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ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission

Posted: Tue Dec 24, 2013 12:35 am
by ChilliJez
I'm writing this post more as a commitment to do this thing than because I have anything constructive to share. Here goes;

For 2014 I plan to have my plants growing in a more integrated manner. The core of my 2014 will be an aquaponic grow with a main fish tank (1000 litre ABC) holding 30 Nile Tilapia, the water from that tank being distributed between gradually expanding growbeds. The growbeds will be constructed from recycled garage doors of 30cm x 75 cm x 220cm dimensions giving a volume for each growbed of approx 500 litres. I'm planning from Sylvia Bernstein's book that suggests 1:1 fishtank:growbed ratio as a start.

There's a shed load of stuff to fit together to make this work. Swmbo has a capsicum allergy. ( don't I pick em! :roll: ) but loves fish. My plan is to have the aquaponics grow do lots of good for the table stuff and incorporate a few chilli plants around the edges. If 2014 goes swimmingly we can roll out Tilapia 2 and Rainbow Trout 3 and whilst she's chowing down on the finned creatures I can ease a few more capsicum friends into the grow beds.

Otherwise I plan a bunch of hempy pots spread between sheltered positions I've yet to define.

Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Posted: Tue Dec 24, 2013 5:02 am
by chilliman64
I'd love to set up an aquaponics system but swmbo isn't too keen. I first saw this type of garden on an Aussie show over two years ago and have had it on my mind ever since.

here's a link for those that might be interested in a modest set up - looks pretty simple depending on how big you want to go => http://au.lifestyle.yahoo.com/better-ho ... gardening/

Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Posted: Tue Dec 24, 2013 7:37 am
by Heefy
Damn you Jez! Now I want one too.


Sent using crayons.

Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Posted: Wed Dec 25, 2013 12:40 pm
by bullgoose
Really looking forward to seeing how this develops. The holy grail (IMO) I lack space but might try something with a little fish tank for fun.

Lots of pics and info as you go would be brilliant !. Good luck with it.

Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Posted: Thu Dec 26, 2013 9:54 pm
by ronniedeb
Good luck with the fish ChilliJez!

Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Posted: Fri Jan 31, 2014 1:10 am
by ChilliJez
Yo! Been absent for too long!

I don't know how many times my aquaponics plans have changed over the last few months. Every day it's different. What I have done is made some strategic purchases. I have 3 1000 litre IBCs bought from a local farmer through ebay. I have some ousted wooden garage doors that will form my growbeds, and 21 x 50 litre bags of expanded clay pebbles. I've got 2 x 3500l/hr pumps

This weekend I intend to get the first grow bed in place and circulating with fish and sump tank. With photos. :shock:

Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Posted: Fri Jan 31, 2014 6:45 am
by Slyboy
Jez,

Really looking forward to seeing this. It's a great idea and quite unusual. I take it the speed of pumping/draining to the grow bed is quite slow as otherwise the fish will get stuck to the outlet!

:)

That's a huge amount of clay pebbles. Did you think about going NFT to avoid the hassle of these? It may mean a faster flow rate but just think, no washing that many pebbles and at the end of the season you don't throw them away or have to clean them.

I couldn't imagine a swmbo who was allergic to capsicum. It's bad enough when I fumigate the whole house when I cook with superhots, but if she was allergic she would leave me!

Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Posted: Fri Jan 31, 2014 7:37 am
by Heefy
Sounds amazing. I can't quite picture it yet, but with the help of the photos after the weekend I will get there. The best of luck and I look on with interest. I don't have the room for this, but love the idea.


Sent using crayons.

Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Posted: Fri Jan 31, 2014 8:35 am
by phillyb86
Best of luck Jeremy. Sounds interesting indeed

Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Posted: Fri Jan 31, 2014 11:22 am
by chilliman64
I am so looking forward to reading about your aquaponics adventure, can't wait for the pics.

Seems like you're getting stuck into this on a fairly grand scale.

how many fingerlings will your tanks handle? can you get barramundi fingerlings (they would be well worth the effort)?

I'm really excited about watching this develop!

(I feel like renaming this topic Chilliman64's Vicarious Aquaponics Setup.)

Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Posted: Fri Jan 31, 2014 11:33 am
by Ben123
Sounds amazing and can't wait to see the setup... and the results!

Ben.

Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Posted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 12:47 am
by ChilliJez
Thanks for support everyone. Photos will follow but time and torrential downpour intervened.

Another opportunity has cropped up that I can't not take advantage of but makes things more complicated. There was a temporary porch put up on the front of a chiller at work. That has been dismantled and was going to the tip 'till I stepped in. So now I have 6 metal clad insulated panels, 2.2m x 1.2m, 10cm thick. To move. Cut to fit they would maximise use of space. and make the IBCs redundant.

Too many resources is a good thing to have so I'm not complaining.

Slyboy, I have redesigned this thing in my head pretty every day for the pas few months. It's still forming in my mind. However the initial thing will be a 1000 litre fish tank with an overflow into a 500 litre sump tank right next to it. The first grow bed will be sited directly above these 2 tanks. Water will be pumped from the sump tank to the grow bed via a ring of pipe sited around the edge of the bed, buried 1cm under the pebbles. I haven't decided whether the bed will have a drain slower than the fill or an autosyphon, but essentially, the sump tank will be the same capacity as the grow bed. So the sump tank empties as the pump fills the grow bed. When the grow bed drains into the fish tank, the fish tank overflows into the sump tank. That way the fish tank is always full.

For correct balance I need the same grow bed volume as fish tank size. Grow bed 2 will be a duplicate of no. 1. They'll be filled 1/2 hour apart so that the sump tank doesn't need to be bigger. 2 pumps in the sump, each feeding their respective grow bed.

I have the 1st grow bed constructed (2.2m x 0.75m x 0.3m = 480 litres) and I'd hoped to have it all in place and cycling by now but I will get there.

Chilliman you are in the home of aquaponics. A world of expertise on your doorstep and the perfect climate. You know it makes sense! Barramundi would be a dream. At the moment I'm struggling to find anyone to sell me Nile Tilapia.

Again thanks everyone. No pics and a little behind schedule but it is happening.

Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Posted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 8:41 am
by ronniedeb
Look forward to the photos Chillijez. Are you going to grow chillis or other crops?

Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Posted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 12:17 am
by ChilliJez
hempy potsThanks Ronan. A good question.

No, it's not going to be just chilles. On the contrary, it's going to be veg for the home predominantly. When I joke about swmbo it's actually she who puts up with a lot> :roll: Given that it's cost quite a bit to put the thing together, I think it's only fair that we concentrate on stuff that we both eat and she's gets ill if she eats peppers.

That said I intend to stick a chilli in each corner of the first bed and probably 6 in the second. However I have plans to stratify my chilli grow. I've realised that some plants I could happily have 10 x the number of pods from and some I just want a few to try, revisit or refresh seed stock.

The 2 main grow beds will provide a good volume to match the fish tank size as it's getting established, but then I can expand the growing area, and I intend to do that vertically. I'm planning on restricted root area but good water nutrient and air supply for healthy bonsai chilli plants. Think of 4 chilli plants growing in net pots out of the sides of a 4 foot drain pipe filled with clay pebbles. I think I'll have space for 6 of those tubes giving 34 plants in the system.

Other chillies will be in hempy pots and other wick fed contrivances.

Part of the plan that I may not have mentioned is "hot swapping" for want of a better term. Rather than growing in clay pebbles directly in the grow bed, I intend to use a bunch of rectangular grey drums that are cast off containers from work. I intend to have a small flood and drain hydro set up alongside. The grey drums are perforated and filled with the clay pebbles and planted up. I have the hydro with a couple of drums with big nute hungry plants and a couple with pebbles unplanted. That way if the nitrites start going up I can take out small plant drum and swap in a heavy feeder and vice versa.

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.

As it moves towards winter I intend to keep it running and I hope to have made progress with some parabolic solar heaters by then to make the thing affordable. With winter low light the whole system would move towards leaf plants to mop up the nitrates whilst not needing quite as much light. By that stage if it's going vaguely to plan I would try and introduce favourite overwinter chillies to see how they would do. (I.e. pubescens!)

If anyone has any ideas or suggestions - electrics, plumbing, solar, plants, fish (where can I get barramundi!}, be they practical, mundane, off the wall, I will be so grateful

Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Posted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 9:42 am
by ronniedeb
Sounds amazing Jeremy. I presume you have to supplement potassium somehow for fruiting plants. Is it added to the water, or fed to the fish? I always thought I'd like to use crayfish, if I were to try aquaponics. Is that possible\practical?

Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Posted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 7:03 pm
by ChilliJez
ronniedeb wrote:Sounds amazing Jeremy. I presume you have to supplement potassium somehow for fruiting plants. Is it added to the water, or fed to the fish? I always thought I'd like to use crayfish, if I were to try aquaponics. Is that possible\practical?
To be honest Ronan I don't know. My only sources of info so far has been this book

http://www.amazon.com/Aquaponic-Gardeni ... 086571701X

and the forums at her site and backyard aquaponics. I haven't seen the need for added potassium though now you mention it it makes sense. I'd guess I'd do a foliar application.

One thing I saw someone do and get away with was adding hydro nutes to the water while the cycling was getting established. That breaks a major rule! I guess time will tell!

My whole scheme got off the ground when the mrs and friend were disposing of a bottle of Chardonnay and the subject of crayfish came up. Saying we could raise our own kinda lit the blue touch paper... :lol:
So I'll have to track some down in due course. They tend to eat each other and generally not get on so a bit more planning will be required.

My setup will be warm water but there's always the coolwater variety you might like to check out. In the uk it's a bit tricky because the native white crayfish are endangered and so protected. They're being wiped out by red signal crayfish, an introduced species. You need a licence to trap those and are obliged to kill them on the spot. However in Ireland you're much better off.

http://www.fisheriesireland.ie/Invasive ... yfish.html

I saw these too; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AvXjJRjq_4

Just a thought :?: :idea: 8)

Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Posted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 7:11 pm
by ChilliJez

Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Posted: Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:26 am
by ronniedeb
Great info. Thanks Jeremy!

Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Posted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 9:26 am
by ChilliJez
Well, finally some progress to report.

I've made the first growbed (recycled garage doors), dug out the base of the greenhouse and lined the base with an insulated panel, hacked a couple of IBCs for fishtank and sump tank. Then I had to put it together. Not easy. In the end I had to take the greenhouse apart to get it done. Only 2 panes of glass broken in the process!

The end result is not pretty and it's still taller than I'd have liked but the project is definitely underway.

In one pic you can see a couple of the plastic containers that I plan to fill the growbed with. Each is 21 litres and 21 will fill the bed.
Next I need to cut and drill these, wash 450 litres of gravel and install plumbing. Hopefully next weekend...

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Sorry for the lousy pictures!

Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Posted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 11:23 am
by ronniedeb
Looking good Jeremy. God bless the Duct Tape.

Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Posted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 12:41 pm
by Slyboy
I didn't realise you were building this in your greenhouse! What a construction. Its always great to get a project started, as once the ball is rolling (and it is well and truly rolling in your case) it gives the whole thing some momentum.

Really impressive and look forward to seeing how you get on. Keep the pictures coming.

Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Posted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 12:50 pm
by Ben123
Looks fantastic! Really looking forward to seeing how it does. Congrats.

Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Posted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 1:47 pm
by ChilliJez
Thanks everyone. Still lots to do but I'm aiming to have it running by the time it's getting a bit warmer end of March, early Aprilish.
ronniedeb wrote:Looking good Jeremy. God bless the Duct Tape.
Yes indeed. I'll use contact adhesive once I'm happy it's all in the right place.

Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Posted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 3:21 pm
by TheOzricle
Looks like a mammoth project Jez. Best of luck with it, looking forward to watching how your season progresses.

Re: ChilliJez goes FishyJez

Posted: Thu Feb 20, 2014 4:48 pm
by Kitkat
This is a project of epic proportions, brilliant! I can't wait to see the results of your hard work.

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