette and Strider like this

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I hear you with regards to "living walls".. "green walls" etc...

 

But I'm more specifically discussing "vertical towers" in AP systems... both backyard and vertical...

 

And you haven't seen the flurry of "verticalness".. on Facebook, Youtube.. reddit, forums..... kickstarter.. etc etc...

 

What filters are they applying to your intrawebs over there... lol

Edited by RupertofOZ (see edit history)

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Seems like a decent set up to me, as long as you squeeze adequate filtration in between the FT and sump...otherwise it's kinda stupid, I mean, anyone with any experience would foresee those towers gumming up with solids, not to mention circulating unfiltered water back to the FT makes zero sense yada yada yada.

As for verticle towers, I think they can make sense in the right place, I like to trellis my tall plants on my back wall. Towers add a lot of head and require a bigger pump, so I'd rather use the verticle space for trellising, let the plants do the lifting.

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Hi ROZ

What filters are they applying to your intrawebs over there... lol

most common would be porn & spam filters

 

cheers

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I like to trellis my tall plants on my back wall. Towers add a lot of head and require a bigger pump, so I'd rather use the verticle space for trellising, let the plants do the lifting.

 

:rock:

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Seems like a decent set up to me, as long as you squeeze adequate filtration in between the FT and sump...otherwise it's kinda stupid, I mean, anyone with any experience would foresee those towers gumming up with solids

 

To be fair... this is most often the design that is suggested by many people..... but almost always without prior filtration...

Edited by RupertofOZ (see edit history)

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Dr nate (if I recall correctly) only uses the tower system as his solids filtration. This combined with a chip2 design means he has to run super low stock rates for good water quality. Just look at the few videos that feature fish and it shows.

He advocates very low stock rates because, as is so often said, the plants are the important part, the fish are nothing but a battery.

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  In the application we have in our greenhouse at an orphanage in Honduras, the goal is to produce as much food as possible in the space we have where it is located.  72' X 22'.  There is a 52' X4' , 4500 gallon fish raceway. The vertical towers for the most part are suspended over the raceway.   This way there is little space not used for growing food, and it also shades the raceway a bit while providing some aeration.  The rest of the greenhouse is filled with growbeds  containing gravel media, which is what does the bulk of the filtration.  We have redworms in all our growbeds and the 60 towers. The towers are only 3' long to fit the shorter stature of the Hondurans, so they can safely reach out and lift and replace towers over the raceway.  This all provides balance and filtration needed.   

    Towers alone would not work well in our situation, but they are important in being able to grow more food per squarefoot, taking advantage of the vertical spaces. We have a combination of towers and growbeds to form an operating system that remains healthy. The towers have remained rather easy to maintain, using Nate Storey's method of daily procedures. 

    The vertical tower debate I am sure will continue.   But in our application, they are a great component to our system, and perform well. They are not towers that were bought.  We fashioned them out of gutter downspouts on site.  We could have used matala media, but opted for the black fish pond filter media ( Comes 2" thick, and in 4' wide rolls - it is light) so we could fit A LOT of it in our luggage to transport to Honduras. 

   Hope this information adds another constructive bit of input to the discussion.

 

- COnverse

  

  

 

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Hi,

 

Sorry Rupe, I thought we were commenting on the entire system……and, as we all know, the absence of suitable filtration is the downfall of so-called CHOP2 technology.   

 

I like the Nate Storey-style of vertical tower because of its ability to produce a lot of food in a small footprint.  

 

The other thing that I like is the information support that Nate provides for his ZipGrow system.  

 

I believe, based on the information on his website, that there's a network of small producers who use the towers in a commercial context.

 

I'd certainly like to try some of the towers at some future time.  Where I could see them being particularly applicable would be along the back wall of a sun-facing greenhouse.

 

Gary

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I think this is a great design just missing a few components to make it a better system.

 

A.  Filter between fish tank and sump down to 80 microns

B. Offline mineralizing system

C. Dosing system from the offline mineralizer

D. Oxygenation system to the fish tank

 

There all fixed.   :thumbsu:

ande and crsublette like this

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Had a speaker at one of our aquaculture coferences tell us not to waste time with vertical towers. He said the plant roots eventually clog the towers.

RupertofOZ likes this

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What's up with unfiltered fish water going directly into the sump and them some of it going right back to the fish tank? I know this is supposed to be about vertical designs but if you're not going to have a filter in your system (?) why wouldn't you at least run the fish tank overflow directly into your growbed?

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Hi TF

From a purist point of view... The problem from recirculating any unfiltered water anywhere in an RAS is you are grinding up any solids to finer and finer solids....The idea is to remove as much solids as possible in the first place to stop this happening...

Lots of people will try and convince you otherwise...I say give both the theories a try and come to your own conclusion of what you like...Or just choose the one that stacks up to what you like...For me...I like to remove as much solids as I can ASAP...

Cheers

Edited by bigdaddy (see edit history)
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What's up with unfiltered fish water going directly into the sump and them some of it going right back to the fish tank? I know this is supposed to be about vertical designs but if you're not going to have a filter in your system (?) why wouldn't you at least run the fish tank overflow directly into your growbed?

 

HI TF,

 

It's all carefully explained……here.

 

 

 

Gary

Edited by Gary Donaldson (see edit history)
bigdaddy and Cecil like this

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Hi TF

From a purist point of view... The problem from recirculating any unfiltered water anywhere in an RAS is you are grinding up any solids to finer and finer solids....The idea is to remove as much solids as possible in the first place to stop this happening...

Lots of people will try and convince you otherwise...I say give both the theories a try and come to your own conclusion of what you like...Or just choose the one that stacks up to what you like...For me...I like to remove as much solids as I can ASAP...

Cheers

 

BD…..not removing solids is a bad move……and I get firmer on it with each passing year.  Every forum (except this one) always has a thread or two about sick and dying fish, and most of it you can sheet home to water quality issues…..including oxygen deprivation.

 

With the re-emergence of the iAVs system, the basic flood and drain no longer have any excuse for not having clean water.  It is, after all, basic flood and drain…….without the risk……and the way it was intended before it got tampered with.

 

Gary

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I think this is a great design just missing a few components to make it a better system.

A. Filter between fish tank and sump down to 80 microns

B. Offline mineralizing system

C. Dosing system from the offline mineralizer

D. Oxygenation system to the fish tank

There all fixed. :thumbsu:

One of the criteria for the choice of media was that worms could easily inhabit for online mineralization. There was never any inclination on the inventor's part towards offline minning.

If I recall correctly, something like 60-70% of the total flow from the sump returns to the fish unfiltered. The only aeration used is jets at the top of the tank, no compressed air. Good thing he uses those mutant tilapia fish (groan).

Edited by Rosso Carne (see edit history)

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I have a plastic Solar operated garden with the hydro reservoir on the top...The solar water valve doesn't work any more but the rest is still in good shape...

 

The 9 seperate pots are long rectangular shaped containers and I can attest That Roots of all the plants do indeed fill the containers...I guess The pots would be a larger diameter than the 90 mm PVC pipe we know of and possibly 450-600 mm long...And used potting mix...I grew a few herbs and tomatoes successfully in it

 

I'll take a picture of it later and post it here neat setup actually but not aquaponic...

 

Cheers

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Hi,

 

Off topic, sarcastic / antagonistic replies deleted.

 

Cheers

Toga

APN Mod Team

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