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PostPosted: May 11th, '09, 23:09 
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Our veggie garden has been a feature of the backyard for about a year now. My wife and I like to sit on the back verandah at sunset and look out over the changing scene.
This is the way the garden used to look.

Attachment:
File comment: This is the way the garden used to look.
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Attachment:
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One day I turned the hose off at the nozzle and it burst in the veggie garden. All kinds of birds were attracted to the running water. This sight got me thinking about setting up a little pool with a fountain in the middle.

We rent a cottage at the back of a farm in Bakers Hill in Western Australia and there is a lot of scrap lying around. I noticed a rusted out old tank in the bush and thought that would be ideal for the walls of a pond. The watergarden brochures said that 40cm would be fine for the depth of the pool. Unfortunately I cut the 110cm tank walls down to 50cms. I now know that the whole tank would have been a perfect size exactly as it was.

Here is the start of the hole in the middle of the herb patch.

Attachment:
File comment: Start of hole for tank.
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PostPosted: May 11th, '09, 23:30 
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Attachment:
File comment: The tank in place.
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The tank was placed around the hole and the rest was dug out from inside.
Then the walls were made to hold the soil. This time I used corrugated iron instead of planks to stop water escaping through the cracks in the boards. The idea was that the soil around the tanks would help to stabilize the temperature of the water, whilst also providing garden space for some more herbs.


Attachment:
File comment: What it might look like.
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We couldn’t wait to play “Water Gardens” so we moved the furniture around to see what it might look like.


Attachment:
File comment: Timber seating.
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Then the iron was clad with boards, purely to look good from our back verandah and to provide seating so that we could sit and watch the fish from the side of the pool.

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Graham

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PostPosted: May 11th, '09, 23:43 
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Attachment:
File comment: Seating.
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Attachment:
File comment: Time to start filling the pool.
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Time to start filling the pool. The liner was held in place temporarily with clamps which were later replaced with black irrigation piping cut along the middle and slotted over the edge.

Attachment:
File comment: Full at last.
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I couldn’t wait to fill the pool with water which will be such a luxury in the heat.

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Graham

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PostPosted: May 12th, '09, 00:01 
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Attachment:
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Attachment:
File comment: Pool with small fountain pump.
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Attachment:
File comment: My favourite spot.
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This is my favourite spot to sit and watch the fish because it is shaded.

The idea was to put in a couple of fish, probably goldfish, into the pool and get a fountain going.
That week we were babysitting our grand daughter and I showed Mike (Burnsy on this forum) some photos of the water feature we had started to build. He was running late for his class and as he ran out the door he threw a book and a DVD at me saying that I had to look at them. Of course it was the material from Backyard Aquaponics. I read the book from cover to cover and watched the DVD a number of times before Mike got back home. My wife and I went to look at the BYAP shop that afternoon.

I had seen aquaponics working before at a friend’s place in Kellerberrin. But I kinda dismissed the idea because I thought that there was no way that I could afford it. Burnsy showed me the thread of outbackozzie in Kalgoorlie using a bath and all of a sudden I thought that this was something that I might be able to do after all!

My goals for an aquaponics system were to -

- Design a system that was aesthetically pleasing. I still wanted to be able to sit on the back verandah at sunset with a bourbon and coke and enjoy the view.

- Wherever possible, use recycled materials. This is code for get stuff for free from wherever I could.

- Design it so that if we had to move from our rented accommodation, most of the structure could be moved with us.

- Maximize the use of water contained in the system. This goes without saying, I know, but it would be nice to be able to use any water thrown out in water changes, on the garden for example.

- We wanted a variety of fish. Koi, Goldfish, Trout, Barramundi and Bream would be nice. With perhaps some Redfin Perch if I could get hold of any.

The existing garden had to be totally rebuilt to incorporate an aquaponics setup and allow room for fish ponds and growbeds. This was also an opportunity to widen paths so that I had better access than before.

The scrap yard on the farm also contained lots of corrugated iron so I cut these to provide raised beds for the new vegetable garden. I use a six stage rotation system so that crops are not replanted into the same ground for another 6 years. In addition to this I have one plot for herbs and another for perennial vegetables.

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Graham

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PostPosted: May 12th, '09, 00:25 
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When I showed the landlord what I had done and told him about my ideas for an aquaponics system he was so excited he offered me an old cast iron bath and a 4 metre long water trough! I was off and running!

Since then I have been given another two baths, a 1000 litre plastic tank in a frame (the kind that farmers use for firefighting), two half baths (maybe they were shower stalls), one fiberglass shower recess, a hydroponics doodad with holes along its length and two half spheres.
Attachment:
File comment: Construction Site?
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The backyard was beginning to look like a construction site.

Unfortunately, the clay balls were way too expensive for me so I opted for some free bluemetal. (Rubs itchy spot along nose.)
Attachment:
File comment: Wormfarm used to wash bluemetal.
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I used a worm farm frame to wash the bluemetal

Attachment:
File comment: Washing bluemetal in garden bed.
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The worm farm segments could be stood over the garden so that no water was lost in the washing process.

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Graham

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PostPosted: May 12th, '09, 00:45 
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Then it occurred to me that I could get the system started immediately by creating a bio filter using the worm farm.
Attachment:
File comment: Biofilter made from wormfarm.
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It could sit on the edge of the pool with no need for any plumbing. Burnsy had given me a small fountain pump and I used that to recirculate the water through the bio filter. The advantage of using the segments from the worm farm is that the bottoms have slots in them so that the water flows straight through and because of their modular nature they can be lifted by one person and stacked to any height. They can also contain different material in each section if needed. For example I also added a section with shell grit.

Burnsy had 100 trout on order for his school and he offered to add some for me if I wanted. Did I? I asked for 20. Start small and hopefully make small mistakes early. Right? They were due for delivery on the 1st of May.

Joel was at Garden Show until the 22nd April so I couldn’t get a test kit. Every kit I saw in an aquarium shop seemed way too expensive so I ordered one over the internet from Queensland.

We had one old goldfish in a small aquarium and I moved him into the large pond with 8 koi. Burnsy gave me some reeds from his creek and I put them into the pond. Bloody hell, couldn’t see a thing! The clay muddied up the water and it wouldn’t settle. Not even with “Aqua Clear”. You can see the muddiness of the water in the previous picture.

So I put the goldfish and the koi into large buckets (the water was being aerated by the fountain pump) while I completely emptied the pool and let it condition in the sun for a few days. I knew that koi could jump and so I made sure the water level was a good way below the rim of the bucket. But the koi could jump further than I imagined and five were on the lawn the next morning. Bugger!

The water was clear but I had no fish to look at. I wanted to get the system going before the trout arrived so I bought 20 tiny goldfish and fantails plus 10 marron.

After reading a number of the threads on members systems it became clear that I would want to expand at some time so I bought a 12,000 litre an hour dirty water pond pump and set this up running through the bio filter with starter bacteria added to the filter.


Attachment:
File comment: Plumbing for biofilter.
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The idea of the pipes running out the back was to allow for future expansion behind the pool.

Attachment:
File comment: Spray from pump.
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The aeration into the pool was great!

Regards
Graham

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PostPosted: May 12th, '09, 08:12 
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The trout were due very soon and I decided to leave the goldfish in the front pond and keep the trout in the 1,000 litre tank in the short term until I could finish digging a larger in ground 5,000 tank in the centre of the garden.
Attachment:
File comment: Biofilter on top of 1,000 litre tank.
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aa-DSCN8583sm.jpg [ 98.15 KiB | Viewed 1176 times ]

I placed the large pump and the 40 trout into the 1,000 litre tank and set up the biofilter on top of the frame. The temperature gauge was one I used in the Waeco fridge in the camper bus. Conveniently, it gives water temperature and ambient temperature.
Attachment:
File comment: Small bath on top of tank.
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The worm farm biofilter was then replaced by the small bath which was about three times bigger. The bluemetal from the worm farm bio filter was used and topped up with more washed bluemetal.
The blue tarp is to protect the tank from ultra violet rays until I can paint the tank with Sola Guard . Netting is draped across the top to stop fish from jumping out.
I had a couple of instances where the joins flew apart when I tried to adjust a tap. 12,000 litres an hour creates a fair bit of pressure and I got drenched each time. Notice the twine holding the plumbing together? Fast learner me. :wink: Nothing is glued because this will all change once the 5,000 litre tank is finished.
Attachment:
File comment: Pretty to look at? Not yet.
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So much for an aesthetically pleasing system eh? But it is temporary until the larger tank is dug.

Regards
Graham

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PostPosted: May 12th, '09, 08:22 
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Oh yeah, go've got it bad Graham! :lol:
Looks like you are having a lot of fun. Love the pictures and look forward to watching the progress
Faye
I noticed that 20 trout turned into 40 :shock: rather quickly.

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PostPosted: May 12th, '09, 08:38 
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This system is self contained and the other pond is aerated by the smaller pump for the time being. I am having trouble finding a connector for the large thread on the 1,000 litre tank which will enable me to connect to 50ml PVC piping. Once I find one, I will then be able to connect it all up together.
Attachment:
File comment: Baths with marron and conditioned water.
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I was losing one goldfish a day to wounds from the marron so I moved the marron into one of the large 200 litre baths. The boards over the pond and the bath provide shade for the fish and marron until I can erect some shade cloth.
The other bath (together with buckets of water) is used to condition water ready for water changes.
Attachment:
File comment: Mizuna transplanted from garden.
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Seeds have been sprinkled onto the growbed and I have transplanted some mizuna, celery and spinach from the garden.
Attachment:
File comment: Little planting doodad for bluemetal.
aa-DSCN8638sm.jpg
aa-DSCN8638sm.jpg [ 59.09 KiB | Viewed 1156 times ]

This is a 2 litre milk bottle with the bottom and top cut out. It enables me to create a planting space in the growbed by removing bluemetal from the centre. This leaves a space for placing the seedling. A handful of bluemetal locates the plant in the hole and then the carton can be lifted and the bluemetal falls into the hole surrounding the roots.

Regards
Graham

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PostPosted: May 12th, '09, 08:45 
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faye wrote:
Oh yeah, go've got it bad Graham! :lol:
Looks like you are having a lot of fun. Love the pictures and look forward to watching the progress
Faye
I noticed that 20 trout turned into 40 :shock: rather quickly.


Hi Faye.
When I met you that day at BYAP I had no idea you were such a video star! And winner of competitions! Congratulations for that. :)
I forgot to mention how the number of trout doubled. As the time approached for the delivery, I was starting to feel fairly confident in the system. I asked Burnsy to order 20 more and he and my daughter offered to buy them as my June birthday present. I tried to increase the order to 100 but that didn't work. LOL.
My system isn't quite cycling as yet. Once I have worked out how to do a graph I'll post the readings for the last couple of weeks.

Regards
Graham

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PostPosted: May 12th, '09, 09:11 
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Seriously, this cant be healthy.
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Way to go Graham.... welcome to the world of AP.... :cheers:

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PostPosted: May 12th, '09, 09:24 
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RupertofOZ wrote:
Way to go Graham.... welcome to the world of AP.... :cheers:


Thanks very much Rupert. :)
It's a pretty all consuming world isn't it?

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PostPosted: May 12th, '09, 13:03 
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Looks great Graham, looks like there is plenty of work to do to get it all up and running as per your grand plan - maybe I better not visit for a while :lol:

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PostPosted: May 12th, '09, 14:34 
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Burnsy wrote:
Looks great Graham, looks like there is plenty of work to do to get it all up and running as per your grand plan - maybe I better not visit for a while :lol:

LOL. Yeah right Mike! No need to bring a shovel, we've got plenty here already. Mind you, a bobcat or two might help. :)
You know what they said in that fabulous ad "It might not happen overnight, but it will happen".

Regards
Graham
PS The other day you asked about some photos of fish. Here are a few.
Attachment:
File comment: Frenzy
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Attachment:
File comment: Maybe there's some food up here, outa the water!
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Attachment:
File comment: Silhouettes.
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PostPosted: May 12th, '09, 17:05 
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bluewindfisher wrote:
No need to bring a shovel, we've got plenty here already. Mind you, a bobcat or two might help. :)


Sorry sold it, wish I still had it but it tipped the toys balance the wrong way :shock: . Wouldn't mind Rob's excavator for another weekend again though :D

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