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PostPosted: Aug 3rd, '14, 23:21 
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So I started this system Oct 2013. After spending a couple weeks reading about it I went out and purchased two 55 gallon drums for $12.50 Each. The pump was purchased at Harbor Freight for under $20 and the wood was free from a local fence company that gives away old pressure treated 4"x4" fence posts. I also purchased an air pump from Walmart. The most expensive part was the media. I purchased 3 large bags at around $30 each and also a couple bags of cheap pea gravel which I mixed in at the bottom of the beds.
Attachment:
File comment: Last month the water temps were staying over 80 deg even at night so I added the burlap awning to help cool things down. The tank is buried with only the top 1/3rd above the ground, also to help with the Florida summer heat.
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The system was circulated for a month with no plants or fish. I then added 30 Rosy Red feeder fish purchased at the local pet shop for $10 and planted about 10 Day Lily's I hybridized. In the first two weeks I lost three fish. Then purchased a master water test kit, another $32. I haven't lost any fish since, until the last few weeks - more on that later....

Fast forward 6 Months, I added lots of vegetables, about 8 lettuce plants and 10 broccoli plants, two cherry tomato, two bell pepper, two water melon, two bush beans and 4 corn plants. It all pretty much went straight to seed and a lot of yellow leaves. But no worries, I knew the system was still young and was more concerned with keeping the fish happy. After reading about the yellowing I started adding a tiny bit of soluble iron and Potash every month which solved the yellowing. I haven't added any in the last two months as the yellowing has stopped.

I added a large gold fish we won at the fair in early March, he did great for a while. More in him in a bit. In late March I purchased 12 tiny Tilapia about the size of a nickle for $20 and added them to the tank. They have grown incredibly fast and I haven't lost any of them. They are now 3"-4" and very active.

In addition to the plants in the beds I also add water plants from the local spring fed lake, mostly Hydrilla and water cabbage. The tilapia eat it up.

My water tests show my PH has dropped slowly starting from 8 to now, 10 months later, staying around 6.3~. My ammonia stays at or close to zero, Nitrites stay at zero, and the Nitrates seem to fluctuate as I've removed and added plants and increased feedings.

The Lily's love the system and are still putting out flowers but the Veggys continue to struggle. The old growth turns black dies and produces very little fruit. I've since pulled most of it up only leaving the peppers, melons, beans, and lily's. I trained the two melons to drape over the side to the ground and now the portion growing along the ground is doing much better although still no fruit. The peppers are tolerating it but only have a few peppers, and the beans likewise.

I added lots of lily's this week as my nitrates are rising since pulling up the tomato, broccoli and lettuce plants. after stirring up the media planting the lilys this week my Nitrates shot up to 50ppm although the Nitrites and Ammonia still read zero. I hope the new plants bring this down fast.

So that's an overview of where the system is currently, now to the MISSING FISH :dontknow:
I didn't realize Tilapia would eat their neighbors! :?

So although the rosy reds had grown in size and number until a month ago they now seem to be disappearing. I haven't had a dead fish since the first month and it appears they've been dinner. This didn't surprise me. I figured when the Tilapia got big enough this may happen. But what I didn't expect was for the Gold fish to be on the menu. He was huge. The same size as the Tilapia, about 3" long. Last week he disappeared without a trace.

Could they have eaten him? It appears so, but I'm still skeptical? What do you think?

As far as the veggys go I assume I just need more time and hope next year will produce better. In the mean time I'll continue to grow lily's and concentrate on keeping the fish happy.

With a 50 gallon tank I'm wondering how long they will be happy before I'll need a bigger tank. My plan is to add a 250 gallon IBC tank and a couple more beds later this year and use the current tank as a sump. How long do you think I have before the current tank is too small for 12 Tilapia and about 20 Rosy Reds?

Here's some pics as it sits today
Attachment:
File comment: The lilys in the front of the bed where added last night. The darker green lily's in the back have been in the beds from the start.
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Attachment:
File comment: Watermelon draped over side. Notice the older growth at top is struggling but the newer growth on the ground is doing much better.
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PostPosted: Aug 3rd, '14, 23:40 
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Thought you'd like to see one of the Daylily flowers. This is a cross between Caribbean sunshine girl, a yellow flower with lots of ruffles, and Caribbean tangerine horses, a large deep orange Day Lily. These two were hyridized by the late Dave Talbott here in North East Florida. I crossed these two lilys a few years ago and have been growing them in the yard. This is a pic of one growing in the system.

Attachment:
File comment: Pic Taken this morning of Daylily
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PostPosted: Aug 4th, '14, 02:18 
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Red bell pepper, an ornamental cabbage from my niece's wedding reception, bush green beans, and day lily's are on this side. I have plenty of room for more but need more media to fill out the front. You can see how the old growth of the pepper has died and what little fruit is small. I planted the beans in the dirt first and then transplanted a few to the system. The beans in the ground produced more and bigger beans but the plants in the system are tolerating the heat better and may produce all summer. The lily's once again are loving it. I have the same plants in the ground around the house and unless I fertilize and water regularly will not continue blooming through the summer. The lily's in the system have continued to bloom thus far.
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PostPosted: Aug 4th, '14, 06:17 
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Nice little system Bobmac

You are well over stocked in a 50 gallon tank with 12 Tilapia and about 20 Rosy Reds you'll need to look at getting that IBC added real soon.

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PostPosted: Aug 4th, '14, 23:30 
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The lilies are beautiful Bob!


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PostPosted: Aug 5th, '14, 02:07 
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Apparently, not much grows in FL in the summer. You need to search out specific heat tolerant varieties, and just because they are selling them at the big box stores, doesn't mean it will grow. Try to get plants from local farmers who have tested and sell their crop over the summer. It's hard to find any seed pack that allows you to plant in July.

I started my watermelons from seed in late June. They started well, then stopped, and are now starting up again. Heat tolerant tomatoes I got from a local producer, put out one fruit in June and refused to flower in July, but has kept growing. Hoping to see some flowering start again in next month or so.

Do you have a secure lid for FT at night? Could you have raccoons?


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PostPosted: Aug 7th, '14, 07:31 
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Thanks Katmac, I enjoy them and they are nearly fool proof.

Vida, I'm not convinced the heat is the problem, maybe with the tomato's, but it's odd all the broccoli and lettuce went straight to seed and then the old growth died while the new growth looked great. Wish I had pics to show of them. The broccoli started great, had the beginnings of a head, and then started putting out tall branches with seed while the head died back. Also they where planted in early spring and we had a mild spring so I don't think it was the heat. Most likely a deficiency or just need more time for the system mature.

I have a lid with chicken wire but don't bother closing it. The area is fenced and my five dogs would not put up with raccoons in their yard. Besides that, those tilapia are near impossible to catch, even with my net.

Does anyone else think it's odd the goldfish was eaten considering his size?


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PostPosted: Aug 15th, '14, 21:27 
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So I need some advise. I need a larger tank. My 12 tilapia have eaten all there neighbors and are growing very fast. I figure I have a month or two at best.

I'm either going to add a 250 gallon IBC tote or purchase a liner and dig a pond. I'm leaning toward the tote as it seems it would be the easier route and take up less space. But a pond would be nice although I'm thinking a lot more work. If I add a pond how deep does it need to be? Are there other concerns I'm not thinking of?

What do you think, pond or Tote?


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PostPosted: Aug 17th, '14, 12:24 
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IBC tote is easier,.. pond could be bigger and replace your sump.

If you get an IBC tote you could easily set it up as the FT with the existing barrel that's 2/3 burried as a sump tank. pump from the sump to the IBC FT, then gravity feed from the FT -> GB -> sump. going this route you may want to add 2 to 4 more grow beds...

If you make a pond, you will have more work involved, though you could make it bigger (which may mean you have to add more grow beds then you would be adding if you get an IBC). The pond could be made as big as you like, as long as you don't overstock it.

another option is to do both,.. put in a pond to use as a grow out tank for your largest fish and an IBC to use as a nursery tank and use the existing barrel as a bio filter between the pond and the IBC,.. so you would pump from pond -> barrel (bio filter) gravity feed to IBC -> grow beds -> pond. This would require elevating the barrel a little higher then the IBC. but would allow you to replenish you stock of fish before you have to harvest them all,..


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PostPosted: Sep 7th, '14, 23:00 
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Thx Mars, I think I'll be adding an IBC FT this fall.

Took some pics of the fish today. I'm really surprised at the size differences of the fish. The biggest fish is about 4" and the smallest is about 2". I've read this would happen but didn't think the growth differences would be so dramatic.

Attachment:
File comment: This one is the average size. These were purchased this spring and less then an inch long.
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File comment: finally figured out how to get a descent pick of the fish in the tank
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Attachment:
File comment: from this shot I count 12 Tilapia and about 6 rosy reds. I started with 30 Rosy reds last winter and added 12 Tilapia this spring.
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PostPosted: Sep 7th, '14, 23:11 
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File comment: Notice the Hydrilla. I have the camera off to the side of most of it but you can see a few pieces in this shot. The fish LOVE IT! I get it from a local spring fed lake and within a week they strip it of all it's leaves. I replace it every couple weeks.
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Attachment:
File comment: You can see a piece of the cabbage I get from the same lake. They LOVE this also!
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PostPosted: Oct 1st, '14, 10:24 
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My fish have out grown their home so I'm in the process of adding an IBC.

It's in place and full of water. Unfortunately I had to use tap water so now I have to deal with how to mingle the new and old water and introduce the fish to the larger tank. It took almost a year to get the water in the old tank from over 8 to the current 6.5PH without adding anything to change it, letting it fall naturally. The current system has fully cycled and although I'm a bit overcrowded I have ammonia and Nitrites at zero.

I de chlorinated the water, added good bacteria and some fish food and let it sit for a week. last weekend I added 30 rosy red feeder fish to help cycle the new water. Boy do they look lost in that huge tank!

Before I can plumb things together and add the new beds I have to figure out the best way to mingle the two tank waters and move the Tilapia to the larger tank when the new tank water has a PH of about 8 and the fish are used to 6.5.

We get a lot of rain this time of year so my old tank floods at times. I'm going to start adding this excess water to the larger tank for a while and see how the PH reacts.

Any help with advice on making sure the new tank water is safe for the tilapia would be appreciated.

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PostPosted: Oct 2nd, '14, 21:14 
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Hopefully not to late to mention this. I would not sink the IBC into the ground. As Marsorbust stated you should probably turn your existing submerged drum into your sump and pump from there to your IBC placed at ground level or even slightly elevated then you can gravity feed from your IBC to your media beds.


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PostPosted: Oct 16th, '14, 00:26 
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Too late, Everything is pumbed together and the fish have been in the big tank for a week now. I wanted the tanks partly under ground to buffer the temp swings we get here in North East Florida. Our temps range from nearly 100 to 15 deg F.

I'm plumbed to pump from the small tank to grow beds, gravity feed from the beds back to the fish tank and then overflows to the small/sump tank.

I haven't added the new beds yet. Hope to get them in this weekend.


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