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PostPosted: Jun 26th, '14, 18:27 
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This aquaponics system is still a work in progress/concept.

This post will be:
Small introduction to concept
Sketch (with some explanation)
Specs
And things I could use some help with.

This whole idea started off of the excising Ikea AP build, but the version I will be making hopes to be stronger, has more capacity, better hight efficiency but it will remain equally budget-savvy. Physically I have the frame, and it's already set up as shown in the sketch below. I know where I can buy the black growbeds in my sketch, but I'm still looking for a clear one that has more capacity. The reason I want to go for a clear one is because we don't have a lot of space in our apartment, and it came down to the decision between 'less algae buildup' versus 'can't see the fish'. A black tub would be better for its availableness and the fact that less light gets through. The clear one would have slightly less impact on our living area and gives more insight to the conditions inside the FT. As I am still searching I can change my mind on the sizes and such of the growbeds, but this is where I am leaning towards.

Attachment:
File comment: Designed by me, using Photoshop.
Ikea-Omar-AP-design-by-Cheese.gif
Ikea-Omar-AP-design-by-Cheese.gif [ 59.5 KiB | Viewed 4079 times ]


I think the sketch I made pretty much speaks for itself. I don't plan on using PINK pipes, but they stand out better for discussion purposes. Also they ended up being wider than I have in my head, but I am not really sure how wide the pipes must be! Also the growlight in the top will not be mounted at first, I'll get it out of storage when winter's coming or when needed. The piping from the pump to the outside of the FT currently has a sort of L-angle, which can also change based on any experienced advice I gain here :P. The reason it's mounted like this in the sketch, is because of the 2 growbeds. Water will be sucked in at the right rear corner and will be pumped up to the left front corner of the top growbed. The top growbed drains in the right rear corner and drops it onto the growbed below. On it's turn that growbed drains at the left front corner, releasing it in the FT and creating flow. Aeration of the water will be provided purely through the different stages of 'falling'.

Specs
Frame: 90x34x178 cm (length, width, hight)
Media bed (top): total volume 65 liters (17 gallons), will be filled with hydroton, no siphon just an overflow drainpipe with a small hole at the bottom for drainage.
Media bed (center): total volume 65 liters (17 gallons), DWC/Floating Raft, no siphon only an overflow drainpipe (will probably mainly be used for growing lettuce).
Fish Tank: 90/125 liters (or 24/33 gallons) - volume dependent on what I end up buying
Pump: submerged, will be hooked on a plug-and-play timer I already have, don't know which pump it's going to be, dependent on what's available in my country for a decent price.
Pipes: will be using default PVC, for the diameter I am doubting between 40mm and 50mm but this is based purely on eyeballing, all pipes will probably be glued, also I don't know yet which size diameter the pump output will have.
Budget: my estimated budget for this project is €100,- and if the pump will stay in the 30~s range I will definitely stay under budget. This budget is excluding plants and fish.

So I hope I got the basics down correctly. I don't plan on using a sump because of the scale of the system. I will probably have to figure for myself what the best timing for the timer on the pump will be. Also I understand that placing the Floating Raft bed beneath the Hydroton bed means that the second bed in line will receive less nutrients as they are taken up by the first bed. My personal theory on this is that the second bed will take up any remaining nitrates and will be provided with oxygen given by the first bed. In its turn the lettuce in the second bed give out oxygen as well because they take up remaining nutrients, and so the fish get double-filtered oxygenated water supplied back to them. If I'm saying something crazy right now, please stop me :D.

As for the fish I am leaning toward the sturdy goldfish perhaps in combination with some algae eating crab/shrimp/prawn. I don't want a heated FT and the climate in The Netherlands isn't that tropical.
I don't think the size of my FT will allow me to harvest fish for consumption. Although if there is a possibility, even if it were to mean that I can make fish-sticks once or twice a year, I'd be happy to hear suggestions.

Pointers or advice are very welcome and I'd also love to hear experienced opinions on my approach of things.
In any case I'll probably have a setup worth taking a picture of, 'round next week. I'll keep you guys posted!

Cheers!

C

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PostPosted: Jun 26th, '14, 19:39 
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Welcome Mr Cheese,

You may be able to use a glass FT if it's inside?

maybe keep it simple and run the pump continuously for a constant flood system.
your pump will need to circulate the FT water at least once per hour, but you have a fair height to pump say about 1.5m and small pumps will have a struggle with the head so check the pump graph. ie 150L/hr @ 1.5m

the pipes will only need to be 20mm dia.

I haven't done indoor lighting myself but will the lower GB get enough light?

I'd consider using Hydroton in both GB.

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PostPosted: Jun 27th, '14, 20:05 
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Slowboat wrote:
Welcome Mr Cheese, You may be able to use a glass FT if it's inside?

Hi Slowboat and thanks for your response! I haven't considered glass yet as I thought it would be wildly more expensive than a plastic storage container. Don't know if I am taking budget over quality on this one? But I'll look into it!

Slowboat wrote:
maybe keep it simple and run the pump continuously for a constant flood system.
your pump will need to circulate the FT water at least once per hour, but you have a fair height to pump say about 1.5m and small pumps will have a struggle with the head so check the pump graph. ie 150L/hr @ 1.5m

Thanks again. I understand that head hight and capacity at hight are of importance. I measured and the hight will indeed be about 140cm. The only problem is that I rarely find the graphs of the pumps when checking various Dutch webshops... Maybe I am looking at the wrong kind of pumps? I mean, are pond / fountain pumps for example not usable?
Also I'd planned on running the pump full time for a couple of weeks when cycling the system. After that I do want to try and get the pumping time down for the electric bill and as I already have an usable timer which has highly customizable schedulers, so in use I hope it to be just as simple.

Slowboat wrote:
the pipes will only need to be 20mm dia.
I haven't done indoor lighting myself but will the lower GB get enough light?
I'd consider using Hydroton in both GB.


Oh 20mm? Thats quite smaller than anticipated, great help! Don't know if this will be lost in translation: but, should I buy 'drainage PVC' or 'pressure PVC'?

Concerning the lights, I've grown herbs, vegetables and other plants without lighting in the same location so I hope I won't be using them at all. The top bed will probably block every extra lighting for the bottom bed. So that part will be something I might alter further down the road.

I also certainly have considered using hydroton in both GB's. It will probably depend on how much my budget will allow and in which quantities I can buy it. Also I think I have to research some more on the differences between growbed media/systems.

Anyway great help and as said I'll get on which some picture-material soon. :headbang:

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PostPosted: Jun 27th, '14, 20:33 
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you will need pressure pvc or LD Polyethylene tube will work also.

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PostPosted: Jun 28th, '14, 12:09 
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Hello Cheese,

I've been working on a proof of concept for a small apartment unit as well. Pretty much exactly like the one you designed, but my shelf is on wheels.

I was also going to use plastic tubs, mainly because I have dogs and it will be in a heavily traffic corridor\hallway and I don't want to risk a glass tank breaking and flooding my apartment- the landlord would not be happy. I also plan on bell siphons, but I was wondering about the water level in the FT.

Is that why continuous flow was recommended?

I will putting mine in front of a window, so I am not too concerned about lights. The window is high enough it should effect the fish tank too much, but the perfect height for the GBs.

Good luck man.

Any thoughts on ways to guarantee no flood\leaks? That's the one thing holding me back from starting my build. Paranoia that it will flood or leak and that would be just bad news all around, haha.

-Stanimal


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PostPosted: Jun 28th, '14, 15:25 
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Preventing leaks will be important indoors for sure.

I guess be very careful with the piping joints, most outdoor systems have the pvc joints just pushed together without glue to reduce contamination. Not sure I would trust glue-less pvc indoors?

maybe poly pipe with clamps would be safer?

It may not be pretty but can you make a catch tray with either enough volume to hold all the water or a drain pipe to waste?

IMO putting siphons or fancy piping on a small system will just unnecessary complexity and provide more points of failure.

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PostPosted: Jun 28th, '14, 16:28 
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Make certain the shelf clips that go on the posts are seated in the grooves and are all at the same level.

Typically the pipe size would be one size higher draining back than is used going out. For example if you used 3/4 pipe from the pump up to the grow beds, you would use 1" pipe for the standpipe and drainage from each grow bed. You can regulate the flow from the pump by diverting some of the pump output back into the fish tank for aeration (using a T and a ball valve). If the fish tank is bigger than the grow beds in width or length, send the pipe from the tank upward above this area so it can help catch part of any spills. You may find that the pipe is small enough to go through the shelf grating (it was on my old system (make sure the shelf heights are where you want them before any gluing takes place).

Use a pipe union for the pump so it can be disconnected if necessary (http://www.amazon.com/Spears-Fitting-O-Ring-Schedule-Socket/dp/B00ALMIZJA). Don't just leave it unglued, the fish could knock it loose and the water will spray into the air until the tank is down to just a few inches of water.

I agree with Slowboat, the siphons are not necessary and could cause the grow beds to flood over the sides if they don't operate properly. Just a simple standpipe with media guard arrangement seems like the best way to me. Along these same lines you could have a secondary overflow in case the beds water level gets too high.

Bulkhead fittings for the standpipes, with the standpipes inside the grow beds being left unglued will allow you to change to a shorter or longer standpipe if the need arises. Here are some examples - bulkhead fittings

Of course the fitting has to fit between the wires on the shelves - you might be able to bend a couple of wires away from each other if you line things up right. You might have to cut part of the shelf wire otherwise.

I would use Hydroton since it's lighter and this will be heavy enough without adding regular rocks.

Cheers


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PostPosted: Jun 29th, '14, 18:15 
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Great responses people! This is really getting my gears turning.

I have thought about the consequences of a leak, but honestly I am not too worried about it. I did specifically choose for a non-siphon system for the simpleness of it and the fact that it has less risk of flooding.
The containers are 'inside' the dimensions of the frame, so bumping in to something won't cause immediate problems. I also planned on putting the pipes inside the frame, through the wired shelves. Didn't know for sure if it was possible but when Scotty told me 20mm diameter was good, so I'll make it fit through the shelves via bending/cutting. I will used pressure pvc and glue as much as recommended. I will also guard the pvc pipes with clamps.

For the possibility that the system could flood due to a clogged pipe or other error, I have the bottom side of a big hamster cage in mind. The frame can probably stand inside it, but it isn't very high so it won't catch all the water in the system. Not sure if I'll use this (as I am not too paranoid :P ) but I might have the option.

Also I looked in to options for a glass FT. Went online and found some decently sized aquariums for €10-20 so this might even be cheaper than buying a plastic storage container new. I will use aquarium glue to reinforce every seem if I buy a second hand aquarium.

I'm going to buy the two MB's today because the DIY store has coupons for today which will help keep my costs down. :headbang:

Also the following pump has been advised to me (I'm translating the specs):
SICCE Syncra aquarium/pond pump 1.0
For indoor/outdoor use
For dry and submerged setup
Extremely silent
Thermal protection for overheating
Watt: 16
Max flow: 950 liters / hour
Max pump height: 1,5 meters (they told me that it would perform at 150/200 liters an hour at this hight)
In/out: 1/2 inch inner-wire
Hose nozzle: 13 / 18 mm
Cable length: 1,5 meters

I also saw a similar pump which had 1,8m hight but a 800 liters / hour flow.

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PostPosted: Jun 29th, '14, 23:07 
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Cheese wrote:
I also planned on putting the pipes inside the frame, through the wired shelves. Didn't know for sure if it was possible but when Scotty told me 20mm diameter was good, so I'll make it fit through the shelves via bending/cutting.


Can't take credit for that, it was Slowboat :headbang:


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PostPosted: Jun 30th, '14, 04:13 
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My bad! A lot of new names are passing by :P

Thanks again, Slowboat ;)

and everyone else of course

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PostPosted: Jul 2nd, '14, 22:28 
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It's been almost a week since I posted my concept sketch, so I thought a little update and some more questions would be in place :D.

I bought a second hand aquarium as FT, its 70cm wide, about 40cm deep and about 40cm high. Filled to the edge it would have a cap of 112 liters, let's say the water level can be at 10cm beneath the rim, so the water volume can be at 96 liters max (about 25 gal). I placed a straight wooden board on the bottom shelf, as a glass FT needs to be properly supported.

Not taking into account the piping, pump, media, plants, fish and tools my spendings are now a little under €50,-.

I also bought 80 liters of hydroton, so the bottom media bed will also be filled with hydroton, as suggested. I decided on this as it simplifies working with the system and there will be less water in the system (that could flood out). I'm also currently growing a small cherry tomato plant, spring unions (on water alone) and chives in the same location as the AP system will be. This way I will be able to put in veggies that have grown accustom to available amount of light and I will be able to plant different 'stages' of material. This will of course have to wait a while, as the system is not yet operational and has to go through cycling first.

The only thing holding me back from putting it all together is ordering the pump and PVC pipings.


QUESTIONS:

In terms of safety I was thinking of still doing the top MB flood/drain (using a timer on the pump) and having the bottom MB stay flooded. The reason I think this is safer is because in this setup, if the pump fails the top bed can fully drain out through the bottom bed into the FT and also there is less water needed in the entire system. The bottom bed can be fitted an extra security overflow tube if the level gets too high.
So if I understand correctly, I need to hook it up as following: Pump at deepest point in FT, pumping straight up to the top MB (pump needs to have a cap of the total water volume in 15 minutes, at head hight). The top MB is fitted with a guarded overflow pipe which has a 45 degree angle hole at the bottom (or two) so it cannot get flooded and will drain out completely at slow pace. The bottom MB only has the guarded overflow pipe so the water level stays at the same point (for safety I might add a second overflow tube a bit higher). Will this work as I predict?
Also, I think I will add a T and ball valve for the extra aeration, because a timed system will probably have less aeration due to less continual flow?

Furthermore, I got my hands on a 20mm diameter PVC pipe for referencing. Looking at the size of my system, wouldn't 32mm possibly be better? I mean, it looks like a pretty small piece of pipe compared to the MB, FT and the total water volume. Also it looks like a 20mm pipe is harder to clean and in turn is more susceptible to becoming a spaghetti pipe? Is there much of a difference in performance (of the pump)? Also I kinda wanna keep in mind the possibility of adding another MB in the (distant) future, if this has any effect on what I'm asking.

I'm not thinking of using worms right off the bat, but if I were to incorporate these in the system, could I only place them in MB's that get drained? Or are there worms that like a constant flooded MB?

If any Dutch BYAP members are reading this, please contact me via PM as I have some questions about local fish.

As always, any help/advice is much appreciated!

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PostPosted: Jul 3rd, '14, 13:15 
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I've been thinking about using Grow Stone for my shelf system. It's very light, and holds a good balance of air and water. Also, it's sustainable and made from recycled glass vs. open pit mining for hydroton (clay). Just something to think about, if you're environmentally minded.

Look forward to seeing some pics once you get it all situated. I will be working on mine after I finish this summer's internship, or hopefully at the same time. Eager to get my system up and producing.


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PostPosted: Jul 11th, '14, 21:29 
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When the GB are filled with 80 L of hydroton the water required to fill the gaps will only be about 15 or 20L taking into account the 50mm from top water level, and some water will be retained in the system.

I have never heard of a fish complaining about water movement. And the number of fish you have is determined by the volume of wet media.

Just run both beds cont' flow or timed F & D and adjust water level to have enough free-board in the FT to take all the water. You want to have a small drain in the bottom of the standpipe this allows the GB to drain in case/when the pump stops and ensures there are no anaerobic areas in the GB by enabling some flow from the bottom of the GB.

Check out the IBC of AP to see how you make a removable standpipe with a drain and a media guard and small drain hole you will need a uniseal or bulkhead fitting ( about 20mm ) with a maybe 25mm drain to the FT .
The pump will need to move your FT each hour so 100L/hr cont’ flow or 400L/hr for 15 min in the hour at you max head pressure. 19mm delivery pipe will be fine as it will take 1000L/hr at 1m/s
Can you put a splash try under the stand, to catch the drips in case of an accident? But if you make it properly it won’t leek at all.

As a backup I would put a small aquarium air pump and stone in the FT.

Yes put worms in they keep the GB's clean

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PostPosted: Oct 6th, '14, 18:49 
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Right-o! Maybe some of you guys and galls thought I'd given up and thrown in the towel... But my absence in terms of posting progress is not a sign of my interest fading!

I had a few problems when ordering in PVC parts, as not everything fitted together as anticipated. Especially hooking up PVC to my pump was a pain. As suggested I searched ways of creating a drip bucket for potential leaks (and saving our downstairs neighbors a wet ceiling) and finally went with the bottom part of a hamster-cage. Like rodent cages that have like a wire fence on top and a plastic wide bottom. It isn't capable of catching ALL the water in my system, but it will have to do as it would catch the main share of water.

All in all I went with the 20mm diameter pressure safe PVC, designed the pipes so the amount of bends/corners are at a minimum. The drainpipes in the MB's are 32mm and have a small hole at bottom level and I have 90mm media guards around them with a lot of holes drilled in. While I'm typing this I'm having a little break from pre-washing my hydroton pellets, and dang a lot of terracotta-coloured water is coming out! Good thing I'm washing them. The pump I'm using should be able to keep head hight pressure even if I were to go for 15 mins on / 45 mins off. For the first two months at least I'll be keeping the pump on continuously. Also for pressure control and extra aeration of the FT I have added a ball valve which can release water back into the FT.

I have a few buckets of plain tap-water waiting to be inserted into the system. They're waiting for the lime to sink (<-- at least I think the English translation is Lime), as tap water has a pretty high lime level around here. When I'm done rinsing out the hydroton pellets, they'll go into the system and then I'll add the water (only to the FT, so that the MB's get filled via the pump, I guess this is the way to go?). At that point I'll finally be running a system! :D

As fall is approaching I'll be keeping the heat up in my room to promote bacterial growth. I plan on cycling without fish or plants for about 4 weeks. Then I plan on introducing one goldfish and if it thrives I'll slowly add some more over the period of a few weeks. When a couple of goldfish remain healthy I will be adding veggies in different stages (some seeds, some seedlings and some slightly matured herbs).

So, as it seems to look like the 'building' part of the process will be completed today, you can expect some pictures from my project in a couple of hours!

Any additional advice is of course always welcome.

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PostPosted: Oct 7th, '14, 00:43 
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Sounds pretty good. If it helps with the leakage-paranoia, I've put down a bit of tarp under my apartment system to catch leaks. It wouldn't help with a big leak, but if its a small leak I'd probably notice the tarp getting wet before it gets too bad.

Although a big blue tark is also ugly as well, so that might not be helpful if you live with someone who would get annoyed. :D

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