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PostPosted: Jul 15th, '14, 13:56 
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Hi

First post... after lurking for months (maybe years). I need advice from the wise but, if I understand the system, will ask in separate posts... with more detailed info about my setup saved here for reference and future updating.

I'm in Northern Rivers area of NSW... just south of the Gold Coast QLD. It's sub-tropical (I have pawpaws and guava in my small suburban dirt garden).

the challenges
Very little space available - even less with decent sunlight
My occasional assistant fish feeder pleasantly but firmly demands certain standards of aesthetics.
I'm away from home a lot so system has limited on site attention for days at a time

the system
has been running since it cycled in late January this year.

FT 900 L - aquaplated corrugated iron raised garden bed - seams sealed with bituminous paint
gravity flows around a corner about 3 m to GB
Also flows from FT to some pipes and gutters with netpots suspended about 2 cm in 4 - 5 cm deep water which then flow to ST.

GB 300 L - too small for my FT but all I can fit in (Hence the towers, gutters and pipes) - river stones and red scoria on bottom - expanded clay above that.
Flood and drain with bell siphon (standpipe is 25 mm and, in retrospect, not big enough) drains down to

ST - recently upsized to 400 L to allow less frequent need for top ups
Contains two pumps running in parallel (in case one dies while I'm away) pumping to FT and also 4 x 3 foot Zipgrow towers. Excess from pumps diverted back to the ST for aeration.

I have a Seneye monitor in FT set up to give 24 hour remote monitoring of pH, temp, ammonia. Sends alarms if these parameters are out of my set limits. Also shows if device is out of water but doesn't text or email alarms about this as yet.

FT also has:
two airstones on small air pump with roughly 10 hour battery backup.
bilge pump for water turnover and aeration via venturi - connected to 12 volt battery and switch so it comes on when mains power to pumps goes off.

Started with about 40 silver perch and 10 eel tailed catfish. Lost about 3 of each at the start... mostly due to them getting into pipes they shouldn't have. No problems in recent months... all look healthy and eating a bit despite it being winter. Average sizes of SP have probably doubled from 4 to 8 cm. Catfish may have tripled from about 4 to 12 cm.

Veggies had iron lock out early on but reduced pH and supplemented iron and all going well... having lots of salads and kale.

Spent many hours trying to improve my bell syphon to get more flow through it... to try to get as much of FT volume through GB in an hour as possible. I have given up. It works reliably at about 350 LPH and plants and fish seem OK. Ammonia close to zero for last few months. Maybe the Zipgrow towers are a very effective biological filter despite only about 60 L of volume.

I've had great fun... learned lots of skills (never having used holesaws or angle grinders before). I reckon it might be some time before the free fish and veggies pay for the setup... but it's kept me out of the pub and the TAB.

Future plans/hopes include trying some Jade Perch. Also leaning on my daughters at uni with computing and engineering skills to assist with further remote monitoring and control including feeding.

Will post separately regarding my problems with pH


Some pictures follow

Cheers

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PostPosted: Jul 15th, '14, 14:24 
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Welcome Dave, Ive recently moved to the northern rivers. We will have to have a beer one day and talk shop.

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PostPosted: Jul 15th, '14, 18:44 
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Thanks Charlie

Having read your advice plenty of times in the past and noting your post count, I reckon it would be in my interests to have that beer with you as soon as possible. Will pm you to find out what flavour you like :drunken:

I notice that my pictures aren't in my post above. I can't see how to edit my original post (maybe I can't). But suspect I now have the image uploading worked out.

Now to seek advice on buffering and pH.

Attachment:
File comment: Grow bed and various things hanging off or over it.
IMAG0355.jpg
IMAG0355.jpg [ 87.97 KiB | Viewed 8648 times ]


Attachment:
File comment: Fish tank around the corner.
IMAG0295.jpg
IMAG0295.jpg [ 84 KiB | Viewed 8648 times ]

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PostPosted: Jul 16th, '14, 09:45 
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Very neat system there Dave.

I dont know if Ive always got the right advice but I do my best to help out, and my post count is probably just a reflection of how much I like to talk haha.

There is a small window of opertunity to edit posts but if you need anything fixed just let a mod or admin know and we can sort it out. You have the photo uploads sorted so all good.

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PostPosted: Jul 17th, '14, 10:52 
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What great little system, well done Dave :headbang:

Don't stop there, go bigger and better :thumbright:

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PostPosted: Jul 17th, '14, 13:30 
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Very kind and encouraging of you joblow.

But it's a long way for you to travel from down there to face up to my aesthetics consultant with the argument that it should go bigger. I think I've expanded it, in all directions, to within a micron of the allowable limits

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PostPosted: Nov 29th, '14, 19:08 
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Thought I should do a quick update. In case my mum is following this thread :wave1:

Fish are going great although I have too many... I read all the excellent advice about not overstocking before I started but couldn't help myself. So I pushed the limits and imagined I'd lose a few fingerlings while starting out (I didn't).

Plants going well too... particularly since I learned how to manage trace elements (on this forum). I'm just about winning the constant battle against pests and eating lots of greens. And the eggplants and chilli are now producing - both a fair bit bigger in the couple of weeks that have passed since the photo below.

And... as predicted by Charlie and others elsewhere, I've realised that I spent too long trying to master my previously high pH. Nitrification is now doing the job very nicely.

Attachment:
IMAG0430.jpg
IMAG0430.jpg [ 268.9 KiB | Viewed 7847 times ]

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PostPosted: Nov 30th, '14, 06:39 
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Looking good mate :)

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PostPosted: Nov 30th, '14, 06:40 
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Sorry double post.
loverly part of the world you're in up there.

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PostPosted: Dec 28th, '14, 12:27 
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Just for the record... and unlikely to impress anyone who's been at it for very long. I harvested my first silver perch yesterday. Really too small at only a tad over 160 grams. But they had to go because I'm overstocked and can't give them away. Will definitely be smoking more silver perch down the track!

Attachment:
File comment: They looked overdone but were moist and tender
wNypm6osjQPMEj1uAnw4r3F3FLmPWkP4mI0jhmmIMno=w327-h218-p-no.jpg
wNypm6osjQPMEj1uAnw4r3F3FLmPWkP4mI0jhmmIMno=w327-h218-p-no.jpg [ 16.84 KiB | Viewed 7660 times ]


Attachment:
File comment: Home made sourdough and aquaponic produce
IMAG0445.jpg
IMAG0445.jpg [ 148.9 KiB | Viewed 7660 times ]

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PostPosted: Dec 28th, '14, 12:48 
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Hi Dave,

like your vertical towers.

did you make yourself or use pre-made ones ?
(you mention zipgrow towers above).

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PostPosted: Dec 28th, '14, 13:58 
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I ordered them from OS but you can get them in Australia now. www.zipgrow.com.au
I was going to make my own using rectangular pvc pipes from that big hardware store but didn't think I could get a good substitute for their matrix media.

They work really well!

Sent from my phone using Tapatalk

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PostPosted: Feb 4th, '15, 19:25 
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Your system is so cute and productive - isn't that shot with the flowers a beauty!

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PostPosted: Feb 4th, '15, 20:34 
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Thanks... just about everything I've learned was on this forum and I reckon more than a few of your posts have been instructive.

I've probably tried about a dozen different flowers so far... every one has gone well in my clay ball growbed, zipgrow tubes or "shallow" dwc pipes. Nasturtiums and marigolds probably the best because, as well as making my wife a bit keener on it than she originally was, I reckon they produce the most green growth so using up a fair bit of my always high nitrates.

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PostPosted: Jun 1st, '15, 16:15 
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Have done a bit of renovation... aim being to squeeze as many plants as I possibly can in to my small space, Nitrates still very high despite eating a few fish and winter slowing the remaining ones down.

There are now three rows of 100 mm pipes with a hybrid nft/dwc setup hanging off the sides of the growbed stand - they turn a right angle and wrap around the right end of the growbed. I think it looks a bit neater than the earlier version - will look better when the naked pvc gets a coat of paint.

Watercress doing particularly well in the new pipes... despite limited sun.

My next spare weekend will be spent squeezing in two more zipgrow towers for a total of 6.


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