View Full Version : My backyard aquaponics system

06-17-2009, 04:38 PM
I finally got some shots from my backyard aquaponics system together!

It is a fluidized gravel bed system with approximately 140 gallons (530 liter) water volume with 60 gallons (230 liters) of 3/8" (.95 cm) pea gravel for media.

The rearing tank is a 110 gallon oval stock tank with a center bottom drain. It currently houses 6 shubunkin goldfish and 1 coy.

The center bottom drain is fitted with an elbow and piped horizintally into a plastic barrel. This barrel houses two pumps and bio-balls and is areated with a pond air pump. The small areation pump constantly runs and leads back to the top of the rearing tank. It has an elbow to give the large tank a slow clockwise rotation. The larger pump is controlled by a timer and floods the Grow bed through a PVC distribution network.

My grow bed is wood framed with a PVC pond liner. It is 4'x4'x8" deep, and is based on the square foot gardening method from Mel Bartholomew. Each of the (16) 1' squares is fed from two sides by the distribution network. The bed takes about 1 minute to fill to the top, activating the two auto siphon drains bulkheaded (ghetto stye) to the front of the growbed. They suck the grow bed down to about 1" of water in less than a minute. The rapid draining action is important because it creates suction and draws oxygen down into the gravel.

At about 1", there is less pressure pushing on the siphons and they reach equilibrium with the pump. The water is still running, but it is acting like a trickle system now. When the pump turns off, the siphons will break leaving about 1/2" in the bottom of the bed. There is about 2" of course lava rock under the gravel to improve flow. The siphons drains create a rapid counter-clockwise vortex in the rearing tank. Pump times are 5 to 15 minutes depending on the time of day. The pump runs every two hours by day, four hours by night with a 6 hour rest period from midnight to 6am.

Current water parameters
PH 8.0
Total Ammonia .5ppm
Nitrites 0
Nitrates 0

Biggest problem right now is temperature stability. I plan to insulate both the rearing tank and the pump tank.

Next biggest problem. Spider mites!! I plan to spray the plants with a capsicum and garlic solution and try not to get it in the water directly! I have to admit that my bio-security sucks in this setup. I sooo wish I had a greenhouse, but you gotta start somewhere!!

06-17-2009, 04:51 PM
there is a good natural product that works well on spider-mites... it's called "end all" and comes in a yellow spray bottle... spray the undersides of the plants and that'll take care of your mites!
Great setup, can't wait to see the progress! thumbs2:

06-17-2009, 05:13 PM
I probably should have mentioned that I got the system running just before memorial day. I added the fish and planted seeds on 5/22/09. Here are some recent pics, after 3 to 4 weeks of growth.

The system cycled rapidly with the massive bio filter and light fish load. Ammonia has started to come up again, I think due to buildup of solids and external debris. The nitrites have not come up though, and this system has yet to show detectable nitrates.

06-17-2009, 06:08 PM
What are you growing?

06-17-2009, 11:53 PM
That looks great plantedlab!
I know what you mean about the greenhouse. I'm planning one of those. Figure if I'm going to to it properly, and I've got to wait until we've got out a fence up out the back etc, I'll start planning (and saving) now to get it how I want it.

I really can't wait til I get my set ups done, LOL. I am really excited about the whole concept. I got Murray Hallam "Aquaponics made Easy" DVD the other week. More to explain it to my hubby as he doesn't believe me:hmm3grin2orange: he thinks I go "all in" on everything I do without taking a logical look at it. Though hearing it from someone else might sway him. Kinda did. At least now he's not saying that it's s dumb idea.

Going to try just a herb garden set up over my 55G inside too, just using the PVC pipe. FIgure I've got the fish and nitrates already there, might as well use them! Just got to upgrade my lights.

Keep us updated with pics mate, Really keen to see the progress and how it goesthumbs2: :22:

07-06-2009, 02:52 AM
System update. Growth has been slow yet steady, but some of the plants are yellowing on the older leaves, most likely from nitrogen deficiency. Last week my coy jumped out of the pond and died.:scry: I added (24) 2" comet goldfish to the 6 shubunkins I still had. Hopefully this will get the plants going a little quicker.

Peas and beans are still doing the best. They are just flowering and starting to fruit.

The Spinach bolted to seed after some very hot weather two weeks ago, and is doing poorly. Lettuce, cucumbers, parsley, carrots, and tomatoes are growing, but slowly.

07-06-2009, 02:57 AM
More pics of the slow growing plants.

Z Fish Man
07-06-2009, 03:23 AM
Very nice looking set up. So are the fish in the black bucket at the bottom? Also is it only the fish waste providing the nutrients to the plants?

Maybe once I get a place of my own I'd like to do something like and combine two interested, fish and gardening, into one.