bcotton

Bcotton's EPIC backyard conversion , Aquaponic Cowboy!

98 posts in this topic

yah tomatoes pole beans and cucumbers and anything else i think might climb 10 foot

 

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after taking a week off to get to where i could post the last pictures, i really thought i could get this online between doing odds and ends after work and spending this weekend. But alas, i ended up working friday and satruday nights and sleeping most of the day sat and sunday recovering so i am still not online.

 

However, i did get the aeration installed on the grow beds and added the rafts... i *would* be ready to start planting now but i havent started any seedlings yet and i still need to redo the plumbing around the fish tanks and filteration. its not working as well as i would like right now and i think i can improve it a lot.

 

But i will stop pretending like people read the text and just let you look at the new pictures, see attached

 

word,

brian

 

 

 

 

aeration.jpg

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openbox.jpg

rafts-double.jpg

rafts-trellis.jpg

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Hi bcotton

Nice updates :thumbsu: thanks .

I can't see any sandbeds, did you drop the golfcourse sand idea ? I have been offerd 4 bigbags(1000liters) for free, of the same kind/quality sand, but I have to go and pick it up. 

cheers 

 

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Thanks ande,

Sand beds was not initially a part of this build plan. There is a place in my yard i could place an iavs sand bed but its not an immediate priority and right now . i struggle with how would i want to implement it. would i want it to be a standalone system all by itself or integrate it into the large system. academically i dont think it would be a huge benefit if it was NOT a standalone system, otherwise what could i compare and contrast.. Anyway. I am interested in it but if you made me answer today if i will or wont add an iavs system i would say probably not.  I did get a sand sample from the local golf course sand supplier tthat i mentioned previously.. i have not yet done the iavs testing on the sand yet

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I will work to get some new pictures up. I have been working hard to get everything running. I put a bunch of pepper starts in the rafts and i bought a handful of other plants and put them in the rafts but i started a bunch of seedlings (tomatoes, eggplants, kales, lettuces, cucumbers) that should have true leaves and be ready to put in the rafts by the end of the week.

Also i have been pinning up shade cloth on all of the fish tanks and filters to try to keep the watre temps as low as possible as it starts to heat up this summer. I am really close to being "done" with the aquaponic system. if all goes well it will be in full swing by the end of next weekend. Then i can focus more on the soil grow beds.

 

And ande, i have talked myself back into doing an IAVS system. I tarped the part of the lawn where it will be so its reserved... i  hopefully wont have to do any maintenance on the area like mow grass or mulch. Its going to be a fall 2017/spring 2018 project because i just have to much other stuff to do right now and its going to get too hot to work outside for long periods of time very soon. I project it will be 1000-1200 gallon fish tank and 3 - 3'x12'x1' sand beds. but i will finallize the design later on once temps  start cooling  down 

 

 

 

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On 5/8/2017 at 5:22 PM, bcotton said:

And ande, i have talked myself back into doing an IAVS system. I tarped the part of the lawn where it will be so its reserved... i  hopefully wont have to do any maintenance on the area like mow grass or mulch. Its going to be a fall 2017/spring 2018 project because i just have to much other stuff to do right now and its going to get too hot to work outside for long periods of time very soon. I project it will be 1000-1200 gallon fish tank and 3 - 3'x12'x1' sand beds. but i will finallize the design later on once temps  start cooling  down 

You won't be disappointed with your decision to revisit an iAVs system.  I've been quite pleased with my decision to move away from "traditional" AP go strictly iAVs.   The versatility with what can be grown and the ease of operation makes iAVs a no-brainer in my book.  With my work I'm out of town for a few days a week.  No longer do I worry about something clogging, overflows, etc.  Hope you find time to get yours up and running soon.  You won't be disappointed. 

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Posted (edited)

The design has changed a little from my initial plan 

Its my intention to do a walkaround video that shows how the system is put together but between getting the footage i want, editing it , narrating and all that, its just lower priority from finishing getting everything setup and planted. So i will loop around in a month or so and do that but for now.. here's a slideshow tour

Everything starts at the 1250 gallon black sump tank. There is 1 submersible waterfall pump iirc its 3600 gph max. 

The one pump pumps water to 4 places... each of the two 1250 gallon (white) fish tanks, the old 700 gallon ferrocement system and the dwc beds. All the water drains its way back to the sump.

There is two ecoplus 7 air pumps. One is responsible for pumpng air to the two 1250 gallon fish tanks and the other pumps air into the two MBBR filters and two mineralization tanks

ecoplus7 #1-
4x .75 cfm air diffuser fish tank 1250 #1
4x .75 cfm air diffuser fish tank 1250 #1


ecoplus7 #2-
2x .75 cfm air diffusers MBBR #1
2x .75 cfm air diffusers MBBR #2
2x .75 cfm air diffusers Mineralization tank #1
2x .75 cfm air diffusers Mineralization tank #2

aerate-close.jpg

aerate-open.jpg

sump.jpg

Edited by bcotton (see edit history)
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When water is pumped to each of the two 1250 gallon white fish tanks. The flow is 

MBBR -> fish tank -> RFF -> mesh filter -> sump. The water is pulled through these stages by gravity


All of these pictures are of the same MBBR. Its an IBC With two .75 cfm air diffusers. The MBBR media is about 10 cubic feet of the allied aqua mmbr media. The bacteria prefer the dark so i added a double layer of shade cloth to make them feel more at home.

mbbr shade.jpg

mbbr.jpg

mbbr-media.jpg

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The water gravity feeds from each MBBR into each fish tank. This fish tank has about 100 channel catfish. Some are wandering around the top but most prefer to stick to the bottom unless theres food. The other fish tank has about 200 bluegill and red eared sunfish.

 

catfish.jpg

mbbrfish.jpg

waterflow.jpg

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Posted (edited)

I have setup two "offline mineralization tanks". I clean the rff and the mesh filter with a sump pump and pump the solids into the left IBC.  I am still researching mineralization tanks retention and chemistry but right now i am planning to discharge between 50-100 gallons of water from the filters when i clean them (once a week) and the average retention time flowing from one ibc to the other should be about a month. The water overflows from the second ibc and drains back into the sump. (which is why the ibcs needs to be on cinder blocks to have appropriate height to use gravity.
 

 

And like the mbbr's i covered the mineralization tanks with double layer shade cloth.
 

mineralization.jpg

mineralization2.jpg

mineralizationshade.jpg

Edited by bcotton (see edit history)

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And now i am working to get seedlings started and fill up the rafts.

I put some peppers and cucumbers and tomatoes in the rafts a little over a week ago. They seem to kind of just sit there droopy for 4 or 5 days (presumably transplant shock)  then they have really started to come on. The peppers specifically were root bound and yellow. But you can see the new growth popping on in dark green.  They keep trying o push out blooms but i have been pinching them off i want the plants to put their energy into getting bigger right now.
 

 

cuce.jpg

peppers.jpg

seed.jpg

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baby steps ... a little progress every day... thats meno (Me No) patrolling at the end of the bed

rafts-planted.jpg

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Hi bcotton

Nice progress thanks for the pics & update :bow:

 

On 16.5.2017 at 6:07 PM, bcotton said:

Nikita was so impressed she brought me a present

 

nikita.jpg

Cool present :lolu:

cheers

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Posted (edited)

Great progress, Brian....and very useful photos, too.    What's the scope of the "fermentables" side of the project....and how's that coming along?

BTW, got to love a cat that does what a cat's supposed to do.  Great effort, Nikita!

Edited by GaryD (see edit history)

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Posted (edited)

the fermentables side of the project  is definately getting neglected right now. There are wine grape vines growing feral along the fence right now and need to be trimmed back and trained proper ' Vertical-shoot-positioned" trellis style

 

i continue to plant 4 or 5 fruit trees every year. of the ones i planted 4 years ago when i moved in, two of them have produced some apples for the first time. I may try to make a pie but i wont have time to rent a press and try to make cider this year.

 

 

Edited by bcotton (see edit history)

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Its feeding time.. I feed twice a day. One tank is only channel catfish the other tank has a mix of bluegill and red eared sunfish.

I try to coexist with the predators so i try to feed around the spider blocking the opening to the bg-res tank

bg-res.jpg

catfishtank.jpg

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Posted (edited)

Good to see Brian! Haven't followed you on Pond Boss since I got banned temporarily. Have no interest in going back as I've gone in a completely different direction than recreational ponds. And the constant trolling of my threads got old too. Then to get banned for that didn't make much sense. The crazy thing was I was told by a mod to ignore the individual. That just made him mad. I tried to be nice and did not respond in kind. That worked for a while, but then he went ballistic when I did the thread on getting crappies from a local lake for brood stock. Said it was illegal blah blah blah. Had that from the director of my DNR. Absolutely not true. I'm even sharing my success with local biologists. 

My feed trained crappies were moved to an outside floating cage from the RAS. I'm going on vaca in a few weeks and don't want my 81 year old dad stressed by any issues that could come up in the RAS.

 I think I have about 75 very healthy crappies in the 5 to 6 inch range. I think they would have been bigger if I had not had so many fathead minnows competing in the pond I hatched them in. And I took them out really late in the year. (Live and learn). They are mixed with bluegills in a cage, but I think I'm going to separate them. Bluegills can be very aggressive. At least that has been my experience.

I hope to post pictures in a different thread today if you're interested. My two cameras have gone kaput but I can use the wife's cell phone camera. 

Keep up the good work!

Edited by Cecil (see edit history)

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Cecil,

 

I certainly want to hear about your feed training crappie.

 

I have my own feed training crappie 2/.0 going on in my garage, I just havent had time to compile pictures or videos to show it off. I will be moving some of the crappie to an outside tank this week so i will get a count of how many i was able to feed train out of 200.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

When i was in college, i built a 3 stage homebrew station. I made lots of beer with that rig. But alas, i have not used it in over 5 years. The copper was turning green and the plastic on the motors was cracking. Its time to either clean it up and repair it or throw it away and since i dont use it there was really no decision to be made. I was staring at it trying to figure out if i need to call bulk trash pickup or if i can cut it down into small enough pieces to fit in a can... when i was like... why not reuse it. The structure will last forever.. so, i unmounted the motors, cut off all the copper and turned it into a seedling starter table. Which can also be used as the first stage to harden off plants i started indoors. On the side of the house there it only gets 3-4 hours of direct sunlight every day (at most). The roof is really intended to keep the runoff/drip from house from pelting the plants not so much for shade.

 

 

rig2.jpg

RIG.jpg

Edited by bcotton (see edit history)
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If you have watched my threads you have seen that i have lost fish in the past due to power failers and when gfi/breakers trip... 

i have no doubt i have lost several hundred dollars worth of fish over the last 3 or so years.... as i ramp up, it was really important to me to mitigate this risk. just think 9 months form now i could have about 100 2+ lb channel cats and 500 bg/res/crappie at .5-.75 lbs... if i was to buy fish of that size it would be over a thousand dollars.. not to mention the emotional loss of spending a year raising fish and them all being used as compost.

 

So i have invested in a two part strategy for monitoring....

1) there is an audible alarm that sounds if the circuit goes down

2) I found this little doodad online that will text me when there is  a power outage...It was actually made to detect flooding in basements, but it also alerts when it loses power... So i have it on the same circuit as my aquaponics and i put the sensor next to my hot water heater.. So as a bonus i have it keeping an eye on that for extra value... its a couple hundred dollars and the cell phone subscription is about 50$ a year but i think its easy to tell how worthwhile it is given the value of what i am protecting.. When it loses power it text my two cell phones, one of which also sends me emails.... 

 

if i am at home and asleep i probably wont hear/wake up to a text and an email but i the audible alarm is definitely loud enough... If i am at work or not at home when my power goes out (it always seems to happen during the day/morning when the cable company is digging, amirite?) i should be able to get home and handle the situation. I have higher density than most but it's not really that high.. i should have 2-3 hours to get home and get the generator running before things go really bad.. Maybe only an hour in the hottest days of summer, but i work only 35 mins away....

 

 

 

 

pumpalarm2.jpg

audiblealarm.jpg

pumpalarm.jpg

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Posted (edited)

Cool device! Have you considered one of these for automatically backing up your AC? I have one at home and two at two high schools. I found a place on line to calculate run time based on the number of batteries wired in parallel. Gives me piece of mind when I am away or in bed at night. I've never been let down. I saw a few bad reviews but as usual it looked like the people didn't know what they were doing. I guess nothing is idiot proof. 

https://www.amazon.com/Tripp-Lite-APS750-Inverter-Charger/dp/B0007PGAG6/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1495886070&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=Triplite+APS+750+inverter

Edited by Cecil (see edit history)

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Posted (edited)

Cecil, yah, i am constantly considering how to improve my backups.. A guy on BYAP has also suggested the aerator on a relay/battery solution that kicks on backup air pumps  if power to the relay goes off. I may end up doing one or some hybrid of those types solutions but my biggest obstacle is that my large system  is outside but another system is in my garage... the pumps and fish tanks that could use a backup solution are not close together which means i dont think one solution will cover it all. And multiple is cost prohibitive considering i think i am in a place that i can recover, even if i have to call a neighbor to go tug the rope and start my generator

 

Edited by bcotton (see edit history)

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The plants in my rafts are starting to show yellow. Generally i think this is iron deficiency but I had added a couple of tablespoons of iron chelate about 3 weeks ago so i didnt think that was the cause... i tested ph and nitrates to find was 7.9 and nitrates are 5ppm.

i know plants like ph lower (high ph can inhibit plants from uptaking iron even though there is iron in the water) but i usually dont worry much about my ph being a little on the high side... however.  7.9 is high even for me. I think i must have added a bunch of limestone or whatever when replanting the gravel bed because (when i  added in a lot of new expanded shale.)

I have started dosing with muratic acid to start bringing down the ph.. i will try to get PH stabilized in the 7.2-7.4 range over the next week. I also added another tablespoon for iron chelate but this time more local to the raft beds than in the sump like last time.

5.0 ppm nitrates was also surprisingly low to me. But i guess the system is still maturing. In the test kit that is an orangish color but in 8 years every nitrate test i have ever done my aquaponics systems  have always been some shade of red  (20ppm or higher) ... So i have moved the rest of the fish from my indoor/garage rearing tanks outside and I have started trying to feed more. I still feed twice a day and no more than they will eat in 5 or so minutes... The good news is Is the temps are still warming up and the fish have been getting more comfortable coming to the surface when i am standing near the tank so they have been eating more.

I have also ordered some organic magnesium sulfate but i havent added it yet. I want to see if lowering the PH and increasing feeding solves the problem.. I am already changing two variables i want to still have kind of reasonable idea of what step solved the problem as opposed to changing a bunch of variables and having no idea.

greenrafts.jpg

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yellowrafts.jpg

gravelbed.jpg

raised bed.jpg

soil beds.jpg

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On 5/17/2017 at 5:39 PM, GaryD said:

Great progress, Brian....and very useful photos, too.    What's the scope of the "fermentables" side of the project....and how's that coming along?

BTW, got to love a cat that does what a cat's supposed to do.  Great effort, Nikita!

 

Here you go gary, i finally trellised up the wine grapes on the fence.. since they have been neglected for so long they are all at different stages of trellising... some i am on the second arm and some still on first year 1 arm pruning.. so i am still a couple of years from significant grapes.. The wire is 30 inches off the ground.... next year i will add the 3 top wires 12" above the 30" then each other. the soaker hose on a timer is new too.
 

grape_row.jpg

grape1.jpg

grape2.jpg

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