Aquaponics Adventure Mark II part II

Aquaponics March 31st, 2008

This is a continuation of my Aquaponics photo-journal, part one is here.

This is the overflow from the main fish tank to the beds. Notice the pipe on the inside of the tank, this extends to the bottom and so when the tank “overflows” it’s actually sucking the crap (quite literally) off the bottom of the tank and dumping it on the beds. I’ve got a 50mm end cap with holes drilled in it on the end so no unsuspecting fish end up flapping about on some hot red rocks.

And of course the key ingredient to any Aquaponics system is fish. I had 70 goldfish (of various varieties) delivered last Friday.

I also re-plumbed the pump pipe to go through the side of the sump (instead of just sticking out under the lid). This allows me to put the lid on. The sock on the return pipe filters some of the dust and solids coming back from the beds.

My dog Archie usually jumps up on the sump and rolls over for a belly scratch, he came sprinting over whilst I was doing this work and my “Archie Nooooooooo!” fell on deaf ears as he leapt up onto the sump….except the lid wasn’t on….. and he plunged in and went straight under. He is the first living thing I’ve “harvested” from my aquaponics system.

I have run some black pipe from the outlets in the bed to the other end of the bed. My rationale here is that the solids coming out of the tank want to be as far away from the drain as possible. This means that the beds can do the best possible job of filtering out solids.

I used some old standpipe from system one to act as the last part of the pipe from the pump. Because it has holes in it, it creates a venturi effect which sucks air into the pipe before it goes below the surface of the water. This does some additional airation of the water, and stops the water siphoning back into the sump when the pump is turned off (by sucking in air and breaking the siphon effect). I plan on doing something a little less dodgy in the future.

I adjusted the standpipes so that they can handle more water by chopping off a whole side and making the holes down the bottom a little bigger. This increases the drain rate and means that it’s even harder to overflow. Note the adjustable “level control” implemented by the extra bit of PVC near the top.

This is then stuck in the beds, and has three states, empty (no photo), filling/draining (first photo), and overflowing (second photo).

The idea is that the water level rises to just underneath the gravel.

But doesn’t get too full. If the water rises above the gravel it gets direct sunlight which allows algae to grow. The idea is to keep the water out of the sun where possible. I still need some fiddling with my standpipes to get the level right.

The system works off a timer in my shed. Basically it’s a cheapo $2 Bunnings timer which turns the pump on for 15 minutes and then off for 45. I will need to run it like this for about a month for the system to “cycle”. A system is “cycled” once the bacteria needed to convert Ammonia to Nitrates has established itself. There are two types, one to convert Ammonia to Nitrites, and one to convert Nitrites to Nitrates. Once a system is “cycled”, Ammonia and Nitrites will be zero, and Nitrates will be present. At the moment, my bacteria aren’t established yet, and thus I have a ever so slight Ammonia reading!

7 Responses to “Aquaponics Adventure Mark II part II”

  1. Live Beyond Says:

    Great looking system..Looking forward to the next installment. Aquaponics rocks!!

  2. Uncle Yarra Says:

    yay! matching bathtubs!
    I had a look in the gallery – saw the ‘digging in the sump’ pictures. I feel for ya, I’m currently digging holes for my FT’s. Think of it as a very successful giant rock mine (except for the fact that the rocks are still in-situ!).

  3. TT Says:

    wow Gemmell, great blog. I will be up your way next month so may have time to call in for a visit.

  4. A Thought Adrift » Blog Archive » Aquaponics Adventure Mark II part III Says:

    […] This is a continuation of the aquaponics adventure from part II. […]

  5. Jensilaedi Says:

    I dont mean to be picky but I figured it would do you good in the long run… I picked this line up… not sure if this is right;
    “There are two types, one to convert Ammonia to Nitrites, and one to convert Nitrites to Ammonia.”

    I would have thought it’d be;
    “There are two types, one to convert Ammonia to Nitrates, and one to convert Nitrites to Nitrates.”

    As far as I know, there’s no bacteria who does the reverse… but if there is one, I’d love to know about it.

    Other than that… w00t for using WP to show off your AP!! I’m in that direction too! HF and GL!!

  6. Jensilaedi Says:

    oh my god how embarrassing…. I meant;
    “There are two types, one to convert Ammonia to Nitrites and one to convert Nitrites to Nitrates.”

    LMAO even I made a mistake… will keep an eye on your blog 😀

  7. gemmell Says:

    Ah yes, good pickup! I’ll fix it up.