Aquaponics Project Update – January 2013

I got caught flat-footed last year and, while I made progress, the aquaponics project never made it off the ground. That’s why this year I’m getting a head start and making progress early. Here’s what’s new.

I’ve been working on the growing tubs most recently. These will be the part of the system that actually holds the plants. I haven’t decided what media to use yet, but media that drains fast (gravel or expanded clay as opposed to dirt) is a must. These growing tubs get flooded and then drained 24 times per day so that the roots get saturated and then dry, which optimizes growing speed. If the media holds too much moisture, the roots never dry and the plants drown. Here is a diagram to (hopefully) clarify things for you:

media tubs_sketch

I will be using mortar mixing tubs for the tubs themselves because I think they’ll be durable and easy to replace if they get damaged. Here’s a picture of the essential pieces, not yet assembled:

media tubs_parts

I’m using ABS plumbing fittings for the standpipe:

media tubs_standpipe

The upper part sticks up above the bottom of the tub by about 5″, so that if the tub gets too full water will drain here instead of over the sides (and possibly onto the ground, taking water out of the system). Small drainage holes close to the standpipe let water drain out of the tub slowly over a period of 30-45 minutes. The outer tube keeps media away from the holes so that they don’t get clogged, soaking the roots and drowning the plants.

media tubs_assembled

I have also collected various electrical components too, so most of the essential components are gathered and need only to be assembled. The biggest missing piece is, rather conspicuously, a stock of fish. But when I decide how many of what kind and at what stage of life I want them, they’ll be right at home in one of these babies:

55gal drums

… at least until the weather warms up and they can be brought outside.

Here’s to hoping this year will be a successful vegetable and fish harvest.

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