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PostPosted: Feb 25th, '12, 10:21 
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This system has been up and running for about a year now. We have tried to keep trout in it but have found them unsuitable for our setup. There are also goldfish in it to keep it ticking over. We are currently seeking permission to trial River Blackfish.

When the Gov. was throwing money around to upgrade schools we decided we would try and build something that would be a practical and valuable use of the money. We applied for, and won, a $1.8M grant. As part of the plans we wanted to build an AP system to serve as a model for sustainable food growing practices that would fit in nicely with the overall sustainability theme for the whole complex. The planners wanted things that they could buy off the shelf and I asked them to buy a BYP system and was turned down because they didn't want to pay for shipping from WA. At the time I didn't know there was a NSW distributor for BYO kits so they went for a Practical Aquaponics system. It required some 'modding' before it would work.

This is it now... well almost... taken a few days ago.. my daughter and I pulled out all the parsley on the left yesterday after work and hung it in a shed to dry. We pulled out more than 10kg (wet weight) of parsely from 2 beds. This will go to the home ec. dept for dry storage and use throughout the year.

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From the FT end looking out. Please excuse the quality of this image.. it was a three-photo stitch and they didn't all line up properly:

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Problems we had... the kit arrived incomplete. The quick-fit hose attachments to attach the lines going into the grow-beds were missing so I redesigned then to use 25mm pipe instead with a tap on the end of each outlet because without constriction at the ends there wasn't enough back-pressure to send water back to the FT and the grow-beds filled too quickly. The instructions were... poor. If I hadn't had 20 years of aquaculture system experience behind me I would have struggled to get the thing together properly. We only received 16 bags of the expanded clay balls to go into all four grow-beds. It wasn't enough to fill one bed. As it flooded the clay balls would float about 10cm above the bottom of the growbed so I went and bought a trailer-load of quartz-based gravel and am using that instead. So far things seem to be working fine. Trout are jumpers and we lost a few over the first few nights despite having orchard netting over it so the maintenance guys are the school welded me up a wire cover to go over the FT. I really don't like the stand system they recommend. If I'm going to pay over 7K for a kit then I would expect a much better stand system than what they have come up with. The BYP system would have been so much better. In an ideal world I would have had the builders put together steel framed stands but they didn't want to deviate from the plans so I got treated pine planks sitting on Besser blocks :( The span of these blocks and the weight of them system (with gravel instead of clay) causes them to bow and messes up the return pipe system the use.

To keep our OH&S people happy blue-metal gravel was placed between the sumps to cover the balance pipes between them. There are twin 4800L pumps working on it all the time and the maintenance boys came up with an excellent anti-theft method of securiung the pumps. This didn't stop someone from trying to steal them though. The anti-theft mechanism worked well but they then tried to rip the pumps out, snapping the outlet thread straight off the pump. Luckily our groundsman knew a place in town that could fix this and he had it plastic welded to repair it to good as new. The mechanism is easy enough to get around but it would take them a good 20 minutes and it is hanging right ni front of our security camera with a light over it at night so we'd get a really nice happy-snap of them for the police to admire as well.

The kids and I built them system whilst the rest of the complex was being built and they have helped me maintain it over the last 12 months.

Looking forward to the next 12 months :)

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PostPosted: Feb 25th, '12, 11:29 
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system looks good although you would not have had the probs if you went BYAP. Which is the mothership of all things aquaponics.

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PostPosted: Feb 25th, '12, 17:17 
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I love hearing about AP systems going into schools.
The kids will learn at least one thing that might actually be useful :)

Can't beat hands on learning!
Better than getting taught history and math by teachers that don't know history and don't do math :shock:

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PostPosted: Feb 25th, '12, 17:39 
Yeah, great work... I too love to see aquaponics going into schools, because it just fits with so many aspects of learning IMO...

Pity we hadn't known about it.... there is a Victorian BYAP agent... :wink:


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PostPosted: Feb 26th, '12, 08:06 
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:( I really had my heart set on a BYAP system too... is all good though.

I get the feeling that this particular kit is trying to do too much at once and be more complicated than it needs to be. All I wanted was a simple F&D system with the fish tanks underneath and the grow beds on top. No sumps and fancy fry tanks etc. Around kids the KISS principle reigns supreme. I like having the sumps now because essentially it means I actually have three separate fish tanks ;) I keep goldies in one sump and the grow-out fish in the main tank and now that I'm about to start trialling the River Blackfish I'll be putting the grow-outs in the main tank and the 4 breeders in the other sump where they can grow large and old and separately from the rest of the fish and when the grow-outs are harvested there is still something in there to keep it ticking over (even in winter). All the extra fancy parts (like the fry tank), impressed the contractors who went looking for a substitute for the BYAP system but to me, all they do is compromise the water circulation and reduce the overall efficiency of the whole system. I have a 3000L pond where I can raise fry if I need to and would rather keep them separate in case I get an outbreak of something that will then go through everything. I do have a big thumping 90W UV pond steriliser but I don't want to have to install it. Anyway... the kids love it! I teach science and maths and its great to be able to mix it up for me as well as the kids to go out and get our hands dirty.

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PostPosted: Feb 26th, '12, 08:27 
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Looks brilliant Do they have mature age students!!!!! i mite finally learn summit useful!! at long last!


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PostPosted: Feb 26th, '12, 08:37 
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You know, Mark, the whole reason I wanted the system was to get the kids into something that reduces food miles and will help them understand biological systems more. BUT. Another reason was to set the school up as a community education centre as well so that the kids and I can open the school and hold a mini-field day here to showcase what the kids are doing and spread the word and get others in the community interested as well. We are not at the point where we can do this yet but it is one of my five-year plan goals. Now that I know there are BYAP reps in NSW and in VIC maybe they might like to come down to show us what the latest BYAP gear is and maybe present something to the people attending as well. I'm friends with Assoc. Prof. John Purser who is in charge of the aquaculture division at the AMC here and I'll be asking him if he wants to be involved as well as getting Tim Farrell from fisheries up to talk about their role and trials they are doing. Tim is a really nice guy so it would be great to get him in as well. That's the plan... but there just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done!

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PostPosted: Feb 26th, '12, 08:40 
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Well it sure looks good to us newbies so i hope the powers that be support yours and the childrens efforts you are doing a fine job!!!!


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PostPosted: Feb 26th, '12, 10:46 
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Seriously, this cant be healthy.
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I spent many many christmas holidays at the ulverstone caravan park, getting burned to a crisp on the beach, or on the awesome playground. Aaah, blistered legs :)

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PostPosted: Feb 26th, '12, 15:33 
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Nice to think that BYAP systems are becoming a bit of a "standard"... :)

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PostPosted: Feb 27th, '12, 20:32 
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Well, Joel, I've known about BYAP (and you) for quite a lot of years (6-7 if my memory serves me correctly since before I first joined here as OzV way back when). You were pretty much the original and others have turned up that have built on your progress.

I didn't actually know about any others at the time of planning the build (about three years ago now... it's been a really long process with everything else we did as well going on at the same time) and I didn't go looking for the possibility of others being around because as far as I was concerned there wasn't any need to look elsewhere.

I've done masses of research on it and have spent the last 20 years running DIY yabby systems in schools around NSW made out of recycled chemical drums and to be honest when they said I could have my own system all I wanted to do was get them to buy me all the parts I wanted so I could set up a system that was simple, fairly large, and that the kids could help me design and build to make the whole journey a learning experience. That was turned down when the beaurocrats running the build said they were too busy to source bits and pieces from all over the place and that I had to settle for a kit. I told them fine... I wanted a BYAP system then. The main reasons were build quality and experience. When I was told they wanted something closer to reduce shipping costs I didn't know about the NSW distributor at the time. I said "whatever! just get me a system" because they were proving to be a pain in the backside and I don't play well with idiots. I left it in their hands and this is what I got.

I still fought them to set it up myself with the kids and managed to win that battle (and as a result I know I've got at least one of those kids chasing a career in aquaculture now) though much crap had to be waded through to even do that.

So.... standard... yes! I think the BYAP reputation and range are what all others are judged against, and rightly so I think. In hind sight, if I had known then what I know now about the other systems available I think I would have pushed a little harder for what I wanted but in the end I have been able to put something together that I am happy with and the kids at school love it. It's a real treat to go and feed the fish but I seem to have a real problem with keeping strawberries on the plants long enough for me to actually get any :think:

Now that I do know about the extra distributors... I reckon it's time to start planning a second system ;)

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PostPosted: Feb 27th, '12, 20:58 
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While I'm at it, I thought I'd show a little more of the whole complex to show where and how it all fits together. We're really proud of it and have been in about a year now.

1. This is inside our new lab. We wanted it to have biotechnology capabilities so we had a laminar flow cabinet put in to carry out tissue culture and other DNA related procedures. It's really cool! All these photos were taken just before we officially opened last year.

Image

2. Image

I managed to get a built in 6x2x2 reef tank threown in to the plans... long story short... it's a right PITA to maintain but I couldn't tell the twits who planneed the building anything... and now I'm constantly fighting overheating problems. It will be ok in the end but it's a trial atm.

3. Image

Around the eastern side of the science centre we put up nice little greenhouse. This is where I grow my seedlings for transplanting into the AP system. We have kiwi fruit vines and grape vines growing up the posts.

4. Image

This is our outdoor classroom. One the top is a weather station. We can log into myenergy.com.au to see what the weather is like, what our energy use is and how much energy we are making with our solar panels and wind turbine. The AP system is just to the left of the main building behind the COLA (covered outdoor learning area).

5. Image

Our turbine is awesome! It's a 4kW system that is completely quiet. The vertical systems are amazing and it looks more like a piece of modern art. Mark, when you drop by on Wednesday... this is the landmark to look for ;)

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PostPosted: Feb 28th, '12, 05:59 
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Ok will do!!! i cant wait!!!!


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PostPosted: Feb 28th, '12, 10:00 
TasV... what wind speed is needed to turn that Savonius Rotor???


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PostPosted: Feb 28th, '12, 10:09 
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and where do I get a beanie cap with that propeller on top?

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