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PostPosted: Nov 11th, '12, 07:53 
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Hi,

(Apologies for the very long post - I just wanted to give as much info as possible)

I've been thinking about building an aquaponics system for a few months now. There are a few factors that is preventing me from doing so in ernest or immediately - lack of time and finance.

However, I have decided to create this system thread now to try to document my journey in to aquaponics. I'm sure there'll be many a winding roads, dead-ends and accidents during the way!

Garden Pond

I already have a garden pond with koi, carp and shubunkins - so I suppose this is already half the job done already? :think:

Below is a short video of the state of my pond at the moment (10th November 2012):




I inherited the pond when I moved in to my property in 2010. Since I have never had a pond before, I had to read up a lot on how to look after the pond and to understand the nitrification lifecycle.

The main problem with the pond is that it has two massive sweet chestnut trees overhanging it (from the north). This means it will get a lot of leaves and catkins falling in to it, especially during the end of summer (catkins) and autumn/winter (leaves and chestnuts). Right at this moment, I have installed a gazebo and some netting over the pond to try to fend off the falling leaves and sweet chestnuts.

I have roughly calculated the volume of of the pond - it is about 2250L:

Image

Below I have drafted up a diagram (not to scale) to show the rough layout of the pond and to show various components within and around it:

Image

You'll see that I have two pumps, one for the bio-filter and stream/waterfalls and one for the water pots. There are lots of places where aeration can occur, which is always good.

The solids mainly build up in the bio-filter (which needs to be back flushed) and in the waterfall/stream beds (either by settlement or by using a filter material).

The Oase pump is probably a bit too big for my pond size. When I bought this pump in 2010 (the inherited pump failed) I was not very energy conscious. Now that I am - I am appalled that it is using (up to) 130W. :oops:

The Bermuda pump is really a fountain pump and power consumption is relatively low at 16w, but does a adequate job of filling the water pots, which flows back in to the pond. I suppose you can probably think of this part of the setup as a basic constant flood system? :dontknow:

I'm actually considering getting rid of the stream/waterfall part, to make more room to the north of the pond for a new/additional shed. This will mean I will have to think about how I am going to provide adequate aeration and solids collection somewhere else. This can probably be integrated in to any future/potential AP setup that will probably be hosted to the south of the pond.

The very small solar air pump I have is not adequate as a proper backup aeration setup - it was only bought on a whim and to see how well (or badly) it works. I'll be looking to hopefully set up a proper solar/battery backup system. I actually already have a 4kW grid-tied solar setup. And I have an off-grid *ahem* climbing frame... :mrgreen:

Anyways...

Fish

In the pond there are probably about 25 fish. These came with the pond - I have not added to it:

Silver (Yellow) Koi Carp (1)
Gold (Orange) Koi Carp (1)
Grass/Black Carp (~15)
Goldfish (~5)
Shubunkin (~5)


The grass/black carp seems to breed every year so their numbers are rising. The biggest fish are the two koi - you can see from the above video, but here is a picture of the two koi:

Image

(You can just make out the Oase pump under the tail of gold/orange koi)

From memory I believe I have lost about four or five fish so far - to a heron, frozen pond, HSM moments and one I found half eaten at the bottom of the pond. Thankfully, none of these were any of the koi's.

Overall, they are pretty hardy fish - recently I had a HSM moment and found the pond with only a few inches of water in it and no water flow and thus no aeration (I have a picture somewhere). :( I don't know how long they had been like that but I hadn't checked on them for about three or four days (been in hospital - long story). Being quite cold here in the UK at the moment probably helped. Lost one black carp- but that was on it's way out already (had some physical damage - not sure how/why and had been struggling and for a few weeks already).

Plants

Plant wise, the pond has the following in and around it:

Variegated Sweet Flag
Water Iris
Water Lily
Water Hyacinth
Anacharis
Hornwort


These certainly help with the oxygenation and in using up any nitrates.

Conclusion

I'm still trying to figure out how I can convert this in to an AP setup. At the moment I will probably try to re-use the patio pots I'm currently using for my water iris. I actually have three of these pots which are about 66L each (50cm in diameter and 39cm high). Obviously not much grow bed area but, at least it is a start without too much outlay.

Longer term, I am also looking to have a separate aquaponic setup with a separate FT from the pond. For now, to keep costs down and to get some experience/knowledge I will have to make use of what I already have.

Any thoughts/suggestions/comments are most welcome! :thumbright:

You can see more images of my pond at the following Google+ album:

https://plus.google.com/photos/113404843613730491824/albums/5809231639124329777

Cheers,

Mon

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PostPosted: Nov 11th, '12, 14:03 
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Great to see you have started a thread Mon! I can't wait to see what comes of it.

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PostPosted: Nov 12th, '12, 13:48 
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Tagging along... keep the pics flowing!


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PostPosted: Nov 12th, '12, 16:00 
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Hi,

Just some diagrams to show you my thoughts/options at the moment, in terms of using my water pots as grow beds.

I do have other (clear/opaque) storage containers that I can potentially use - but I really like the look of these black patio pots.

Cheers,

Mon


Attachments:
File comment: This is how my water pots are set up and how they actually look with the water iris growing in them. They actually grow very well in there and are well over 6 feet in height, making them good for shade and as a wind-break.
Pond - water pots.PNG
Pond - water pots.PNG [ 567.59 KiB | Viewed 10324 times ]
File comment: This is the first option I was thinking about on how to re-use the pots. I have three pots all together and this design has a solids separator (swirl or radial) in the middle (new pot) overflowing to the two pots (existing pots) at either side which will be the grow beds. The simplest option is to leave these two grow beds as constant flood - since they already have the out flow pipe already. These are 20mm pipes, so not that big and I would need to protect tis outlet from blocking up.
Pond - Water Pots - Option 1.PNG
Pond - Water Pots - Option 1.PNG [ 23.62 KiB | Viewed 10324 times ]
File comment: This is my second option - similar to first but making stand pipes and gravel guard for the grow bed pots. One disadvantage this will have is that it will reduce the potential grow bed growing area.
Pond - Water Pots - Option 2.PNG
Pond - Water Pots - Option 2.PNG [ 54.58 KiB | Viewed 10324 times ]

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PostPosted: Nov 17th, '12, 15:57 
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Hi,

I've acquired some plywood cable drum/reel/spool from work - similar looking to:

Image

I'm looking to use these to sit the patio tubs on, rather than use bricks as shown in my diagrams above.

Since there are untreated (I believe) then I'd like to seal/preserve them. I found this useful article that lists 5 different non-toxic/eco/safe ways to seal wood:

Top 5 Safe Wood Sealers for Raised Bed and Container Gardens

I decided to go for the raw/pure linseed oil option as this looked like the easiest option for me.

Looking around I found that 'flax oil' is basically the same as linseed oil (but different in the way it is produced - cold-pressed for flax and using petroleum solvents for linseed:

Is Flaxseed Oil the Same as Linseed Oil?

Read more: http://www.livestrong.com/article/46913 ... z2CSrWpY7I

I hope my findings are right as I've now purchased the following:

Pegasus Health Flax Oil for Horses 5 Litre

Yes...for horses...

I'm hoping that this just the product name and it is just flax oil - which the product description says it is. I've found that the price for 'flax oil' always seem to be cheaper than 'linseed oil'.

If this product is not suitable, then I'm going to have some horse oil for a horse I don't have... :oops:

Cheers,

Mon

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PostPosted: Nov 17th, '12, 16:48 
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Looks like the flax seed oil will work but will yellow with age. You could try applying this to a piece of glass to be certain it forms a film and dries - it will take a long while to dry(days I'm guessing but you should be able to tell if it will work pretty soon - some oils never do).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flaxseed_oil

Pay close attention to the fact that rags soaked in linseed oil/flaxseed oil can spontaneously ignite because of an exothermic oxidation reaction. I'd check on the woodworking sites for how to deal with this (If I remember right you clean with water and then lay them flat out in the yard to dry but I don't use this very often so check). You don't want to burn down the house to save a few bucks.


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PostPosted: Nov 17th, '12, 17:04 
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Hi Scotty,

Yes - the problem with flax/linseed oil is that it takes ages to dry. Especially at this time of year in the UK!

I have also read that you need to be careful with the rags used and to soak and wash them in water before drying it out, preferably outside.

Thanks for the reminders.

Cheers,

Mon

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PostPosted: Nov 18th, '12, 01:28 
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I prefer to eat the flaxseed oil, and use varnish to seal wood.

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PostPosted: Nov 18th, '12, 04:05 
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Hi,

I've changed my mind about the flax oil now - cancelled the order.

I'm now thinking about using liquid rubber - like from:

https://www.rubberizeit.com/

Or a specific pond sealant, P-1 Pond Sealant:

http://www.koicarp.net/pond_construc...tains/p-1.html

Both come in black which will match the patio tubs nicely.

Cheers,

Mon

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PostPosted: Nov 18th, '12, 12:06 
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I use linseed on tool handles (axe, hammer, shovel etc)
It dries just fine. Whether it is due to being soaked up in the timber or not I don't know but after a few days the handles are completely dry to the touch and do not cause any residue on my hands after use.
I apply it in a 50/50 mix with mineral turpentine. This thins the mixture and allows deeper penetration. I do 3-4 applications.

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PostPosted: Nov 22nd, '12, 23:55 
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Hi,

After some more researching, I decided to go with the following wood preservative:

GreenLeaf Wood Treatment - Marine and Aquatic Formula

http://www.lifetimewoodtreatment.co.uk/ ... Product=59

Image

This product claims to be have zero VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) and is harmless to aquatic life.

Since it is water based then that will hopefully not mess about with the plywood glue and still let it 'breathe'.

This product is clear/transparent so I have also gone for a ultra low VOC (00.25%) stain from the same supplier:

Green Leaf Wood Stain

http://www.lifetimewoodtreatment.co.uk/ ... Product=45

Image

Although this stain does contain some traces of VOC I'm hoping it is so low as to not be of any concern.

Interestingly, the supplier claims that in the US/Canada a product can legally claim to be 'zero VOC' but can still have a certain amount/level of VOC in it. But in the UK it is more strict.

I was also considering using the following wood treatment:

http://www.harrodhorticultural.com/eco- ... d8674.html
http://ecowoodtreatment.com/index.html

which the supplier stated as being safe for fish, but I could not find any references to it having low/zero VOC on the website.

Cheers,

Mon

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 Post subject: Vinegar Test
PostPosted: Nov 25th, '12, 05:46 
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Hi,

I did the vinegar test on the gravel I am looking to use.

Here is a a picture of the gravel, washed in a net pot and with a 10 pence coin as a size reference:

Image

You can see there are various different types of pebbles/stones, of varying sizes.

Can you spot the odd one out? (I don't mean the 10 pence coin)

I used Sarsons Distilled Malt Vinegar for the test:

Image

The eagled eyed of you will have spotted the sea shell in the gravel. The sea shells are not numerous but they do exist in the gravel.

And yes, it does have calcium carbonate in it and will produce bubbles in the vinegar:

Image

A individual test with a select of the pebbles/stones do not produce any bubbles - so they do not contain limestone or calcium carbonate in them:

Image

Image

Image

Image

Here are a load of them at once:

Image

A video of test can be seen below:




I think it will be impractical for me to try to go through all the gravel to pick out the sea shells.

At the moment I'm not too concerned about it. Would they not be good in terms of providing a PH buffer? Just like I've got oysters shells in my pond water system already?

Cheers,

Mon

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 Post subject: Re: Vinegar Test
PostPosted: Nov 25th, '12, 09:14 
solarmon wrote:
Would they not be good in terms of providing a PH buffer? Just like I've got oysters shells in my pond water system already?

Yep.. and will only dissolve when the acidicy drops... and cease once the pH rises above about 7.2-7.4....

Basically.. a self regulating buffer....


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PostPosted: May 3rd, '13, 04:19 
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Hi all!

Hope you have all been keeping well. I've been absent from these forums for a while - due to various personal and work issues.

Now the weather is getting better here in the UK I've started to think about Aquaponics and how to integrate it in to my pond.

There have been some problems with the electrics to my garden and as a result my pond has not had a pump running for about 4 months. It is a bit of a mess at the moment. Luckily this was over the winter period and surprisingly I've lost only a few fish - mainly taken by a heron and deaths due to damage/trauma done by the heron (I didn't have a netting over my pond at the time).

Anyways, I've been thinking about the plumbing that goes with Aquaponics and I don't know about you guys/gals, but I find that part quite difficult - what with all the different pipe and thread sizes. The differences between NPT and BSP pipe threads, pipe inside and outside diameters, etcetera, etcetera...

Firstly I needed to figure out how to make a bell siphon. I eventually figured out (from these forums and Youtube vids) the best way to make the stand pipe was to use electrical conduit adapters. I found ones that would fit 20mm pipes. I had also purchased over-flow pipe tank adapters - but these were for 21.5mm pipe. It seems, different manufacturers have systems with differring pipe sizes which made it more complicated for me - there are 20mm, 22mm and 25mm versions.

Since the electrical conduits were for 20mm pipe, I had to source some 20mm pipe and fixings. I'm not sure if this will be a suitable/adequate size - we'll just have to see.

I've been watching a lot of Youtube videos regarding bell siphons. I've always liked the ones that demoed it using a clear glass/jar to show what was happening during the siphon lifecycle.

I wanted to incorporate this as standard in to my system so I had to figure out the best way to do this. Eventually, I decided that the best way was to try to heat mould a PVC pipe to a glass jar. I'm not sure if this has been done before, but it seem the best way to me at the moment.

I couldn't use a complete glass bell siphon cover since it needed holes at the bottom for water flow and it is hard to drill in to glass! This also meant that I couldn't fix it with an air tube to help break the siphon - so I hope I can adapt the glass/PVC pipe setup to make and break flawlessly.

I'll show pictures of what I have done so far in a post below.

Regards,

Mon

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PostPosted: May 3rd, '13, 05:46 
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Hi,

Below is my standpipe parts:

From right to left:

* 20mm electrical conduit adapter - male (http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/271024914695? ... 1439.l2649)
* 20mm electrical conduit adapter - female (http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/271024914695? ... 1439.l2649)
* 20mm electrical conduit pipe - from Wickes or B&Q (UK)
* 20mm to 40mm adapter (http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/350681519181? ... 1439.l2649)

Image

I also got 20mm right angled fittings at http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/350681568173? ... 1439.l2649

For the actual bell siphon cover itself, I needed a pipe that the 20mm to 40mm adapter will fit through, and a glass jar that had an opening just slightly larger than the pipe but bulbous enough to fit around the adapter. I can't say at the moment what size the pipe is - it was just something I had and I haven't got a measuring tape on me at the moment:

Image

Image

Image

The next part is quite tricky. For the pipe to be connected to the glass jar you need to heat the end of the pipe - using a heat gun or, in my case, a gas cooker. You need to be careful and make sure you do this in a well ventilated room or outside; and take precaution not to burn yourself (or anything else!).

You need to heat the end of the pipe - taking care not to actually burn the PVC plastic. Once it is soft enough then you need to stretch the end of the pipe around the glass jar opening. Took me quite a while to do this as it difficult to get the plastic to stretch around the opening of the jar.

However, once done it may look something like this:

Image

I'm not sure how water/air tight it is but I'll probably also put silicone sealant around attached parts.

I have figured a way of connecting it so that I can screw and unscrew the jar.

The pipe is also cut over size so I will need to cut it to length and drill holes in to it.

Once thing to be wary of when attaching the jar and pipe is to make sure the 'shoulder' of the join does not warp too much and actually make the pipe too small to fit the stand pipe in to it. If you find the plastic is too warped and is getting in the way then heat it up and use something to shape it out from the inside - like a broom handle or something like that.

As you can see the standpipe fits inside perfectly and it seems to give enough space around the adapter:

Image

Obviously the real test is to put it in to action - but that will be for another day when I get some more time!

Cheers,

Mon

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