The Good Aquaponics System – Part I

Aquaponics, Ideas April 10th, 2009

Well. I said I was going to go bigger and better, and I have. I was going to bulid a pond but that kind of fell through – kind of a lot of work and in the end I decided I’d just fork out some cash and get “the proper stuff”. So I bought parts of a BYAP style system from and started setting it up. Now this system I attacked with a different mindset. Previously I had rushed to get things installed and going because I was working fulltime and rushing to get as much done on the weekends as I possibly could (in between soccer, doing the washing and cleaning and generally doing “life”). But this time I had 2 weeks off and I thought “I’m going to do this RIGHT”.

One of the best things about having “a good system” is that you can now relabel your old system “the dodgy system”. So I went to town on it and actually got it up and working well as well, which I’ll detail in another blog entry.

I’ve got about 177 photos uploaded here, but I’ll give you the condensed version of my efforts on the good system:

The site (complete with old system in the background)

The tank (note the grin)

Because I was doing this system “right”, I spent longer than I usually would prepping the site. This included painting the carport with potable water (i.e. safe) bitumen paint. This is because I didn’t want condensation or rain stripping some zinc from the metal and putting it into the system (which would re-introduce the heavy metal woes that I had to deal with in the last system. The motto for this system was “no risks”.

Yay, the plumbing is coming together. I used green pvc glue (which is used for potable water) to glue any connections going up to the growbeds (because it’s under pressure) and just silicon in the joints of the drainage connections.

Note some of the ball valves I have here. Firstly the one in the foreground is to flush some water back into tank (the pump is way too powerful for my needs) – this is angled such that the water is put into a whirlpool style action, the trout love moving water, and it also means that scraps and solids migrate into the centre of the tank where the pump is and end up in the growbeds. The ball valves in the background allow me to isolate the growbeds and connect it up to a hose so I can empty the tank.

This is the custom built growbed stand.

And the water coming off the hydroton when I first washed it. It’s nowhere near as much work to wash this stuff as it is scoria. Expensive, but it’s awesome to work with.

My growbed drains

And this is my overflow – it’s connected to the drain of the tank and is raised to the level I want for the max water level, past this it will overflow onto the garden.

The first inhabitant of my tank

This is the water distribution to the growbeds. I don’t know if this is strictly neccessary, but I’m not taking any risks, any “gunk” that comes out I want to be distrubted so that it can get broken down properly.

So enough with the setup stuff, lets see it in action. Here it is, with the water going, and a skimmer rigged up – it’s actually REALLY effective because of the whirpool effect. You may also notice I have some rope holding pipes together. That’s the only section I didn’t glue, I need to be able to rotate the angle of that return, so instead of using an expensive barrel union, I just used some rope to make sure the pressure doesn’t smash the fittings apart.

This was where I got excited and forgot my “patience” rule. I ordered 200 trout without cycling my system with something else. Anyway, here are the trout.

I netted 50 of ’em and chucked im in my old system.

The thing with trout is that they’re suicidal. Well OK, they jump. And when they’re not careful they tend to jump straight out of the tank. First I knew about it was when my dog arrived happy as larry with a fish sticking out his mouth.

So I got a AP hat made. I haven’t got a photo uploaded, you’ll see it in the next blog entry.

This is why it’s a bad idea to have an uncycled system and then add 200 fish. Ammonia. That’s at about 1.0. I saw it go as high as about 2.0!

It took nearly two weeks for it to start falling. No losses yet, but I’m writing this on holidays, and we all know that stuff goes wrong as soon as you go away. Nitrite readings were pretty high too, and some of the fish were looking a little worse for wear. I salted to 3ppt (which means dumping in 9kg of salt!), and when I left last night the fish were looking happier. More to come real soon.

Comments are closed.