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Drawing of an aesthetically pleasing aquaponics setup. What did I do wrong?  RSS feed

 
Klaymen Strife
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First of all, I am not sure exactly which forum I should be posting this in, but as this is focused more on building and design than system care, this seemed like the best place.

So I love the idea of aquaponics, but all of the systems I have seen look very... industrial. I have always felt that with a little time and effort, they could look much better. The plan for this is to build with cob, using on site stones for the waterfall. I haven't yet designed the look of the entire building that I am envisioning, but I would like to get some feedback on this part. It seems like this should work fine, but I know that there are probably numerous things that I am overlooking. Anyone out there with some experience that can tell me what I should change or keep in mind? Other comments are also welcome. As I said, this is just a small part of a larger structure that I am trying to plan, but I think even just this part could work on it's own as one of the small houses that people seem to be so into these days.

Thoughts?

 
Tyler Ludens
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I'm having trouble interpreting the drawing.  It looks like the growbeds are ground level and the waterfall and fish tank are underground....

are the lower elements actually meant to be in the foreground?  Maybe a bird's eye view (looking straight down) would be helpful also, or a side view.

 
Klaymen Strife
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:
I'm having trouble interpreting the drawing.  It looks like the growbeds are ground level and the waterfall and fish tank are underground....


The easiest way to describe this would be cut into the side of a hill. The grow beds / greenhouse are level with the top of the hill. The bottom floor is level with the ground.

H Ludi Tyler wrote:
are the lower elements actually meant to be in the foreground?  Maybe a bird's eye view (looking straight down) would be helpful also, or a side view.


The lower elements? This is a side shot of the structure. The pipes and stuff on the left are hidden (from people in the room with the pond) in the hill, probably in a room that is cut into the hill cave-style. I will be doing a top down drawing, hopefully a 3d rendering as well, when I have the time/energy. It's mostly a vague idea in my head at this point and takes time to map it all out on paper.

Also note, the thing between the vine and the bush in the grow room is supposed to be a person, for size reference.

Is there anything else that doesn't make sense to you?
 
Tyler Ludens
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Ok, thanks, I think I understand now.  My main concern about it is the engineering needed to safely cut into the side of the hill.  I might put the waterfall on the cut surface of the hill, below the grow beds, rather than to the side. 


 
Neal McSpadden
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Assuming you size things correctly, it should work fine.

If you are going for nice & pretty, I'm not sure a geodesic dome would be the way to go. A more traditional gabled glass house would be, well, more traditional.
 
John Abacene
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I have seen more completely different kinds of designs than I can count, and most do work.
It all basically comes down to water flow and overall environment that results.
There are different kinds of water flow - periodic flooding being just one.
If you have a small enclosed system, one major concern is undesired fungus/mold of one sort or another. This is often prevented with adequate ventilation, but in a high humidity environment that can require more of a constant breeze, which in turn generally causes a lot of evaporation of your water - which most people are not too concerned about.

One setup that I loved playing with was essentially two kiddie pools, a large cable TV company cable reel, and a tall, narrow plastic drum in the middle of it all.
Another was someone who used a mid to full sized above ground swimming pool, with large tubes or gutters radiating around the perimeter. They started with just a few, and continued to add them a couple at a time until they maximized the plants to fish/water ratio.

One of the best ways to learn or find great ideas is to simply do a thorough Google image search for Aquaponics and related terms. Aquaponics is a very diverse and forgiving phenomena.

I have been trying to promote what I call "Hyper Aquaponics" which is a little like whre you are headed with "miking it look good", and with refining the system and making it better than just something that works dependably. I can tell you more about that if you are interested...
 
Klaymen Strife
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creteman wrote:
I have been trying to promote what I call "Hyper Aquaponics" which is a little like whre you are headed with "miking it look good", and with refining the system and making it better than just something that works dependably. I can tell you more about that if you are interested...



Please do.
 
Klaymen Strife
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Neal McSpadden wrote:
Assuming you size things correctly, it should work fine.

If you are going for nice & pretty, I'm not sure a geodesic dome would be the way to go. A more traditional gabled glass house would be, well, more traditional.


I think that's a matter of personal preference. I really like the look of geodesic domes (ideally, it would be one big glass bubble, but that is nearly impossible to make / keep ventilated).
 
Tyler Ludens
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creteman wrote:

I have been trying to promote what I call "Hyper Aquaponics" which is a little like whre you are headed with "miking it look good", and with refining the system and making it better than just something that works dependably. I can tell you more about that if you are interested...



I'm interested!  I am also dreaming and planning about an aesthetically pleasing aquaponics system.  I'm a beginner aquaponicist - I don't even have my "real" fish yet, just some Gambusia and a couple Goldfish, but I'm dreaming of a beautiful water garden which produces food.  Could you perhaps start a thread about Hyper Aquaponics?  Thanks! 

 
John Abacene
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Aquaponics was such a great concept, and yet so simple - but I'm one of those people who won;t let something go until I've seen all the options possible.
I had some experience with enclosed ecosystems, (Terrestrial and Aquatic) Aquascapes, minature landscaping, etc. So I wanted to build a sort of biosphere, or a nearly enclosed ecosystem.
I learned about all the parts of the cycle, and wondered why people were buying and feeding fish food to thier fish, when they could grow it - plants, worms, etc.  Many of the best Aquaponics' systems' secrets are incorporating earthworms anyway.  So that would be the next logical step, and with that, designing things so that the fish could not eat all the worms or al the plants - which just requires partial separation, like the worms having a safe zone the fish could not get into, but where worms, only every once in a while, like when they started getting over-populated would stray into the fish area(s).



 
John Abacene
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There is the thing about just making it look good, professional, scientific or such, which just comes down to carefully choosing your materials and components, and doing things with a lot of care, as opposed to just using whatever junk you can find.  Some people will build grow bed out of wood and place plastic sheeting in to allegedly make it waterproof, but that is just asking for problems down the line.  I am a fan of building with wood and fiberglassing it completely, which makes it stronger and much longer lasting. Other than that, for the major components (Fish tank and grow beds) heavy plastic items or sealed concrete I think would be best.
There are all kinds of things out there that work for this, like large plastic produce/harvest bins, or using kiddie pools as concrete molds - anything that is heavy, thick plastic of large enough dimensions can be a possible resource.

 
John Abacene
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Then there are way that it gets into areas where people will say "Why do that, blah, blah".
As a rule, the simplest systems tend to be the most favored and possibly dependable, and many people swear by the periodic flood style, which is not for me. I find I can do much more, much better, and even much easier with a slow constant flow - there are several methods you can stumble upon if you expand your search to hydroponics, aquariums, terrariums, etc. All these fields can give you a little more specialized info and insights into things. Again, an exhaustive image search on Google can give a lot of info and ideas the easiest way once you have a grasp of Aquaponics in general.
 
John Abacene
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This is where it gets into the really chronic, nearly obsessive hobby, and where I am most at home.
In Aquarium systems, there is something called a Particulate/Protein scrubber.
It is a lot simpler than it sounds, and fairly easy to build. - Google image search will show that.
This removes - or better for Aquaponics, separates the tiny solid bits and stuff that cloud the water.
This stuff, mostly waste if coming from fish water, is almost universally seen as vital food for plants, so most people do not see any point in dealing with it.
However, the benefits are that you can:
1. You can use this to refine the system and make it more efficient
2. You can remove this gunk and save or reuse it elsewhere in the system, or even sell it, as it is sold in stores as "Fish Emulsion" fertilizer.
3. You can (also?) use it on the other side of the cycle, for the water going back to the fish, which makes things that more ideal for their quality of life and health.

The best, simplest Particulate/Protein scrubber is a very tall, narrow or narrowing column or tube  with bubbles rising in it, where at the top narrrows to the smallest gap where just below it the water leaves on its way elsewhere, and above it the air exits and the gunk is either gathered or removed.

As with much involved with Aquaponics, with these there are also various methods and types, especially concerning how and where the water is pumped and leaves, and even whether you should use fine or larger bubbles, etc. etc. etc.
 
Klaymen Strife
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creteman wrote:

2. You can remove this gunk and save or reuse it elsewhere in the system, or even sell it, as it is sold in stores as "Fish Emulsion" fertilizer.



This is why I included the vortex filter. I first heard about them from this video.
 
John Abacene
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Beyond this, you get into the life cycles of everything in the system, and the core of the biosphere concept, where the waste or output of any one thing is or can be the food or input of another.
It gets into things like using compost to partially heat a system in winter, or using that gunk or other resource to accelerate composting - everything becomes - or CAN become symbiotic, which is where it gets "elegant" and beautiful in its workings. - Of course, only you will see because only you will know, until you get to brag to someone else the wonders of the details fo what you do and how - IF who you are talking to can appreciate it. Even those in the Aquaponics community can be underwhelming, as many Aquaponics people are either those who want a big commercial fish/plant farm, and want things simple and cheap, or those who just cut plastic barrels in half and see how many fish they can crowd into it.

I go for the beauty of the system, and if you make it mostly self-sufficient, it will actually become much easier to work with, to where all you do is minor periodic checking an maintenance, or possibly missing dinner just because you have so much fun constantly tinkering with it.
 
John Abacene
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One of the first big secrets of Aquaponics is the worms.
Most people think it is the fish waste that feeds the plant - and it does, but worms make it so much better, so effectively, what you want is worm waste.

You can do this by just putting worms into your growing media, and/or you can also have a separate area for the worms alone before the water gets to the plants, which I have played with.

Keep in mind:
1. The best systems only have one water pump, and that should be placed where the water is the cleanest, as people sometimes complain about their pump getting clogged up.
2. If you do things right, one section in the system only has to be slightly lower than the last for the system to work (at least in my slow-flow method).
3. If you can deign and build things right, especially considering #2 above, you can often get away with using a bubble/air lift to bring the water back up to the top of the system again, which eliminates the moving parts and failures of the typical water pump, and will aerate the water, - AND can also become the Particulate/Protein scrubber, all in one fairly simple unit - and THAT is where it all starts getting "Elegant", by having an efficient, clean, reliable system with few, fairly simple components.



 
John Abacene
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Take the red pill is it?  o see how far down the rabbit hole goes? (The Matrix)

I have gotten to where I want an upside down pyramid shape for the fish tank. (not with glass).
Why? - Because once properly set-up, the fairly steep sides insure that the fish waste goes straight down to a certain kind of valve, and directly into the system, which is healthier for the fish, and makes a more efficient system.

Also, my method is based entirely on Overflow.
As water enters the system, say, the fish tank, the fish tank will overflow into the next section, which overflows into the next. This way if anything happens to the water pump, everything still has the minimum needed water. If something happens to one section, like a leak, only that section is affected, and the system cannot be drained because of the leak.

Next, that overflow or siphon is not the typical overflow - it takes the water from the bottom of a section, not the water's surface - Why? Because it takes the settling waste out, more directly, and leaves the lighter, cleaner, flowing water in the system.  There is a certain kind of overflow or siphon for doing this that in some cases is essentialy a modified "Loop" that makes a second water level - you'll have to learn about that on your own - again, Google image search.


 
John Abacene
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I did start such a thread, but lets just say that there are those who have made me regret sharing.
 
Klaymen Strife
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creteman wrote:
Take the red pill is it?  o see how far down the rabbit hole goes? (The Matrix)

I have gotten to where I want an upside down pyramid shape for the fish tank. (not with glass).
Why? - Because once properly set-up, the fairly steep sides insure that the fish waste goes straight down to a certain kind of valve, and directly into the system, which is healthier for the fish, and makes a more efficient system.

Also, my method is based entirely on Overflow.
As water enters the system, say, the fish tank, the fish tank will overflow into the next section, which overflows into the next. This way if anything happens to the water pump, everything still has the minimum needed water. If something happens to one section, like a leak, only that section is affected, and the system cannot be drained because of the leak.

Next, that overflow or siphon is not the typical overflow - it takes the water from the bottom of a section, not the water's surface - Why? Because it takes the settling waste out, more directly, and leaves the lighter, cleaner, flowing water in the system.  There is a certain kind of overflow or siphon for doing this that in some cases is essentialy a modified "Loop" that makes a second water level - you'll have to learn about that on your own - again, Google image search.





Do you have any drawings of this? I am having a hard time envisioning it.
 
John Abacene
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As far as the fish tank? - Turn a pyramid upside down, point down; imagine it hollow.

As far as the overflow - one section is lower than the previous, I use PVC Pipe/parts - but like I said, look it up on google image search with words like "siphon" with "aquarium" or "aquaponic", water, etc.

I'm giving you the clues, you have to find and figure out the specifics, or I would have to make a career out of posting pictures, making schematics, etc. - no offense.
 
Klaymen Strife
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It doesn't have to be elaborate, just a simple doodle showing what you meant. When you say pyramid, do you mean straight walls, or stepped walls like the Egyptian pyramids? Does that play into the overflow thing? Would the pyramid part be higher than the other parts or lower? Like I said, just a simple doodle/line drawing would be fine, I'm just not sure which order you are putting things.
 
John Abacene
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Those were separate subjects, not one.
A simple Pyramid shape, not stepped; smooth walls so the fish waste falls or slides straight to the bottom. - This is not necessarily something you should do, it is my own concept.

One thing, section, or water level lower than the last one - just a basic concept, water either seeks its own level or goes downhill
Which sections or parts are lower are entirely up to what you prefer to do.
Most people have the fish at the bottom of the system due to the weight of the water and tank/pond/etc.

I prefer to have the fish higher, as with especially a particulate/protein scrubber, I like the cleanest water going straight to the fish, but that is a difficult design due to weight and necessary construction.

If you are any good at models, cutting paper, etc. You could use graph paper and make small models of the different components and play around with them, figure out where you want them, where they should best go, what should be at the top pr beginning, and what should be last or bottom.

Do exhaustive Google image searches first to get all the possibilities and ideas you can.

I am not doing a doodle; and I no longer give away the graphic details of my own methods.
Like I said, I'm giving you the clues - you need to find and figure yourself.
That is the best way to do things anyway so you have an intimate understanding of how and why your system works.

 
Neal McSpadden
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klaymen, creteman is talking about a CHIFT PIST system with a conical tank bottom (possibly using a no-holes overflow instead of a through-wall overflow).
 
John Abacene
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Well that may or may not make it simpler - putting those terms into a Google Image search will show it well enough though...
I'll break down and look for or take a couple of pictures of what I mean....
 
John Abacene
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Here is an example of the general type of siphon I mean...
overflow-2.jpg
[Thumbnail for overflow-2.jpg]
 
John Abacene
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I will go into Virtual Reality and make a quick mock-up of the upside-down pyramid...
 
John Abacene
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Here is an upside-down pyramid shape for a fish tank...
SP32-20111028-090536.jpg
[Thumbnail for SP32-20111028-090536.jpg]
 
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