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    Aquaponics for Dummies 
    #1
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    edited to change title - frosty = dummy :lol: :lol: :lol:

    and following is lots of excellent info from Joel

    yesterday we had to go to Perth to pick up a prescription ( big stuffup by the chemist :evil: long story which I wont burden you with )

    but to try and make the trip worth while we went to a local pond / fish place ( we thought of being very cheeky and ringing joel and going to see him :lol: but decided it was too cheeky and also a bit too far as we needed to get back early )

    anyway :roll: first question is we bought some weed that floats on top of a pond and doubles its size every 10 days :? and we didnt catch its name ......... I think it was ast something fern ??????? anyone got any idea what it is ......... and can anyone see any problems with it ? we thought once it covers we can harvest it to put in the compost

    we are hoping that if this weed covers the pond that may shade it and slow down the algae

    his solution was to buy a UV light thing and a pump that pumps 18000 litres and hour ........ build a 5 m long by 10 m wide stream and fill it with quart stone stuff to a depth of 200mm and plants ....... run the pump 24/7 ...... it will only cost $5 pw he said :roll: but the pump will use 6 units of power a day which will nearly double our power use :shock:

    and all this wont produce anything edible :evil:

    we then asked about floating weed and as I said above decided to try that first

    he also said we have so much trouble with algae because our water is alkaline ........ came home and looked at the water test and the PH is 7.2
    anyone know if this is true ????

    we do want to do aquaponics but had decided this pond is too big ( it is 40000 litres ) I think we would need too big a garden ........and too many fish for us to manage

    but it is certainly out of the question to run a pump on this big pond to keep it algae free plus then run a pump for aquaponics

    joel if you read this I am still a bit confused :oops: is it twice the volume of garden to the volume of water or vice versa :? :? ( sorry I am so dumb and ask so many questions )

    we are going to try and come and see you soon ( I know we are always gunna do something <sigh>) but lately hubby is so busy with goats and trying to set up the dairy shed plus we need to plant more veggies and plant our taga seedlings etc etc etc

    plus christofer we still havent checked out the solar panels

    today we are going to pick up a second hand tank stand that we have been trying to go and get for over a month ........... ( but dont know when we will get time to set it up to gravity the house water )

    mealwhile it also turns out this guy also has an old windmill which he will sell very cheap so we may get that too !!!!! another project :oops: we are hoping it may be able to be used in the aquaponics ........ or else to fill the house water tank ......... just cant pass on a cheap windmill !!!!

    argggggggggg sorry to rave on so much

    please any advice gratefully accepted

    frosty
    Only after the last tree has been cut down,
    only after the last river has been poisoned,
    only after the last fish has been caught.
    only then will you find
    that money cannot be eaten"
    Chief Seattle
     
     

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    #2
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    Hey Frosty...

    Lucky you didn't want to come yesterday, I was out for a lot of the afternoon... But let me know next time your going to be around...

    It sounds to me like what he was suggesting for you to do, with the long stream filled with gravel and plants is basically an aquaponic system. Thats all an aquaponic system is, a water supply of nutrient rich water, generally with fish in it, and then gravel bed filtration with plants growing in it... When he suggested plants he probably assumed that you would grow ferns and specimen plants, but you can always substitute veggies and herbs...

    At 7.2 your water is not really alkaline, the water in my systems has been up to 9.0 without any major dramas to either the fish or the plants, so I wouldn't worry about that.

    I would be carefull with the weed your introducing to your pond, though I guess it's already there, and Tezza will be telling me it's not really a weed coz heres no such thing.. The only reason I say this is because I have seen how easily they can be spread. If you have any water birds come to your pond the weed will stick to them, and then they will take it to natural waterways. I saw this first hand as I had duckweed in some of my ponds which spread to other ponds I hadn't put it into, it was the dog drinking from one and the weed would stick to his mouth. Then when he drank at a different one later the weed fell off and started reproducing..

    Don't worry about the confusion over the aquaponics stuff, and please ask away, there are a few budding aquaponeers around the group who could probably answer as well.. Realistically you don't even need to worry about the volumes either way, as your not going to be building a system that is based on huge returns, you just want to clean your pond up. This can be done simply, and it could be as simple as an old bath tub beside the pond, filled with gravel. A small solar pump, or whatever method you have on hand, pumping the water up into the bath full of gravel, the water then draining through the bath and back into your pond. then you can plant whatever you want into the bath tub, veggies, herbs etc.

    Heres a picture of something sort of similar.
    http://members.iinet.net.au/~jmalcol.../pondbeds.html

    This is at a friends house, theres a large pond to the right and he was having trouble with algae. He set up three small gravel beds, the water pumps to the top one, before cascading down to the other two and back into his pond. This tiny amount of filtration bed has cleaned his pond up and he has no more troubles...

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that you only need a small amount of filtration for your situation, as you don't have a pond stocked to the eyeballs with fish... Even just one of those blue plastic 200l drums cut in half lengthways, placed beside your pond with both halves filled with gravel. That would give you a couple of nice little grow beds, and in the future if you like the way things are going it's very easy to add to it.. You can throw a few fish into the water and add a couple more grow beds near the pond, whether they be made out of old bath tubs or plastic barrels, or just depressions in the ground lined with pond liner and filled with gravel...

    You can expand and adapt as you go.....

    Hope this helps a little Frosty

    Joel
     
     

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    #3
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    thanks Joel

    I dont think there would be any chance of birds spreading the weed here.... we have never had any water birds visit ........ just the occasional chicken hawk has a swim in the shallows

    maybe you have never been to Lancelin or else have forgotten how dry it is up here :lol: :lol: and we are up on the "scarp" 100m above sea level and Lancelin town ...........

    no waterways anywhere nearby and the nearest wetland is Bootoo swamp about 25km north in the DTA

    you make the aquaponics sound so easy .......... but will a couple of baths filter the water enough ? the guy yesterday talked about having to pump enough to recirculate ALL the water in the pond at least 4 tims daily

    and if we do use this pond will we get it clean enough for fish ?

    frosty
    Only after the last tree has been cut down,
    only after the last river has been poisoned,
    only after the last fish has been caught.
    only then will you find
    that money cannot be eaten"
    Chief Seattle
     
     

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    #4
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    Good to hear the weed won't spread to easily..

    Aquaponics IS simple frosty... Well it can be, it just depends on the levels to which you want to take it. It can be as simple as you like and with very low intensity, or if you want to take it to the limits, for maximum production, it can be as complex as you want to make it..

    I have no doubt at all that a couple of old baths filled with gravel, will filter your water at present, leaving it clear and free of your algae problems... The addition of plants into the baths, extracting the nutrients from the system through plants you will take away and eat, will make things work even better....


    Let me try and figure it out roughly compared with what I have....

    This system below has a grow bed with only 200 litres of gravel and about 4000l of water in the fish tank. This works out at a growbed, to fish tank ratio of 1:20..
    http://members.iinet.net.au/~jmalcol...grow%20bed.HTM

    This system has had up to about 30 kg of fish in the tank when running continuously, but will happily support 10-15 kg of fish while running intermitantly, maybe 50% of the time, on a timer......

    I don't know how much a bathtub might hold, lets assume 500 litres but of course this is a very rough guess. Therefore for your pond of around 40,000 litres, 10 times my tank, you would need 10 times my grow bed, about 2000 litres of grow bed, or 4 x 500 litre batchtubs....

    This would allow you to also have 10 times the fish I have..
    So with 4 bathtubs full of gravel and plants, you could stock your pond with 300kg of fish....!!!! in theory....

    Allowing for the fact that you will be running on alternative power, and don't want pumps running 24/7, drop it to 100kg to be safe..

    So if you only want a couple of bathtubs, and allowing for the fact that there is already nutrient leaching into your pond from somewhere, you could easily have 30-40kg of fish in your pond with a couple of tubs growing herbs n veg.....

    Damn... I began by telling you how simple it is and then proceded to baffle you with with all the complications..

    Simple version......... With one 15-18W 12V pond pump for under $200, a couple of old bathtubs, a trailer load of gravel, and a few bits of pipes and fittings. You would not only have a clean pond, but one you could stock with 40-50 silver perch, and it would remain clean.. And once set up it would require an hour or two a week for feeding, harvesting and planting..

    Sorry to put people through all of that, if you read the whole lot... You can tell i don't really like this stuff can't you.... :lol:

    Joel
     
     

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    #5
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    Joel

    I am sure everyone is as interested in what you have posted as I am

    and I think I may be finally getting it

    we priced baths at a Perth salvage yard and they wanted $60 each ....... the local salvage yard is open Friay and saturday so we will talk to them ...... I know they had a lot of old baths a while ago and wanted $20 each which phil thought was too expensive :lol: but seems he was wrong

    or as you say the blue drums are another option but baths seem better because they are made to drain and have a bit more room

    do you use just ordinary pea gravel ?

    I think overnight we may have decided against the windmill ...... I think it wont pump enough ( we estimate thr best would be 450 l an hour ) and will cost more than a pump ( we were offered 2 mills for $850 one working on needs a new pump ......... and we only have a use for 1 anyway )

    we may just buy a 240v pump that pumps say 12000l /hr ........ they use about 175w ........ we could run it throught the inverter in the day and 240 v at night during smart power hours ........ we would do flood and drain

    I know christopher will think immediately of what if the inverter fails -but in our case we do have 240 backup :wink:

    just out of curiosity where could the pond be getting nutrients from ? the only place seems to be they are coming up in the bore water :? seems unlikely from 120m down

    thanks again for all this info

    frosty
    Only after the last tree has been cut down,
    only after the last river has been poisoned,
    only after the last fish has been caught.
    only then will you find
    that money cannot be eaten"
    Chief Seattle
     
     

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    #6
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    Hi again joel

    hope you havent given up answering my seemingly endless questions :roll:

    I looked at the link you posted on the other topic ......so what size in litres per hour pump do you think we need ?

    I know this depends on the size of our growbeds but if we buy one we want one big enough to allow expansion and with the pond being so big surely we need to recirculate a fair portion of the water daily :?

    and to give an idea maybe we will start with 5 baths ......... as I said above thinking of maybe a 12000 l a day pump ? could we go smaller and still expand to say double the grow beds

    if the pump is too big will that be a problem with flooding the growbeds too much now ?

    I hope I am not driving you mad :lol: :lol: phil and I have been discussing options all day ........ and its driving US mad trying to decide the best way to go :evil:

    frosty
    Only after the last tree has been cut down,
    only after the last river has been poisoned,
    only after the last fish has been caught.
    only then will you find
    that money cannot be eaten"
    Chief Seattle
     
     

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    #7
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    Sorry Frosty.... :oops:

    I read your post early this morning and meant to get back to it.... :oops:

    Your thinking of starting with 5 baths? great MMmmm, brain churnin....

    OK, I assume that you meant 12000l an hour rather than per day? ONe important factor is the amount of head (height) that the pump will have to pump up to... You will need the height from the water surface in your pond to the top of where your baths will be, the total height the pump will be pumping, roughly.. And you need to know this before picking a pump because what they say is 12000l an hour will probably be only at less than 1m head. So check that roughly and let me know.

    If the pump is a little to big that wil be ok because before each bath you will have a valve throttleing back the flow. This is needed because the water flow will not be quite equal to each bed (or bath) and you can adjust each valve during setup to be sure that you have roughly equal amounts going to each bed/bath.

    Your right the baths are a very easy option, you'll be able to use standard drain pipe and fittings to direct the water back into the pond..

    Yep, I use ordinary pea gravel bought from a soil supplier, about 8mm-12mm particle size I think, thats going to be a lot of shovelling for Phil to fill 5 baths... :shock:

    You'll want to use pipe to keep the drain free of gravel like I have with my beds (check pics).

    Your nutrients in the pond ????? I don't know, gardens, manures, septic, just the fact that you have an algal problem led me to think that there is nutrients getting in there somehow...

    mmm, covered most things I think, let me know head details....

    Joel
     
     

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    #8
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    Just wanted to butt in and say this sounds like such an interesting application of the technology. How cool!

    Nothing to add, just wanted to say I like where you are both going tith this, Joel and Frosty!!

    C
     
     

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    #9
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    thanks yet again Joel

    the pump we looked at on Tuesday pumped to 2m head but I see some on the site you posted do much better - up to 4m and there is a bit on how to calculate resistance over the length of pipe which is something we have needed for a while

    have you any experience with the Chinese pumps ? Pondmate seem to be reasonable and not too expensive ?

    our plan keeps changing :oops: yesteday we were going to put the baths down by the pond

    but later we had a brainstorm and most likely is that now we will put them up on the front verandah and later build a stream for the drains and maybe fed any excess water into it with a waterfall

    the head would be about 1.5 m and the distance from the pond 10.5m - but we will get more acurate measurements before we start construction -

    only problem is they wont get full sun all day due to some shade from a tree ......... but the verandah does face north so the house wont shade them

    we have an ancient cowley level and despite its age and our ineptitude we seem to get reasonably accurate measurents :lol:

    so as long as the pump will pump up to the head height how small a flow rate can we go down to if we want to get a smaller pump to save power ?
    (we are now also thinking continuous flow may be best so power consumption will be a big issue)

    yes Phil is going to have to shovel a lot of gravel ........plus we wil have to buy it by the trailer load - no one likes to deliver to Lancelin so they charge like a wounded bull :evil: at leat we have a tipper trailer we only bought about a month ago

    we are so keen now but will have to wait maybe 2 weeks before really getting started - finish he dairy - plant the tagas and oraganise to trickle them and do the firebreaks THEN probably the first week in Nov we will come and see you then started

    frosty
    Only after the last tree has been cut down,
    only after the last river has been poisoned,
    only after the last fish has been caught.
    only then will you find
    that money cannot be eaten"
    Chief Seattle
     
     

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    #10
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    This is the sort of application I was thinking about.. Rather than using tanks for your water storage.....

    My dream home consists of this..

    3 to 4 yurts conectted via external walk ways (with cover) and underneather the yurt was thinking of having a canel system (small mind you) with all the fish, plants etc etc etc..

    Now correct me if this wouldn't work... but in my channel system.. I would have a pump of some description pumping the water from one end to the other.. In different sections of the canel I would Dam it with gravel and and mesh. This will allow water to pass through and filter and feed my grow beds. In the differnet sections I would have the fish. Differnet breeds in differnet sections (Hmm what shall I have for tea tonight section 1 or section 2)

    Having this water underneath our dwelling, in the summer months would make cooling very easy, simply having vents underneath the house vent in the roof to allow air air to escape and drwaw the cool air from beneath. It would also be very pretty, with pond lights etc etc. ahh the dream.

    EDIT: to add to this, as to keep the water active.. http://forums.permaculture.org.au/viewtopic.php?t=886 Eco Swimming Pool.. I love these things.
    AKA - Dan the Man
    Jack of all trades, Master of none
    http://www.aussieslivingsimply.com.au - Australian Sustainable Living Portal
    http://smileys.smileycentral.com/cat/15/15_1_116.gif
     
     

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