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PostPosted: Jan 4th, '13, 16:29 
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Hello all,

I think I may have done things in the wrong order. I read a short article on the blessings of aquaponics a few weeks ago and the concept kept bugging me. So I built a test system. And only then did I discover this forum and the amazing resources it offers. But now I've read about so many systems, gizmos and other whatnots that I've thoroughly confused myself.
So I've created this thread and will outline and present my system and I really hope that if you can see something completely wrong with what I've done then you wont hesitate and offer constructive criticism :-).

I also hope that I'm not violating any forum rules by posting this system, but it seems you are a welcoming lot that allow smallish and non-down-under systems to be reviewed :-).

Basic facts: This is meant to be a test or proof-of-concept system that will persuade the wife, family members and other non-believers that this Aquaponic heretical idea actually work.

Just to make things more difficult, the system was built with the following self-imposed rules:
1) To be as cheap as possible. As a Ph.d.-student (sadly in a field of research not even closely related, or even useful...) money is scarce and as I was not even certain it would work I decided to reuse, rebuild and scrounge as many parts as possible. I set a maximum budget of 25$ for new parts.

2) Must fit into a windowsill - hence must be quite compact. In my four-year old's room - hence must contain very few easily destructible parts.

3) Is situated in Denmark. This means cold weather (not that much of an issue as the system is indoors) and dark winter months (heck, we even have dark summers :-)) which will be an issue, but I'm hoping artificial light will alleviate this problem.

4) Must connect to a smallish aquarium - i.e. 54 liters (or 14 gallons). With five aquariums (and numerous containers for baby fishes, live food etc.) I do not foresee the wife allowing me more space.

So with this in mind I built a system that would probably best be described as using a constant flow system returning to the fish tank from the grow bed situated above it.

The system was built with what I had at hand at the time and without any fancy schematics but I'll include pictures in the following post that will hopefully show what I've done and where problems might pop up shortly.

All the best,
Kasper

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More details, pictures, and ramblings can be found here:http://fishtankdk.blogspot.dk/


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PostPosted: Jan 4th, '13, 17:10 
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Hello all,
So to continue from the above this is the fish tank that will supply all the nutrients:
Attachment:
File comment: 54 liters fish tank
CIMG8609.JPG
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54 liters, very well cycled tank. Been running for almost two years. Houses ca. 15-25 Endler's Livebearers (depending on babies and whether the larger fish in other tanks have had their weekly snack...), and large colonies of RCS Shrimps, Hyalella azteca and other goodies. Temperature ca. 24 degrees and excellent water quality.
This is the growbed to be. Plastic and free.
Attachment:
File comment: Future Growbed
CIMG8610.JPG
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Test fit of the system that shows the idea and placement:
Attachment:
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More pictures to follow...

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My system - Apartment Aquaponics on the cheap:http://www.backyardaquaponics.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=14813

More details, pictures, and ramblings can be found here:http://fishtankdk.blogspot.dk/


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PostPosted: Jan 4th, '13, 17:15 
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My faithful assistant begins the tedious task of rinsing medium. I've decided to go with LECA pellets as these were available through my father-in-law and as I wanted to keep the weight of the system down as much as possible.
Attachment:
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Now, because the growbed is quite small, I decided to get sneaky and made this aquatic maze to force the water through as much area as possible.
Attachment:
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It was later modified to block waterflow even more. I really hope this wont become a problem later on...

A (bad) picture of the drain and behind it a quick emergency drain, just in case things got clogged or similar:
Attachment:
CIMG8623.JPG
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Very simple system so far. Hope it looks okay?

All the best,
Kasper

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My system - Apartment Aquaponics on the cheap:http://www.backyardaquaponics.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=14813

More details, pictures, and ramblings can be found here:http://fishtankdk.blogspot.dk/


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PostPosted: Jan 4th, '13, 17:19 
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More picture-updates:
Adding the growmedium (LECA), assisted by my lovely assistant:
Attachment:
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Closer look:
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Shows the water level and maze at work.
Completed growbed. I later added more Leca but wnated to make sure I could see what was happening to the water level and flow. The green hose pipe works as the emergency drain.
Attachment:
CIMG8628.JPG
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.

All the best,
Kasper

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More details, pictures, and ramblings can be found here:http://fishtankdk.blogspot.dk/


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PostPosted: Jan 4th, '13, 17:33 
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Hello all,
So considering I didn't want to spend any money on this system I had to get creative in order to reuse what powerheads I had lying around. The original filter pump proved to be unable to get enough water lifted into the growbed. This weird looking gizmo was the result. It aint pretty (and the tank is a mess due to all my fiddling around) but it works and allows me to adjust the water intake.
Attachment:
CIMG9204.JPG
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This is the hose carrying the water into the growbed. Had to buy a meter which, along with a new pack of aquarium silicone, brought the total expenses so far up to a staggering 11$...
Attachment:
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As for artificial light (this being the darkest hour of the dark Danish winter) I reused the lamp from the aquarium starter set. Not pretty but an effective light source. I hope.
Attachment:
CIMG9086.JPG
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Thats me on the right :-). Nothing like having Aquaponical fun early in the morning :-).

All the best,
Kasper

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More details, pictures, and ramblings can be found here:http://fishtankdk.blogspot.dk/


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PostPosted: Jan 4th, '13, 17:39 
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Hello all,
So with all the technical gizmoing around done with it was time to sow the seeds of love... And it dawned on me that I had no idea what would work, how to seed or what the hell I was doing. So assisted by the four year old we threw in a ton of different seeds we had lying around. Mainly lettuce, tomatoes, peas, sweet pepper and an assortment of herbs.
My wife thankfully kept track and constructed these little plant indicators:
Attachment:
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.

As mentioned I had no idea what to expect, but when after four days of intense scrutiny the first little green sprout appeared I was the happiest Dane in Denmark!
Attachment:
CIMG9124.JPG
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Not much but an indicator that something might come from all the prepping.

All the best,
Kasper

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More details, pictures, and ramblings can be found here:http://fishtankdk.blogspot.dk/


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PostPosted: Jan 4th, '13, 17:41 
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Hello all,
following the sprout pictured above, each day brought more growth.
Plenty of radishes:
Attachment:
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The first of three pea plants ( I think?):
Attachment:
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Lettuce (Again, I think. The young one's sowing technique was a bit more chaotic than I would have preferred...):
Attachment:
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.

So with the last weeks developments done with I would really like to hear what you think about this system. Will it work? What will cause problems? What should I've done differently and why?
And perhaps the most important question is what I can expect in the coming weeks?

Oh, and the total cost is still 11$ (8 for the silicone and 3 for the new water hose) and the fish are coping with all the changes adequately.

All the best,
Kasper

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More details, pictures, and ramblings can be found here:http://fishtankdk.blogspot.dk/


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PostPosted: Jan 4th, '13, 22:50 
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Hi Kasper, welcome to the forum!

I had a similar setup in our bedroom last year, just a container above an aquarium, constant flood. That should work fine.

I would double-check that the hoses are secured perhaps with zip ties or other, so that they cannot be moved or do not shift. I also wonder about screen over the bed outlet. Fine screen can clog, no screen over the hose could let a piece of rock clog the outlet too. You kind of want a space cleared around the outlet to make sure it will not clog from loose rocks. Later when the biofilm builds up you may find the hose to the bed running slowly. I don't like tiny aquarium pumps because they clog so easily, but with the bed above the aquarium that's how you have to do it. Next time I plan to have a hose coming off the pump, up to where the inlet to the bed would be, then back down to the pump to make a loop, then a valve for the bed. That way the pump is running with max flow all the time and you can adjust the flow to the bed with some control. Your dividers also could clog and maybe cause an overflow.

I plan to make a side-by-side two aquarium setup sometime (same height so could use an airlift there), but that will require cutting holes in the glass.

HTH! It's great to see your son involved, hope he's enjoying seeing the plants come up!

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PostPosted: Jan 5th, '13, 05:14 
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Hello Dave, and thanks for the reply. So it seems you do not foresee any immediate catastrophes with the system, but that clogging might occur. That is pretty good news :-). I did do some not-so-fancy screen on the in and outlets (merely a siliconed plastic strip down each) but I'll be sure to check them regularly to make sure nothing is building up.
I would have loved something larger, but unfortunately, as mentioned, this is what I could get away with without the wife's disapproval hitting me.
And yes, the youngsters involvement has been one of the best things so far. Although not always that helpful (i.e. I would love to know what he actually sowed, and where) it has been great fun building the system with him and answering his many questions. And we check the system each morning and nght together - very nice to share.

Again, thanks for the reassurance Dave.

Here is a picture from today :-).
Attachment:
CIMG9440.JPG
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All the best,
Kasper

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PostPosted: Jan 10th, '13, 19:38 
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Hello again,
So two quick questions;
I put this next to my tiny Aquaponic system:
Attachment:
CIMG9437.JPG
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Which is just a simple floating raft made up of like this:

Attachment:
CIMG9434.JPG
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It will, in the future become the emergency overflow system, but untill then it will be just a bucket of fishwater and some herbs :-).

So the questions:
1) Will the roots rot? I'll be changing the water on a weekly basis, but I've read that the roots might rot without airation and was wondering if this would be the case here?

2) would this count as a 'hydronic' system? If so, I would be able to state that I've got both an aquaponic and a hydroponic system in one small windowsill :-).

All the best,
Kasper

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PostPosted: Jan 11th, '13, 06:53 
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Interesting design Kasper, looks great... and so cheap! Keep coming with the updates :wink:

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PostPosted: Jan 11th, '13, 09:43 
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An interesting design for sure.

You will need to aerate your pot somehow though. A tiny air stone would do the trick :)

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PostPosted: Jan 11th, '13, 17:24 
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Roger that, rsevs3! Airstone going in.
But will it need to be on 24/7 or would say four hours a day be enough? The reason Im asking is that the only surplus airmachine thingie that I have available is quite noisy (even suspended etc) so I would prefer to have it on as little as possible...

All the best and thanks for the input,
Kasper

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PostPosted: Jan 15th, '13, 17:37 
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Hello all!

So, the Aquaponic system has worked (adequately) so far, i.e. no more water spilling all over the place and some growth. Not a lot, and the smaller sprouts seem to just give up hope, but others (peas and tomatoes) are growing nicely.
Seeing as I had nothing to do one Saturday morning I decided to try and make things complicated. A lot more complicated! So I bought three cheapo buckets (1$ each) and some pvc pipes and elbows (20$ worth) and set out to have some fun.
And so I've made the following 'hanging gardens of Copenhagen' - which for some reason made my wife shake her head multiple times. In silence. Not sure if that was a good sign?

I'll be adding a new long hose that will transport the water from the fishtank, up the wooden stick and into the pvc pipe at the top. From there it should spill (in a controlled manner) into the buckets, and then progress into the growbed. I hope. So many things can go wrong with this. It is so much fun!

Attachment:
CIMG9503.JPG
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I've got to silicone the connections, wash more medium, and install the hose (8$), but apart from that it should be ready soon. Stay tuned for disaster updates :-).

Attachment:
CIMG9499.JPG
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I was a bit nervous that the flimsy sides of the cheap buckets would crack, but the hole-saw-thing made the job very easy.

Attachment:
CIMG9500.JPG
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And the entire pvc-experience was very fun - so easy to work with.

All the best,
Kasper

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PostPosted: Jan 15th, '13, 17:39 
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A few extra pictures;

Attachment:
CIMG9501.JPG
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I needed some cheap standpipes for the buckets and decided these bottles would do the trick.


Meanwhile my son was up to no good - going "boooiiiiiing ..... boooooiiiiiing" for some reason :-).

Attachment:
CIMG9502.JPG
CIMG9502.JPG [ 169.62 KiB | Viewed 7550 times ]


Total costs skyrocketed this week, from 11$ to 42$! :-/.

All the best,
Kasper

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More details, pictures, and ramblings can be found here:http://fishtankdk.blogspot.dk/


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