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30' x 24' Aquaponics Greenhouse with a 15' Pool at it's core.  RSS feed

 
Marty Mitchell
Posts: 325
Location: Mobile, AL
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To actually see this system in 3D and scroll around in it you will need to download the Free version of Sketchup. Go to the 3D warehouse and do a search for "30ft x 24ft Low Maintenance and Low Power Aquaponics Greenhouse with Wicking Beds." A pic is at the bottom of this post.

Anyways...

This is designed with low power, low maintenance, and low cost in mind. Also, I have designed it to be able to house multiple generations and species of fish at once so re-stocking would not be required for the average person's back yard. It can even house multiple bait fish and crustacean species for a balanced ecosystem.

This system has a 15ft above ground pool at it's core. I have integrated a ring of stacked milk crate baskets in the center that are filled with gravel for biological surface area. The milk crates are stacked to allow skinny pan fish and smaller younger fish to enter and be in a protected safe zone in the middle and still have food brought to them by the whirl pool effect. The baskets can be planted out with things that provide cover, breeding grounds, and food for the fish.

In the middle of the ring of milk crate baskets there is an airlift that brings in waste water from the outer ring and force feeds it through the biological surface area of the gravel within the baskets. As well as bringing in food for the crayfish and what not.

There are two rings of airlift bubblers at the edge that will create a constant but slow current in a clockwise direction in the Northern hemisphere. These in their current setting will just be hung on the edge of the pool. If you wanted more flow you could create something that looks like an exhaust manifold from a car engine. One large inlet that splits to multiple outlets. Less points to form leaks. Anyways, the current is great for trout or channel catfish. As they almost require it and are almost the most efficient growers. A trout can be harvested after 6 months.

The solids lift overflow is also harvesting from just outside the milk crate ring. May work better from inside the ring. The horizontal pipes are placed just off of the water surface to provide a way to hold the floating lettuce rafts. The green circles on those rafts are about 7 inches.

The lemon trees would best be Meyer Lemons as they produce multiple yields every year and the fruit can hang for up to 5 months. Of course something else could be grown.

All of the raised beds are wicking beds. They can be watered with either the rich aquaponics water or the fresh rain water from the rain storage on the North Wall. Those white boxes used for rain storage are literally the dimensions for the 330gal IBC tanks. Just for point of reference. They are stackable. So those 12 tanks would hold about 4000 gallons of water. I would recommend slanting the whole roof to one side for complete and easy routing of harvest. You can insulate the roof easier during the Winter that way as well for heat retention.

This system will not drain the entire pool. If one of the Constant flood IBC bed's drains become clogged and water goes everywhere. The main pools water can only drop about 4" before the air lift does not work anymore. Saving the fish.

I saw 15' above ground pools at Target for $360. IBC totes can be bought locally for $100 each.

If you want to see what my air lift looks like and how it functions in my personal system you can go to the YouTube link below and fast forward to 8min and 13secs...


EDIT: I am adding a link to a YouTube video of my wicking bed system I just built. It has a dimension of about 2'x2'x8'. Just so happens to be the bed size of the skinny raised beds in the Sketchup model(OK not an accident). In one of my earlier videos I explained how to make the double wide version with almost the same amount of wood.

30-x-24-Aquaponic-Greenhouse-with-wicking-beds.jpg
[Thumbnail for 30-x-24-Aquaponic-Greenhouse-with-wicking-beds.jpg]
Aquaponic System
 
Vaughn Malecki
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Awesome article. Thank you for sharing. I'm in my first couple weeks of studying aquaponics and could use any help possible.
 
Cl Robinson
Posts: 25
Location: SW Alabama zone 8a & 8b
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Marty,

I am curious as to how you will be able to access all parts of your tank if it is 15' round.  If your fish can get away from you it may be hard to harvest them.  Also, growing multiple species in one tank can be problematic if they occupy the same strata...they will eat each other!  I am also building a greenhouse just slightly larger than yours and will use the IBC tanks and the 8' round pools for easier access and they are cheaper.  I will be growing multiple species but they will all be separate systems in 1 greenhouse.  If one species gets sick or there are issues in 1 tank, I will not lose everything.  Also, if you are planning on breeding crustaceans, even for freshwater species most will have to have a brackish water tank for spawning and the nymphs/larvae stage.  I am not sure wicking beds will sufficiently clean the water with higher stocking densities, as the system will not completely drain the pool.  That being said, you have some awesome plants in your vid and I bet that tomato was delicious.  I have been researching this for 8 years and doing small scale experiments while waiting to build my greenhouse and system.  The kids are through college and off the payroll so I can finally do it!  I am excited to see you doing something on a similar scale and hope we all can collaborate and share so we will all be more successful.  Great post.
 
Marty Mitchell
Posts: 325
Location: Mobile, AL
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Cl Robinson wrote:Marty,

I am curious as to how you will be able to access all parts of your tank if it is 15' round.  If your fish can get away from you it may be hard to harvest them.  Also, growing multiple species in one tank can be problematic if they occupy the same strata...they will eat each other!  I am also building a greenhouse just slightly larger than yours and will use the IBC tanks and the 8' round pools for easier access and they are cheaper.  I will be growing multiple species but they will all be separate systems in 1 greenhouse.  If one species gets sick or there are issues in 1 tank, I will not lose everything.  Also, if you are planning on breeding crustaceans, even for freshwater species most will have to have a brackish water tank for spawning and the nymphs/larvae stage.  I am not sure wicking beds will sufficiently clean the water with higher stocking densities, as the system will not completely drain the pool.  That being said, you have some awesome plants in your vid and I bet that tomato was delicious.  I have been researching this for 8 years and doing small scale experiments while waiting to build my greenhouse and system.  The kids are through college and off the payroll so I can finally do it!  I am excited to see you doing something on a similar scale and hope we all can collaborate and share so we will all be more successful.  Great post.


Sorry for the late reply. I did not see your post until just now.

I pretty much was viewing that 15' pool in sketchup as a pond... with a pond ecosystem in mind. Low stocking densities and a balanced ecosystem that is only slowly harvested fish wise. That would keep a continuous flow of fish waste and be more balanced and much lower maintenance in theory anyways. Will have to build one to find out.

I do like the smaller 8' pond idea as well. I already started one sketchup drawing with something like that actually. Never got far into it yet. I want to use some tall and narrow/6' tall and 6' wide rain catchment containers/fish tanks and add some vertical grow towers in there(the drawing) that drain to either a large deep water culture bed or a large set of flood/drain beds, which finally drain to a large IBC in ground sump tank. Just basically a super tall CHOP system.

I also want to do geo/thermal for the water. Just run a massive amount of white food grade water hose in a small pit under ground. So when the water gets too hot during the Summer or too cold during the Winter.... I can redirect the water to flow through there under pressure from the pump on the way back up to the fish tank. Since root temps effect plant growth so much. So many possibilities!

For harvesting fish on the 15' pond I would likely use something like a trap for small crustaceans and maybe do some careful fishing to slowly harvest fish in a manner which does not require restocking. Fish are not the money maker in these systems but they are an awesome bonus. Either fly fishing/flip casting with an ultralight rod... or using small circle hooks with bait(circle hooks can't snag the liner. I don't know since I have never done it.

To me fish eating each other is just part of the ecosystem. No doubt things would have to find a balance.

I just added some Gammarus shrimp to my home system. Micro little crustacians when fully grown... but with huge appetites(Will eat anything from poo to leaves) and fast reproduction. Fish love them too.
 
Cl Robinson
Posts: 25
Location: SW Alabama zone 8a & 8b
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Marty,

Fishing in the tanks, lol, I like that idea.  At low stocking densities there is a lot more leeway on what will work.  As for profit from fish...depends on the fish I suppose.  You could do trout or yellow perch in your climate, possibly even koi, which are not edible, but if one could provide stock to pet stores it can be very lucrative.  I sort of lucked into that scenario so my stocking densities after breeding will be high until they ship at 3 inches.  I am going to use compost to heat my water and greenhouse in the winter.  My polycarb panels finally arrived...I wound up with 10mm 4 wall 30% opal.  We also bought a used 33 x 100 ft metal hoophouse that we are breaking down and moving.  The build will require the frame sections to be spaced 2 ft apart so max length will be 66ft and with tension on the hoops it is 27ft wide.  I am thinking 60ft will be plenty.   That is a lot bigger than I had planned or hoped to afford.  I am excited to get started on it next month.  With all that extra space I am including a small above ground swimming pool so I can excersize all winter.  WOOHOO!!!  The possibilities are almost endless.  I tried to work with sketchup and it makes my head fuzzy.  I will start a thread once we get it going to show pictures and details.  I would love to see more pics of your system.
 
Marty Mitchell
Posts: 325
Location: Mobile, AL
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That large of a body of water will add some great thermal mass/stability to the greenhouse. I am very jealous!

The more I get into learning with Aquaponics... the more I like low stocking densities... but with compost tea and such being added as a supplement... or being brewed right in the water via giant tea bags essentially.

I expect that keeping things close to the way nature does it will make it resilient. I have stuck some comedy leaves in my little system. It darkened the water (still clear though) a good amount.

I like bluegill too. They will eat anything that fits in their mouths.
 
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