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PostPosted: Aug 3rd, '11, 11:42 
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Hey everybody, I'm new to the forum but not new to raising fish or plants. I'm 27 and live in Central Florida. A little about myself, my first experience with aquaponics was in high school where I was put in charge of the greenhouse for our agriculture department. We had 2-20'LX5'W grow beds running off of two 800gallon tilapia tanks. I gained a pretty substantial understanding of aquaponics from my experiences with that project. As happens, more often than not, I got distracted during/after high school with 'trivial' pursuits before deciding a few months ago I was going to get back into aquaponics, in my own backyard this time. I believe my experience with tropical fish keeping (I could list my tanks but it would be a novel. Currently, 10 tanks total, combined volume of well over 600 gallons with over 100 fish. Can anyone say Cichlid?) has helped me understand the basics of aquaponics. I'm currently in the process of building and tweaking an outdoor CHIT PIST grow bed system running from a converted 150gal ice maker chest. I'm raising blue tilapia and growing cukes, basil, tomatoes, jalapenos, and watermelon. I work as a butcher at a grocery store and constantly get annoyed and saddened when I see everything 'IMPORTED' coming into my store. Not meat mind you, but produce, seafood etc. Why not local? That's one of the reasons I am starting my project. Not to sell to a store, but to grow and raise fish and vegetables, trying to attain complete sustainability with minimal cost (everything in my system is either scrap, or total DIY) Hope to learn a thing or two from all of you , and I hope I can bring some of my experience and ideas to the table so we can all learn from each other. I'll have pictures up soon. I'd also like to help connect all the APers in the Central Florida area so we can all share tips and solutions on problems and situations that come up in our area (Tilapia overwintering, hurricane preparations etc)


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PostPosted: Aug 3rd, '11, 12:34 
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Alright guys and gals. I think I added those photos correctly. First a quick rundown. This is my first system so I wanted to start somewhat small (fiscally speaking), so I used scrap, and 're-sourced' items around my house. I had an old ice maker chest that I sealed off with aquarium silicon. The exact measurements escape me but it's roughly 30"D X 30"W X 45"T. I decided to design my system as a CHIT PIST setup because in my mind that was easiest to build and maintain. Having a 'smaller' tank, I didn't want my water level to fluctuate. I drilled a 2" hole and used conduit fittings to build a bulkhead and install an overflow that I could adjust the water level up or down as needed. The simple overflow is reduced into 1" pipe and into 3 T fittings that flow into my growbeds. Now when it comes to my growbeds, I used 3 heavy duty sterlite tubs cut in half, to 10" in depth. After I did this I realized they lacked sidewall support and would simply bow out and collapse under stress. I built a simple 2X4 frame to keep the sides in place. I drilled holes on one end, 1" from the bottom and used 1" conduit (threaded male and female) fittings to make a bulkhead and to that, a 90 degree elbow and barbed fitting for 1" tubing for my loop siphons. I decided on loop siphons because I thought they would be the easiest to tweak and adjust. I've since discovered them (more specifically, my design) to be prone to failure and clogging. Plant roots tend to grow through the drain tubing and into the siphon itself, restricting flow dramatically. I'm planning a full tear down and rebuild in the future using linked IBC tanks and bell siphons. From the growbeds, the water flows into a 55gal barrel I buried 80 percent into the ground as a sump. I have a 600 gph pump returning to the FT. I've had the system up and running since April and have harvested more cucumbers/tomatoes and basil than I can count. I sourced 25 2-3" blue tilapia (Oreochromis aurea) from a local AP nonprofit called MorningStar Fishermen right here in central Florida. They're wonderful people and I recommend everyone look them up. I feed them a high quality aquaculture feed and they have grown rapidly. Since April, I already have some reaching 9". I have since reduced the number in my AP tank to 7 due to their growth. I put the rest into my 16000gal swimming pool that doubles as a fish farm (that in itself is another novel, let me know if anyone is interested in hearing about that, lol) My biggest problem in the future is overwintering my fish. It gets very hot where I live in Florida but it also gets pretty cold, with several days of freezing temps per year. Not being in a greenhouse is a substantial disadvantage, and pouring tons of electricity in the form of heaters is simply not economically feasible. I was curious what everyones opinions were on the topic, I plan on harvesting most of them, but the rest I would like to keep to breed for next years crop. Should I just bring them inside for the winter or would insulating the tank be a better idea? Sorry for the book, Thanks for reading!!


Attachments:
File comment: My first successful tilapia spawn.
259975_181794211877447_100001406095868_492703_330076_n.jpg
259975_181794211877447_100001406095868_492703_330076_n.jpg [ 37.21 KiB | Viewed 2786 times ]
File comment: Blue Tilapia
225407_10150196471139844_545684843_6893837_7828581_n.jpg
225407_10150196471139844_545684843_6893837_7828581_n.jpg [ 83.03 KiB | Viewed 2786 times ]
File comment: Growbeds with loop siphons
246795_10150193257844844_545684843_6867770_186168_n.jpg
246795_10150193257844844_545684843_6867770_186168_n.jpg [ 84.84 KiB | Viewed 2786 times ]
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PostPosted: Aug 3rd, '11, 13:06 
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G'day Floridafishman, good to see you've already got a great head start with systems growing fairly well. Yes you need access to the drain hole so that you can pull any roots out..

You could perhaps cut some large diameter pipe in half, drill lots of holes in it, then push the gravel back a bit from the front of your bed and stick the pipe down the front.. So long as the half pipe is big enough for you to get your hand inside, you'll be able to look down the pipe and watch for roots, then slip your hand down and pull out the roots when they grow through..

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PostPosted: Aug 3rd, '11, 15:47 
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Welcome FlaFM!

Sounds like it's all good for you so far, just some minor tweaking needed. TC is of course the one to talk to there. She might try to get you to try growing some catfish. When I read freezer I thought dicko's that he just put up for sale, and running it to grow trout, but it may seem crazy to try growing trout in Florida.

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PostPosted: Aug 3rd, '11, 20:40 
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G'day FloridaFishMan. :wave1:

Couldn't agree more with what you said about imported produce. That was one of the main reasons for building our system. Got tired of paying top dollar for second rate fruit n veg.

Good luck and keep us posted. :D


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PostPosted: Aug 4th, '11, 10:50 
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Earthbound that is a great idea about cutting the pipe in half to maintain siphon access. :notworthy:

On a side note, I came home today and noticed I have 2 females in my pool, one in my AP tank and 2 in my breeder colony inside all holding eggs.. I suppose I should get ready to be inundated with fry.... :D


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PostPosted: Aug 12th, '11, 23:19 
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FloridaFishMan,

Tilapia can survive our central Florida winters, I had a strain for years that I grew in above ground pools outside with catfish without any of them dying. Now I got the foundation breeders from one of my customers who had a large pond on his property and he told me he had millions of half grown tilapia in his pond. He was going to get rid of them and have Game and Fish Dept stock it with Bass and Sunfish. He brought me a dozen and I put them in a 12' above ground pool where I was raising a hundred channel catfish for my dinner. It wasn’t long and I was catching out fry from the filter these I put in one of my Koi fingerling ponds and from then on I always had tilapia on my farm. They would quit eating and go sort of dormant in the winter, but I never had any die. My farm was 7 miles NW of Apopka and the water got very cold and I think it was survival of the fittest in my customer’s pond, when I ask him how long he had them he said they were there as long as he could remember. The males had a lot of greenish/blue on their head and upper body but they didn’t look exactly like Blue Tilapia I’m guessing a hybrid of Blue and Nile.

Now that I’m building an Aquaponics system after 10 years without fish I wish I had some of those to stock my system. So I know its possible to keep a strain of Tilapia and Catfish alive and well but it might take some time to get there.


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PostPosted: Aug 13th, '11, 07:15 
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Hi Florida fishman and welcome. You sound like your well on your way to great success. :headbang:


FloridaFishMan wrote:
I put the rest into my 16000gal swimming pool that doubles as a fish farm (that in itself is another novel, let me know if anyone is interested in hearing about that, lol) !


Absolutely, it sounds awesome, and mega huge, how many litres? would that be? ....there are a few pool conversions here, and they all look really cool, but yours sound mega huge. I look forward to reading it :cheers:

FloridaFishMan wrote:
On a side note, I came home today and noticed I have 2 females in my pool, one in my AP tank and 2 in my breeder colony inside all holding eggs.. I suppose I should get ready to be inundated with fry.... :D


You Will be able to flog them off ( sell ) to other AP gardeners :flower: in your area

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PostPosted: Aug 13th, '11, 10:38 
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Larry, where I live, about an hour north of Tampa, Blue Tilapia occur and thrive in the wild. They're not native obviously, but they are hardy enough to survive as you said, through our moderately cold winters. I have what I've been told and have myself identified as Blues. Although they're supposed to survive in water to the 40s, it damages their immune system. A friend of mine lives on a local retention pond that holds tilapia year round, so by my thinking, if they can live there, they can survive in my pool The only thing I'm stuck on is heat loss due to it being above ground, and uninsulated. I'm strongly considering using a solar cover over 80-90percent of the surface during cold spells. As of now I have it set up with a sand filter that flows into a homemade 40gallon biofilter, back into the pool. I perform backwashes of the filter and use the waste water on my 'soil' garden. I've been brainstorming different methods of converting it to actual aquaponics rather than a basic RAS as it sits now. I have several old heavy bathtubs at my disposal and I'm considering setting up what I would term as a 'cascading grow bed system'. Essentially, each grow bed would be elevated above the next and fill in series, until finally siphoning into a buried IBC sump, and being pumped back to the pool. I need to peruse the other pool conversions on this site and see if I can come up with something a little easier. I can forsee some potential issues with flow rate/siphon rate/capacity of each grow bed, if the volume of the previous bed was somehow larger than the next one. Anywho. I stripped one of my female tilapia two days ago and it yielded about 400 fry. I have my hands full :)


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PostPosted: Aug 14th, '11, 03:32 
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FloridaFishMan,

I wouldn't worry about changing your setup, back in the 1980's and 90's I experimented with all kinds of ways to filter and grow plants on my Koi farm. I was never really satisfied with hydroponics - too much work and setup expense for what grew, I tried pea gravel then cypress mulch which was easier than the gravel and found that growing water iris bare root in the grow beds allowed huge amounts of fish to be grown in perfect water conditions. To grow vegetables I flushed the filter chamber and grow beds into my garden where the plants grew much larger than in the grow beds. I ended up doing container gardening which was easier yet, and thats what I'm setting up now.

[img]
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I know I can grow at a minimum 600 pounds of fish and nearly as much veggies, I did it for several years. On the other side of the fence will be a second stream for a few veggies that do grow well in water. Beyond that I have 80 five gallon plastic pots for the container garden, these will be drip watered from a sump chamber. The whole system is driven by a single air pump costing at today's rates $2.33 per month.

I am very interested in getting some of those tilapia from the retention pond, Mother Nature has already purged the ones who can't survive our winters. I didn't use any form of heat retention in the former system but its a good plan just in case. The FT has been running a week now with 300 fish in it and is almost fully cycled, I used sponge filters in the poop chamber along with a basket to catch the stuff and half the sponges I took from my recirculating system in the greenhouse which were already cycled.

I got to learn how to do these pictures!


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File comment: A 16' x 2' x 10" stream grow bed will be along this wall built 2.5' above the ground.
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007.JPG [ 89.62 KiB | Viewed 2641 times ]
File comment: 2600 gallon FT with a 100 gallon poop chamber at the far end
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005.JPG [ 90.33 KiB | Viewed 2641 times ]
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PostPosted: Sep 12th, '11, 23:03 
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Hi, I'm a new member in Titusville, FL and would like to know if you welcome visitors to view your setup? I'm currently in the information gathering mode with the hopes of setting up a system for personal use in the future.
Thanks, Rob


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PostPosted: Sep 24th, '11, 20:11 
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Seriously, this cant be healthy.
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Hay Robboone,
I regularly give tours of my place and systems. Send me a private message if you are going to be up around Mount Dora sometime and maybe we can schedule something.

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