Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Aquaponics project is on hold

I've decided to put my aquaponics project on hold for a little while. My biggest hurdle has been finding a suitable grow bed to match up with a 20 gallon aquarium tank. I tried a few different storage totes but none of them worked out. It's too hard to get a good seal for the siphon and drain that has to go on the bottom because the plastic is so flimsy. I need to find or build something that's a lot more sturdy. The hydroponics grow beds that I looked at were too shallow for an aquaponics system to work properly. Everything that I've read so far says that the grow bed needs to be 12 inches deep.

I haven't given up. I'm just going to set up an actual aquarium for now. I need to learn how to keep small fish alive under normal circumstances before I go crazy and try to do it on a large scale using unconventional methods. A lot of the principles that go into setting up an aquarium are used in an aquaponics setup, anyway. The nitrogen cycle is the core of an aquaponics system and you have to get it under control in a normal aquarium, anyway. I'll just use the water from my water changes to water my plants. We'll see how it goes.

Hopefully, within a few months I'll have a good sized indoor system going. I need to build a greenhouse that I can keep warm in the winter before I try to build something outside. I'm not sure if my patio slab will be able to hold a ~200 gallon tank plus a grow bed, anyway. That's the only good place in my backyard where I have room to make it work. We'll see how it goes.

5 comments:

Mike said...

You don't need 12 inches of media to grow stuff in. I have a large basil plant in a 2 inch plastic pot. The roots just grow out of the pot.

Your leaf veggies (basil, lettuce, etc.) grow just fine in 3-4 inches of media. These are the things that you will want to grow the first 6 months or so anyhow as the biology in your system matures.

I am using a under-bed storage tote on my 75 gallon system with 4" plastic pots and a SIP windowsill planter with great success. I prefer to have my plants in pots in the grow beds indoors, as I can move stuff around easier.

I've some stuff written up on doing aquaponics in aquariums on AquariPonics.com if that helps you. Check out the cycling tutorial, i've had great luck doing things that way.

Rick said...

interesting idea... going to have to look at this...

The Urban Survivalist said...

Sorry Mike. That link is dead. I know that I don't "need" more than a 12" grow bed but I don't want to have to keep moving things around and improving my system. I want something that's low maintenance and that will work for a while. Once you get everything setup correctly then it should eliminate 90% of the maintenance involved in both an aquarium and a hydroponics grow bed. Once I get it down on a small scale then doing it sustainably on a larger scale should be a snap.

Anonymous said...

PetCo was running a sale recently on $1 per gallon glass aquariums.

fish choice til tank system sets up right; feeder goldfish do well

have fun...

Wildflower

Melissa said...

I've just started doing research on this subject myself. I thought I could try it with an aquarium and an old cooler that has a build in drain. Do you think that may work?