As discussed in the previous article, we will be using IBC Aquaponics for our Aquaponics system. We have
separated one IBC to use as a fish tank, and the remaining two IBC's will be cut into 3 parts to use as growbeds and one part as a sump. In this article I will show you how to make the growbeds
and the sump.
To start, let's separate the base, the cage and the plastic tanks from the remaining two IBC's. Use a battery drill along with T-30, T-35, T-40 driver security bits to remove the screws holding the cage to the IBC baseline. Depending on the IBC type, you can use an ordinary hex headed machine screws.
Let's do the cutting on the cage to make the growbeds and sump. For better handling, lay the cage on its side to do the cuts. You should use thin abrasive cutting discs. If required, you should remove sharp edges with a sandpaper flap wheel or a flat file.
In this IBC aquaponics design, the two plastic tanks will be cut to form 3 grow beds and one sump. Divide the plastic tanks into three parts, each. The 375 mm (15'') piece from the first tank will serve as a sump and the same cut piece from the second tank will serve as the rear grow bed.
Use the piece from the bottom of the tank, this way you will have the tap/the valve included in your sump. For the second grow bed use the 350mm (14") piece, which is from the top of the tank. Finally, the same cut piece from the second IBC tank will be used as a second front grow bed.
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After we've build our system, we should choose certain types of fishes that are better for our aquaponics fish
enviroment. When choosing the proper fish species for your system you should consider the following aspects:
- available quantity of fingerling and fry;
- local climatic enviroment;
- local jurisdiction - some of the fishes can be forbidden to grow;
- you grow fish for consuming or selling;
- fish weight.
You have made your choice and you need to get to the next step? Not so fast...From every fish species you want to grow, you should eliminate the ones that are not tasteful. It would be a shame to spend months of growing a certain type of fish that is simply not that good.
Check with your local Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry about the fish you are allowed to grow, or you can do a simple google search also.
Quantity is another important factor when we choose the proper aquaponics fish. Do you want to sell the fish or just to provide a fish dinner for your family a couple of times a week? Bigger farms will buy fish from fish hatcheries in larger quantities, from 100 to 200 fingerlings per sale, sometimes much higher.
Bear in mind that for consumption, a fish will lose around half of its weight in inedible bits (head, guts etc.) A family consisted of two adults and one children will consume in one dinner around two 500 grams fish. So, in a year your family will eat around 200 half-a-kilo fishes, more or less, if consumed twice a week.
When deciding the quantity of the fish to grow, you need to calculate using a standard that involves kilograms of fish per 1000 litres of water.
Fish weight will depend on the following factors:
- tank size;
- size of the fish;
- fish species;
- dissolved oxygen levels;
- bio-filtration system capacity;
- system nitrate-removal ratio
If the factors are properly managed, in a 1000 litre fish tank you will produce an excess of 50kg of fish every year.
To summarize, choosing the best fish type for your system will maximize your time spent, so it is very important not to skip this crucial step in developing your future aquaponics systems. You will thank me later, I promise you!
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In the following article we will find out how to build a simply aquaponics fish tank
with the help of three IBC's. Firstly you need to purchase or lease the IBC's. After that you have to choose which one will make a good fish tank, while with the other two you can cut one into
three growbeds and the other one will be used as a sump.
How to choose the proper IBC for a fish tank? Well, you have to look carefully at the pallet base, and choose the one with the best pallet base condition.. We must do this because we need a strong, solid fish tank as sometimes when discarding the IBC's from a truck, for instance, some of the cages can suffer fork lift damage. If an IBC has a damaged pallet case you can use that one for Grow Beds.
Another thing is that you have to spot for rust in the metal coating. If you find rust in these places, you should use some cold galvanic pressure can paints (silver frost) for the cage, as they are easier to paint but also cleaner to use on steel. You can use a spray gun or a compressor or just paint it with a brush.
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Cut out on top the chosen IBC for a fish tank, to allow better fish access. Remove the side-to-side top bars from the IBC and pull out the plastic tank. In some cases you could lay the IBC on a side or remove the base bars. Also, gently, try levering the tank out. Don't forget to keep the bolts in a secure place for later.
Cut the top out from the plastic tank. Measure a 5"(120mm) line on the top of the IBC, from the edge to the center. You can use a jigsaw to remove the top from the plastic tank.Now you must look for any rust in the galvanizing coating. It's recommended to paint the metal to keep it safe from further degradation but also for aesthetic purposes, if you want it to look good in your backyard.
You need to prepare the tank for painting(primed), in order for the paint to stick for a long time. You can find some of the best primers in the auto-shops. Choose a dark colour for the paint on the top coat.This is mandatory to keep out sunlight. When the system is up and running, green algae can develop on the inside surfaces of the fish tank so therefore we must use light blocker colours. Eventually, green algae will develop inside the tank, but dark paint will reduce the size and number of algae, significantly.
Be sure to let the paint dry for a few hours. The final step in building the aquaponics fish tank is to re-assemble the cage as well as the base and the tank.Don't forget about the bolts you placed in a secure spot.
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Aquaponics is ,in substance, a combination of Hydroponics and Aquaculture . Aquaculture symbolizes the farming of aquatic organisms,for example fish,molluscs, crustaceans and water
plants.Basically Aquaculture is raising freshwater and saltwater populations under controlled circumstances.
Hydroponics is a subdivision of hydroculture and symbolizes growing plants with the help of mineral nutrinets in water & it doesn't require soil at all. Unfortunately both Hydroponics and Aquaculture have disadvantages, for instance Hydroponics need costly nutrients to feed the plants and also requires periodic flushing of the systems which can lead to waste disposal issues. But when these methods are combined all the bad aspects transform into good ones, therefore this system is considered the perfect "fish and vegetable growing" mechanism. .The fishes feed with plants and the vegetables feed with fish waste.
Why is the classic soil growing method far inferior then aquaponics?
Because is a system that does not require fertilizers and only uses very little energy, sometimes as little as it takes to run less than four light globes. Also it requires about 10% of the water used in the classic soil growing
OK OK so how does it work?
Take a look at the following picture where we can see a fully operational system :
The system pictured is made of fish tank , and a growbed which has gravel placed above the level of the fish tank . Water is fired up from the fish tank into the gravel filled growbed. The water leakes down through the gravel, past the roots of the plants before draining back into the fish tank. The plants use the water and nutrients they need to grow, sanitizing the water for the fish.On the surface bacteria develops which transforms ammonia wastes from the fish into nitrates which plants needs.This process is known as “the nitrogen cycle” and it is the most importantpart. . Plants are grown in floating foam rafts that sit on the water surface. Vegetables can also be grown with the help of Nutrient Film Technique , or through different other methods using a so-called “run to waste” method. This can be achieved by eliminating a certain ratio of the fish water each day and watering vegetables planted in different enviroments like coir peat, vermiculite, perlite etc. A variety of fish species can be grown in an Aquaponic system, but choosing the best fish species often depends from various factors.A lot of fishes can be grown in an Aquaponic system and it can be extremely productive in a short period of time.Read about it in the next article.
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