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 Post subject: Koi pond conversion
PostPosted: May 28th, '14, 19:07 
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Hi!

We bought a house with a koi pond and a large greenhouse. We probably wouldn't have done such a foolish thing if the option of aquaponics wasn't in the back of our minds. Anyways, we're now starting on the project. A picture is worth a thousand words and a video is probably good for a couple thousand, so if you're interested let me point you to some photos and videos:

http://praxeology.co.uk/blog/libreponics/

I have a million questions, and we've been lurking on the forums here for a while now but only joined a month ago. I don't even really know where to start with asking questions. We did read through the Practical Aquaponics book and a couple other smaller aquaponics books, but there's a lot of unusual things about our pond.

Edit: removed questions about pump. The old Oase Aquamax 1200 is working again... it just needs to have the impeller spun. Which will do for now. There are two other pumps which we've recycled which can be used. One is an australian pump, which does 14m2/hour, the other is an Oase Aquamax 800. I'll leave the 1200 in there for now. Perhaps de-scaling will allow it to start on its own power?

Looking forward to learning from the wealth of knowledge represented in this community. Please ask questions and volunteer advice! Our goal is to get to the point where we can give back to the community with designs and automation (think arduino based measurements and a small computer based control system) as I work in open-source automation for my day job.

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 Post subject: Re: Koi pond conversion
PostPosted: May 28th, '14, 20:47 
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Welcome to the forum, gavinski. Your pond is a real beauty and offers you a lot of potential. What is the volume of the pond? What are your initial thoughts regarding grow bed configuration?

As far as your imperfect Oase pump is concerned, it could turn out to be an issue if there is a loss of power, even very briefly, and you aren't at home to give the impeller a crank to get it going again. I know this from experience. (I think the problem is caused by a damaged or burnt out primary winding, but don't quote me. :wink: )

I wish you the best of luck with your conversion.

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 Post subject: Re: Koi pond conversion
PostPosted: May 29th, '14, 01:27 
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PLJ,

I just started reading your thread, amazing project! So jealous that you have all that room to play with. I must confess I'm only halfway through reading the thread as I've spent most waking moments out hooking up pumps and stuff for my trial runs.

Size: 4m x 5m x 2m = 40,000L. Approximately. The biggest pump I have is 14.8m3/h, and "australian designed" Waterco Aquamite 50, what I would call a "surface pump" or "dry only" with the priming lid on the top. so.... hopefully it will be enough for now. I'm not planning on stocking it to high density at first as we want to get a balance of ducks and fish.

Oase pump: Your right I wouldn't want to rely on it. I think you're right about primary winding, the other problem might be limescale causing a little resistance, so the magnets can't get the impeller going. Either way I've taken it off and put the Oase Aquamax 800 on instead, because the 1200 was just pumping too much for my little sump. With only one test bed (a bathtub) flushing into it, it was going dry, even with the valve on the pump half shut.

We've written up a third blog post:
http://praxeology.co.uk/blog/libreponic ... rst-trial/

with the status as of yesterday. Thoughts so far:
- I need to figure out what kind of growbeds to use. I can get IBCs on ebay, but a better option would perhaps be a clearance lumberyard near me. He makes planter boxes and maybe I can get him to make some long and wide ones for me? My concerns are that long-term you get condensation between the liner and the wood (from forum posts I've read). The other option is bathtubs but ... I'll need a LOT of bathtubs to fill my greenhouse and I want to avoid having so much plumbing everywhere that it's not enjoyable to walk around.
- Sump tank. I'm using a standard DOLAV bin for now. It's just a big large (floorspace) and not super deep. It seems like a sump tank should be in the shape of a barrel more? Taller and more narrow, so that you don't have tonnes of water still in the tank when the pump starts sucking air.
- How to plumb from these ball valves to my tanks:
Image
It's only gravity, so it seems like buying those rubber boots with the two clamps built in would be overkill. I have the fittings for the screw-on side of the ball valves:
Image
All those Ts I guess I could use them if i just cut them off from each other. They are all 50mm ABS plastic Ts and elbows. The problem is, once I cut them off I'm left with the larger size (the ousdie of the T or the elbow) but with the leftover pipe still cemented in place. Perhaps if I could find some hose which is the right size to go on the outside, cut it into sections and use hose clamps to join up to 50mm ABS (to go to the growbeds)?

I can't wait to get things in place, water from the filter unit to the growbeds, good siphon and siphon protectors built, and then be able to fill up my beds with my LECA. The problem is I just have too many decisions to make and I feel like I'm making them all it total dark dismal ignorance and naivete. I wish there was an "aquaponics store" near me.... the pond shop has been helpful with some decisions and products but otherwise it's just what advice I can find on the internet.

PLJ, are there any other threads of similar sized systems to yours (or slightly smaller) which you could point me at?

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 Post subject: Re: Koi pond conversion
PostPosted: May 29th, '14, 07:07 
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Seriously, this cant be healthy.
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You will probably find that the hose and pipe clamp option is not worth the effort. One of the disadvantages of PVC is the waste. :(

To a certain extent you can reuse fittings but at some point its more economical to buy new.

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 Post subject: Re: Koi pond conversion
PostPosted: May 29th, '14, 07:12 
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Wow that is a tough break! That's hundreds of dollars of ball valves there. You're probably right though. I've already wasted so much time and effort trying to re-use what was already in the system.

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 Post subject: Re: Koi pond conversion
PostPosted: May 29th, '14, 11:16 
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Gavinski, 40,000L is a good workable volume but be warned - a 2m depth adds all manner of difficulties, not the least of which is catching the fish when you need to. Checkout Slowboat's system thread here. He is doing a great job with about 50,000L, I think.

I am always keen to re-use and recycle where I can but sometimes the cost in time, anguish and frustration is just not worth the price of new, easy to assemble components. It is a lesson I am learning over and over again, and I hope to eventually find the balance between the waste of my time and the waste of my money.

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 Post subject: Re: Koi pond conversion
PostPosted: May 29th, '14, 15:30 
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gavinski, will you use floating raft or media growbeds (hydroton, gravel, volcanic rock..)? If it's going to be media based, it will be a huge amount to wash (and money...).

Also, as you alredy have ducks, may be you want to do some kind of hybrid "duckponics"? I bet that the duck poo is as good as the fish one!

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 Post subject: Re: Koi pond conversion
PostPosted: May 29th, '14, 15:46 
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gavinski sometimes you can heat PVC fitting up and separate them. Try on a scrap piece and see how you go. If it does not work then I think you are best replacing the fittings. I reuse where there is plenty of room to rejoin a fitting but when they are that close.

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 Post subject: Re: Koi pond conversion
PostPosted: May 31st, '14, 05:13 
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reverdeando wrote:
gavinski, will you use floating raft or media growbeds (hydroton, gravel, volcanic rock..)? If it's going to be media based, it will be a huge amount to wash (and money...).

Also, as you alredy have ducks, may be you want to do some kind of hybrid "duckponics"? I bet that the duck poo is as good as the fish one!



Yes we are going to have ducks + fish. We've already added 12 tiny goldfish to help the cycling (the pump is on all day while I'm working on the system).

Thanks for bringing up the issue of growbeds. I WAS considering doing it all media-based, and I found these tanks: ebay his website. Then I started measuring my greenhouse and realized I'd only get 6 or 7 of the 1700L tanks in there, which I don't think is enough filtration. Plus it would make the greenhouse really really awkward.

So your post got me thinking about it all day and the solution which has passed approval from Mrs. gavinski is: water goes into the biofilter tank, splits into 2 1400L fibreglass tanks from ebay (only £50!) and one free bathtub we have, then flushing into DWC along the entire left hand side of the greenhouse, using the foundation of the greenhouse as three sides, and the fourth side will be a combination of dolav tanks in the middle (dug down, so they serve as part of the sump system) and railway sleepers to meet up the dolav tanks to the foundation. The DWC pond will have to have a pond liner, but the side will be perfectly straight and perfectly rectangle.

I realize I'm going to have to make a model. :D

Oh and I think I'm going to use one of these tanks in addition to the 2 dolav tanks just to make sure I have plenty of sump. It's 2 meters tall so ... I'll basically have to dig a small well to put it in.

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 Post subject: Re: Koi pond conversion
PostPosted: May 31st, '14, 05:34 
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Regarding taking pipe apart, I've decided against it, if I can find the unions to go on my ball valves as I'd love to re-use them.

So my ball valves have the female side of a schedule 80 PVC (PVCu?) union. Surely I should be able to buy only the male side (the part with a ring that spins around and can thread over the female part on the ball valve). The completed join should look like this:

Image

Where would I get JUST one side of the unions, the part that has the male bit and can be attached to solvent weld?

I did a little blog post about this worm that had a miraculous survival story deep underwater. I'll never worry about drowning worms again:
Image

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 Post subject: Re: Koi pond conversion
PostPosted: Jun 3rd, '14, 01:23 
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Well, as you have a lot of water (and fishes, I guess!), you'd need to filter as much as possible. Just remember the rule of thumb, 20 fish for every 500L of growbed media for biofilter :) OR you could have Polypropylene membrane like the one you shoed, or some filters to remove solids...

When you make a model please share it with us!, it's interesting to see how to handle fish poops in big systems!

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