Aquagarden - Aquarium aquaponics

Growing plants using nutrient solutions, without soil.

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Aquagarden - Aquarium aquaponics

Post by fishmantom » Mon Jan 23, 2017 6:21 pm

Hey all, I thought I would start a new topic in here for discussing aquarium aquaponics. I do love designing things so this is right up my street.

The basic idea is to make something that is a combination of an aerogarden and an aquarium. It needs to look relatively neat, keep the fish alive/happy and provide a good place to start/grow plants

My first prototype I made to take my 10cm pots, which will not be necessary in future. I think it would be better to "go full hydro" and use a lower tray rather than the trough I used.

Prototype 1
Image

Prototype 1 inside
Image

Protoype 1 better light
Image

The next thing i have been pondering is how to deliver water/nutes. I see on aerogardens each plant hole has its own feed to a pump. This would be doable but not easy/messy. is it necessary or could we use some other method, like a mister underneath or just a highly oxygenated reservoir underneath. just me thinking out loud. I will draw some designs and do some testing on my day off when i have a bit more time so stay tuned.

Happy growing! :mrgreen:

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Re: Aquagarden - Aquarium aquaponics

Post by Chili Jay » Mon Jan 23, 2017 8:03 pm

Nice work. I love the idea

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Re: Aquagarden - Aquarium aquaponics

Post by MR2Jay77 » Mon Jan 23, 2017 8:18 pm

Looks an interesting concept...Will keep an eye on this :mrgreen:

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Re: Aquagarden - Aquarium aquaponics

Post by fishmantom » Wed Jan 25, 2017 11:46 am

I have been trying out ideas on paper to try and get my head round what would work best.
Image

The first way is the most simple. Put a polybox lid on an aquarium, cut some holes, fit some pots, add an airpump and away you go.
Pros:
easy/simple
quick
not much to go wrong
cons:
aquarium is going to be dark
a tank full of roots is not going to look particularly attractive

The second way I have sketched is more like prototype 1 with a separate reservoir/tray with a drain. I have put a mista/fogger in the sketch but it could also utilize an air-pump instead or as well as.
Pros
gets roots out of aquarium
still fairly simple
can fit aquarium light to underside of tray.
Cons
Smaller area for roots
potential for drain to become blocked

The 3rd way I sketched was more like how the aerogarden does it (i think, i have never actually seen one in person). I would use small tubing to give each net pot its own feed from the pump i would place all the tubing feeding he net pots on one polybox lid with the pots half through. so you could tape all the tubing into place and the place another polylid on top sandwiching all the unsightly tubing between the two sheets. then either an open bottomed tray like sketch one or with a drain like sketch 2
pros
seems to work well on aerogardens.
plants receive constant supply of water
cons
More complex to set up.
would need to find a good splitter to split the feed from the pump into many airlines.


Just some ideas coming along. if anyone sees any advantages/disadvantages to any of the design or an other ideas please chime in, all a work in progress

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Re: Aquagarden - Aquarium aquaponics

Post by fishmantom » Wed Jan 25, 2017 1:44 pm

After doing a bit more reading and googling aqusponic aquariums, i remembered I could also do it another way as well more like ChilliJez's large scale aquaponics. With a container of inert media and a drain as a growbed. This seems to be the way alot of people go though i do not know if this is because it is easier or more effective. I suspect that it is easier for large scale aquaponics to do it this way but on a smaller scale, other ways maybe used to get faster growth.
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Re: Aquagarden - Aquarium aquaponics

Post by ChilliJez » Fri Jan 27, 2017 11:23 pm

:P Tom, I'm loving the idea of this thread. I will have a bunch of questions over time. I'll be glad to learn the best fish to survive my poor management, particularly as the system gets set up.

Are you depending on the above flood and drain system for the clay pebbles being the medium to support nitrifying bacteria? I like the idea of clay pebbles but the problem with the bell syphon flood and drain is that the growbed size needs to be large. When it's nearly full the fish tank will be nearly empty.

I'll keep thinking. Great thread. :P

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Re: Aquagarden - Aquarium aquaponics

Post by fishmantom » Wed Feb 01, 2017 8:03 pm

ChilliJez wrote::P Tom, I'm loving the idea of this thread. I will have a bunch of questions over time. I'll be glad to learn the best fish to survive my poor management, particularly as the system gets set up.

Are you depending on the above flood and drain system for the clay pebbles being the medium to support nitrifying bacteria? I like the idea of clay pebbles but the problem with the bell syphon flood and drain is that the growbed size needs to be large. When it's nearly full the fish tank will be nearly empty.

I'll keep thinking. Great thread. :P
I'm not really sure just trying out ideas. Yes it would lower the water level in the tank quite dramatically so maybe I will think of different methods than the flood and drain. maybe a constant trickle of water like the other diagram. the clay pellets would indeed support nitrifying bacteria which would help keep ammonia in check for the fish. If not using them then a internal (or external) filter could be used as opposed to a strait pump. Like what I have used in prototype 1.

In other news I got payed this week so have ordered some bits and bobs for trying out ideas. Including a couple of splitters to try making a proper aerogarden style top.
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/152408886196
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/281804266771

have also ordered a mist maker to play with.
That should give me plenty to get on with!

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Re: Aquagarden - Aquarium aquaponics

Post by fishmantom » Fri Feb 10, 2017 1:01 pm

I have Just been putting the finishing touches of prototype 2. all very exciting I cant wait to plant something in it. I decided to try making a lid in the style of the 3rd drawing in this post. -
fishmantom wrote:
Wed Jan 25, 2017 11:46 am
I have been trying out ideas on paper to try and get my head round what would work best.
Image
...

The 3rd way I sketched was more like how the aerogarden does it (i think, i have never actually seen one in person). I would use small tubing to give each net pot its own feed from the pump i would place all the tubing feeding he net pots on one polybox lid with the pots half through. so you could tape all the tubing into place and the place another poly-lid on top sandwiching all the unsightly tubing between the two sheets. then either an open bottomed tray like sketch one or with a drain like sketch 2
pros
seems to work well on aerogardens.
plants receive constant supply of water
cons
More complex to set up.
would need to find a good splitter to split the feed from the pump into many airlines.
...
I started by cutting wholes for net pots in 2 poly-lids. one with holes big enough to take the top of the net pot, and one big enough for the bottem half of the net pot to go through but not the top. I pushed 8 net pots through the larger wholes so there top was pretty much flush with the poly-lid(I know badly explained but you will see what I mean),
Image
I then gave each net pot its own airline tubing feed and taped them to the underside of the first lid.
Image
Image

I then added the other poly-lid, sandwiching all the pipework inbetween. I also added the 8way splitter i got on ebay.
Image
Image

lastly I added another spare aquarium filter I had lieing around as the pump.
I have put this on a plastic tub reservoir just to test and it seems to work well.
Image
Image
I can't wait to get some rockwool plugs to try it out with.

Happy growing! :mrgreen:

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Re: Aquagarden - Aquarium aquaponics

Post by Heefy » Fri Feb 10, 2017 4:46 pm

Looking forward to seeing this in action. Excellent work.

Any ideas which plants you will use?


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Re: Aquagarden - Aquarium aquaponics

Post by fishmantom » Fri Feb 10, 2017 7:53 pm

Heefy wrote:
Fri Feb 10, 2017 4:46 pm
Looking forward to seeing this in action. Excellent work.

Any ideas which plants you will use?


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Thanks, not sure yet. if i put an aquarium heater in the reservoir and a seed-tray propagator lid on top, it might make a good place to start seeds

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Re: Aquagarden - Aquarium aquaponics

Post by fishmantom » Sat Feb 11, 2017 10:00 am

You would think working inside a garden centre down a road full of gardencentres, I would be able to pick up some Rockwell cubes, but alas no. Tried 4 gardencentres, Christmas lights wooly jumpers and God knows what else but not Rockwall cubes. I will have to order them on line which will delay things.

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Re: Aquagarden - Aquarium aquaponics

Post by ChilliJez » Sun Feb 12, 2017 12:29 am

Here's an idea to throw into the mix. It would work with an aquarium if you have enough filter area for nitrifying bacteria.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkc5f_Ss8YQ
:P

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Re: Aquagarden - Aquarium aquaponics

Post by ChilliJez » Sun Feb 12, 2017 12:40 am

I've bought a splitter to go from 16mm to 8 x 4mm or 5 mm from Green's Hydro as I recall. I saw similar on ebay recently. About £2.50. Greens were also good for rockwool stuff and cheap carrieage.

Initial impressions of root riot for germination are super positive. I pretty much hated rockwool. Just saying.

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Re: Aquagarden - Aquarium aquaponics

Post by fishmantom » Tue Feb 14, 2017 6:48 pm

ChilliJez wrote:
Sun Feb 12, 2017 12:29 am
Here's an idea to throw into the mix. It would work with an aquarium if you have enough filter area for nitrifying bacteria.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkc5f_Ss8YQ

:P
I will definitely have a proper look at this on my day off i have been so busy with work this week. it seems to be the same way I have my home made aquarium filter set up except i used a water pump to move the water instead of an airpump. i will take some pictures on thurs
ChilliJez wrote:
Sun Feb 12, 2017 12:40 am
I've bought a splitter to go from 16mm to 8 x 4mm or 5 mm from Green's Hydro as I recall. I saw similar on ebay recently. About £2.50. Greens were also good for rockwool stuff and cheap carrieage.

Initial impressions of root riot for germination are super positive. I pretty much hated rockwool. Just saying.
I hear you on the germination I wanted to try rock wall in this new prototype to keep things clean - no extra organics. I'm not sure if I'm going to start new seeds in it or use some plug plant peppers i got in the garden centre today for experiments.

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Re: Aquagarden - Aquarium aquaponics

Post by ChilliJez » Sat Feb 18, 2017 1:28 am

I'm liking this whole idea Tom. It's keeping me thinking. On the train, driving to work, when I should be sleeping... :lol:

I'm interested that you've gone for a version of dripper. I like the idea, especially so if the area that the roots grow down into is humid. Would you have a plan to manage the roots that grow out between the two layers? Would that be a problem? Don't know. That 8 way airline manifold is the way to go and more obvious to an aquarium person. I assume the roots will grow down through an airspace and meet the fish tank water surface. Do the fish eat the plant roots?

I'm loving the way that a fogger works for it's cheapness and simplicity. I've had 2 on the go now for 6 months or so and they're doing fine but I worry about failure because they're cheap and Chinese. (no offence meant. just no guarantees and 30 day supply chain). I have a replacement on hand to swap in if needed and a unit that's waiting to be deployed. My thoughts at the moment are to have a trough like yours with it arranged so the bottom is submerged in water in the fish tank. the base of the trough is perforated to allow water to pass through. The water level in the fish tank is determined so that there's a constant level in the trough. The fogger would be at optimum depth and there would be an emergency reserve in the base if the fogger should fail and protected from fish.

Fish!
FISH!!

What would you recommend? I'd be aiming for ones that could survive stupidity and cock ups rather than looking good.White cloud mountain minnows? I had a few of them when I set up my greenhouse system and I have a soft spot for them even though they got consumed, gradually. :roll:

I'm thinking 20C. I'm also thinking about putting the idea to the mrs for a bijou, very aesthetically pleasing location in the kitchen. Herbs, salads, on hand, darling! Homespun aquaponic aerogarden.

Dunno Tom, was the idea yours or mine? Whoever, it's fired a spark. Let's get a home aquarium aquaponics thing working! :P

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Re: Aquagarden - Aquarium aquaponics

Post by fishmantom » Sat Feb 18, 2017 12:25 pm

Yes, I am also enjoying working it all out. The roots can grow down threw the bottom of the pot and Down into the reservoir. I may remove the bottom sheet as it doesn't do anything just hide the pipework which is fairly hidden anyway. I have changed it yet because, "if it ain't broke..." . I installed 2 Chenzo 2 cajan bell and a tomato last night that I got as plugs just to play with. I will take some photos when I get home.

The mister sounds good to use I think I will put one underneath. Once it arrives but as always with Chinese ebay stuff its taking its time.

The only problem I can think of with your design is water movement I think the water in the bottom of the trough even with holes drilled is going to be fairly still and thus get depleted of nutes. I think it would be good to push water through the trough with either a water pump or an air pump.

I would probably have an airstone as back up anyway.

White cloud mountain minnows are one of my favourites as well I have bred them in past. They are good because they are very hardy and can take cold water or tropical (tropical in fishkeeping is between 25-28). Other fish that are temperate (cold or trop) include zebra/leopard/pearl/giant danios, peppered corry, rosey barbs etc..

P.s. I have had white clouds in the pond now for 3 years and they seem happy. The wonders of global warming eh :lol:

Happy growing! :mrgreen:
Last edited by fishmantom on Sat Feb 18, 2017 9:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Aquagarden - Aquarium aquaponics

Post by fishmantom » Sat Feb 18, 2017 9:21 pm

Here is prototype 2 with some chillies installed. I have a couple of tomato plugs to go into two of the slots and am going to try starting some seeds in the last slots. They seem to be settling in well. I am going to pot one of each of the pepper plugs to compare the difference in growth rates.Image
Image

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Re: Aquagarden - Aquarium aquaponics

Post by fishmantom » Sun Mar 12, 2017 6:38 pm

Quick update on prototype 2.
Image
Seems to be working very well. the tomato plants have got very large and i have taken one of them out and will remove the other soon as it is shading the peppers.The peppers keep getting hit by aphids, so maybe I will move the whole thing somewhere else. I will remove the tomatoes and give the peppers a good spray and hopefully they will start to thrive like the toms have. When I pulled the tomato I found had grown roots down into the reservior. it probably had 20-30cm roots. I transferred it to a krafty pot and will try something different in there.
Image

Happy growing! :mrgreen:

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Re: Aquagarden - Aquarium aquaponics

Post by ChilliJez » Sat Apr 29, 2017 9:25 am

How's the aquagarden going, Tom? :P

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Re: Aquagarden - Aquarium aquaponics

Post by fishmantom » Sat Apr 29, 2017 5:31 pm

ChilliJez wrote:
Sat Apr 29, 2017 9:25 am
How's the aquagarden going, Tom? :P
the one on top of the aquarium currently has some Physalis seedlings.
The other aerogarden style one, i actually turned it off and took it down on my day off the plug plants I put in it were huge and some pubescent cuttings I put in there had rooted. At the moment I am using the light somewhere else but I will restart it when it available to do some cuttings again as this was so easy and successful.
I will take a picture when I get home

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Re: Aquagarden - Aquarium aquaponics

Post by fishmantom » Sat Apr 29, 2017 6:54 pm

Here is one of the chenzo plugs I had in the aquagarden. Its now in a krafky jar on the windowsill.Image

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Re: Aquagarden - Aquarium aquaponics

Post by ChilliJez » Sun Apr 30, 2017 5:54 pm

That's interesting and it certainly seems successful in the use that you've put it to.

Remind me; were you using filters as a substrate for nitrifying bacteria?

I'm being sorely tempted to take you up on your offer of a tank. I love this idea. Initially I got involved in aquaponics with the idea of 2 food sources but now it's just the mini ecosystem thing. A fishtank sitting in the kitchen, by the window, light supplemented by LED, fish and plants ( herbs, perhaps a dwarf chilli or a microtom) in a balanced nutrient cycle. and not looking too awful and homemade!

I'd be concerned about feeding fish. What are your opinons of those slow release blocks for holiday feeding?

Thanks for your advice! :P

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Re: Aquagarden - Aquarium aquaponics

Post by fishmantom » Tue May 02, 2017 2:14 pm

ChilliJez wrote:
Sun Apr 30, 2017 5:54 pm
That's interesting and it certainly seems successful in the use that you've put it to.

Remind me; were you using filters as a substrate for nitrifying bacteria?

I'm being sorely tempted to take you up on your offer of a tank. I love this idea. Initially I got involved in aquaponics with the idea of 2 food sources but now it's just the mini ecosystem thing. A fishtank sitting in the kitchen, by the window, light supplemented by LED, fish and plants ( herbs, perhaps a dwarf chilli or a microtom) in a balanced nutrient cycle. and not looking too awful and homemade!

I'd be concerned about feeding fish. What are your opinons of those slow release blocks for holiday feeding?

Thanks for your advice! :P
the filters are being used mostly because I have quite a few spare. They will help with converting ammonia to nitrate which is less harmful to the fish. Also if you used a straight pump without a sponge, small fish could get sucked into the pump

I would avoid holiday blocks where at all possible. They pollute the water, provide poor nutrition and just don't work terribly well. Fish only really need feeding 3 times a week. You could look at automatic feeders but if you do that you would need a small fan in the lid to take away the evaporation otherwise the feeder would get damp and clog.

Happy fishkeeping! :mrgreen:

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