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PostPosted: May 26th, '14, 18:03 
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Hi All,

This might be a bit of a ramble sorry so feel free to skim through!

I've been watching the growth of Aquaponics in Perth from a distance for a few years now, and while I was initially keen to set up a bunch of tanks and growbeds in my suburban backyard "warts and all" in all their PVC glory, I'm now pretty keen to have a go at a more aesthetically pleasing version. Controversial, I know, since growing your own fish and fruit & veg is a beautiful thing in itself - I agree...

But, I don't know how long I will be living in this house, and I also have a feeling I might want to go bigger and better once I've jumped in, so something that can be relegated to semi-ornamental status once I'm a pro, and/or have moved house :shifty: might be handy.

I have my eye on a fibreglass pond (approx 1000L) which will be in-ground and hopefully that should assist in reducing temperature fluctuations that come with the different depths across the supposedly natural-looking pond.

My plan is to have some growbeds just behind/slightly overhanging the pond, made out of or at least veneered with sanded and polished recycled sleepers with as much of the plumbing hidden as possible, and at this stage I was planning on having the water return as the only source of aeration, however I would definitely welcome feedback on that. To hide the plumbing there will be a series of bronze scuppers embedded in the sleepers that return the water at least 8in above the waterline. For this reason as much as any other it will be (once I get my little blonde head around the logistics of all of the above) constant flood with a roughly 1.5-2:1 bed to tank size ratio in anticipation of the final set-up.

To cycle my system I was planning on washing my son's chock-a-block tropical fishtank filter in there a few times (I'm sure they're not happy I've been letting it build up but oh well) and throwing a half dozen goldfish in there for a month or two. Having a 6 yr old boy in the house means that if I let him start the peeponics thing I'll never get him to stop! I was also planning on popping some perennial ornamental plants in there to kick things off and at least have something growing if I muck up and slack off between crops - or have a spectacular failure. Any suggestions on some nice plants that won't upset the fish would be appreciated.

Although my place gets lovely and cold during winter which I'm sure trout would love, I think by the time I'm confident enough to pop an edible school in there, the weather will be warming up again. Living in a valley, that means real warm. Silver Perch so far sound like the least likely to succumb to my experimentation. I'm thinking about 10, and I'll leave the goldies in there while the SP are small. If they eat them - they eat them :dontknow:

Can someone please let me know if they've worked out if a lower stocking level helps with any muddy/tank taste in the fish? I've heard that this can be an issue, and after eating a fish out of a tank at my local Chinese restaurant yesterday I am very keen to avoid that!!

Once the hole is dug and the beds are built I'll learn how to post photos to chart progress!

Any feedback is most welcome :-)

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PostPosted: May 26th, '14, 19:41 
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Welcome Katmac :wave1:

Don't forget to put plenty of photos up as you go, they could be like add breaks in amongst the words :lol:

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PostPosted: May 26th, '14, 20:05 
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Hi Katmac

i have an open pond with silver perch and koi mixed. I do not have a problem with muddiness from the silver perch. the pond water is crystal clear with no mud or sediment.

My system is stocked low density (~ 120 fish in 10,000l system). Grow bed capacity is around 5,000l

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PostPosted: May 26th, '14, 21:11 
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Good idea katmac, I like the aesthetic plan, Jarrah sleepers will look great. I've seen some wicking beds built similar.
A pond with pond plants would be great and some tropical planting may hide some of that pipe work.
Can't wait to see your natural looking system.
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PostPosted: May 26th, '14, 23:03 
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sounds like it will be a great looking system katmac, the SP and Goldies will get on just fine.

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PostPosted: May 27th, '14, 05:38 
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U could let the goldfish grow up then sell them for more...

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PostPosted: May 27th, '14, 06:52 
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Hi Kat!

Welcome to the forum.

My grow beds are made from sleepers & steel. I'm trying to go the same route as you and making it look pretty, I don't think it's quite there yet with mine, I'm still contemplating some cladding. And currently making my fish tank far prettier.

The grow beds can be built out of anything really, it just needs to be a box, and try for 30cm deep.

Just be careful if you're planning on moving, the sleeper route is extremely heavy, I wouldn't want to have to pull mine apart anytime soon.

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PostPosted: May 27th, '14, 07:03 
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For pretty I think it is hard to beat the wooden retaining wall look.

You can base you design on a slightly heavier version of a timber retaining wall. I say heavier because retaining walls are designed to retain earth/gravel/fill that is drained (not wet) where as in AP we need to hold back water or water and gravel.

You can make your GBs 300mm deep but there are a number of systems that have deeper GBs (mine being one, and OutbackOzzie's being another).

Also you don't need to have the GBs raised on stands. You can go the deep GB way or build a retaining wall say 600mm high but have the bottom 300mm filled with dirt with the liner on top of that to effectively raise the GB 300mm.

Such an option would involve more work (shoveling in the dirt and compacting a bit (or leaving it to stand for a while (months at least))) while a stand will involve more materials (upfront $).

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PostPosted: May 28th, '14, 12:20 
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Thanks Stu, that's a great idea re the compacted dirt base to get some height. I'd say it's going to be fairly over-engineered in general as my other half has an engineering background so 'heavy' may end up being an understatement... :think:

Col, I had a read of your member system thread yesterday and I'm super impressed! I don't think I can hope to achieve half as much as you have in a short time, but your set up has got me thinking about DWC set ups for another part of the yard now.....:) I'm looking forward to seeing how your new tank setup pans out too, you're certainly powering along!

Cheers for the support everyone, plans should be finished by the end of the week (once I learn how to use Sketchup properly) so if the weather is against me and no holes are dug, I will at least post a pic of the plans.

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PostPosted: May 28th, '14, 12:36 
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If you want some DWC then why not go for the 600mm or so deep GB.

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PostPosted: May 28th, '14, 14:22 
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take care without recycled sleepers as they may contain arsenic and other nasties, you wouldn't want run off from them going into the pond. They may also contain asbestos if from near a station from the trains brakes.

All this can be dealt with if using liners etc, just need to factor the risk in the design and construction.

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PostPosted: May 28th, '14, 14:37 
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NO, not recycled sleepers very bad. Ever wonder why you don't see plants growing on railway tracks? It is because they spray them regularly.

New sleepers are the way to go. Here we have redgum 6" x 3" x Xft.

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PostPosted: May 28th, '14, 15:26 
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The sleepers will only be to clad the growbeds.
I'm quite handy with fibreglass thanks to a previous life as a not-very-good racecar driver so I got lots of panel practice in and am contemplating making fibreglass growbeds with the timber outside to support the weight of the water and media.
Looking at prices, recycled sleepers in Perth don't seem to be any cheaper than new ones so I might re-think that anyway.
Thanks for letting me know though guys, I hadn't thought about nasties in the old hardwood sleepers, I was mainly concerned at that being an issue with the treated new ones. Hmmmmm...

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PostPosted: May 28th, '14, 21:10 
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Yep, I ended up buying new ones for garden steps as they were as cheap as old ones, clean and easier to work with.

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PostPosted: May 29th, '14, 09:17 
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I have had 15 Silvers growing in my cut down IBC no problems. Say 600l of water most times, but it has got down to 400 at times.

My recent eatings detected no mud taste. With good filtration (Ihave just one IBC bed about 300l), the water is almost clear, with very little smell.

Note, I have always gone lighter on the feed than some, but I had little to no fat in their guts, and only a small strip of fatty flesh on the back and bottom side of the fish.

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