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PostPosted: Sep 4th, '17, 06:07 
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Made progress on the prototype NFT/Flood and Drain Hybrid this weekend.

I decided to make the prototype very small for several reasons.
1. I am going to run it dirty with the first set of plants. I would rather kill less plants than more. If it does not work running dirty then I have left room to add a small swirl filter later on.
2. I was able to place it within the confines of my current system. When I close it up for Winter(soon) I will be able to keep the tests going year round.
3. My small system is... small. I already have 2 50gallon beds on it and no dedicated sump tank. I do not want the water level going up and down to much during each cycle.
4. If the whole thing is a failure... then when I am done I will have a mini NFT system. I will remove the external Bell Syphon and put in a swirl filter. So I made it nice. It is going to stay no matter what! :headbang:


So for now I am done with the wood work. Got all hole cut and fittings sealed. Letting it cure for a day or two before hooking up the final plumbing.

As an added bonus this setup will shade the fish further... and I can potentially use the space below this to grow out small plants for transplant. There are hidden compartments down below to get the seed started in the dark.

Over the next few weeks I want to do a 1/3 water change a few times to get the salt I added out of my system. I hear strawberries don't like salt. Time to break out the 55gallon drum and fill her up.

As you can see in the pics the system will be suspended in the overhead of my system.

There is a built-in mild downward slope within the pipes to assist with the water dumping at max speed/flushing the pipe each cycle.

Marty


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PostPosted: Sep 5th, '17, 22:46 
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wow... 4x4 and 4x6 timbers... sexy! I guess there is a new way to make room for more growing space... I hadn't considered hanging them from the ceiling of my greenhouse! It might make harvesting a bit interesting though, already bad that I have to keep a 6 ft step ladder in my greenhouse to reach the tomato plants (and even then I'm standing near the top of the ladder!)

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My greenhouse / aquaponics adventure
My DIY PVC Hoop House


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PostPosted: Sep 6th, '17, 05:08 
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rininger85 wrote:
wow... 4x4 and 4x6 timbers... sexy! I guess there is a new way to make room for more growing space... I hadn't considered hanging them from the ceiling of my greenhouse! It might make harvesting a bit interesting though, already bad that I have to keep a 6 ft step ladder in my greenhouse to reach the tomato plants (and even then I'm standing near the top of the ladder!)



Thanks!

And.... I am jealous of your tomatoes! They sound great.


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PostPosted: Sep 10th, '17, 08:07 
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Prototype Complete Today!

Today I had the time to plumb everything in and tune the Bell Syphon. For some reason (I suspect height) the Bell starts almost instantly like my other ones and Stops almost instantly as well (Unlike Other Ones). I may be getting better at building Bells... through luck. lol

The prototype is very small and cycles about every 3 minutes or so. So I will not be able to test and see if this style of growing is good for reducing temps. when compared to NFT systems. However, I WILL be able to test and see if this is going to be able to run dirty water through it. As in water strait from the fish tank. Yep. All to help me to better design the next version.

If the plants don't like it I will add a swirl filter to reduce large solids.... and adapt further from there if required. Plants in the soil and in gravel flood/drain beds do fine with dirty roots due to the abundant oxygen. So I hypothesize that they will do fine with dirty water in this system as well since air will be in abundance in this system(every 3 minutes in this one). I will build a larger system for testing as soon as I figure this one out.

This prototype will have it's own pump(in another basket/cage) so I can turn it off whenever I need to make changes. The syphon is very high above the tank and so YES I did make a Venturi. As in I just used a 1" T fitting with a short riser. Then made a long down pipe that exits below the water's surface. OMG this style of Venturi is LOUD! I realized how loud when my daughter was yelling and I could barely hear her!!! lol So...

I made a muffler as well. I still have a pile of parts from my old system. What I did was slip on a 1" Ball valve North of the T fitting and closed it most of the way... then slid on a 1" Cap with holes drilled in it on top of that. Now the thing is actually much quieter than my other normal Bells from the beds! I may copy this to make the whole system quite. I can't even here that gurgle/burp when the syphon breaks any more.

Painted the bucket black.

Adjusted the stan pipe in the Bell syphon to make sure that the water touches the bottom of every net cup in the pipes. Just touches about 1/8" on one end and half way up the cups on the other end. This will help with testing as well.

Marty


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PostPosted: Sep 11th, '17, 01:47 
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Prototype Cycle Time Tested

I just ran a stop watch on my phone for 2 cycles. From syphon break to syphon break. Both were at 2 minutes 4 seconds approximately.

So the sketchup drawing I drew with 4 pipes @ 8 feet in length (32 feet worth) would take around 8 minutes and 16 seconds to cycle.

If you were to have a 64ft section of pipe (or 8 pipes @ 8ft in length) the cycle time would be around 16 minutes and 32 seconds to cycle.

I can't wait to do some testing on longer lengths to see the effects. The water rise and fall will be more gentler the more pipes you add per Bell Syphon.

The amount of debris entering the system will be spread out more between plants as well. So they may like that more.

Got some dino kale (lacinato kale), butter crunch lettuce, and a strawberry plant from the store yesterday. Getting some of the salt out of the water over the next few weeks before adding strawberries. Adding lettuce and kale today. This type of kale gets massive so most is going into the gravel bed and about 02 plants going up top out of curiosity/testing.


Marty


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PostPosted: Sep 15th, '17, 01:58 
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4 Day Update....

The lettuce and kale plants have now started to perk up and get over the transplant shock. They have started putting on new growth. The strawberries are still looking sad during the hot/sunny part of the day.

I took the time to pull up some of the plants and take a quick look at their roots.

Lettuce - Lots of new root growth. I am seeing breather roots all the way to the base point in the pipe. The only roots that remain strictly feeder roots are the ones that are touching the constant water at the base of the pipe. You can see in the pic below that the new root growth is looking surprisingly clean (for now). The old dirty roots are pretty visible. If lettuce only lives for 4 weeks before harvest it may be ok in this system(time will tell).

Kale - Not as much new root growth as the lettuce. It still is putting on some good growth for feeder roots though. For breather roots it is behaving differently. There is a fine mat of hairy roots right where the plant touches the water. There is some Extremely Fine roots growing up out of the water level. So the humid air within the pipe seems to be conducive for good air root growth even out of the water. Kale is much longer lived than lettuce. It will be interesting to see how it performs in the long run.

Strawberries - Roots are looking sad. They will likely not survive. Just now starting to put on some new root growth. However, the old root growth is turning brown. I know strawberries are prone to root problems. So they may not do well in this system. Especially if stuck in there for several years since that is their life expectancy. There ended up being a hidden mini crown next to the single plant I bought. I ripped off most of it's roots accidentally. Maybe it will be the one most likely to adapt to the new environment if it survives.


Marty


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File comment: Butter Crunch Lettuce. See the old core of dirty roots. All the white is the new growth in 4 days!
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PostPosted: Sep 16th, '17, 03:17 
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Weekly pic/update:


Everything in the system seems to be doing great now. Getting better every day as it matures. Starting to work down the amount of salt in the water. I am assuming that less salt in the water = easier nutrient uptake by the plants.

Been planting out winter crops in the open spaces and understory of the remaining bean plants. From seed(directly into the system) are lettuce, dwarf blue kale, and Swiss chard. From the store I planted some lacinato/dino kale.

The basil plant that I split up into 5 plants about a month ago(maybe to lazy to look at prior posts lol) has really started to take off. I have harvested large amounts of it and still each plant is bigger than the combined 5 were originally. The ones in the clay balls finished falling over in the reminant hurricane winds. They have decided they like that and are now bushing up from along the stem. Leaves on all are large and luscious.

No more caterpillar issues since spraying on the BT bacteria. I like that stuff.

Prototype hybrid NFT pipes are chugging along and doing well so far.

Marty


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PostPosted: Sep 19th, '17, 05:56 
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YouTube Video!!!


You can see the system in the following YouTube video. I just put it out today. Going to start a video tutorial/how to.

https://youtu.be/dZAOXeD_i7E


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PostPosted: Sep 24th, '17, 20:56 
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Update Time....


I have been just adding water once a week, feeding the fish, and dropping in new seeds. I am slowly hacking back on what has now turned into Basil Bush x 5. The Basil plants really took off and are now blocking the light on my smaller plants. The Basil in the heavy river rock has remained erect and is not too bad. The basil in the clay pebbles fell the rest of the way over in the leftover hurricane winds a few weeks back. So I am just simply cutting off the major portion of the plants and leaving the new erect growth at the base of the plants to turn into new bushes in a few weeks time. They fell on top of lettuce and kale seedlings.

The NFT hybrid prototype has been performing exceptionally well. There has been some crazy growth now on day 14 from planting. The roots do have a little dirt on them but the roots look extremely healthy and so do the plants. The lettuce may be starting to bolt. I don't know how old the store bought seedlings were when I got them. I have a second batch I started myself that will be ready to go in there in about a week or two.

Even the strawberries are doing great to my surprise. Even the larger plants seems to be shedding the old mushy brown roots and has put on a ton of new fresh growth. The foliage has remained green and is just now starting to put on leaves.


Marty


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PostPosted: Sep 28th, '17, 05:32 
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I spent some time today figuring out what 3 types of koi we have in the system.


Gin Rin Kohaku - Gin Rin basically means sparkly scales. This fish looks like it is covered in diamonds in the sun/nice fishing lure. Name is Sparkles/son's fish.

Hi Utsuri - At a young age the orange/red colors are very faded but darken as they get older. Just very light orange for now with pitch black vertical stripes. Very hard to see in the tank. Name is Camelia(for chameleon)/daughter's fish.

Lemon Hariwake Butterfly Koi - Pearl/metallic white with yellow patches along side. Some Gin Rin scales but nothing like the Kohaku my son has.

Looking up the prices on the fish tells me that in just a few years when I sell them to move... they will more than pay for the system, power, feed, etc. So... if you wish to make your aquaponics system have zero costs for operation... selling a koi every now and then can be very lucrative!

For instance I just did a quick search and saw some 10 - 24 inch Gin Rin Kohaku for $1,400 to $15,000. They are certified though. So it would be a industry that would have to be learned.


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PostPosted: Oct 6th, '17, 01:53 
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Update:


Just did another full spectrum API water test.
PH still at 6.8 to 7.0 - No adjustment required
Ammonia - 0 ppm
Nitrite - 0 ppm
Nitrate - 40-80ppm still - Took a lot longer to turn dark which tells me it is coming down as the plants get bigger.



APEX Predator for Aquaponics??? They are starting to show up!!! :thumbright:

So far I have seen many spiders, assassin bugs, wasp, and now a lizard.


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PostPosted: Oct 10th, '17, 21:29 
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Hurricane Nate hit the system!


I lost a lot of the basil but went ahead and harvested them/dried it. Pretty much every plant in the system got torn a little.

It survived a weak hurricane broad side!


Marty


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PostPosted: Oct 19th, '17, 01:30 
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Just made a monstrously long video on YouTube on how I built my Bell Syphon.

The first ten minutes is a video update on the plants!!! If you are interested.

https://youtu.be/2C4pm_CH418


Since the video I have planted out 28 strawberry crowns (yesterday). Ordered 25 and got 28.

Marty


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PostPosted: Nov 15th, '17, 03:53 
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Update:


The weather is cooling down dramatically now. The nights are often in the 40s F and the days in the 60s and 70s F. The water in the system has cooled dramatically as well. At times the fish don't feed anymore and at times they warm up and feed heavily again.

I planted a ring of strawberry crowns around the white rock bed, partially around the clay pebble bed, and a few in the hybrid/prototype/NFT system.

The cool weather has drained the gas out of the pest pressure. So that is gone now. Thank Goodness!

Tested the water and still no PH adjustment required. All plants seem happy... that are getting enough sunlight.

All is well. Still debating on wither or not to close the system up and turn it into a greenhouse. Another option is to just throw up some frost protection and call it good. That would protect from overheating and all it to breath well in my humid environment.

I set my container plants on the South Side (micro climate)

Making a video update right now. Going to post it soon to my YouTube channel. Let me know if there is a video you would like me to do. I will do it!!!


Marty

YouTube link for the Strawberries... There is a Photo of the lettuce, kale, and Swiss Chard at the beginning of the video. I tried to attach it to this message but it is too large.
https://youtu.be/Nre4oxl-DWI


First harvest off of the lettuce, kale (2 types), and chard...


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