Aquaponics Project – Design

I’ve been talking about hydroponics and aquaponics for years now.  (and now that I understand the biology a little more, I’m not even considering hydroponics anymore)  I think it is time I finally implement my first solution.  I’ll use this post to document what I want and where I’m going to get it from.   (so it will change over time)

Style:  Flood and Drain beds w/ gravel.  Cold-water fish.  Electric pump.

Tank:  plastic stock tank.  110 gallon TSC SKU Number: 2229862

aquarium air pump w/ bubbler stone to oxygenate water all the time

submersible pond pump (eventually to be replaced with marine air conditioner pump), operated on an electrical cycle timer.

Grow Beds:  made from 2by lumber, lined with pond plastic, filled with stone gravel (13mm) that doesn’t change pH.  (crevices are desirable)  Height: waist level.  No auto-siphon is needed since I’m using a pump on a timer.  Growbed Size: 4′ x 5′ x 12″  Red wiggler earthworms will be placed in the grow bed to further digest solid fish waste into plant nutrient.  Sloped slightly.  Min depth= 12 inches

water test kit – ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, oxygen, pH, temperature

Resources:

Blog entries and e-book from synaptoman

http://backyardaquaponics.com/

http://www.urbanaquaponics.com/

Multi-part how-to article from growing edge

Improved auto-siphon valve (Affnan’s bell valve)

from http://www.urbanaquaponics.com/content.php?129-Oxygen-Sizing-your-Aquaponic-Air-System:

  • 1/2 lb of oxygen per lb of feed fed to fish (for home systems)  (1lb oxygen / feed is safer)
  • 23% of air is oxygen by weight (21% by volume) – 1 cubic foot of air weighs 0.075lbs
  • efficiency of transferring oxygen into water is ~ .5 (standard)

system design tool  http://www.aquaponic.com.au/backyard.htm

rules of thumb: http://theaquaponicsource.com/rules_of_thumb.php

  • 1lb of fish per 5-7 gallons of water
  • 1lb of fish for every 1 sq ft of grow bed surface (minimum 12″ depth)
  • LECA (Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate, AKA Hydroton), Lava Rock, and Gravel are the most widely used media types.  If you choose gravel, understand it’s source and avoid limestone and marble as they could affect your pH.
  • cycle time: 15 minutes on, 45 minutes off
  • flow the entire volume of fish tank through grow bed every hour (100 gallon tank will need a 400 GPH pump, adjusted for required lift)
  • feed fish as much as they will eat in 5 minutes.  (1% of body weight for adult, 7% for fry)
  • add red worms to gravel after fish are established
  • target pH is 6.8, to 7.0.  test weekly

aeration rules of thumb: http://aquaponicscommunity.com/forum/topics/design-numbers

  • 1 CFM (28 L/M)of air for each 400 gallons of fish tank
  • need 1 psi to push air through the air stone
  • need 1 psi to push air down 28 inches of water

http://www.growingedge.com/aquaponics-%E2%80%9Chow-to%E2%80%9D-%E2%80%93-part-one-why-aquaponics-and-what-type-of-system

http://www.growingedge.com/aquaponics-%E2%80%9Chow-to%E2%80%9D-part-2-grow-beds-and-fish-tanks

http://www.growingedge.com/aquaponics-part-5a-%E2%80%93-starting-up-your-aquaponics-system-using-fish

  • start with a few fish to attract the bacteria — test daily – if too high, exchange 1/3 of the water with fresh de-chlorinated water.
  • adjust pH by .2 per day maximum
  • use product “pH Down” –sold at hydroponics stores
  • to raise pH: alternate calcium hydroxide – also known as “hydrated lime” or “builder’s lime” with potassium carbonate (or bicarbonate) or potassium hydroxide (“pearlash” or “potash”). Don’t use citric acid as it is anti-bacterial!
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12 Responses to Aquaponics Project – Design

  1. Brian says:

    More Links
    Murray Hallam’s Practical Aquaponics Forum: http://www.aquaponics.net.au/forum/index.php
    Aquaponics HQ Forum: http://www.aquaponicshq.com/forums/forum.php
    Aquaponics in Paradise Forum: http://aquaponicsinparadise.com/APforums/
    Backyard Aquaponics Forum: http://www.backyardaquaponics.com/forum/
    DIY Aquaponics Forum: http://diyaquaponics.com/forum/portal.php
    Urban Aquaponics Forum: http://www.urbanaquaponics.com/forum.php

  2. Brian says:

    2/21/2011 5pm:
    -added 5 gallons of water from John D’s aquarium
    pH = 8.0
    Ammonia = 0.25ppm
    Nitrite = 0ppm
    Nitrate = 0ppm
    added 2 teaspoons of pH down
    added 12 oz of “Ammonia”

    7pm:
    pH = 7.8
    Ammonia = 1.5ppm

  3. Brian says:

    2/23/2011 6pm:
    pH= 7.6
    Ammonia = 2 ppm
    Nitrite = 0 ppm
    Nitrate = 0 to 5 ppm

    added 30 oz of ammonia

    Ammonia = 4 ppm
    Nitrite = 0 ppm
    Nitrate = 5 ppm

  4. Brian says:

    costs of system components:

    orders@theaquaponicsource.com
    ————————–
    Product ID: ABAHF002
    Product Name: MaxiCrop Liquid Seaweed – quart
    Quantity: 1
    Unit Price: $9.95
    ————————–
    Product ID: CWHHF006
    Product Name: ActiveAqua Pump 550 GPH
    Quantity: 1
    Unit Price: $44.95
    ————————–
    Product ID: APPHF005
    Product Name: Grounded Timer, 15 Min Cycle, 15 Amp, 24 Hour
    Quantity: 1
    Unit Price: $12.95
    ————————–
    Product ID: APPHF001
    Product Name: ActiveAqua Air Pump with 2 Outlets, 7.5L Per Minute
    Quantity: 1
    Unit Price: $10.95
    ————————–
    Product ID: APPHF003E
    Product Name: Air Stone, 6″ (15cm), 2 Pack
    Quantity: 1
    Unit Price: $3.95
    ————————–
    Product ID: APPPM005
    Product Name: Silicone Airline Tubing, 20 feet
    Quantity: 1
    Unit Price: $5.95
    ————————–
    Product ID: ATSPW001
    Product Name: API Freshwater Aquarium Test Kit
    Quantity: 1
    Unit Price: $21.95
    ————————–
    Product ID: AWCPW002
    Product Name: Aquarium Pharmaceuticals pH Down – 4 oz
    Quantity: 1
    Unit Price: $4.95
    ————————–
    Product ID: ATSWG002
    Product Name: Surfin Shark Thermometer
    Quantity: 1
    Unit Price: $9.95
    ————————–
    Product ID: AASPW003
    Product Name: Fish Net – JW Pet – Smartnet Fine – 10 Inch
    Quantity: 1
    Unit Price: $5.95
    ————————–
    Order Total : $131.50
    Shipping : $10.74
    Grand Total : $142.24

    110 gallon stock tank from Tractor Supply – $50 plus tax

    Lumber, pipe, fittings, insulation. $200

    Pond Liner – 45mil EPDM rubber, amazon.com $35

    Gravel – native river rock from CSC in Plano $50

  5. Brian says:

    2/25/2011
    pH = 7.6 or higher
    ammonia = 4 ppm
    nitrite = 0 ppm
    nitrate = 5 ppm
    added: 30oz of ammonia, 2 tsp of pH down, 10 caps of liquid seaweed

    2/27/2011
    pH = 7.6 or higher
    ammonia = 8.0 ppm
    nitrite = 0 pm
    nitrate = 5 ppm

    3/1/2011
    pH = 7.6 or higher
    ammonia = 8.0 ppm
    nitrite = 0 ppm
    nitrate = 5 ppm
    added 4 tsp of pH down

    3/5/2011
    pH = 7.6 or higher
    ammonia = 8.0 ppm
    nitrite = 0.25 ppm
    nitrate = 5 ppm

  6. Brian says:

    reading on the backyardaquaponics.com forum- they recommend you don’t try to adjust your pH down when the system is cycling. They have pH levels as high as 8.8, say they eventually come down naturally.

  7. Brian says:

    3/7/2011
    ammonia = 8.0+
    nitrite = 0.25
    nitrate = 10

    3/8/2011
    added 5 caps of liquid fertilizer

    3/9/2011
    ammonia = 8.0+
    nitrite = 0.5
    nitrate = 10

    3/12/2011
    pH = 8.0
    ammonia = 8.0+
    nitrite = 0.5
    nitrate = 10

    3/13/2011
    added 25 gallons of water, 10 caps of fertilizer

    3/15/2011
    pH = 8.2
    ammonia = 8.0+
    nitrite = 1.0
    nitrate = 20

    3/18/2011
    pH = 8.2
    ammonia = 8.0+
    nitrite = 2.0
    nitrate = 20

    3/20/2011
    pH = 8.2
    ammonia = 8.0+
    nitrite = 2.0
    nitrate = 20

  8. Brian says:

    3/21/2011
    added 20 tiny goldfish
    added 20 red wigglers
    pH = 8.0
    ammonia = 8.0+ ppm
    nitrite = 2 to 5 ppm
    nitrate = 40 ppm

    3/23/2011
    1 dead fish

    3/24/2011
    1 dead fish

    3/25/2011
    added 10 large goldfish. (approx 6 to 8″ each)
    pH = 8.0
    ammonia = 4 ppm
    nitrite = 5 ppm
    nitrate = 80 ppm

    3/26/2011
    1 dead tiny goldfish (partially eaten)
    added 25 gallons of water
    added 2 plecostmus
    added 2 algae eaters
    pH = 7.4
    ammonia = 1 ppm
    nitrite = 5 ppm
    nitrate = 80 ppm
    added floating isolated bucket (1 qt) of duckweed

  9. Hal Cobb says:

    Brian, nice work documenting your aquaponics project. I’m in Fort Worth and am doing background reading prior to setting a system up in a largish backyard greenhouse (36/40′). Your blog has the highest concentration of guidelines and links I’ve seen anywere. Kudos.

    • Brian says:

      Glad you found it useful Hal! I’d love to see pictures when you get started! (I’ll see them if you put them on backyardvegetablegardeners.com/forum)

  10. Carol Meek says:

    Hi. Glad to find you. Am very interested in setting up an aquaponics system and have been trying to locate someone in Lubbock who might be up and going already. Would it be possible to see what you are doing? I’m a believer in learning from others who already have some experience. If that is a possibility please contact me.
    Thanks,
    Carol

  11. Hal Cobb says:

    I found some internet info on an operation in Wichita Falls Tx called Young’s Greenhouses. They operate an aquaponic system….largish one…and seem to have fabricated many of the components themselves. I will see if they would allow visitors.

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