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PostPosted: Feb 23rd, '21, 07:04 
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Location: Sarasota, Fl USA
Quick disclaimer. I am not nor ever was here to teach. Please don’t try to use anything in this post as a guide. My own words and choices are flawed, but the responses from other members are gold and might hold value for people trying to learn.

Holy nitrite Batman! It's insane how fast time passes. This is a like a class reunion for me. It’s been 5 years since my last post.

_______________________________________

We bought a house and I need to redesign everything from scratch. It’s on a spring fed lake so I hope there might be other ways to utilize that clean water somehow pertaining to AP. It also has a spring fed well independent of the rest of the house. I also need to ask about child proofing. And I need a solution to changing my grow bed height to sump since I’m moving and I need to rebuild all of it. I’m going to make a separate post for all that stuff.

This is just closure and feedback about my original build before I start my second build
_______________________________________


Starting with the things that went wrong.

#1… I will never again put a sump completely underground.

It works and it does make things more aesthetically cleaner, but it's prone to several big problems that I could’ve avoided. Installing it in the first place was bad enough and my wife still has a scar to prove it. Where it went terrible was with surface rain water. It was the main source of PH problems and the timing made it easy to prove. In Florida we get heavy rain in the summers so we have some days where our yard has 6 inches of water. It was a battle that started with dry wall on the outside of the IBC that gave me a 2-3 inch gap between dirt and my IBC but that still fills up pretty quickly in a heavy rain. I slowed it with a really long overflow pipe but eventually that gets saturated too. It still is a pain to keep both filters and even the sump tank as clean as possible. This hurts my bottom side. Depending on where you live it might be a bad idea. That said I’m still going to do it again but I’m going to let it hang 12” above ground level. I’ll just plant something around it to hide the sump.

Plant choices. We eat Fish Poo Pineapple Upside-Down Cake every year, but we spend hours pulling roots when if we try to clear out that space or luckily with pineapple move them to dirt. You can pretty much murder a pineapple and throw it into a ditch and it still makes a comeback. The root systems get crowded depending on what’s growing. My media guards clog up with roots that needed to be pruned. Mine are pretty wide too, 4’ and it's still hard to pull or cut them out. I needed a ton of holes and slits to compensate for root blockage. Cleaning the IBC media bed at least on the very edges where the roots like to bulk up seemed to help. The deep water culture is even worse when I remove one plant I wreck the roots of everything next to it. We do a lot of homework on root systems now days.

I should’ve cleaned the IBC containers better from the start. While cleaning roots I noticed an oily substance building up in two of the grow beds. I completely emptied the bed and pressure washed it which balanced the PH better. It was the cause of a lot of PH issues and could’ve been avoided.

I killed too many fish. I had several PH related die offs and a lost a ton of small fish into the filters. When I rebuild, I’m only tossing a few fish in at a time with low expectations. Tilapia grow fast. I won’t put all my fish in one basket! The opposite seems true with water cycling I wasted almost 6 months just cycling water. I feel like it should be just one fish at a time and watch ph from the start. At least that is how I handled with my die offs. 2-3 fish at a time and watch PH closely.

The ‘nasties’ from the roof of my house have also been a source of PH issues. I made extra rain gutters that helped a little. But again, with Florida’s rain storms it just comes off the roof in waves when it gets bad enough. I feel like there is a fine balance between sun for the plants, shade for fish and what ever roof top you need. It should not be a house with roofing shingles.

The media stays wet pretty much all the time. So anything with a timer, like the indexing valve, needs to be set hours apart. Draining quickly seems to be more important that flooding often. The roots look healthier.

I’m now the proud owner of a power generator after hurricane outages. Side note. always empty the freezer and fridge before evacuating. I also have a new refrigerator because the smell never went away. A 14 day power failure killed 30 fish.

Finally, I should’ve built a proper walk way sooner. It was a dirt mess for almost 2-3 years. We eventually used pavers but I hope to build a small deck next time.

I’m still not sure if PH ever really balances or if its just my system. It’s ever changing.

If I could go back and do it all again I would not build next to a roof and I would not bury a sump tank underground.

And what went right…

Leaks seam to magically disappear once everything settles in. The only thing I’ve added are a few overflow pipes. Otherwise, the plumbing has held up without any adjustments since the original build. Huge credit to the pros who guided me. I still don’t know how I pulled that off. THANK YOU GUYS!!!

The mechanics have worked almost perfectly. I have replaced 5 pumps, a dozen impellers and 2 indexing valves over almost 6 years now. I’m probably forgetting something else. 99% of my issues have been maintaining PH.

The indexing valve has done its job better than I expected. Yes, it’s an extra pump to maintain in the system but it I don’t see any other flaws to it.

Plants have always survived fish kills even with ph issues.

Overflow valves have helped me a few times. The sump more often than the fish tank.

Most importantly though. We’ve had tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, lettuce, peppers, green beans, pineapple, basil and a few flowers. They probably cost us a fortune but the entertainment value has been a pretty big deal for us, our guests and even the guests of our guests. People think I’m a lot smarter than I really am thanks to you guys!

I'm starting a new thread and doing this all over again from our new home. :cheers:

Again please don’t try to use anything in this post as a guide. My own words and choices are flawed, but the responses from other members are gold and might hold value for people trying to learn.

:fish:

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PostPosted: Feb 23rd, '21, 15:28 
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Bordering on Legend
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oh ya... and I ate about 10-15 tilapia and didn't die.

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PostPosted: Apr 11th, '21, 03:49 
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Awesome as always. Very well covered and described. I haven't had to take down our system, but it seems like a great plan and advice. Great job on the new home and AP setup, I can totally relate. If people are interested: The slightest drip from galvanized roofing into the AP will sicken trout terribly. Unfortunately I found this out the hard way.
Glad to see you back
Brian

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Hard Specs: 2600 gallon Masonry fish pond. Everything else in flux.
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PostPosted: Aug 4th, '22, 08:39 
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I'm rebuilding at my new house now. It's so helpful to have this info still. The only thing we have today is facebook groups. Facebook killed message forums. It was awesome knowing each of you personally and knowing your systems design styles plant choices. Most of these youtube people are a joke.

Though I should discourage any system running multiple pumps, my only design changes are mostly aesthetic. The biggest change will be omitting the deep water culture. I think I was spreading too little nutrients over too many plants. I think they might have thrived more. I basically diluted my nutes. The other design change was to lift the sump tank about 12 inches above the ground. Having it ground level caused a ton of problems with ground water slipping into my system. I've also installed an additional pump completely underneath the sump to remove ground water when we get florida flood rains and ground water. This is because I watched my sump partially implode over the years at my old house. Sump water level should never be below ground. Even with cement board surrounding the tank water has no problem finding a way to put pressure on an IBC tank. So I put yet another pump below everything that will probably only get turned on a few times a year during the summers.


My new house is on a lake which will making stocking the tank interesting. We might be able to catch something unusual to AP, like a bass, and give him a 2-3 night stay before we release him back. I'm a dad now so this time around a lot of this will be directed towards my son's experience. Catching a fish in the lake and carrying it to the other side of the yard to put it in the tank will be a big deal to a 4yr old. Another change related to my son is the fish tank cover. Obviously safety is the reason but I've built a viewing platform deck directly above the tank where he can see and feed the fish between the boards. It's basically a fort with a fish tank flush to bottom. You can not get in there but you can stand on top of a cool fort and look down into the tank. It's still safe but I'm not taking away from the experience. I'm especially proud of that part of my plan. I have done something similar with the sump tank. I built a small bridge over the top slightly larger than the hole and flush to the top. I can remove the 'bridge' it's only a few feet long. I've child proofed astatically without excluding him.

Other changes are pretty basic. I'm changing the layout to tighten the space. Before I was working with an L shape this time I have all 6 beds in a rectangle with the 2 middle beds partially covering the frame of the sump. Before it was off to the side of the beds. Now it's underneath them with enough gap I can access the sump when I remove the 'bridge' piece. I've lined the outside of the beds with bricks to make it flush to the tops of the beds so you can sit butt level to the grow beds. Finally I got a large amount of free astroturf fake grass that I plan to lay on top of the brick to make it cozy and green instead of concrete block. The fish tank cover/fort is very unique and I'm locating it a considerable distance from the system. I only came up with the idea because we replaced the old play fort from the previous owner and it was a perfect fit for an IBC frame. The idea threw it's self at me :thumbright:

The last major change will be plant choice. This time I will be doing exclusively flowers. We have 8x as much property now and plenty of room for dirt beds. Part of AP for me is just the relaxing part of hearing running water. I want to add to that with color and sound. This is also why the ledge for sitting next to the grow beds is so important to me. AP is awesome but so much focus of the science is related to the output of veg and fish as food. That's awesome but I think we can make it art color and smell just as easily. To top it off I have a couple small water fountains and I'm considering integrating something into the sump again just for looks.

I've decided I'm going to keep updating this very old thread as I go along. Having this info has spared me a ton of heart ache already to just have all this documented from years ago for reference.

End Goal:
A. Redesign with a child in mind.
B. System will never be called a 'hideous contraption' again
C. Flowers not veg
D. Looks not output

So far I have the sump in the ground plumbing frame tanks and cement block around the first 3 of 6 grow beds. It looks like a giant mess and you guys are the only ones who will appreciate the disaster of a backyard I have at the moment. Photos to follow. I miss all you guys. If you're in a good FB group let me know. :occasion5:

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PostPosted: Aug 4th, '22, 08:45 
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Bordering on Legend
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Joined: Aug 16th, '14, 01:46
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boss wrote:
Awesome as always. Very well covered and described. I haven't had to take down our system, but it seems like a great plan and advice. Great job on the new home and AP setup, I can totally relate. If people are interested: The slightest drip from galvanized roofing into the AP will sicken trout terribly. Unfortunately I found this out the hard way.
Glad to see you back
Brian


These things are so picky especially with your trout, tilapia are more resilient we leached ground run off a few times and it killed our fish. One amazing thing though we left for almost 2 weeks when hurricane Irma hit and came back to healthy fish that went over a week without power aeration water flow. The feeder was battery powered and still had food in it when we got back. But those little guys survived it somehow!

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