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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Construction of Fish Tank

I had a lot of square aluminum tubing on hand.  I only put it at the corners for the sake of being pretty.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Fish Tank Fail Or OOPS!

I should have a fish tank that will be the equivalent of my grow bins to give the fish enough room and handle the exchange of nutrients efficiently.  So far I have planned for a little more than 200 gallons worth of grow bins and planting tubes.  The commercially available tanks take up too much room or are too expensive, or both.  If I build a strong wooden box that is 2' x 2' by 8' it will have well over 200 gallons in capacity and it will fit neatly in my greenhouse.  Fish pool liner and wood for the pool would come to under $100.  Since I don't have to deal with outdoor conditions, cattle (as in a stock tank which is built to withstand large animals), or other similar conditions, it seems the best solution to my need for a large tank.

We installed the fish tank, plumbed the grow bins and decided to do a water test before adding gravel or chemicals.  The grow bins each consist of three 27 gallon bins connected with ABS pipe with the bell syphon installed at one end of one of the bins.  The sump is an old porcelain/cast iron bath tub.  I have a 550 gph pump.  The cycle went beautifully from the first in one set of bins and required only a little tweaking in the second set of bins to work as well.  Meanwhile we were filling the fish tank.  It had reached the point of beginning to drain when we heard a little popping noise then a wave of water ripped the side of the fish tank as over 200 gallons gushed across the greenhouse floor.  It immersed the electrical cord connection but fortunately it was on a breaker and immediately cut out before we could be electrocuted. 
We quickly discussed what could be done as the greenhouse slowly drained.  We purchased concrete mix, chipboard for forms and reinforcing mesh.  Today we will mend the side of the fish tank, create walls of concrete to contain what is now  liner.  None of the joints of the fish tank failed.  It was a simple failure of the material.  With concrete walls to provide the resistance to pressure we should be back in business again and ready to add gravel to our grow bins.

Getting My Feet Wet

A couple of years ago I decided to erect a prefab greenhouse in my back yard.  It is 10' x 12' in area and rather attractive, but so far it has been an orphan.  This past week I visited my daughter and learned about aquaponics.  Suddenly my greenhouse has a function.  The cycle of water between a fish tank and grow beds provides an answer to my concern about the lack of water in a putative emergency.  Although it is unlikely it will handle the job of feeding me and my household, it will surely be an asset if food prices continue to rise.  I have already invested in many of the items that are needed for an aquaponics setup.  First of all, I have the greenhouse.  I also have an evaporative cooler to keep the temperature inside the greenhouse from soaring in the summer.  I have bins to convert into grow beds and an old cast iron/porcelain tub to use as a sump.  My daughter provided me with the necessary plumbing for the bell syphons required for a 'flush and fill' system and I purchased pumps and aerators for the water supply. Above is a picture of my greenhouse with a seedling table and the bins I plan to use as grow tanks.  The walls of the greenhouse are made of corrugated transparent polycarbonate, both tough and light.  I plan to insulate the north wall with sheets of insulating foam and use 55 gallon drums of water in matte black as thermal sinks for winter warming.