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PostPosted: Jan 3rd, '14, 16:22 
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I wanted to show where I've been and where my system is going, so here goes!
Started by getting the fish... I know, system then fish... Never pass up free Tilapia though, right? Luckily I already keep koi so bio filter media was already cultured and available. The time was late December 2012.

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PostPosted: Jan 3rd, '14, 16:40 
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http://i1329.photobucket.com/albums/w558/tropicallandings/Mobile%20Uploads/CAM00072_zpscaea1fe4.jpg
First system for proof of concept.

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PostPosted: Jan 3rd, '14, 16:46 
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The bucket was a simple biofilter. The tank was a 55 gallon and it was just a simple 4 foot grow tray. I think I had 17 baby Tilapia at thispoint. The system was set up temporarily on the kitchen table. The Tilapia were free from my local hydro store (love you guys!) It is truly all about how you ask.

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PostPosted: Jan 3rd, '14, 16:50 
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Image top view from filter end.

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PostPosted: Jan 3rd, '14, 17:10 
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Well, guess I should jump forward a few weeks. This is because of misadventure #1.... See, I have a brown thumb, very brown usually :( . I read alot about germinating mediums and settled on cotton balls... An A1 bad idea. That combined with most of my seeds being in excess of 15 years old meant that the only thing to germinate was some sweet 100 cherry tomatoes... (seeds were 20+ years! ) ... Can't quite explain how my oldest seeds germinated, oh and at 100% . But every thing else rotted in the wet cotton balls.
So what to do in the middle of winter when no respectable store has seeds locally? I finally found at *owes home improvement near my house a dusty forgotten seed display in the back of the store. So here I am at check out with a barrage of assorted dusty seed packets waiting in line with no fewer than 6 inches of snow on the ground and a big stupid grin on my face. It was Dec 28 I think. I have never seen a more confused cashier in my life than when she looked at my selection. (I love confusing people! :mrgreen: )

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PostPosted: Jan 3rd, '14, 17:16 
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Jerry rigged lighting using... Well, every bit of junk I could muster. :whistle: Image

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PostPosted: Jan 3rd, '14, 17:28 
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I think at this point my total out of pocket was about $34 us. That's definitely not the current score, but it was pretty cheap for a proof ofconcept. It wasn't until February first that i would have time to replant and try again. The tomatoes were taking there sweet time getting going anyways (but I guess that's fair considering how old they were). I added what i called a dwc at the time which was actually a five gallon bucket with 14 x 2 inch holes drilled in the lid and plumbed into the system. My filtration had been upgraded by adding a plastic coffee filter in a yogurt container to one end. (this actually worked quit well with only a few fish in the system. Oh and I had added more Tilapia, again for free :) . Now I had 31.

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PostPosted: Jan 3rd, '14, 17:41 
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Feb 5th and things were getting exciting. Pumpkin seed germinated and up in 5 days (7-10 on packet for germination) dill was up and actually allot was germinated! Royal purple beans in the bag behind pumpkin. They were transplanted that night. 16 of 16 germinated. And yes I know a pumpkin vine in the housewas a bad idea. Image

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PostPosted: Jan 3rd, '14, 17:48 
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Okay, bed time now for me. Thesaga will continue soon :-) but here's a little teaser! Image

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PostPosted: Jan 3rd, '14, 21:54 
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Love it, can't wait to hear more, time compressed and all!

Should we try to anticipate what problems you had with the system as we see it and then compare with the actual results? :smile: That would be fun.

Nice to see the germination success, it jibes with what others have seen - just chuck the seeds into the gravel or hydroton and the plant does the rest. I keep the seeds watered daily or so until they come up if they reside above the water line.

BTW it's OK to say Lowe's I say it all the time on here Lowe's Lowe's Lowe's! Going there today!

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PostPosted: Jan 4th, '14, 01:30 
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Thanks Dave. I think speculating could be great fun. So time for chapter 2. We will call it "kitchen spring time". :lol: jumping forward to the 7th of February.Image
Royal purple beans are up at day 7 with 100% germination. Wasn't expecting that so my 4'x6" grow bed is now way over planted :think: . Aquaponics are quite amazing. Packet said 14-20 days for germination on the beans!

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PostPosted: Jan 4th, '14, 01:41 
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Feb 8th. The tomatoes are suddenly ticking along nicely as are the beans and pumpkin vine. The bell siphon I had made has become just a normal siphon and never stops draining... Switch from flood and drain to constant flow system with a small stand pipe. Besides that, when it was working it always sounded like a toilet flushing in my living room.... Here's the beans and other growing greens. Image Oh, forgot about the sweet potato cutting hiding in the back round.

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PostPosted: Jan 4th, '14, 03:10 
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Image Still on Feb 8th, made upgrade to the lighting system. It was now suspended by rope over the grow beds. To change the fixture height I would just have to crank the rope tighter and tighter. Still operating on "wimpy" 23 watt cfl bulbs. The house inside actually smelled like spring at this point which really lifts the spirits in the dead of winter, especially when the outside temps are about 8°F. The list of plants growing at this point was:
Dill
Chives
23x sweet 100 tomatoes
16x royal purple beans
Pumpkin
2x sweet potato clippings
It became clear to me at this point that the concept worked. It was time to build a bigger rig to test different water deliverer techniques for efficiency and reliability.

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PostPosted: Jan 4th, '14, 03:18 
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Unfortunately at this time of year for me money is very tight usually because I earn my living selling at summer art shows and had to make sure not to spend my next 3 mortgage payments or well, you know what happens then. But I had the aquaponics bug so I couldn't wait. Again I went scrounging to see what I could find that I already had on hand. How could I do it for almost free?
Chapter 3 "enter the shed"

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PostPosted: Jan 4th, '14, 03:33 
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Feb 14th: the beanswere supposed to be germinating today lets check the picture and see how they were doing...

Image
At about a foot tall I'd say they were doing pretty good for 14 days in. The pumpkin was doing great and the tomatoes were starting to look real respectable. I thinned out a few tomatoes because the idea of 23 full size plants in my living room wasn't going to fly well with the wife. :laughing6: ... Down to 17, more to thin later because its hard to cull healthy plants when you've always had a brown thumb.

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