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A system for the home and the local Markets

Discussion in 'New Aquaponics systems - DIY' started by TonyS, Dec 10, 2012.

  1. benwalters

    benwalters Member

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    Hi tony , good looking setup , thanks for sharing,
    I have only looked at pics and read only a few posts and thought id throw in my 2c
    I have noticed that when seedlings are young they can get a bit stressed from a bit of a hot environment before they get their roots going,
    The gravel gets hot around the plants,
    seedlings in the early days may benefit from any of the following- shade cloth to shade plants, higher standpipes, constant flood routine, to help them get established,
    I find that overplanting then culling is the go,
    It might be worth your while adding some fresh seedlings
    cheers,
    ben
     
  2. TonyS

    TonyS Active Member

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    It's amazing what diference a week can make

    It has been a week since I did the full water dump and refill and things have come along very nicely.

    At the same time I did the refill I also added 30L of water from my Aquarium to give the plants some Nitrates to feed on.

    During the last week I have seen the ammonia spike come and go (it’s still there but reducing). The Nitrite spike is still in full effect, but most importantly the Nitrates have gone up very rapidly.

    20130512 water test.jpg

    I will be getting my Fish at the end of this week, hopefully the Nitrates will have dropped off by then.

    Since adding the aquarium water (loaded with Nitrates) my plants have recovered and started to grow. After three weeks of watching them slowly shrivel, yellow and some die, it is good to see them all recovered and growing. Now that the system is producing its own Nitrates and with the fish soon to be added the plants should be good from now in.


    4 Week in - Corn.jpg 4 Week in - Pak choy.jpg
     
  3. TonyS

    TonyS Active Member

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    My fish are ordered and I will be picking them up on Friday morning, only problem is the Nitrites are still high in my system.
    20130515 Water Test.jpg
    My PH has dropped to somewhere between 6.8 and 7.2 (I can't really tell the difference, depending on the light and the background).

    My Nitrites are still above 5pmm. My ammonia is almost 0 and my Nitrates are also dropping as my plants get bigger.

    I have also been doing a test where I have been mixing 2.5mls of system water with 2.5mls of clean water (would represent a 50% water change) to see what level the nitrites would be following a water change and they still look to be above 5 (which means my nitrites are very high).

    I know Yabbies repeatedly tells people to add salt, I know this is a general good thing for the fish, but does it specifically do anything to help protect the fish from the nitrites?

    Thanks
    Tony
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2013
  4. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    Hi Tony,

    Nitrite entering the blood stream reduces the blood’s capacity to carry oxygen. The Chloride in the salt reduces the ability of the Nitrite to pass across the gill membrane and enter the blood stream.

    I would consider partial water changes (no more than 30% per day), with aged water (aerated for at least 24hrs). Before adding it, ensure the top-up water has a similar pH to the system water.

    Cheers.
     
  5. TonyS

    TonyS Active Member

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    Thanks Yabbies,

    Do think the fish will be safe with the Salt and water changes or should I wait another week before getting them?

    I am surprised by the level of the Nitrites in the system, the ammonia spike never got above 1, does the ammonia loving bacteria grow faster than its Nitrite loving cousins?

    Thanks
    Tony
     
  6. svuolo

    svuolo Member

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    My experience with Nitrites is that once they are being converted to Nitrates this process for the levels to drop occurs in a fairly short period of time, 5-14 days. if its been high for a few days now the levels should dive very soon.

    And yes i have also had the same experience with Ammonia, the levels never rise and shows in the Nitrites straight away. There must be a delay with Nitrate colonisation as i have also had to wait for Nitrates, but this will also be dependent upon the temperature, overnight lows etc...
     
  7. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    High levels of Ammonia inhibit the development of the 2nd type of bacteria, those that convert the Nitrite to Nitrate, so if there was a reasonable amount of Ammonia present initially, or you continually added Ammonia after the initial spike and drop, then the Nitrites will have continued to climb and very little, if any, would've been converted to Nitrate.

    IMO, when cycling you should add Ammonia to a maximum of 1.0 (there is no need to go any higher) then wait for both the Amm and Nitrite to spike and drop to 0.0... once they have, you can then add a small amount of Amm (about 0.5 is all that's needed, but definitely no more than 1.0), just to see how efficiently the bacteria covert it from Amm, to Nitrite, then Nitrate. If it's completely converted within a day or two, the system is ready for fish.

    If you're in a hurry I would do water changes to get the Nitrite below 5.0 (so you can do accurate readings), then wait for it to drop naturally to 0.0... THEN order the fish. It doesn't matter if the system sits fishless for a few days after cycling.

    If you're more patient (and as long as the Amm is 0.0) then you could just wait for the Nitrites to drop on their own. If you could heat the water a little, even just a few degrees for a few days, it would help things along.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2013
  8. Gbanger

    Gbanger New Member

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    Hiya, system looks great, well done. Couple of things I've learnt trawling ap forums, cloudy ammonia - no no. Salting- pool salt 1-2 ppt (1-2kg per 1000l) and of course- patience:24locos:. I had embarrassingly high readings on everything with ph around 7.6 when I added rainbows to the tank, I salted to 1ppt and all fish are fine. 2 months in and my system still isn't fully cycled, rites around 2ppm, the cooler weather hasn't helped.
     
  9. TonyS

    TonyS Active Member

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    On Friday I picked up my fish, but instead of putting them into the AP system with the high nitrites I filled one of my FT’s with dam water and added them to that as a holding tank. The plan was to keep them in there for as long as it takes for the AP system to cycle out all the Nitrites. The tank has been isolated from the rest of the system and only has aeration, no bio filtration, the ammonia is kept in check using daily water changes from the dam.

    Any way the nitrite readings in the system this morning were down from above 5ppm to 1ppm and then this evenings reading was almost 0.

    If the readings tomorrow morning are still the same I will open the water supply tap to the FT to allow water to slowly (at first) trickle into the tank to acclimatise the fish to the system water.

    My wife has already started calling the fish her little dudes and insists we can't eat them, kind of throws a spanner in the whole plan of raising the fish to eat. It’s not a big deal though, once filleted she would not know where the fish came from.

    Once the nitrates appeared in the system the plant growth was incredible, the leaves are showing some nutrient deficiencies, but that is to be expected as it is only running on seasol at the moment, bring on the fish poo.

    My next project is to repair and setup the swirl filter after which I will then start building the raft beds.
     
  10. svuolo

    svuolo Member

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    Suggest looking into 'radial flow filters' some would suggest they work better than swirl filters
     
  11. andyholloway

    andyholloway Super Moderator

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    How is it all going Tony? All running smoothly now?
     
  12. TonyS

    TonyS Active Member

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    Hi Andy,

    I have had the fish in the system for almost 2 weeks now, don’t think I have lost any yet (kind of hard to tell, no bodies found though). I did see a very small ammonia spike to 0.25 for a few days following the addition of the fish, but this then dropped to 0 and has stayed there along with the Nitrites (did not move from 0).

    The plants are coming along, most were in the system while it was cycling and had stunted growth for four weeks, I don’t know if this will have any long term effects on most of them. The corn is showing odd development , maybe due to the initial stunt in growth.
    Grow Bed 4.jpg
    The Pak Choi is going nuts, its leaves are bigger than my hand. We have already started to harvest this, not that you can tell.

    In the bed at the moment is Corn, lettuce, baby spinach, a chilly plant, basil, pak choi, spinach, strawberries, chives, rocket, broccoli, and Asian greens. We have been harvesting the lettuce, rocket and pak choi. The Corn I think is too late in the season now to produce but we’ll still give it a go.
    Grow Bed 1.jpg Grow Bed 3.jpg Grow Bed 2.jpg
    I still have not filled the final of the 4 beds with Media yet, need to do that this weekend. I have more basil, rocket and some Beefsteak tomatoes to plant in there.


    I have been building a cubby house for my daughter, this should be finished this weekend, after which I will be ‘allowed’ to do some more work on the AP system. Not that I am in any rush (the fish are only small) but I want to get the swirl / radial filter in place.
    Cubby.jpg
    Come September I’ll probably start the DWC beds, I have all the materials ready now but I am letting the system stabilise and mature a bit before moving to that.

    Tony
     
  13. Murray

    Murray Site Admin Staff Member

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    Looking good Tony.
     
  14. TonyS

    TonyS Active Member

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    My Nitrates are dropping and will soon be 0

    Thanks Murray,

    I have my fish in the system, but they are only small and the weather is getting colder so they are not doing a whole lot in the way of produceing large ammounts of ammonia.

    My Nitrates have been dropping over the last two weeks as the plants continue to grow, the Nitates were at 20ppm, then 15ppm but as of today they are down to 10pmm.

    What is the best way to suplement the Nitrates untill my fish get a bit bigger if the Nitate level keep dropping. I am guessing I need to add ammonia (In some form) so that it can be converterd to Nitrates, but was wondering what is the best option.

    I did use power feed to cycle the system, can I continue adding this even with Fish?

    Tony
     
  15. Erich

    Erich Member

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    Tony

    Use Seasol or Charlie Carp to up your "ate's" until the system kicks in
     
  16. TonyS

    TonyS Active Member

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    Started on the Radial Filter this weekend,

    I picked up the main bits as junk sitting in a 2000L fish tank at auction.

    The main body of the filter will be made from this 400L tank. It’s a bit tall as it is so I will partially bury it.
    400L tank.jpg

    There were 3 off these 300mm round strainers. the plan is to cut off the strainer and join all three together to make the inner baffle for the filter.
    Radial Filter - Strainers.jpg


    To make an overflow for the outlet water I will cut down this funny shaped 'funnel', I have no idea what it was used for, but I will cut down the height and diameter and fix it inside the tank.
    A cone.jpg


    I started by digging the hole to lower the total height of the tank, as luck would have it I managed to pick the location where the down pipe from the shed and the 50mm water pipe from my dam pump both meet.
    Radial Filter - A problem.jpg

    To ensure the tank would not damage these pipes I had to dig it deep enough to find solid ground and then back fill with compacted gravel and then cover with 50mm treated sleepers. This provided a level and firm location for the tank that would evenly distribute the load over the area.

    Radial Filter -  Stable foundation.jpg

    The tank was then dropped into position to make sure it all fit and work out where the pipes will go.
    Radial Filter - In its New position.jpg


    To be continued
     
  17. TonyS

    TonyS Active Member

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    Cutting down the cone proved an interesting challenge, to get an even constant height I had to do some interesting rigging with my circular saw and timber.

    To mount the over flow ring I first used the cut off portions of the strainers , heating them and then reshaping them to the diameter of the tank they were fixed inside the tank using sealant and 316 stainless screws. In this photo you can see the outlet hole to the left and the inlet hole in the middle right. I have some 90mm uniseals to seal the pipe in place.

    Radial Filter -  Over flow Ring.jpg

    Here are two photos of what it looks like at the moment, the baffle looks a lot like a boiler with the joining plates and the bungs to block the holes, but free beats pretty any day.

    Radial Filter - Top View.jpg Radial Filter -  Top View 2.jpg

    Next I need to plumb it into the system, but that will need to wait for another weekend.
     
  18. TonyS

    TonyS Active Member

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    The Radial filter is now complete and installed into the system.

    New Radial Filter.jpg Inside the Radial Filter.jpg

    The tank outlets are connected to the main return line that originally flowed to the grow beds, this return line has now been diverted to flow into the radial filter. Rather than plumb the outlet from the radial filter back into the original return line I have also added a 200L blue barrel first that will be used as a bio filter (I have a large amount of bio cubes doing nothing, left over from my marine aquarium days). This barrel will also allow a 2nd pump to be added to increase the circulation of water through the fish tanks, the main pump in the sump is not able to deliver adequate flow (due to the length of run and the small diameter of pipe I used) and this is the best option to increase flow through the tanks). The main pump (In the sump) will still pump into the tanks then through the radial filter, blue barrel bio filter then the grow beds and then back into the main sump. The 2nd pump (In the blue barrel) will pump into the tanks then through the radial filter and then into the blue barrel where it will go back around again.

    Even with the relatively mild winter days we have seen this year my water temp averages about 14 – 16 degrees (on a bad day 10 degrees) at these temps my Silvers are still happy(but not doing much) but my Jades are not doing well at all and I am getting a few deaths. Additionally due to the decreased fish activity my plants are also suffering from lower nutrients. To combat this I have added a pool solar heater to try and boost the water temps.


    Fish Tank overview.jpg

    I have not had a chance to see how well the heater will work at the system level (only finished the changes to the plumbing this afternoon), but a test I did using a 1200L fish tank produced a 10 degree heat rise (14C to 24C) in 3 hours, on an average winter day I can expect to get between 4 and 5 hours of good heating. At the moment the heater pump is controlled with a timer (9 am to 2pm), longer term I will make a controller that monitors the roof temp and tank temp and then turns the pump on only when it will be of benefit. In summer hope to reverse the process and use passive cooling at night to cool the system if needed.

    The next project is to start the first of 2 sets of DWC grow beds, that's still planned for September, hopefully by them the fish will be warmer and producing more nutrients to support the increased plant load.
     
  19. TonyS

    TonyS Active Member

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    It’s been two weeks since the solar heater was installed, I have been taking the temperature at 9am and 2pm each day (the times the pump to the solar heater starts and stops), you can see the temperatures in the graph below. I have also added the days Max and Min temps (taken for my area from the BOM site) to show what was happening outside the fish tanks

    Temperature Plot.jpg
    Before adding the solar system the highest temp I saw the system reach in the previous 6 weeks was 17 degrees, but for the most part it was hovering around 14 with the occasional drop to 10.

    My fish are now much more active and actively eating which is great, I was starting to get a few Jade deaths (about two a week), I have not had any more since adding the heating.


    Currently I have no insulation on the tanks or the sump, so they act as a giant head sink at night, but it’s good to see that during the day (on a sunny day) the system can be heated about 5 degrees on average to bring it back up to the 20ish mark. It is actually hard to heat the tank water too much above 22 (at this time of year) as at this temp the solar collectors on the roof are pumping heat into the cool air at the same time as absorbing solar energy, as long as there is sun the system still heats, but as soon as the sun goes behind a cloud if the air temp is less than the water temp the solar system actually cools the system.

    A future project is to make a controller that monitors the system temp and the temp on the roof at the collectors, the pump will only be activated when the system temp is below the minimum and the temp on the roof is warm enough to add more heat. Jaycar do a great controller kit for this (just need two).

    For those looking for some numbers, the water volume in the system is currently 3500L, the solar collector area is 7.5m2 and the pump is on for 5 hours a day.

    Tony
     
  20. karlfk

    karlfk Member

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    looks totally awesome tony, i enjoyed reading your post..

    cheers
     

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