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 Post subject: First build
PostPosted: Jan 29th, '14, 14:31 
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I've been reading about aquaponics for about a year and when I couldn't take it anymore I remembered I had an old fish tank at my mother-in-law's, so I walked next door and carried it home. Now I have a fully functioning AP setup (as in the tank holds water and the syphon removes water from the GB).

The FT is 30 gallons, based on measurements and the grow bed is a 27 gallon tote. I filled the GB to just about 12 inches deep with lava rocks. I'm using a flood and drain type setup with a bell syphon draining the GB. I was able to get the entire flood and drain cycle to take a little over ten minutes, so I should be cycling the entire FT volume twice per hour. I'm not sure if that will be optimal or not, I will need some fish and plants before I have any information about the effectiveness of that cycle time.

I would love to put some edible fish in this tank, but don't think it's big enough. I am planning on starting the cycling process in a few days once the temp has stabilized. I plan on adding a single goldfish and going from there. I think 3-4 goldfish will be the max. I have read they are "dirty" fish, so hopefully they will give me enough nutrients to get something growing over the winter.

I hope this leads to a three IBC tote setup that will consist of a FT, ST, and 3 GB's. I don't have room for a greenhouse, so I'm not sure what I would do over the winter. I don't really want to start over every year, but that may be my only option. Time will tell, right now I'm ready to put a fish in this tank and get things growing... any tips on starting from seed?


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 Post subject: Re: First build
PostPosted: Jan 30th, '14, 10:41 
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Hey to another North Carolinian :wave1:

We all started somewhere, and, welcome to the addiction.

poptopjr wrote:
right now I'm ready to put a fish in this tank and get things growing... any tips on starting from seed?


Everyone has an opinion on this. Some species like beets, beans, squash, melons, radishes, carrots etc I direct sew in the bed and thin like in the soil. Others like peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, fall and winter plants I like to use starts... it is an order thing for me.

I also wouldn't worry about winter. I currently have 2-3" of ice on top of my FTs, my pumps are off/pipes have ice dams, the fish are native species and are fine, the beds are frozen in snow, and the collards, kale, early cabbage, leeks and onions will shrug it off like the last few hard freezes this winter.

The bacteria do go dormant, and many will have died in this freeze, but they are hardy. Its never a "Total" recycle in the spring.

A good crop rotation plan is essential in my opinion.


J.B.


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 Post subject: Re: First build
PostPosted: Jan 30th, '14, 12:16 
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Welcome, i agree with j.b. about the addiction. I have expanded/improved my system 3 times and i cant wait for another upgrade. I dont know if i have to many but i have 9 goldfish and 3 koi in my 20 gallon tank. They all seem happy and playful.

Sent from my Transformer Prime TF201 using Tapatalk


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 Post subject: Re: First build
PostPosted: Jan 30th, '14, 14:22 
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Thanks for the welcome. It's exciting to have my first system up and running.

Quote:
The bacteria do go dormant, and many will have died in this freeze, but they are hardy]


If the bacteria goes dormant won't that effect the both the conversion to food for the plants and the cleaning of the water for the fish? Catfish are very high on my list of fish to keep, so I am sure they can survive the temp of the water, but will it be clean enough without the bacteria? Hey J.B. what type of fish are you keeping?

Update to system:

I made an adjustment to the down pipe that has taken the system from a 10 minute cycle to a cycle that takes just over 14 minutes. I will still cycle the entire capacity in under an hour, but the water will be in the GB longer; I think that is a good thing. The old down pipe was about 4 inches with an elbow at the bottom. I added a 6 inch section and a 45. It's funny how such a small change can make such a big difference.


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 Post subject: Re: First build
PostPosted: Jan 30th, '14, 22:03 
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poptopjr wrote:
If the bacteria goes dormant won't that affect the both the conversion to food for the plants and the cleaning of the water for the fish? Catfish are very high on my list of fish to keep, so I am sure they can survive the temp of the water, but will it be clean enough without the bacteria? Hey J.B. what type of fish are you keeping?.


I have Sunfish, some wild shiners I caught, a white crappie or two, and NC native Flat Bullheads. I had two American eels, but those slimy delicious morsels escaped before I could eat them. I also keep a few crayfish in the sump as well. A real eclectic mix.

Yes, bacteria dormancy/die-off does affect the nitrification of wastes, however, fish activity and feeding also decreases drastically in the cold so they are not excreting very much waste at all. As an example, I feed every 7-10 days if the water temp is consistently below 40F. At about 50F when the fish [and bacteria] are more active every 3-5 days. My highest ammonia spike this last year was a few weeks ago at .25ppm... I stopped feeding, and a heavy rain changed over a lot of the water in the system.

I have noticed in the roller coaster of NC weather that the warm weeks (50 and above) do produce growth in the plants, albiet slowly. The hard freeze and cold weeks, everything goes on hold.

Starting new plants in winter is iffy. I have some struggling beets and chard to prove that. Established hardy greens (Collards, Broccoli, Kale, some cabbages), and smaller onion species (Green, Garlic, and Leeks) have been growing though.

Oh, The beds are only half planted as well so a select number get the limited resources available in winter... and it leaves me space for spring green plantings!

Its all trial and error. I personally think that, given the weather in NC, my limited understanding of AP and soil gardening, that I can have something growing outdoors/unprotected in AP all year, just like my soil gardens :cheers:

J.B.


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 Post subject: Re: First build
PostPosted: Jan 30th, '14, 23:50 
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tonyn79 wrote:
I dont know if i have to many but i have 9 goldfish and 3 koi in my 20 gallon tank. They all seem happy and playful.


tonyn, based on typical freshwater aquarium standards that is to much for a 20 gallon tank, but one thing I noticed in the research/learning phase is that people seem to be able to stock tanks in much higher densities than typical aquarium standards.

One of the guides for fish density that I read was 1 pound of mature fish per 5 gallons of water. That would suggest I could have 5-6 Tilapia in my 30 gallon tank. I wouldn't put that many large fish in this tank, but that ratio suggests I should be able to support a lot of goldfish.

I'm going to start with one to get things cycled and plan on working up to about 5 or 6 and going from there.

Thanks for sharing your tank contents tonyn, it is reassuring to see how many fish you can have in an indoor system.

Keith


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 Post subject: Re: First build
PostPosted: Jan 31st, '14, 01:10 
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Stock to the filtration capacity in your system. Yes you do need water but if the filtration can't handle the amount of fish then some or all will of them will die.

http://www.backyardaquaponics.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=6646

Hope this helps.


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 Post subject: Slowly coming along...
PostPosted: Feb 9th, '14, 12:43 
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I dropped some fairly old Spinach seed in the grow bed just to see what would happen...

Baby girl and I did a little "science experiment", we put some Broccoli in a paper towel and a plastic bag, all of them sprouted and we transplanted them today.


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File comment: One of the five Broccoli transplants from today.
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File comment: sprouted in a paper towell
seeds from the paper towell.jpg
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File comment: About two weeks after dropping it in the grow bed.
spinach seed dropped in the grow bed.jpg
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