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PostPosted: Oct 12th, '13, 04:26 
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Hello All. I have cleaned out a 10x12 greenhouse with white vinyl poly panels on roof and poly carbonate panels on sides/doors. I have 2 clean IBC's which I want to function as fish tanks. I have 6 barrels cut into 25 gallon pots essentially which will be the grow beds. At this point in time I am leaning towards making these 25 gallon pots into wick pots with approx 4 inches of gravel and 12 inches of perlite, while making a constantly flooded grow bed with standpipe. The fish tanks are the highest level. The grow beds are middle level. I have a few barrels to configure a sump on. I plan on using one whole barrel with rock media simply as a filter before returning water from grow beds to sump.

The other idea i have is to use a large commercial grade blower/aerator to return water from sump to ft. I will be minimizing height difference between all 3 levels in order to accommodate the airlift.

I want to expand the amount of grow bed space, but in preparation of winter coming, that's the system for now. Any ideas? I will be posting pics of what is done shortly. I have little room left in the green house but to add some vertical tubes or perhaps gutters as raft culture... but that's after i get main system running. I plan to use one ft for tilapia and one for redclaws.

I am very focused on not using rock media unless no other option will work. My back simply cannot take the abuse anymore nor do i have the energy. This is a fun project and a great resource I enjoy tremendously reading the forums and hearing all the advice you all offer. Thanks.


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PostPosted: Oct 12th, '13, 12:21 
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I have never used perlite but from other posters the material does degrade with time and block up the system. Go for all gravel or gravel bottom 6" and top 6" of expanded clay.

There are several people using air lifts to minimise their energy usage, but they do not have a sump. Do a search for LEAP (low energy aquaponics). Note a 50W pump may be all you need and does not significantly add to the power bill.

I hear you on the rock media (not personally but from my brothers). If you can afford it expanded clay is the best medium.

Good luck with the set up. If at first you don't succeed then upgrade.


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PostPosted: Oct 12th, '13, 15:32 
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Perhaps look at going floating rafts if you don;t want to use media.. Use a couple of barrels as first a solids seperator, then a biofilter, then all rafts in the other barrels.. Be careful your sump is beg enough to deal with the system...

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PostPosted: Oct 12th, '13, 20:40 
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Good luck.

Aquaponics, Leggo for adults.
Put together, pull apart, put it back together with new or missing parts and then add more parts. :thumbleft:

It's all good fun.

Although funny, not the topic I thought when I saw the title. :?

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PostPosted: Oct 12th, '13, 21:42 
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I am weary of using the perlite because it may infiltrate other areas it isn't supposed to. I also thought about using all dwc/rafts.... but if I am going to use the half barrels, would I cut Styrofoam to go over the openings and then use net pots or would I be better off simply suspending pots in the water with rods or stakes? wouldn't rafts limit what I could grow? I was under the impression only small plants like lettuce would grow in rafts.... thanks.


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PostPosted: Oct 31st, '13, 02:55 
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Here are a couple of pics in progress. I have painted the ibc totes an opaque color of exterior dutchboy paint to avoid any algae problems. I am currently placing uniseals in the blue barrels for standpipe drains and for overflow drains. the barrles will sit over 100 gallon 2x2x4ft stock tanks just incase there are any leaks it wont matter. I am going to attempt to make airlift pumps from each ibc up and over the walkway to distribute evenly over the barrel media. also going to attempt to get airlift pump to work on getting water from sump tanks to ibcs. reason for having so many fish tanks is I want to be able to breed/growout/and keep the tilapia and crawdads separate and peaceful.


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PostPosted: Oct 31st, '13, 03:54 
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Seriously, this cant be healthy.
Seriously, this cant be healthy.
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don't try to send water up and overhead over the walkway unless everyone who will ever enter the greenhouse is a very small little person.

Airlift pumps are only really easily appropriate for lifting water a very short distance (like a few inches.) They become rather inefficient the higher you try to lift the water.

Even pumping using a water pump, I would recommend dropping the pipes down to the floor (make a little trench in the gravel to set the pipes in so you don't trip on them so much) and then back up to the grow beds. Having to pump up and overhead means using a lot more electricity. It wasn't so long ago that I did a system re-design for some one who's brother had done the original plumbing with the pumped water going up and overhead to feed the grow beds on the other side of the greenhouse. They needed a large pump (Using more than 1000 watts) to move the water up and overhead. With my re-design for them I moved the plumbing to the ground and was able to set them up with a 145 watt pump.

Truth is, if you were to lower the grow bed stand a bit, you might be able to have the water flow by gravity from the IBC's over to the grow beds by running the plumbing down to the floor. (50 gallon stock tanks under the grow beds as sumps instead of 100 gallon stock tanks might allow you to do this.)

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PostPosted: Oct 31st, '13, 03:56 
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Seriously, this cant be healthy.
Seriously, this cant be healthy.
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Oh, and get some automatic vents on that greenhouse and perhaps think about pulling the side/end panels out and replacing them with hardware cloth come spring.

In my experience here in FL, greenhouses are only needed occasionally and you want to get as much air flow through them as possible.

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PostPosted: Oct 31st, '13, 07:35 
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Thanks for the reply TCLynx. Since you are a local... have you had better luck with catfish over tilapia here? Or tried to do crawdads? I will probably do like you said and put the plumbing in the ground... hadn't even thought of it. In the pic it isn't obvious but the top of the IBC's is a bit higher than the grow barrels... SLO?

Thanks.


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PostPosted: Nov 2nd, '13, 22:10 
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Seriously, this cant be healthy.
Seriously, this cant be healthy.
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I'm in inland central FL, I'm not sure what part of FL you are in.

Yes, I've had a much better time with Channel Catfish than Tilapia. Most of the tilapia I was lucky to get to between 12-16 oz in a year (most of em were more like 6-8 oz) while I would say it is normal to make at least 3 lb with most of the catfish I've had for 12 months. Granted you have to buy catfish fingerlings as you are not likely to breed them yourself in a home system. In commercial catfish farming I think the common harvest weight is probably 1 1/2 lb but most of that is done in areas with a somewhat cooler climate than here.

Now personally I'm a bit uncomfortable with the idea of growing out catfish in an IBC fish tank, but I know people who have done it. For growing out channel catfish in this warm climate, I like to start with 300 gallons of fish tank. For stocking channel catfish, since they get so big, I like to only stock about 1 fish per 10 gallons of fish tank for grow out (I get away with higher stocking when I quarantine new fingerlings but when I move them to the 1000 gallon tanks now, I only put 100 in for grow out. Over stocking tends to lead to disease outbreaks.)

Now for people who have a problem with eating catfish, Bluegill are really a good eating fish as long as you don't mind cleaning a whole mess of them for a meal. They shouldn't be expected to get too big too fast. 6 oz is a perfectly respectable and proper eating size for a bluegill and if you manage to get them to 1 lb that is a big fish. I think they max out at 4 lb but those are rare. It might be possible to breed bluegill in a home system but I haven't really researched it. I've herd of people with swimming pool systems that have had bluegill breed for them.

As to heights. Having the top of the IBC just above the top of the grow beds doesn't quite cut it for water flow. You need the water level in the fish tank to be a few inches above the top of the grow beds and remember to use large pipe for the SLO and the Drain from the fish tanks to the grow beds. Remember that you can't have the water height in the IBC right up to the top or your fish will jump out too easily. Some free board above the water line is necessary. I would probably recommend a 3" drain system that only reduces right at the grow beds and have an overflow that is a bit higher than the feed to the grow beds that is unrestricted so you can apply valves or otherwise regulate the flow to the grow beds without risk of overflowing the fish tank.

Anyway, lowering the grow bed height a bit will also give your plants more head room before hitting the top of the greenhouse. Even if the grow bed tops are at waste level, many plants you are likely to grow can easily hit the roof. Now if all you will ever grow is lettuce, then having the grow beds up high might not be such an issue but Kale can easily grow out of my reach from a waist high grow bed and if you want to grow any toms or cucs you will want more than a few feet for trellis height if you can swing it.

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