ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission

Growing plants using nutrient solutions, without soil.

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nicobass

Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Post by nicobass » Fri Feb 21, 2014 9:50 pm

Wow - that's a project and a half, good luck and great effort

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Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Post by ChilliJez » Mon Feb 24, 2014 12:29 am

nicobass wrote:Wow - that's a project and a half, good luck and great effort
Thanks Nick, Kitkat, Oz. There are times when I feel I shouldn't have started and I'm not feeling super confident right now but I'm in deep enough that I'm not going to abandon.

This weekend was going to be another great step forward. However, quite rightly, swmbo intervened and pointed out that the garden made us look like a pikey encampment. It was true. A trail of carnage. Pallets and IBCs and sacs of pebbles and excavated earth.

So Saturday was spent restoring a harmonious balance rather than making meaningful progress.

Today I bought the plumbing kit from Screwfix and B&Q. Instead of filling the grow bed directly, I'm filling containers with the clay pebble grow medium. The end of today was cutting, drilling, rinsing and filling those containers. I got there, (yee hah!) so any rain that falls over the next few days will be washing my clay pebbles. Come on Michael Fish! Do your worst! Sadly light brought an end to proceedings so no pics now but they will follow.

I have great neighbours, which is not something you can presume. Kim next door has water that isn't metered and has volunteered to share, so when he's about over the next few days I'll fill the tanks and wash the grow medium. About 2000 litres. :shock: Then we're underway, circulating. I will most definitely post when that happens. :idea: :shock: 8) :lol: :mrgreen: :P

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Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Post by ChilliJez » Mon Feb 24, 2014 12:44 am

Great neighbours 2.

Dave, across the street had volunteered a solar panel to power a part of the project. That was drinks at Christmas and I'd heard nothing more so put it down to "fuelled by Fosters". However swmbo bumped into him today and he mentioned it again so I think it might be serious.

I'm thinking mostly about powering lighting in the winter but... And I'm thinking Ben123 and Oz... but everyone who has a clue...

What questions do I ask so I can find out what's on offer so you can tell me what I should do. Cheeky? Taking advantage? Me?

Seriously, it's 12v and there's a business next door to where Dave is based, that could offer a couple of half expired leisure batteries to the project.

I know nothing! Please advise! Thank you.

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Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Post by TheOzricle » Mon Feb 24, 2014 7:22 am

This does sound like an amazing project Jez. I think Ben is your man though with all his programming hocus pocus and what have you. I have been looking into solar projects though but on a much smaller scale. I would say its going to have to be quite some size panel to run lighting off though. I was only looking into running air pumps for bubblers and worked out it would probably need a 30w panel to ensure the battery never went down running it 24/7. I guess its going to be a case of see what's on offer then see what you could run off it. It's great that you have some helpful neighbours. I will help out if I possibly can.

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Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Post by Ben123 » Mon Feb 24, 2014 5:14 pm

What kind of lights where you thinking of? What's the specs of the panel you're getting and also the size of the batteries (in Ampere-hours [i.e. Ah])? As Oz said you'll need a pretty meaty solar panel to charge up the lead acid batteries enough in the dim winter sun to run any lighting for any significant period of time, but if you can get some figures we might be able to estimate something :)

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Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Post by ChilliJez » Tue Feb 25, 2014 10:15 pm

Thanks guys. I don't actually know! I will find out in the next few days and pick your expert brains when I know more.

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Re: ChilliJez; the slow road to Tilapia

Post by ChilliJez » Mon Mar 03, 2014 11:49 pm

I was a bit down by the end of Sunday.
I had 2 tanks.
I had a growbed filled with containers and clay pebbles.
I had a pump and plumbing.
I had water circulating through the media.
Hurrah!.
I had a leak.
Doh!
F! F! F!

So I got home today. Stay calm. Be methodical. Scooped out the pebbles. Drained the bed. Checked the tank fittings and made up new rubber seals and started to fill the bed using only water. I've identified the fill height at which it starts leaking so it is a hole in the liner. Find and plug the hole and I'll be sorted. TBH I'll probably use the liner I was going to use for growbed 2 to double line this one. Leaks now are a pain but so minor compared to when the bed is planted up.

My plans for containers within the bed are probably a bad idea. Apart from looking a right state and being unwieldy, I'm suspecting that a clay pebble against the liner between two solid surfaces is what caused the liner to be holed.

Onwards and upwards! Repair the leak, 2nd liner for the growbed and it should be circulating by the weekend. Phase 1 complete. (Ha! Ha! Ha!)

The Water is F! cold. Phase 2 needs to be insulation. Phase 3 is heating and that's the point at which I can introduce fish. That's the point at which I will feel joy and anxiety in equal measure, because then I'll be introducing fish and have a new responsibility.

My feeling at the moment is that I'm in way over my head and if I'd known before....

But I also know that it can be achieved so I'm taking 1 step at a time...

Another slight downer...(I say slight :lol: ) is that I've had no replies from the people I'd been expecting to supply Tilapia. Maybe they only surface when it warms up in the spring.

Will do photos soon, honest!

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Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Post by Ben123 » Tue Mar 04, 2014 12:06 am

Being in over your head is the best way to learn how to swim :)

Fascinating project Jez, can't wait to see it in action!

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Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Post by ronniedeb » Tue Mar 04, 2014 9:24 am

Ben123 wrote:Being in over your head is the best way to learn how to swim :)
Well said. I'm sure it will work out Jeremy, and you will be the go-to guy on the forum for anyone wanting to take up aquaponics.

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Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Post by bullgoose » Tue Mar 04, 2014 8:30 pm

It's fascinating. Any pics on the way ??

Apart from Tilapia what other edible fish could be considered in the UK climate ?

cant wait to see this in all its glory.

muchus respect

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Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Post by ChilliJez » Tue Mar 04, 2014 11:37 pm

Thanks for the kind words guys. Pics will be on their way. Especially as I have an unleaky system that's cycling. Yay! My growbed leak was a basic numpty error in folding the surplus pond liner at the corners.

I ditched the separate containers within the growbed and I'm happy that was the right thing to do. The growbed is roughly 450 litres and the fishtank 1000. The ratio should start at 1:1, building to 2:1 as the fish mature so I have some more fabricating to do. I'm very keen to do the zipgrow vertical tower thing for the rest of the capacity though.

Next I must insulate the tanks and arrange heating. Once the tanks are insulated and warmed I can introduce the necessary bacteria and get the system cycling. I'm going to make a bubblewrap growtent over the bed till the weather warms up, along the lines of the tent I made for germinating a couple of years ago.

Bullgoose, there are other edible fish probably more suited to the uk climate. Rainbow trout and Carp are the species that spring to mind. Trout was my original plan but they are culturally more finicky and require higher quality animal protein diet. Expensive and not very tolerant of my novice mistakes. I discovered today that one of my work colleagues has a pond on her farm with mirror carp. Now that sounds interesting. The fish are supposed to be quite boney which is a bit off putting.

I do plan on a breeding pair of cherax quadraticarinatus (blue lobster) the only crayfish permitted in the uk from an earlier post.

What I really need to do is to get the system running quickly enough for fish and crayfish to be big enough by the time it's getting cold in the autumn that swmbo looks in the tanks and sees dinner not electricity bills!

More to follow. :P

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Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Post by bullgoose » Wed Mar 05, 2014 12:07 am

Nice. I can vouch for carp being rather tasty. Would never have considered eating it before i worked with some Czech lads. They dine on it for christmas dinner would you believe. I did not enjoy it from the perspective of being a fisherman and firm believer in catch and release when it comes to course fishing but there was 5 of them and one of me so no choice. They chopped it up coated it in a variety of herbs and spices then fried it up. Quite delicious

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Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Post by ChilliJez » Wed Mar 05, 2014 12:21 am

Good to know Bullgoose. Most of my fellow workers are Polish and it's a tradition for them to to eat carp on Christmas eve. I have a spare ibc tank...outdoor system...ambient temp...ooh! It might have to happen.

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Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Post by ChilliJez » Wed Mar 05, 2014 7:14 am

Pic!
Image

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Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Post by Heefy » Wed Mar 05, 2014 1:05 pm

I don't understand it, but omg, I love it! Keep up the innovation.

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Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Post by ronniedeb » Wed Mar 05, 2014 1:16 pm

Looking good Jeremy! Where did you get the pebbles from? Did you get a good bulk deal?

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Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Post by ChilliJez » Wed Mar 05, 2014 1:49 pm

ronniedeb wrote:Looking good Jeremy! Where did you get the pebbles from? Did you get a good bulk deal?
Prices started looking a lot more attractive once I searched for expanded clay aggregate rather than expanded clay pebbles. There's loads out there but making sure it's the right stuff seems like a bit of a minefield I ended up with these guys;

http://www.william-sinclair.co.uk/indus ... anded_clay

I think I paid £151inc VAT delivered in 21 x 50 litre bags on a pallet. Bizarrely a bulk bag of 1000 litres more expensive for less.
The cheapest I found in more modest quantities was an ebay seller doing 50 litre bags for £9.50 but delivery extra. I wouldn't suggest anyone buys on my recommendation until I have the thing cycling and pH is stable etc.

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Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Post by ronniedeb » Wed Mar 05, 2014 2:14 pm

Good price. A lot cheaper than going for the hydroponic store stuff like I did.

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Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Post by Slyboy » Wed Mar 05, 2014 7:42 pm

+1 looking great!

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Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Post by mrprogress » Thu Mar 06, 2014 8:21 pm

I am loving watch this develop even though I am still not sure I can visualise the end result yet, but it is a great project and I look forward to the updates.


"Other plants in the summer will be trial and error but toms, aubergines and cukes will feature. I'm quite tempted by some of the unusual leafy things that real seeds are offering. I've got some onion sets lined up and waiting. And I'm very open to suggestions."

Sounds ideal for culinary herbs I would also consider stuff like kale, perpetual spinach, mixed leaf salad, bush tomatoes, maybe even brassicas in winter.

Best of Luck

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Re: ChilliJez Little Shop of Horrors

Post by ChilliJez » Fri Apr 11, 2014 12:25 am

I've not posted in a while. I've spent too much time pamparing the beast that is my aquaponic thing. TBH it's grown big and a little bit ugly and is sucking the lifeblood out of my wallet.

Feed me Seymour! Feed Me!

Since the last post I have the thing cycling without fish. I wasn't able to find ammonia to do this that didn't have additives so in the end I used a product used by an Aussie aquaponic guru called Murray Hallam. It's derived from seaweed and called Maxicrop in the UK. That's been going for about 2 weeks now.

I've built a 2nd growbed. it adds 380 litres to the 470 of the first so my total volume is getting close to the 1000 litres I need for balance with the fish tank.

The extra capacity will be made up with vertical "towers". I've made the first of these, planted and set it circulating yesterday. A 1.3m length of 110mm drainpipe with 8 holes drilled for plants and filled with clay pebbles. It's rigged up temporarily to check that it might work and doesn't dump the contents of the fish tank on the floor. So far it looks good. The plants I've put in there are a mix of annuums. Hot Wax, Somborka, Peppadew, Chimayo, Kapia, Edes Furzerpaprika, Piquillo and one other that I can't remember!

I intend to be gathering solar energy to warm the tanks before the autumn but for now, to get the tanks up to temp I've bought an aquarium heater. That went in last night and checked today it was registering 20.0C. Far from the 29C the Tilapia will appreciate. I hope it keeps on rising. I've lagged the fishtanks with a mix of insulation panels, Loft insulation nicked from.. well you can guess :lol: and a dual layer polycarbonate sheet. Fingers crossed.

I have photos and I'll edit this post with them when I can access photobucket from a useful device.

John (trident) thanks for your advice. Seems I don't know anyone with an aquarium though. Bummer.

2 more things. I hope to be collecting some Tilapia this weekend. If that's the case Thunderbirds are Go! And, when things are working I do plan on adding in some crayfish, Cherax quadricarinatus - the legally approved ones.

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Re: ChilliJez Little Shop of Horrors

Post by ronniedeb » Fri Apr 11, 2014 12:35 am

Excellent. Really looking forward to seeing this work...especially the crayfish!

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Re: ChilliJez Little Shop of Horrors

Post by Heefy » Fri Apr 11, 2014 7:18 am

Sounds amazing. I am looking forward to the photographs as I am having a hard time piecing the thing together in my head from the description. The most interesting project to date! Great work.

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Re: ChilliJez Little Shop of Horrors

Post by ChilliJez » Sat Apr 12, 2014 12:17 am

Heefy, I have a hard time piecing the thing together and I get to ponder it every day. :roll: :lol:

Thanks for the kind words from everyone.

Today I got the second growbed filled with clay pebbles. Sounds simple but it took 4 hours to wash the pebbles. that is one tedious job. Done now though. A minor repair needed but no biggie and some plumbing that won't be an issue.

Photobucket + Android =swearing for me at least. I'd hoped to get photos uploaded today I will do this weekend. I'll do a diagram like David (Slyboy) has done for his recent NFT project. I found that useful and I agree that my pics so far don't give much idea of what's going on.

I do have a major issue though. If anyone can help with direct advice or alternative ideas I will be most grateful. I can't seem to find fish.

East Anglian Tilapia was whereI was planning to buy. Or these guys;
http://www.livetilapia.co.uk/index.html

No response from either so I tried this one;
http://www.aquarist-classifieds.co.uk/p ... 287998.php

No reply from them either. If anyone has an idea where I could get some Tilapia from I will be so grateful.

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Re: ChilliJez Little Shop of Horrors

Post by ChilliJez » Sat Apr 12, 2014 1:11 am

ronniedeb wrote:Excellent. Really looking forward to seeing this work...especially the crayfish!
Ronan, you can rest assured that when Mr and Mrs crayfish are in for the night and doing their thing, you'll receive some progeny to turn your flood and drain hydro into a crustacean farm. :shock: :lol:

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