Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Aquaponics Project, Part 2

The trip to get gravel for the system, using an open sided flatbed trailer, warrents a post all of its own under the "stupid things I do" label. Suffice it to say it's a wonder I got home with any gravel at all.

No sooner did we get the first bed finished off with gravel than the 4" pipe that serves as a guard around the bell siphon shifted and a ton of gravel got underneath it. If you ever try this project, be smarter than me and silicone that guard in place before you fill the bed with rocks. Digging a hole in slippery, slidey gravel isn't my idea of a fun afternoon.


But eventually, it all came together, and we kicked the pumps on.


And then we went to get some fish for the system.


Any excuse to take the boat out. :D


FISH!

The following morning the fish were still all alive, and everything was working fine. EXCEPT, the left bed wasn't draining properly. I increased the water flow a tad, and it worked great.

Except then there was more water coming out of the fish tank than going back in. I went outside four hours later to find the fish tank over half empty and the sump running over. GAH! Two days worth of tweaking later I think I finally have the flow going into the beds equal to the flow going back to the fish tank.


I planted two kinds of cabbage and three kinds of lettuce in the left bed. In the right I stuck a pot of mint, which has been languishing on my kitchen windowsill for months. I also snipped a few clones off my cherry tomato plant and stuck in the rear of the bed. It's really too cool now for them to thrive but perhaps we'll get the coldframe in place before a freeze gets them.

I'll post a third part to this project as soon as the lettuces and cabbages make an appearance. :)

UPDATE
10/11/13
My part of Texas gets pretty cold in the winters, with snow and ice and everything. Being up on the caprock means that while daytime temps might hit 85, nighttime can easily drop to 45. Last night the temperature dropped to 55... and so did the water in the sump. I didn't test the water in the fish tank, but assume it was close. The goldfish and minnows we threw in the sump came through ok, but tonight's low is supposed to be 45. Needless to say, keeping this system warm is going to be a big concern.

Suddenly the big greenhouse I'd planned to build seems less important than just getting this thing covered. As usual, I have a scheme idea to make it work. It's too complicated to explain but we'll try to get it at least framed out this weekend and I'll post the progress then.


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