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PostPosted: Dec 23rd, '10, 01:57 
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Hello all, I have a couple of 8' x 4' raft tanks, some flood and drain beds and a few fish tanks all incorporated into a single system. Ive had it up and running for a while now but I figured I would post up some pictures as im new to the site. I heard somewhere you guys like pictures :D

Fish: I have mostly Tilapia but I also have some large mouth Bass, Blue gill, Crappi and Koi.
Tiny Fingerlings
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A couple months later
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Captain Jack, king of Tilapia (at my house at least)
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Lettuce Raft:
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Little Ceaser Lettuce:
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Red Variety:
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Lettuce Harvest:
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Swiss Chard:
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Kohl Rabbi-
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Genovese Basil:
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Daikon Radish:
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Red Radish:
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Crookneck Squash
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Spaghetti Squash
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Nasturtium:
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Cukes:
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Tomatoes:
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Full Trough:
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Cukes, cantalopues and Spaghetti Squash in flood and drain beds:
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Roots:
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Empty Trough:
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PostPosted: Dec 23rd, '10, 03:08 
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Welcome to the forum Ryan. I have a couple of questions for you regarding your raft setup.

1. What are you using for liner.
2. What is that raft container made from (looks great)? Any chance you have a few construction pics and a parts list :lol: .
3. Are you filtering the water into the raft bed and if so what method are you using?


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PostPosted: Dec 23rd, '10, 04:38 
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Hello :)

I am not using a liner, the bed is constructed of 2" x 4" Pine, plywood and fish safe epoxy paint.
Here is a quick run down of the build process of my system. I typed this up a while ago but the links should all still work. It's kinda long, sorry to throw all of this at you guys at once but uhh....here it goes!

You can see some of my other stuff in the back ground. The tall thing is a stand with a 4' x 2' plastic trough in it. I built it high so that I can use gravity to drain the water and lead it to other tanks, then finally back into the fish culture tank. The blue rubbermaid containers will be a little lower and filled with perlite. I am using deep tanks so that I can grow root crops like Carrots, Potatoes, Radishes and whatever else I feel like. Here are a few pics of the construction of those vats:

Before- Parts needed are a 1" bulkhead(allows you to plumb through the wall of a tank, basically a plactic bolt, nut and gasket), strainer, holesaw, drill, threaded(MNPT) x slip 1" PVC male adapter. They sell bulkheads just like PVC fittings, with either a slip or threaded connection. I use threaded b/c bulkheads are a little pricey(small ones arent bad) and you can re-use them if you thread a PVC adapter into it where if you glue the PVC directly to the bulkhead, you can't reuse it.
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After I cut the hole and installed the bulkhead/strainer assembly:
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Bottom View- I threaded the PVC adapter into the bulkhead and now its ready to be glued up when I get the stand and everything else ready.
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Ive got a couple hundred Tilapia and about 7 koi divided up between the culture tank and another tank I have set up in my garage. I set up the garage tank b/c Tilapia cant handle cold temps. Im in Fl but it still dips down into the 40's and since I don't have anything out there to heat the water(or a greenhouse to keep temps within an acceptable range), im planning on over wintering the tilapia in my garage and putting the Koi(Who do great in cold temps) out back to keep everything going.
Garage tank:
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A few more pictures of the build:

Framing up the side walls for one of my 8' x 4' tanks(I built 2 total).
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Almost finished frame(Still needs bottom braces) for an 8' x 4' tank.
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With bottom braces:
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I decided to stain everything so it lasts longer and looks a little better on my back porch:
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The other stands im using for the rubbermaid containers and the 2 plastic trays:
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I cut the plywood and stained 1 side which I will be attaching inside the tank frames. Then, I sealed the inside of the tank with fish safe epoxy, drill and plumb the entire system and get some water moving through all the tanks.

I installed the plywood floor and walls in the culture tanks:
First I mixed up a 2 part fish safe epoxy paint:
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I painted the bottoms of the plywood that I used for the tank bottoms first, then I installed the walls and floor into the frames. This is the finished product:
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Here is an picture showing most of the tanks/filtration system:
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PostPosted: Dec 23rd, '10, 04:57 
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Now remember, a main focus of this project is to use gravity to move the water as much as possible so we can cut down on watt draw. So...looking at this picture I will be pumping the water from the sump(lowest point, basically a collection tank. You cant see it in this pic) up into the 3 fish culture tanks. I will use ball valves to control the flow rate entering the 3 tanks.

This picture shows how I tied the 3 tanks together. The pipe coming in from the bottom is from the tank on the end, the pipes coming in from the sides are from the side by side tanks, and the pipe exiting the top of the 4 way cross takes all of the water to the filtration system. Notice the top of that pipe is slightly lower then the lip of the fish tanks. This is what regulates the water depth in the fish tanks and keeps them from overflowing. Instead, they overflow into the filtration.
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This picture is from the other side and shows the plumbing I installed into the filtration tanks. I have them elevated on cinder blocks and put a 2" bulkhead in the bottom of each trash can. I then plumbed them together. You can see the large ball valve in the picture. The function of the ball valve and 2" plumbing is to empty these filtration tanks VERY QUICKLY whenever I want. All you have to do is turn the valve, and the fish shits gonna be flowing! In 5 seconds, I can empty all the waste from all 3 cans and either discard the fish waste, bottle it and sell it as fertilizer or use it on my yard/potted plants. The trash cans will be filled with a shade netting material to basically knock suspended solids out of the water and give them a chance to settle to the bottom of the tanks. I am also in the middle of fabricating baffles for the inside of the trash cans. The baffle will basically be a wall in the middle of the can that sits about 4" off of the bottom of the can. When the water enters, it will naturally want to go down to get through the gap under the baffle. This will force the water through my netting material, then the water will rise up and exit out of the other side. All 3 filters work the same way so that by the time it comes out of the 3rd can, the water is polished and there are no solids left in the water column to foul up the grow beds. Ahhhhh...clean, nutrient laden water!!
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In this pic you will see where the water exits the last filtration can, and is delivered to the plant growing beds. I installed 2 ball valves to control the water flow going into the tanks.
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Here you can see where the water is delivered to the plant bed
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And this one shows the other plant bed in the back ground:
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Originally I water proofed the wood with a stain on the outside and fish safe epoxy paint on the inside. i was going to use a thin liner because it would be easier up front the epoxing in all the corners and seems plus I already have a roll of the stuff in my garage.
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Well, that plan didnt work. The liner was leaking a small stream out of the corner within 2 hours. This forced me to epoxy in the corners/seems, sand everything, and recoat the entire tanks with another coat of epoxy paint. It took some work but here is the finished product:
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(Notice the drain line coming out of the tank and going itno the ground)

This is a pic of the sump(lowest tank in the system, point where all water will flow to and the pump will return this clean water to the fish tanks) and you can see where the drain line from the tank above is coming out of the ground and entering the sump tank. You can also see the drain line from the 1st tank draining into the sump and the small 3/4" pvc line coming out of the sump wich is the return line to the fish tanks(has a water pump attached to it inside the sump). The only place where the water level will fluctuate(through evaporation, cleaning the filtration etc) will be in the sump. All the fish tank and filtration water levels will stay consistent.
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Here's the water running through the filtration system:
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Pic of the water flowing into the root crop portion of the system(I will fill these tubs with perlite and attach something like a soaker hose to the water outlet when im closer to planting):
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Here is a pic of the 8 x 4 sheet of styrofoam after I cut it in 2 and marked it up for drilling:
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After I drilled the holes:
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I have placed 2" net cups into most of the holes(I ran out, need to buy a few more) and I am holding one in the pic so you can get an idea of what a 2" net cup is! lol. You start the seeds in rockwool cubes, jiffy peat pellets or something like that, then transplant them into these cups after they have sprouted. The roots then grow through the holes into the troughs below.
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The first thing I needed to do is build a small shelter for the air pumps to sit in. Now the air pumps that I used are rated for outdoor use so they're fine out in the weather BUT I wanted to have a water free area for the power outlet and all of the electrical connections so a big rain storm doesnt trip my breaker and shut everything down(possibly causing a fish kill). When designing this I kept 3 things in mind.
#1- Waterproof area for the electrical connections
#2- Good air movement so the pumps don't over heat
#3- Front and back accessibility
I did a basic design and hinged the sides so that I could access the pumps when I need to. I also siliconed the top edges so it's water proof and installed my outled up there.
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After I constructed the pump house, I started in on the plumbing for the aeration. Here you can see where the airline runs down the side of the pump house, over to the wall of my house and then down the side of the house. It runs all the way over to the other grow bed. I then branch off of this main header pipe to go to both grow beds and the fish culture tanks.
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To construct the air manifold for the grow beds, I used an 11/32" drill bit, 1/8" tap, and 5 x 1/8" air valves. After you tap the hole, the air valve screws into it and then you connect your airline to the end of the valve.
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Now I tried 2 different combinations of airstones for the grow beds. On one bed I used 5 larger stones spread equally through the bed:
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With the air turned on:
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On the next bed, I used 5 stones for each run thinking it would be better to spread the air out more evenly across the growbeds:
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Well, it didnt work. These airstones arent naturally weighted so they floated to the top right away dammit. I would have to find something to anchor them to if I wanted to use this set up which is too much BS. And they looked so pretty! Im gonna buy 5 more of the larger stones today.

For aerating the fish portion, I came out of the header pipe and made an air manifold in the middle of the three fish tanks. I used a larger 12" stone for each tank:
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PostPosted: Dec 23rd, '10, 05:05 
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With the air on:
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Now that all of the aeration is plumbed and working, I finished up the filtration system. Here is the sequence of photos for that:

Here is the first trash can which I described in an earlier post. The first can can be called our "Clarifier" and we are using it to remove the very large settelable solids. I want to silicone in a baffle in the center but I havent been able to find a scrap piece of polyethelyne yet. Until then, I placed the trashcan lid in the center and it's working for now. The reason you want a baffle is because it forces the water to flow down, under the baffle, and back up to the outlet. This way the heavy waste stays on the bottom of the can and doesnt flow back up.
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Here you can see there is still some light crap in the water thats making it by the baffle and to the exit of this filter:
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This is the next stage in the filtration. It's a bunch of small plastic "Bio-Balls" inside a mesh laundry bag. These are a bunch of plastic balls that are made out of little plastic spines. They were made for biofiltration in a fish tank because they have a lot more available surface area then a regular round ball but im just using them to knock down semi solids. I have the bottom 2/3 of the can crammed full of these suckers and I put a brick on top(they float) to keep them snug in the can. The water enters the bottom of this can, rises through all the balls, and then exits with the water fairly clean. The only thing left is small unsettelable soilds that are tiny enough to percolate up through the balls.
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Here you can see there is still a little tint to the water and some fine stuff flowing itno the next stage of filtration:
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This is the last stage of the filtration. I crammed a 20' x 6' piece of heavy duty shade cloth into the last can and put a brick on top of it to hold it in there snug. By the time the water makes it's way through this material, it's crystal clear and ready to go into the plant grow beds. Remember, we want dissolved nutrients, not solid/semi-solid organic waste.
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The only maintenance will be spraying off the shade cloth and bag of bio balls 1x every couple weeks, draining the sludge out of the cans every 2 weeks(or more frequent depending on the nitrate levels I am trying to achieve) and topping off the tank with fresh water(which is now controlled by a float valve). I attached a trash can to a gutter on my house and am using that as a rain cachement system. I then put a float valve in the sump and plumbed it to a bottom drain on the trash can. When the water level gets lower in the sump, the float valve opens and fills the tank with fresh rainwater from the trash can.

The only other thing I did was install a bypass and union on my water pump line coming out of the sump tank. This will allow me to empy the sump tank if I need to and detach the pump if it ever needs to be serviced.
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Full View of the entire system:
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PostPosted: Dec 23rd, '10, 05:07 
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Ive got a ton of other photos but that should cover the basic build. I'll try and get some other pictures together of some of the other stuff in the next couple days.

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PostPosted: Dec 23rd, '10, 07:20 
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Very nice.

Can you give a brand name on the fish safe epoxy and/or where you purchased it?

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PostPosted: Dec 23rd, '10, 08:39 
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Now that system and post leaves me nearly speechless. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and ideas so freely.

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PostPosted: Dec 23rd, '10, 11:54 
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Great setup Ryan. Thanks for posting the details and build information.


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PostPosted: Dec 23rd, '10, 14:30 
Very nicely done Ryan... great photos (thanks).... and great results.... welcome... :cheers:


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PostPosted: Dec 23rd, '10, 15:33 
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WOW! :notworthy:
That's one awesome system great work :headbang:

Thanks for all the info and the photo's!

:flower:

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PostPosted: Dec 24th, '10, 01:23 
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Thanks everybody! Ive always got something new in the works so ill try to keep updating the thread with photos as I change things around and grow new crops :)


cjinVT- I got it from Aquatic eco, it was the dark blue color (p#PT6)

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PostPosted: Dec 24th, '10, 01:28 
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Ryan, welcome to the forum. Awesome system you have there. Great pics too.

Do you have any feed trained bass in your system? Also, wondering if you have any fish reproduction.

Thanks,
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PostPosted: Dec 24th, '10, 01:47 
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Thanks for the warm welcome JD :)

Yeah, ive got 3 larger bass that are 2-3lbs each in a vat with a large koi and then I have another 10 or so fingerlings in with some Tilapia. The little guys took to feed right away, the bigger guys I transitioned by feeding them grasshoppers for a few weeks (which they would nail as soon as they hit the waters surface) and then went to pelleted feed. Ive got one that will jump 4 inches out of the water and grab a grasshopper from my fingertips! I've got video on my wifes phone, ill have to youtube it.

I have a small breeding tank that ive used in the past to spawn Tilapia but I just aquired an above ground pool and will be using that as my breeding tank this coming year(as soon as it warms up). I also have access to as many "wild" tilapia fingerlings as I need so I can go net some if need be.

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PostPosted: Dec 24th, '10, 01:49 
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and if you were talking about reproduction in the Bass, no. I am aware of the breeding process and don't think I would have any problems spawning Bass but I just havent had the need to.

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