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PostPosted: Apr 17th, '16, 15:55 
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Hi everyone,

I've been dreaming for a while about having an aquaponics system to help provide some veg for the family that I know all that has gone into it. I live in China, so it can be a little suspect what pesticides are put into food here :shock:

I have a nice south facing balcony that gets a good amount of sun (if its not too smoggy a day.)

Here's a picture of the balcony:
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I have about 3m that I could utilise along the balcony.

I would love peoples advice about what kind of system I should make.

I have seen on Affnans website that he has developed a gutter system, where he puts pots filled with media into the gutter, instead of filling the whole gutter. Check out his new system here: http://www.affnanaquaponics.com

what do people think about using gutter, or should I just go for a good old fashioned flood and drain bed?

One of the good things about living in China is most of the plastic etc in the world is made here :lol:
this means I can get tanks etc for pretty cheap.

Here is a 400L tank for about 40 USD:
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here is a 200L tank that would work as a GB (about 20USD)
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I can also get expanded clay media for about 6USD per 40litres:
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sizes avaialble are 20-30mm, 5-10mm or 3-6mm.

What size would be best for GB?

I'd love to hear what people think, in terms of what you would use, and possibly what sizes to start with.

Thanks


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PostPosted: Apr 17th, '16, 17:47 
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type of system.....

something like the BYAP patio system would be ideal - gets around 400-450L fish tank and 150-200L grow bed quite easily in a small space (1200 x 600mm). Obviously you would mimic this with whatever you have available locally. That system can also support a small 50-100L tub DWC or 2-4 of buckets with tomatoes in them on the side*. Runs easily on 10 mature goldfish or equivalent little ones. (picture at bottom)

* I wouldn't put tomatoes in a small system. Buckets on the side are better as then the roots don't dominate or clog system up - which is a big problem in small systems.

on clay - a mix would be best. Most good quality clay comes as a clay blend of sizes.
too big and you don't get the surface area and roots.
too small and water doesn't flow through so well.

BYAP Patio
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Typical green veg load and providing biofilter plus 2-4 buckets with tomatoes or DWC in 50-100L tub.
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PostPosted: Apr 17th, '16, 17:55 
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simple four bucket setup - would go fine on the side.... (these guys are 270mm x 270mm x 250mm)
* can feed water either to buckets then on to GB or GB to buckets.
* you can easily add extra nutrients (esp. if go buckets to GB)
* else can go Grow Bed to DWC in similar way.

Attachment:
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PostPosted: Apr 17th, '16, 18:52 
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dlf_perth wrote:
simple four bucket setup - would go fine on the side.... (these guys are 270mm x 270mm x 250mm)
* can feed water either to buckets then on to GB or GB to buckets.
* you can easily add extra nutrients (esp. if go buckets to GB)
* else can go Grow Bed to DWC in similar way.



Thanks for the info.

How are the extra buckets plumbed? Do they have a syphon or do they just drain constantly?

Instead of adding buckets, do you think adding one or more gutters with media filled pots would be a good idea?

This way it would save on weight and also cost of media.

something like this:
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PostPosted: Apr 17th, '16, 19:43 
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Or you could try a simple blue barrel system. 1 barrel for a fish tank and 1 cut in half for grow beds. There are quite a few threads on here about balcony systems if you use the search function.

Glad to see you are utilising the small space you have available and good luck with it


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PostPosted: Apr 19th, '16, 19:44 
400 liters/105 gallons could be a problem for the fish with F&D. Meaning a great percentage of the water is out in the beds waiting to come back. Depending on the GBs, it could drain that tank dry. DWC, gutters or flood should work better for your fish. Or add a sump large enough to hold all the pumped out water for F&D.


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PostPosted: Apr 20th, '16, 19:38 
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@Deuem

I suspect your numbers are out Deuem.

I have 5 of them (2 like shown and others vary 700-800 Litres using custom made tanks and 100-200L tubs).
The ones in pic are BYAP designs (as in EB Joel) that were all originally intended as patio/balcony/small space specific commercial ready-to-go timer F&D systems (but can be modified to use any F&D or CF).

So duplicating something similar with whatever Pinky has at hand will be fine.

I run them all under F&D no problem, though admittedly I dont fully drain but that is a preference thing to always keep some water in the GB all the time but still have regular turnover.

@Pinky
>> Instead of adding buckets, do you think adding one or more gutters with media filled pots would be a good idea?

yep that is fine. You just have to work your volumes. If you are seeing large volume fluctuations then hold a bit more water in your troughs or GB.

I have a similar Mark-II where I have media pots (with clay) inside a rectangular planter (just water) to make it easy to take in and out without pulling pipes apart all the time. The rectangular planter handles all the water level control and drain cycle (timer system)

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PostPosted: Apr 20th, '16, 20:48 
I guess it all depends on how far down you want to bring the fish tank water. By the looks of the OP it was stated a 400L Ft would be used. And by the looks of what is posted maybe 200 L GB(s).

If I use your numbers of 60/40 then each 200L GB might consume 80L of water on a fill. OK, 400 L would run dry at 5 GBs. More then needed but will drain the FT dry. If it was a sump, then OK.

So the decision is how much water does anyone feel comfortable changing out in just a FT all the time. I happen to like 10% which would give 40 liters or a 100L GB.

IMO you could do more F&D GBs if you use tech and fill and drain one and then on to the next one. Just rotate thru them. What do they call that? A spider valve?

With a NFT ( Gutter system ) if you have a fixed height exit so it holds water then you can add as many of them as you want. It is additional water out in the loop. Same with DWC or constant flood. The only time to worry with them is if you drain them to the FT. Since a 400 L Ft could then have 800L of water in the system, one has to drain them to a drain or you get a flood.

On the gutters, The only problem I have seen or read about is if and when the roots get to large they can clog up the pipe and force the water out and over the holes or edge. So I would say that DWC should be safer for an overflow root problem. In my new vertical design still on paper I have it hanging right over the return tank and even if one section of pipe fails it should overfill to the tank below. (fingers crossed) Looking at your balcony I can see why you want to go with NFT ( gutters ) It is an easy mount up and off and running. My balcony railing is also talking to me every time I look at it for the reason. I even made a single run prototype up that is waiting its turn.

Are you going to buy starters or go with seeds? What type of fish are you planning on? What type of plants?


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PostPosted: Apr 21st, '16, 11:38 
@ Darren, Where are my numbers out?

The only real question with F&D if one has no sump is how much of the FT water is one willing to pump out and then wait for. IMO 10% should be a good number or get a sump with a spider valve or other tech.


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PostPosted: Apr 23rd, '16, 15:12 
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the ones directly above are fine but may have to be more practical about the application.
>> 400 L would run dry at 5 GBs - never going to be going there for various established AP reasons plus the size of the patio pictured.
similarly a sump being needed for that type of system is really very inefficient use of space and waste of a production input.
The comment about 'draining the FT' was pushing hard on the "less likely" category.

benefit from a second FT - if you can put a sump on a small patio then you can have 2 AP's - much more productive for both fish and veg perspectives.

as noted Constant flood = 0 change, irrespective of whether pump runs all the time or not.
so you just manage by witholding some residual water and for smaller 400L systems is typical to set the drain hole to be slightly higher than the base and there will be residual water so rarely to you ever get maximum loss. And anyway if you go halfway up you get a good compromise for flushing without the full change.


in case of the troughs can easily be controlled for input at opposite end to output = circulation - so very simple outcome for the OP. So holding water (as noted above will be fine either with constant flow or timer on/off).

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PostPosted: Apr 23rd, '16, 15:58 
Darren, Since Pinky was asking questions I decided to advise that it is possible to have a FT drain failure with only 5 GBs. That's all. And there is a video on YT where an English speaking person taped his balcony system. After the grand video tour the last step is where he took the top off his FT and low and behold as the camera readjusted to the low light there were 2 or 3 fish flopping around in the bottom of the 50+ gallon FT. He had pumped out over 90% of the water.

Our balcony is similar and I could fit 5 GBs out there on a table of 200L in size. I could also mount them to a wall. One thought was to hang the NTF on the outside and do buckets on the inside. I don't have to worry about dropping stuff as it appears he would. He is very high. I am one up and over a huge balcony I wish I had instead.


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PostPosted: Apr 23rd, '16, 19:49 
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Thanks everyone for your replies, and apologies for the long time to respond. China and the internet don't get along the best :support:

My balcony is just shy of 4m square, so I could potentially put a couple of 400l FT together, or use one as a sump.

dlf_perth wrote:
@Pinky
>> Instead of adding buckets, do you think adding one or more gutters with media filled pots would be a good idea?


My Idea for the media filled pots in gutter is two fold.
1. I could hang it on the outside of the balcony railing, thus not taking up any space.
2. Using media filled pots means that I can switch them around, as the direction of the sun means one side would be getting slightly less.

I do live on the 9th floor so would have to be somewhat careful with how I do that. a gutter there may block out a bit too much light getting onto the balcony for a GB.
(I need to spend tomorrow observing sun movement.

Potentially I could get three 400L tanks fitted in, two constant level FT and a return tank, but I would probably not have enough space for enough GB.

With a 400L FT what is the max GB space?
I'm thinking 2 200L GB with about 22cm media depth. Obviously I would need to time them somewhat to have one empty while one is full (probably not using extra tech to cycle between them)


I think I would start off with one 400l FT, but want to get my head around how I would be able to expand when the time comes, without having to rebuild. (read that: once my wife tastes delicious home grown lettuce and doesn't mind me adding more :D :D )


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PostPosted: Apr 23rd, '16, 21:47 
I am planning on using tie wraps to hold the net cups from falling out or over in the high winds we get. If you want to move them all the time then use twist ties like on bread.

If you place them in series then when #1 empties it will fill #2 bed. The nutrient level in tank 1 might be higher then #2 But you could plumb it to switch if you wish. A few ball valves. This could use the 80 liters of water twice.

I moved over 100% to net cups for this set of testing. Right after I killed off 100 heads of lettuce transplanting them to a larger bed. I know it is very tempting to mount them on the out side. Think about how to handle them when they get large. Will you want to bend over a 1.1m rail and reach down to grab a plant. Hate to hear that you went for a 9 story flying lesson over a head of lettuce.

For exact ratios, there are many members who could guide you better but 400 LFT should be more then enough for that small balcony. I only have 300L and the fish produce more then I can use at the moment. If your plants strip the nutrients clean, add another fish. My small test 1 ran a flood 4.5L GB off of a 2.5 L FT. I have not touched it now in weeks and the plants are still growing. When you fill your NFT, just keep track of how much extra water you had to add to the FT. If you added 100L then your system is dealing with 500 L total water.

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PostPosted: Jun 3rd, '16, 19:40 
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Ok, so over the last few weeks I've had information overload :? :?

I think I've spent too much time thinking about the system, and what I should do to the point that Ive just confused myself!

I think I'm just going to start ordering some things and build a plan I have and learn as I go beyond that.

here is a wonderfully illustrated plan of what I intend to do:

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Planning on having a 200L FT and two 100L GB media filled.

pump will be about 400l per hour and I will build 20mm Affnan siphons in each of the GB's.

If it all works out I might then add a constant flooded gutter at some stage as well.

For all you pros out there. Will this work?

I wont be stocking too densely, and will try and time my two beds so one is full while one is empty to avoid too much water loss from FT.

Another question would be what sized pvc piping would I be best using for the plumbing? Is 20mm ok? or should it be bigger?

Thanks for your help. I cant wait to get building rather than reading too much and confusing myself!!


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PostPosted: Jun 3rd, '16, 21:18 
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You can't count on timing the siphons - no matter how carefully you build them and balance the water inflow, they won't run at exactly the same rate so they'll gradually move in and out of sync. It shouldn't be a problem with your planned FT and GB sizes, though, because the water volume in each bed will only be about 40% of the total volume; even if they're both full at the same time your FT will only be down about 80L. :thumbleft: Just make sure you keep an eye on the water level and don't let it get too low from evaporation etc!

For a small system like you're planning I think 20 or 25mm pipe from the pump to the GBs should be OK, but if someone more experienced disagrees I'm happy to be corrected. :-P If your GBs aren't directly above the FT and siphoning straight back into it, though, all the return piping should be significantly bigger. (Anything that's flowing under gravity needs plenty of space to keep up with what's flowing under pressure.)

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