bcotton

Bcotton's EPIC backyard conversion , Aquaponic Cowboy!

98 posts in this topic

It happened while i was at work, only jax (puppy) and nikita(kitten) were at home. It took some time for them to calm down and i think they still arent back to normal routines.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Man,  So sorry to hear that.  I know the waiting on adjusters can be a pain.  Thats twice in just a few months Dallas has been hit hard with storms. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I finally got far enough to fill the 4 grow beds after letting it sit over night i obviously have some leaks. There are tiny cuts in random places on the dursrkim from the hail damagae.

 

i ordered some of this adhesive kellen recommended in another thread that i used to patch a different/bigger cut from when i installed it. I will double check to see if it's holding but i am a bit daunted by thelong term problems this could cause, i may just replace it.

 

http://www.tapplastics.com/product/repair_products/plastic_adhesives/tap_poly_weld_adhesive/435

 

 

I wish i had known when i was doing my insurance claim because it would have been covered. I do have to go back becuase they didnt get the blinds and the windows are going to cost more to replace than they gave me, so i will see if they will let me add the dursrkim.

 

 

was planning to be done with this 6 weeks ago but still just doing a little at a time. the house is on a waiting list to get the roof and windows replaced, there's work crews all over the city but its just gonna take time to get everything rebuilt.

 

 

brian

 

I wish i had known when i was doing my claim because it would have been covered. I guess i can still try to add it since i have to go back for more money for the windows an

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Brian,

 

There's no upside to getting your house trashed in what the insurance companies refer to as an 'adverse weather event'.....and its made even worse when many property owners are affected because of the delays in getting damage assessed and repairs underway.

 

I hope you and your family are looking at brighter days ahead.

 

Gary

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I finally got far enough along to flip the switch on my pumps on the new aquaponics systems to start looking for problems and leaks and i have found plenty. One of which. the 3600 gph submersible pump i bought is not going to have the power to cycle the water in two 1500 gallon fish tanks AND juice the 6 venturis i have looped into the mbbr filters so i ordered a 1.5HP pool pump form amazon today. Io will be closer to 5500 GPH and it will have to do or i will have to rethink and aerate w/MBBR ith airpump/air stones instead. I am still using airpump and air stones for fish tank aeration and i have 400 square feet (4'x100') of DWC beds that will use air pupmp/air stone. But i thought i could save some power aerating the MBBR's with water/venturi, that may not be the case./

 

-edit- if the weather cooperates this weekend i will try to post some pictures or a short video clip so people can see what i mean, i know it's tough for people to read and comprehend all of these words.

 

brian

Edited by bcotton (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Brian,

 

For what it's worth, I'm not a huge fan of venturis.   They are not the most efficient way to aerate water and I've always appreciated the redundancy that is afforded by air pumps in the event that a water pump breaks down.

 

Would the cost of running air pumps not be offset by the added load on water pumps operating venturis......assuming that there is some efficiency loss in using a water pump to introduce air into a system?  I've avoided venturis for the reasons I've stated, so I don't really know how they impact pumping efficiency.

 

Gary

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hard to beat the efficiency of an air pump over increasing the pump load for venturi addons. It does complicate things to add an air pump. I really suspect you will find with the air pump running your mbbr you will actually use less energy than running an oversized pump.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's a lot of moving parts to the decision. I admit i have no previous experience and limited knowledge of venturi prior to now and it appears i have under estimated the power it consumes. Time will tell if i regret the decision but heres a few thoughts.

 

 i am trying something new. and that is valuable to me. There is more to think about than just cost of implementation and cost of power. I have used air stones in MBBR before and in mineralization tanks and i dont really like it. They get gunked, I have to take them out and clean/sand them every few moths and i dont expect there will be any long term venturi maintenance. 

 

When trying to size air pumps for my whole system i have a few glaring obstacles

  1.  â€‹The system spaces over pretty much my whole yard meaning i need to aerate containers as far as 50 feet away from each other. 
  2. I have many different depths of containers
  3. each container requires different amount of aeration

 

Things that need to be aerated

a) 2x 1500 gallon fish tanks (~5 foot  deep)

b) 1x 700 gallon fish tank (~4 foot deep)

c) 6x 55gallon blue barrel MBBR filters (~30inches deep)

d) 2x 250 gallon IBC minerlization tanks (~40 inches deep)

e) 36x DWC (~1' deep)

 

I started out trying to size i sweetwater blower to manage the whole system. It would be the most energy effective. But it was coming out to about $600 for a goo sweetwater blower. And i HATED the idea that if it broke i would be witout aeration for a week or so while i ordered a new one. And buying a second one to stand idle was just cost prohibative. I was also shy about how loud they can be in a suburban back yard. I would have built themn a dog house to dampen the sound but i was still worried it would be too loud for my neighbors

 

 

 

I have been using a ecoplus 7 air pump for 3 years now and i have been happy with it. it's not exactly as eco as the name suggest. And it would struggle in depths deeper than 5',  But iteh cost is about $120 which i can much easier justify keeping an extra on hand. While i wouldnt say they are quiet, their noise is more of a vibration than a squeal and doesnt travel . Since it's less powerful than a blower i am going to need to run 2 maybe 3 of them which starts adding up ....

 

 one ecoplus 7 puts out about 7.8 CFM of air at the cost of about 360 watts which over a month costs in the neighborhood of $33 a month  in energy.

if i put 8 little 1 inch x 2 inch  (.2 cfm) air diffusers in each of the 4x20' long  DWC beds this comes out to 36x.2 CFM = 7.2 cfm which is just about right for 1 ecoplus 7

 

I bought 8 of the .75 CFM diffusers and that is about right sized for 1 ecoplus at depth.4+'. The idea is to put 2 in each fish tank and 2 in each mineralization tank which only left the 6 MBBR unaerated. 

 

I could bring in a 3rd ecoplus 7 to aerate the MBBR and have some CFM left over to add more aeration to the fish tanks  but is that really cheaper than adding a dedicated 3600 gph ( 250 watt) and come out with less power than a 3rd ecoplus air pump.

 

of course this has been a good exercise. these little 3600 submersible pond pumps are way more efficient than the pool pump i just ordered that is 1.5 HP. I will have to reconsider maybe using two 3600 gph (1/3hp=250watt) waterfall pump instead of the high torque 1.5hp pool pump that is rated to do about 5500 gallons (but cost closer to $100 in electricity per month)

 

 

thoughts and input welcome

Cecil likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I look at your situation more closely (and in its entirety), venturis start to make a lot more sense.

 

You must be feeding your entire street.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

yah, and that's only the aquaponics, I still have a bunch of fruit trees, grape plants, raised beds and still inbuilt wicking beds.

 

I havent though too far ahead. the goal is completely for self use, i have no commercial aspirations but there may be opportunities for something like a friends and family type coop where i give away all my extra produce and just take in enough money to cover my operation costs. I work in "IT" and in the US that more and more means I work with a lot of people of indian nationality. Not trying to sterotype.  But for instance there is a vegan software  engineer coworker who checks on my progress weekly because he would prefer to buy my extra produce than buy even from the local ethnic markets. It can be as easy as i bring a sack of produce to work when i have extra. 

 

but irregardless. really getting ahead of myself there.  I think it will pay off even if i am the only one eating out of the back yard. I may end up spending a couple hundred a month on power, water and fish food but it should be pretty easy to use that much produce every month. 

 

My startup costs i am chalking up for hobby/enertainment expense and i evaluate my time as time "working out" It' snot intense exercise but it's daily activity and that is how i quantify the time spent gardening.

 

brian

Edited by bcotton (see edit history)
ande, Cecil and GaryD like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

its kind of a tangent from getting the system plumbing and aeration online but sometimes you have to just jump on opportunities as they present themselves.

 

This time of year there are back to back PGA (pro golf) tournaments in dallas. The on that happened a week ago is still being cleaned up and instead of throwing away all of the carpet and shade cloth they made it free for pickup so i went and filled my car up with free green shade cloth. 

 

I do not have the  trellises, hooks and hangars ready  to use it yet. i am sure you will see it around shading my fish tanks, ibcs and even some of my grow beds to try to keep temps down in july and august where average temperatures are around 100 degrees F.It will be a big priorty sooner than i care to admit,

 

post-3383-0-97487900-1464633475_thumb.jp

Edited by bcotton (see edit history)
GaryD and ande like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know that ants eat aphids so i thought that was a good thing.. but I have also heard people say that ants will "farm" aphids. I thought that sounded silly and maybe a rural legend of sorts.... until now

 

This is an asian pear tree i planted from root stock this year. I almost lost him because of this infestation. 

 

post-3383-0-24673400-1464890113_thumb.jppost-3383-0-29483700-1464890114_thumb.jppost-3383-0-66701900-1464890115_thumb.jp

 

At first i just tried to spray off the insects with high pressure water nozzle. It helped but i came back a couple of days later  and the infestation was still pretty bad. So i used the commercial ant melting powder poisons. I try not to use things like that but it's a tree that i dont expect to bear me fruit for several years. The risk vs the potential setback of losing the tree seemed to way in favor of drastic measures.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know that ants eat aphids so i thought that was a good thing.. but I have also heard people say that ants will "farm" aphids. I thought that sounded silly and maybe a rural legend of sorts.... until now

 

This is an asian pear tree i planted from root stock this year. I almost lost him because of this infestation. 

 

attachicon.gif20160514_192555.jpgattachicon.gif20160514_192628.jpgattachicon.gif20160514_192641.jpg

 

At first i just tried to spray off the insects with high pressure water nozzle. It helped but i came back a couple of days later  and the infestation was still pretty bad. So i used the commercial ant melting powder poisons. I try not to use things like that but it's a tree that i dont expect to bear me fruit for several years. The risk vs the potential setback of losing the tree seemed to way in favor of drastic measures.

 

You first have to treat the area for ants, that's the cause of the heavy infestation.  Best time to do that is at night when the ants are most active/ and you can find out were thier nests are.

 

Next mix 5 to 6 TBL spoons of Ivory Dish soap in a gal of water, with a cup of DE dust, and spray the aphids. The soap cuts the waxy coating off the body of the ants abdomen allowing the water and DE dust to enter the breathing holes along their abdomen, drowning them. When using DE dust suspended in water you need to keep the solution agitated. You can also dust with DE dust.

 

Next treat the trunk at ground level up about 12-18" with a sticky coating, they sell at the Nursey. put it on liberally covering the entire surface. It like a glue trap for mice. Then form a tinfoil umbrella above that to shield it from washing off from the rain.

 

What ever you do, just make sure there is no avenue for the ants to move up passing the sticky material, ie, weeds, grass, overhanging vines, etc.

 

If you resort to chemical control and are not worried about fruit for the next few years, buy a "Systemic insecticide" and spray the whole tree.  Systemics have the ability to be absorded by the plants leaves, etc. It's the same principle if you take a aspirin for pain control, it gets into your bloodstream and distributed thru-out your body. So with systemic control, once the aphid penetrates the soft parts of the plant, to suck the juice he gets a killer amount of Kool Aid, also.

GaryD, bcotton and mhaigh like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Same story, been busy.. and now its effen hot outside so i things are moving slower than usual.

 

I have a new roof and all the windows have been replaced from the hail storm except one so i am inching back to normal.

 

about 3 weeks back a  shop light i keep on a timer caused my GFI to pop when it turned the light off. The GFI and breaker are rated for 15 amps and the circuit was  only carrying 5 amps.. apparently they get old after 10 years or so?

 

Anyway.. it happened late at night so my fish went without power all night and i lost 100 HSB and about 100 x 1 year old bluegill. I was at home, I have a backup generator and of course alls that needed to be done was to reset the GFI but i wasnt aware of the issue. I am going tyo have to setup some kind of monitoring that tells me that circuit is down. and really it needs to be on some sort of cell phone network so it can notify me if i am not home and my power goes out.

 

I replaced the GFI and the breaker. 

 

As i ramp up the system it's conceivable that i have a few thousand dollars in fish at risk so this is something i am going to have to address... soon

 

post-3383-0-31669900-1466700078_thumb.jppost-3383-0-95331000-1466700078_thumb.jp

 

 

brian

Edited by bcotton (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Brian,

 

I feel for you. Been there done that. As you probably already know I've had this happen more than once at the four high schools I set up. I don't use GFCI's with my fish tanks in the basement for that reason. I feel safe as my outlets are well off the floor high on the wall. 

 

Elderly and lung impaired folks are instructed not to plug their oxygen life support into a GFCI for a reason! 

 

Unfortunately for me there is no way out of the GFCI's at the high schools for obvious reasons, so I will have to purchase some software at 2 of them to alert the instructor if the power is out via a text. 

Edited by Cecil (see edit history)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That is a sickening feeling.  You've had a string of luck this year, hope it turns around for you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yah there's a reason it took me 3 weeks to post about the incident, haha.

 

I view it like poker. Like losing a big hand. I evaluate what I  did right, what I  did wrong and I make adjustments to make sure i am taking care of the things i can control and not worry about what i cannot.

 

I'll get there. I am not posting for sympathy, just sharing my experience and others may find it useful.

 

brian

ande, Cecil and GaryD like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Brian,

I have been dragging my feet buying a small UPS to backup my FT aerator.

The sight of your BGs floating has put that task back on the top of the to-do list...

Sure sorry to hear about this, makes me groan in pain........mh

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Brian,

 

You've had your fair share of tribulations this year.  Like Ravnis, I hope things start to turn for the better for you.

 

Gary

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I made a couple of underwater feeding videos today.  There's two 1500 gallon fish tanks. one has 150 channel catfish fingerlings and the other has 100 hybrid striped bass and 50 channel cat fingerlings.

 

I think the speed and agility of the HSB is really neat and fun to watch. And the way catfish swarm and weave around the food reminds me of sharks.

 

Right now, all the fish are eating the same high protein fingerling starter food. But as they grow i will moved the

1)  HSB/catfish tank to high protein predator feed

2) the catfish only tank to a lower protein omnivore catfish grower feed

 

Lower protein typically means lower cost. but high protein typically means faster growth. But from my understanding the catfish shouldnt grow any faster on the predator feed because the grower feed is nutritionally balanced for optimal growth already. So lets see!!!

 

 

These are fast growing fish and barring unfortunate circumstances i expect/plan for them to be in the 3lb range by fall 2017. I will probably start harvesting some of the fish when they reach 1.5-2 lbs to help manage the fish load in the tanks.

 

 

Channel Catfush

https://youtu.be/K3ibpdX5znI

 

HSB+channel catfish

https://youtu.be/RSryUquSGm8

 

Old Prospector likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

we had a really hard freeze over the weekend. it got to 19 degrees at night. Which is cold for dallas. anyway.. i have all my plumbing next to the ground and the plan is to cover it in mulch to help insulate but that hasnt been done yet.. so the plumbing exiting one of the 1500 gallon tanks broke... because of aeration and i guess the size of the water body.. the water in the tank didnt freeze and all 50ish channel cats were still alive today sitting in 6 inches of water.. so i netted them out and put them in the other tank.. no casualties... Its also possible the ecoplus 7 air pump i use was putting a bit of heat into the water bubbles cause that is where they were all huddling... next to the air stones.

I am not too upset about the damage.  i had already decided to do a major rework of the plumbing this spring when i try to bring the DWC grow beds online (finally). man i am embarrassed at how lazy i have been and how long this is taking, but i am promising better results.

meanwhile.. since it was so damn cold outside, this weekend i started work on my indoor seedling starter tables... This is inside my garage.. it takes up about  one quarter of the garage.. the other quarter of the garage is my indoor fish tanks... the other half of the garage is basically  a woodworking shop. The seed tables are made completely out of scrap wood and the fence pickets from my old fence that was destroyed by the hail storm we had last year.  The lights are 8 foot T5 bars..  I got these for free when my work remodelled an office space and they were going to throw away the old light fixtures. (ps, i set them all up like that last year when i was  just putting pots on the floor, i am only going to power 6 lights for the grow tables.. The other lights i will be moving around the garage for better lighting over my different wood workstations  

 

The fish tanks is where i overwinter a few tilapia and work with feed training and reproducing native fish. I will put up some lights on that side so i can take some decent pictures to post .. That is basically 3x 100 gallon tanks.. they are different types 1x aquariun, 1x chopped ibc and 1 x stock tank. just kind of pieced together with with stuff i used in other projects as well. 

I am just taking a break right now but i am working on the drain holes and adding the plastic liner right now.. I am already probably 2 months too late on my pepper starts but hoping to get seeds started for my winter early planting stuff and peppers this week.

 

 

seedtables2-jan82017.jpg

seedtables3-jan8-2017.jpg

seedtables-jan8-2017.jpg

Edited by bcotton
grammar and typos corrections (see edit history)
bigdaddy likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some bonus footage.. The overwinter fish tanks and whats left of my old fence. The pickets were really beat up but functionally the wood was only about 4 years old.. So its cleans up nice and has good character. That seedling table wont be the only project these pickets get used for.. For instance. my neighbor used some to make a deer blind..

 

 

 

garagefishtans-jan8-2017.jpg

woodpickets-kan8-2017.jpg

deerblind.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The first of [hopefully] many loads of "free" mulch for the backyard conversion

 

mulch.jpg

ande likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i was hoping to get this online today but alas it is raining, thundering and lightening outside. Its SOOOoooo close.

 

I have put new liners in the grow beds, added some reinforcements to the frames, added trellises. The main thing left is to replumb the fish tanks. Some air fittings should arrive tomorrow and i will be able to add the aeration to the DWC meds and start planting rafts!

 

Its been so long since i started the project, i may break down and cry when i finally get to start dropping seedlings into grow grips.

 

20170417_150112.jpg

20170417_150139.jpg

20170417_150210.jpg

20170417_150215.jpg

20170417_150234.jpg

ande and bigdaddy like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi BC,

Looking awesome mate.

I gather the tall shade frames are for tomatoes ?

Cheers
Joe

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