ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission

Growing plants using nutrient solutions, without soil.

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: wrapping it up.

Post by Chilli Keith » Sun Oct 18, 2015 11:05 am

Great harvest Jeremy. I would be pleased with 4.5 kg of fish.

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: wrapping it up.

Post by ChilliJez » Mon Oct 19, 2015 12:06 am

Thanks guys.

Ronan, I looked through the thread you linked to and appreciated the read.

The adventure isn't completely over and as I said I still have 3 fish. I've put together a winter circulation to maintain a small population of fish and bacteria without it costing a fortune. For this weekend I've just got the circulation going. For now the plants are a raft of little gem cos lettuces that I set going outside a while back. These are being used as cut and come again and are doing fine.

For the winter I'll be doing greens like these and basil and parsley. Things that will thrive easily and soak up any nitrates without a worry. I'll fit some chillies in and around but in their own containers. I don't want to muddle any failures between aquaponics and plant.

This is the winter.
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The pump is on 5 minutes every hour and is on when the pic was taken. You can see the wash where the water enters at the white tube far right and the out flow into the tank on the left and through the mesh screen.

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: wrapping it up.

Post by ChilliJez » Mon Oct 19, 2015 12:11 am

Oh and doing it this way; Ikea underbed storage box, 100 litres clay pebbles, 120 litre rolling tote, maxijet1000 pump etc, probably £80-90 total.

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: still ticking over...

Post by ChilliJez » Mon Feb 01, 2016 7:27 pm

I've not posted in a while as little is going on but the fish are still around. It's become rather a gloomy netherworld I must admit. Essentially I have the system in a dark end of the garage. 3 fish in a 120 litre black "tote" box and a slow draining bed with just sorrel and horseradish. The water is pretty clean and the fish are ok. The plants have a lot of aphids and some scale insects but survive because they're thugs. It looks ugly and kinda horror b-movie but it has to go just 6 weeks or so 'till I start to scale it back up for spring. Light, fresh air, lettuce and asparagus...

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In late March it will be 2 years this has been going. I can't say it's the most sensible venture I've undertaken but it has worked after a fashion and I have learned a lot. :P

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Nearly ended in tears!

Post by ChilliJez » Sun Apr 17, 2016 10:19 pm

I spent the end of yesterday cutting down an IBC to make a new growbed ready to get the fish out into the greenhouse once it's finished. I went to top up their water and DISASTER!!! Fish lying on their sides, motionless on the bottom of the tank. The thermometer was saying 8.9C. When swapping stuff around yesterday I'd turned the heater off and forgotten to turn it on again. B***er! F**k! F**k!

Fatal minimum temperature for Nile Tilapia is 11-12C

Well I kicked a few things around the garden and started scheming an ebb and flood hydro grow with the new growbed. It was playing on my mind that when I harvested fish a few months ago, I'd put them in iced water for half an hour and when I came back there was still some limited movement in the fish.

Well I gave it a go. I started adding warm water and put the heater back on and to cut a long story short, by the time the temperature was back to about 15C (about 1 1/2 hours) they started to right themselves and move again.

A very close shave!

I came close to abandoning this aquaponic project recently, not because it's not worth it ( I feel I've learned a lot and appreciated doing it) but because I'm away from home so much. The number of times when I've had a call at work because the sump tank is empty or the fish aren't eating or a pump has failed or this hose is leaking...and calls from someone who really isn't that interested in troubleshooting my project. :roll:

Without doubt, pumps are the biggest PITA! The only thing worse than a pump is a pump in a system that has clay pebbles.Right. :lol:

My aquaponic grow this year is going to be a real hybrid mishmash. Just 3 fish in a 120 litre tote. Hopefully warmer than 8.9C. 200 litre growbed, 15" deep with the return outlet 3" above the base so there's a 3" reservoir at the bottom and 12" of "dry" pebbles. The growbed drains into a 65 litre sump courtesy of Ikea. An Ikea Samla in fact that is relatively deep. That depth is useful because the water will be transferred to the fish tank and back to the growbed using airlift pumps. Crude, simple low maintenance and more effective if you have more depth to work with.

In the growbed with that 3" reservoir there will be wicks! Tanaa! A big aquaponic swp! Probably 12 wicks located for 12 chilli plants. There will also be drippers to feed interplanting and I may try a sparging arm to bring beer tech to the hydro world. :lol:

http://www.the-home-brew-shop.co.uk/aca ... xP50WwViko (click on the embedded video)

When you do this much scheming its a bummer to kill the fish that power the thing! Thankfully that didn't happen! :P

Next time pics.

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Nearly ended in tears!

Post by ChilliJez » Tue May 03, 2016 8:01 pm

Well I got the greenhouse finished and I've got the fishtank, growbed and sump assembled there. It's quite a modest affair compared with how this project started 2 years ago but it's keeping the thing going whilst making it super low maintenance when I can't be there a lot of the time.

I have just 3 fish. Not many! I want them to provide a background, base nutrition for a range of plants in the growbed. I'm working on the premise that these plants will each want more of some things and these I'll provide with foliar sprays. Actually looking at the bed I've gone for just 6 plants. I intend that they thrive and I want to give them enough space to do so. I'm working on the basis that capsicums have a relatively low nitrogen requirement and I'd be needing to supplement otherwise anyway.

I've yet to decide what I'll interplant with. Chard will be there as it's easy and cut-and-come-again and we like it. I'll be growing lettuces on a raft outside as they don't like it too hot. It's too late for aliums. I'll be going for mizuna and Japanese brassicas later at the end of the season but not sure what else now. I'd love suggestions for short cropping stuff.

I was thinking of wetting the larger area of the bed with a sparging arm like the beer making idea. That would need no plant stems in the way! Doh! Now I'm looking at a small reservoir ( Plastic biscuit tin) with a loop syphon. Fill the tin with an air pump direct from the sump (so no fish poo to block the holes!) and it syphons to tubes perforated with small holes that cover the area between the chilli plants. I'm envisaging that dumping water over a span of about 15cm every 10 minutes or so.

Lots of schemes. It keeps me out of the pub! :lol:

Some implementation pics here. viewtopic.php?f=43&t=16426&start=100

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Nearly ended in tears!

Post by Dickie » Tue May 03, 2016 10:01 pm

Sounds like fun!

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Nearly ended in tears!

Post by chilliman64 » Tue May 03, 2016 10:55 pm

hey mate - how are those fish doing? any plans on getting any more to harvest at some stage?

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Nearly ended in tears!

Post by Heefy » Wed May 04, 2016 6:27 pm

Very lucky escape. Good work indeed getting them back.


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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Nearly ended in tears!

Post by ChilliJez » Thu May 05, 2016 10:55 pm

chilliman64 wrote:hey mate - how are those fish doing? any plans on getting any more to harvest at some stage?
Heefy wrote:Very lucky escape. Good work indeed getting them back.
Dickie wrote:Sounds like fun!
Mark, I don't know if you ever heard of the Tamworth 2? A couple of escapee pigs on the way to the abattoir that ended up having long semi-celebrity lives.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamworth_Two

Only the English could be so sentimental but hey! I am! So I'm unlikely to kill the 3 survivors at any point now.

I'll see how the thing works over the summer. If the airlift pumps and growbed works reliably, I may turn up the temperature and give 'em a couple of tubes to get jiggy. 29C and a little privacy... they're not too demanding. I'd separate the fry, probably in a mini indoor grow over winter to put into a proper grow next spring. I've learned enough to know what I'll need in place to make that worth doing.

The objective this year is to fashion a set up that's foolproof, spouseproof and distance friendly. :roll:

Heefy, I'm incredibly lucky. I've really doubted whether I should carry on with it given the amount of time I'm away from home. I've made a half hearted attempt to pass the lot onto someone else to try. The fish succumbing to cold would have been a way out but I discovered I didn't want that to happen. More surprising was I discovered that the Mrs didn't either! So, Hey Ho! More life with fish in the greenhouse. :lol:

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Nearly ended in tears!

Post by chilliman64 » Thu May 05, 2016 11:17 pm

Jeremy I don't believe I had heard of the Tamworth Two, it's a a feelgood story to be sure, thanks for sharing! I too would find it hard to eat what could be termed pets, fish or otherwise.

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Nearly ended in tears!

Post by ChilliJez » Mon Jul 11, 2016 10:03 pm

Old

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New

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Same tank (but with lid; it's stopping the sides splaying and keeping the fish calm after their move). Same fish, growbed, plants, sump, pump. New location. Greenhouse hasn't gone up around them yet but will do at the weekend. :P

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission: Another House Move

Post by Heefy » Tue Jul 12, 2016 7:09 am

Nice little update mate. Looking forward to the greenhouse going up.

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission

Post by ChilliJez » Fri Dec 02, 2016 9:43 pm

Well it's been a while since I updated here! :roll:

I moved house in July (I think) and I've had the system ticking over since. It's been running at low 20s temp and the fish seem happy. Al least, they have an appetite. The best thing I did over the summer was to collect rainwater running off the roof of the sheds into a couple of water butts. This is linked to the sump tank via a ball cock. There's been enough rainfall to mean I haven't had to top up since the middle of August.

I've got to the point where the water is pretty stable and a little over 7.0. TBH I hardly check it now. Any surplus of ammonia from the fish is relatively non toxic at higher pH. I've had tomatoes in the growbed that have been rampant and definitely soaked up any excess nitrogen. Chillies haven't fared so well but as they were mostly annuums that have been otherwise compromised by red spider mite I can't be certain abut their indifferent performance. Certainly the Goat's Weed performed best and I've just picked about 50 small pods from this plant so it's not awful.

Last winter I brought the whole lot into the garage and had plants under lights. That became an aphid fest and I'm amazed the fish survived the soaring nitrate levels by spring as I struggled to keep plants alive. In the end it was just horseradish soaking up the nutrients before everything moved back outside in spring. This winter I'm trying a different tack. I'm going for spring bulbs! I'm hoping that the relatively waxy leaves of daffodils and tulips will be more aphid resistant and the warm water will provide some early cut flowers for the house.

This weekend is lagging the fish tank and building a fleece tent over the growbed. Pics to follow. :P

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission

Post by Heefy » Sat Dec 03, 2016 7:14 am

Good to hear an update. Sounds excellent.


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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission

Post by ChilliJez » Sat Dec 03, 2016 11:41 am

Heefy wrote:Good to hear an update. Sounds excellent.


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Thanks Heefy. This was the unkempt show a couple of months ago, fuelled by half an egg cup of pelleted fish food per day.

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:P

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission

Post by Heefy » Sat Dec 03, 2016 9:17 pm

Looks very healthy mate. Impressed.

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission

Post by ChilliJez » Mon Jan 02, 2017 9:32 pm

Here's a couple of pics. They're not good but are to show that the project is ticking over. Very much slimmed down but coming up to year 4!! :shock:

Image

On the right of the pic there's a white bar that is just holding both sides of the tank together so they don't splay too much with the volume of water. Beneath it is a fish, one of the 3 Nile Tilapia that power the system. They're all about 6" and 700g now. Water is circulating at about 20C.

The growbed is scruffy at the moment with a few left over peppers and tomatoes. I need to keep something growing to mop up the nitrates that the fish produce. I've put in spring bulbs for cut flowers for the house and I'm hoping these will be the nutrient sinks over winter. I've also broadcast sown basil and parsley. If either or both of these got established, I'd be happy as Larry. :P

Here's some Daffodils poking through.
Image

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission

Post by ChilliJez » Sun Jan 22, 2017 3:22 pm

A minor update as spring is coming. Tilapia seem happy if absurdly camera shy. They're all 3 about fully grown, kept around 20C and a little hungry. I don't want them to do anything except keep themselves and the system ticking over. 20C is about optimum for plants and cool enough to dampen their appetites and so waste production. Tilapia "Lurve" doesn't kick in till about 28C so no extra mouths to feed.

Duke of York having a tiptoe through the tulips.
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Turbo onions singing in the rain
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The growbed. There's a mix of spring bulbs, Daffodil, Narcissus, Tulip, Anemone, a scattering of basil and parsley seed, A pot of Basil from the supermarket, Seed potatoes, Duke of York, Wilja and Charlotte and those onion sets. Finally a couple of overwintered chillies; Jariza and Jal DRH7400.
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2016 never really took of with the house move and all. Thankfully the toms were happy enough with their shallow gravel and soaked up enough nitrates from the fish.This year I want to increase the volume of the clay pebbles and increase the volume of circulation. I'll probably add a second pump to increase redundancy. There's little failsafe built in at the moment.

I'm liking the mix of plants and seasons and wonder if I can build in a perennial nature to the bed rather than crops to harvest. I'm picturing judiciously placed LEDs to augment light next winter...So many possibilities. :P

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission

Post by Heefy » Sun Jan 22, 2017 4:51 pm

Very inventive mate. Great reading.

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission

Post by ChilliJez » Fri Feb 03, 2017 5:12 pm

Just a growbed update, 2 weeks on. Tulips are taking off, other spring bulbs less so.
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Onion sets are getting underway so I may put more of these in. Nothing from the spuds. I'll start increasing the depth of pebbles once they get underway. :P

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission

Post by fishmantom » Sat Feb 11, 2017 9:38 pm

All looks so cool, sorry I didn't comment sooner. I don't want to sound patronizing as looks like everything is going brilliant but if you have any fishy problems or need anything fish related let me know. I trained in aquatics and we had a small tillapia unit at college, so done a bit with them and also work in aquatics shop so have access to useful bits and bobs sometimes (information and physical stuff).

Also maybe try some kale overwinter next year i have had some growing in a hydro soil hybrid all winter outside and its continuously growing all winter

Happy growing! :mrgreen: and fish keeping 8) :lol: 8)

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission

Post by ChilliJez » Sun Feb 12, 2017 1:31 am

fishmantom wrote:
Sat Feb 11, 2017 9:38 pm
All looks so cool, sorry I didn't comment sooner. I don't want to sound patronizing as looks like everything is going brilliant but if you have any fishy problems or need anything fish related let me know. I trained in aquatics and we had a small tillapia unit at college, so done a bit with them and also work in aquatics shop so have access to useful bits and bobs sometimes (information and physical stuff).

Also maybe try some kale overwinter next year i have had some growing in a hydro soil hybrid all winter outside and its continuously growing all winter

Happy growing! :mrgreen: and fish keeping 8) :lol: 8)
Tom, Nothing is patronising. You will know immeasurably more than I do and I'll be delighted to benefit from any wisdom you have to share. :P

My latest is something I'd planned to put into place last year. It's part of a strategem that's not the best aquaponics but the aquaponics that can survive my slack methods and poor intervention For one reason or another it's difficult for me to do flood and drain in a way that I can trust, far from home 4 days a week. I moved house last summer and for the last year or so have had plants just surviving in a shallow bed of pebbles wh water running through it.

Today I fabricated a box for the outflow from the fishtank to run into.It will be delivered by a syphon to tubes spread over the growbed.There was a need to sort out heights. Super-flippin'-juggly raising the fishtank today without ending up submerged in tilapia. :lol: I think I can drop the growbed a bit tomorrow, too. I've got some more pipe and I think the end result is that I'll have about 3" res at the base, somewhere between 4" and 5" of pebbles that get drenched from above about every 10 minutes, and a couple of inches above that of dry pebbles.

Here's the box with 2 x 15mm inlet holes not visible, 3 x overflow holes on the opposite side and a drain in the base leading to a syphon. It took a degree of messing around but that is now working. Tomorrow I find out how much I can drop the grow bead and make up the pipework to test the system proper.

I haven't seen anyone do this with AP before. A step into the dark but I believe it should work. :P

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission

Post by fishmantom » Tue Feb 14, 2017 6:40 pm

sounds good, trial and error you will get it right.
ChilliJez wrote:
Sun Feb 12, 2017 1:31 am
...
Here's the box with 2 x 15mm inlet holes not visible, 3 x overflow holes on the opposite side and a drain in the base leading to a syphon. It took a degree of messing around but that is now working. Tomorrow I find out how much I can drop the grow bead and make up the pipework to test the system proper.

I haven't seen anyone do this with AP before. A step into the dark but I believe it should work. :P
Where's the box did I miss something or did you miss a picture.

Happy growing! :mrgreen:

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Re: ChilliJez Aquaponic Mission

Post by ChilliJez » Mon Feb 20, 2017 9:51 pm

I did more tinkering this weekend and managed to lower the growbed which is great. Every cm difference in height between the fishtank and the growbed is an extra cm of plant growing depth. I'm happy that I couldn't achieve more and the depth is now about right for the recommended way to do things. Plus the Ford Escort on bricks look! 8)
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If you start with the black box set into the ground (with 15 holes cut into the lid) that's the sump tank. It's a buffer.If the volume of water should fall through evaporation or a leak, it'll show up here. It's actually fed from rainwater harvested from the shed roof so hopefully shouldn't be the problem it has been in the past It's also the coolest place so I have airstones to dissolve the maximum amount of oxygen.

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Recycled weelie bin as water butt!

Water is pumped from the sump tank to the fish tank above via the black plastic pipe in the pic; a 140 litre tote that's got 3 Niie Tilapia, all full size at about 700g. There are more airstones here; If a pump should fail and it all goes wrong, this will buy more time for the fish.The water overflows from the fish tank into my new black box, hanging off the right of the fish tank in the pic.

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This black box houses a bell syphon. It's an automatic syphon that starts when the tank fills to a certain level and stops when the water falls to it's lowest and air reenters the system. It doesn't work because it won't start syphoning and the tank remains filled and overflowing, or it won't stop and keeps on draining at empty.

The black box also houses a bit of grey foam holding 6 net pots, each with lettuce seedlings in vemiculite.

I'm a sad puppy and browsing the waste pipe fittings in Wickes at the weekend (yes really)and Hurrah! I spotted just the thing. 3 items (2 plumbing plus a plastic beaker), no significant modifications and I have a bell syphon for a total cost of £2.43. It delivers water to the arrangement of white tubes currently on the surfaceof the growbed. These will be covered by another 5cm of pebbles once I'm happy it's working. There are 34 holes evenly spaced over the tubing and it seems to deliver water uniformly. It looks fairly shallow but there's 25cm of growbed depth so far with just the dry top layer to add.

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You can just see water flowing out onto the base of each plant.

Having messed around with heights so that it does syphon but does stop, I'd have liked moe speed in the delivery but I'm happy it works and I don't think I can change that significantly without fundamentally changing things. I'll site plants quite specifically close to the delivery flow much like the tulips in the pic, and put companion plants, basil and French Marigolds, in the inbetween space to see how they fare. The syphon delivers water for about 40 seconds, every 5 minutes or so and I'm hoping that there will be a humidity through the bed that extends the growing area beyond what's directly irrigated.

This is a kind of modified, intermittent dripper with a reservoir in the base. No one else is doing this that I know of so fingers crossed.

Oh and the growbed drains back into the sump.

I intend to add another maxijet pump to the system, mostly for redundancy, but also to overflow. I'll add a strainer so solids don't go into my new black box and from there to clog the pipework. An overflow direct to the growbed will help with that. :P

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