Saturday, May 31, 2014

Aquaponics Idea

So this is my idea for an aquaponics setup. It's a splicing of several different ideas. I'll start off by giving you some video links of people that I've gotten inspiration from. Brock does hydroponics in a setup called dutch buckets. Rob does aquaponics down in Australia. And Larry Hall has a setup where he grows in buckets with soil but he waters them by wicking with rain gutters. This setup has inspirations from all of them and more.

The aquaponics portion is from Rob, of course. Not sure what part is from Brock but he's just an inspiration anyway. The part from Larry Hall I'll explain as I explain the rough draft that I drew up. This is by no means a final layout either. I plan on doing a small prototype with some small containers just to see if things work out the way I think they will. I'll do that when we're in the new townhouse. Then by the time I work out the kinks, we should be ready to get our property and I can build the full version.

So let's start with the fish tank. This part is pretty self explanatory. This is where the fish are kept. In the full size version I'll be getting tilapia. I love baked tilapia. But in the prototype I'll probably just use feeder goldfish since I won't lose a whole lot if something goes wrong. I've also thought of getting some small koi eventually, growing them out, and then selling them back to the fish store. A way to make some extra money on the side. Not sure if I'd include them in the tilapia tank or if I'd make a separate tank for them. To be decided at a later time.

Ok, the pump will be in the fish tank. I'm thinking about putting sponges around the pump just to keep too much fish waste being sent into the grow bed. But not sure if sponges will restrict the pump's ability to intake the water. In the bigger setup I'll probably put a swirl filter in between the fish tank and the grow bed.

Now the grow beds aren't going to be like most aquaponics setups. I'm not going to have any pea gravel or hydroton or anything like that. I'm going to have soil in the brown colored area. Yes, I know, supposed to be a big no no but let me explain. The black boxey things in the bottom of the grow bed are going to be net pots or something similar. Those will be lined with landscape fabric or something that won't degrade. Then they will be filled with coconut coir to create a wicking effect for the grow bed. That's the part inspired by Larry Hall and his rain gutter system. But those net pots will be the only thing down in the water.

The smaller things in the bottom of the grow bed will be lava rocks or possibly hydroton or bioballs to create the area for the living bacteria that most aquaponic and hydroponic setups depend on. The water will flow throw the bottom of the grow bed from one side to the other. The net pots will wick up what they need and the lava rocks will filter the rest of the water.

Then the water will go out to a couple of pipes where it will be dripped over a trickle filter. This idea comes from when I once had a salt water tank. Trickle filters were one of the more popular and efficient ways to filter a salt water tank. So I figured it could work really well with an aquaponics setup also. The trickle filter is the main inspiration for this particular setup because the trickle filter has to always be wet. With a bell siphon setup, the trickle filter would stay dry for too long and not work properly. So I knew I'd have to have a constant flow system.

After it falls through the trickle filter, it'll fall into a sump or holding tank. There will be a pipe going from the sump tank to the fish tank and atmospheric pressure will keep them the same level.

Now, one modification I might make is put the sump container on the other side of the setup and use it for the swirl filter. Then just feed the water from the trickle filter straight into the fish tank.

But yeah, that's pretty much the gist of the idea. A constant flow system that gives me the freedom of using soil but with the advantages of the nutrients from the fish waste and what should be a good filtration system for the fish's return water.

My only concern at the moment is whether the soil will still effect the water chemistry even though it won't be technically in the water.

Let me know if you have any thoughts or suggestions. Or if you have any other questions about the setup.

P.S. - I remember how Brock was inspirational for this build. Eventually I plan on attaching some dutch buckets to the system and see how they do.

Friday, May 30, 2014

I'm Blogging Again!

Sooooooooo.... Lots of things have changed since my last post. (Over a year and a half ago.) Well, things have sort of changed but sort of not. Daily life is pretty much the same. But major changes are coming. Like next month we are going to be moving to North Carolina. We've been in Ohio for almost 2 years. But last October we drove down to North Carolina for a job interview. (For hubby, not me.)

Anyway, a month later he gets a call offering him the job. At first they wanted him to move right away which meant we would have had to scramble to get him a place to live and stuff. But then they called back asking if it was ok if he started in late January. Of course, he said yes. We were ecstatic. This job is with a really good company and he'd be getting paid really well. And, I'd finally be able to get my land I've been waiting years for. We had almost 2 acres in Florida, but money was always so tight that I wasn't really able to do anything with it. I could have done a lot more if I'd known a lot of the things I know now. But I digress.

Anyway, since we had just signed a lease at the townhouse here in July, we didn't want to pull the kids out of school, and our oldest was in his last year of high school, hubby had to move without us. It has now been 4 months and we've found a townhouse in North Carolina that we're going to rent at the beginning of July. We looked into buying a piece of property. But we had an unpaid medical bill that we'd thought the insurance had paid for. But it has lowered his credit score just enough that we can't get a loan right away. It should only take us a couple of months to get all that cleared up and get a bit of a down payment saved up.

But by spring of next year, we should be moving for the final time into our forever home. Hubby loves his new job and we both agree that this will be our final destination. With hubby and his new job and me and my land, we will have everything we wanted.

I have still been gardening, but to a lesser extent. I've dumped out a lot of buckets that had annual veggies in them last year. I've still got my buckets with my raspberries and blackberries but I think they've died from this crazy winter we had. I'm going to keep them until next spring and hope for some kind of miracle. But I don't have much hope. Actually, I think a week before we move I might dump out the buckets and just bring the plants as bare root. It's much easier to transport a stack of empty buckets then it is buckets full of soil.

I also lost my strawberries and several of my tropicals that I'd brought from Florida. But I've also bought some new plants also. Like a concord grapevine, a seedless grape that I can never remember the name of, and another raspberry plant. I need to look up when is the best time to take clippings off the raspberry so I can make more. Oh, and I also bought some more strawberry plants. I'm going to keep nipping off the flowers to help it concentrate on roots and runners. So no strawberries for us this year.

I also bought some seeds. Argenteuil asparagus, Mary Washington asparagus, giant Swiss snow peas, and rattlesnake pole beans. The two types of asparagus I've already planted in small buckets. The French one (argenteuil) has already sprouted really well. The Mary Washington is taking it's time. But two of those are sprouted so far. The snow peas I'll plant after we move for a fall crop. But the beans will have to wait until next spring.

But once we move, I plan to do a bit more gardening. For instance, I have several 30 gal storage bins that I'm using to pack of stuff in. (The moving boxes we used before were falling apart.) I plan to transplant at least the asparagus and the snow peas in those. Along with some other fall crops like lettuces. Won't be able to plant too much since I'll only have a small patio at the new townhouse. But it will be a start.

Then once we get our own property, oh my, the plans within plans that I have. (Dune fans will get that reference.) I'm talking large gardens, livestock, aquaponics, just to name a few. I can go on forever about all of that. But I think I'll leave that for another post. I've gone on enough for this one. So until next time, see ya later.