DeadlyFoez's Indoor Aquaponics Barrel System.

Discussion in 'General Off-Topic Chat' started by DeadlyFoez, Oct 18, 2016.

  1. DeadlyFoez
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    DeadlyFoez GBAtemp Guru

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    UPDATED!
    Skip below for pictures and more details​

    Hey everyone. I just completed my indoor aquaponics system.


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    So I have been working on my indoor aquaponics system for a couple of months now and just finally got it finished, well at least functional for now and I will worry about aesthetics later.

    What I have here is a system built utilizing 55 Gallon Drums. My wife gets me these from her job at the biopharmaceutical manufacturing plant.

    Well, onto the video as it says a lot more about the system.



    For this system, I am using some little feeder goldfish to start my system. After the system becomes kinda stabilized I will then switch over to trout so we can get fish to eat from the system as well.

    The idea of an aquaponics system is that you feed your fish, and the waste that the fish produce feeds the plants that you are growing, and the plants in turn clean the water for the fish. It gives it an almost pure organic growing environment.

    Thank you all.

    UPDATE!​

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    Starting off in this system is about 16 feeder goldfish. They shit a lot, which is what we want because their shit is food for the plants. The plants clean the water which makes it great for the fish to live in.

    It will be at least another month before I can add plants to the grow beds. There needs to be enough beneficial bacteria colonies in the system to convert the fish waste into nutrients that the plants can take up. There is much more to it than that, but those are the simplest terms that I can put it in.
    Warning: Spoilers inside!
    The grow beds themselves are just 55 gallon drums that I cut in half with a sawzall. I then went around the edges with a file and a belt sander get take down the roughness. I then went around all the edges with a torch to really smooth the edges out a bit more, mostly for my own personal satisfaction.

    The frame is constructed mostly with 4x4's and 2x4's. The barrels hang from the frame with some screws.

    I covered the barrels with Frost King self adhesive foil lined foam insulation. I used that stuff for a few reasons. The first is as insulation to help regulate temperatures. The other big reason was to prevent light leaking into the buckets because that would allow algae to grow which would use up the nutrients that could otherwise go to my plants.
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    Each grow bed has two 3/4" bulkhead fittings going through the bottom of the grow beds. One is for the bell siphon (I will explain that a little later), the other one (pic below) is on the opposite end and that is for an emergency overflow and it also has a slow drain to it in case the pump fails or we lose power and the grow beds are half full, they will slowly drain so my roots dont just sit in standing water would could eventually cause root rot.
    Warning: Spoilers inside!
    Behind the emergency drain pipe I have the fill pipe. In the two pictures above I have the clay pellets in the grow beds. The fill pipe is quite simple. It is a bout a 8" length of 1/2" PVC that I flared out the top and then drilled holes almost the whole length of it. This fill pipe is zip tied to the emergency drain pipe.

    There is only one real purpose for this "Fill Pipe" and that is just to give the water a direct place to go to fill the grow bed. Most other people I have seen just have the water splashing on the top of their grow media and it eventually grow a lot of algae there. I am trying to minimize it with this idea. You can see this in action in the video that I posted up in my last post.

    As you can see in the pictures above, the water is actually coming in from where that valve is, flows through the flexible black tube, and then into the "Fill Pipe". I used the flexible black tubing so I could remove it from the fill pipe and look at the flow rate of the liquid coming out. The flare on the PVD fill pipe is so I can more easily insert the black tube and elbow piece easily into the fill pipe.
    Warning: Spoilers inside!
    The sump tank is the lowest point of my system, and thats the way it should be. It is constructed using 55 gallon drums. Although these are done a little differently than the grow beds as far as where I cut them. These were cut at more like a 3/5 instead of directly in half. This was done to make it just slighter higher to hold more water and get less splashing.

    The other two 2/5 parts that I cut away I will use as an outdoor soil grow bed next year.

    So I have these two parts for my sump tank, and I made it so that I could line up the bungholes and use a 2" threaded union to join the 2 parts together.

    I will eventually add that Frost King shit to the sump tank, it's just rather expensive stuff so it can wait.

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    Now, the more pain in the ass shit to explain, the plumbing underneath.

    So, each Bell Siphon drain has it's own 3/4" pipe going to the sump tank.

    The emergency drains are a little different. They do not all combine together, but the two on the left two grow beds combine together to a 1.5" PVC pipe and the two on the right two grow beds combine together also to a 1.5" PVC pipe which drains into the sump tank.

    In addition, the swirl filter drains into the the 1.5" PVC pipe on the right side. More on the swirl filter later.

    Did you follow that? I'm having a hard time explaining that exactly how I mean it all.
    Warning: Spoilers inside!
    The pump is a 1,000 GPH (gallons per hour) pump that can push the liquid up to a height of 12 feet. I chose not to use the housing and filter that came with the pump because I got this idea for my own filter which works great.

    The filter I made consists of 3" thin wall PVC drainage pipe. I put a 3" at each end. One cap has a big hole drilled into it, the other cap has a 3/4" bulkhead fitting that attaches to the pump.

    This is the neat par of this. My wifes mother works at Walmart, and she just happened to get a bag filled with the center circle pieces of those large buffing pads that they use to buff the floor and they fit perfectly into the 3" PVC drainage pipe. So I am using them as filters that I can easily take out and wash or replace as needed. There are 4 different type of those little circle pads and they filter out different levels of fineness of the debris in the water.

    The pump feeds into the 3/4" black tubing which then goes into some 3/4" PVC on the frame. That then branches off to some 1/2" PVC to fill the grow beds. Additionally, it feeds 3/4" black tubing to the fish tank.
    Warning: Spoilers inside!
    The Fish Tank is constructed using... you guessed it, a 55 Gallon Drum. I cut out part of the top to make a lid and attached that using a piece of piano hinge. Water flows in through the 3/4" black tubing and an elbow to make it splash more, adding more dissolved oxygen to the water and also helps and a little swirling effect to the liquid in the tank.

    I installed a 1.5" bulkhead fitting near the top for the drain. The drain pipe itself reaches to the bottom of the tank to help pick up the fish waste. I made a little guard out of a 3" PVC cap to prevent fish from getting sucked up into the drain, which had happened before I added the guard. A shitload of holes are drilled into the cap/guard.
    Warning: Spoilers inside!
    The 1.5" drain from the fish tank gets reduced to 1.25" from a rubber reducing coupling. I used that so the fish tank and the swirl filter can be removed from the system. I actually use 3 of these rubber couplings so all of that can be separated.

    The 1.25" pipe goes through a 1.25" bulk head fitting into the 5 gallon bucket which acts as the swirl filter. The inlets gets reduced further to 3/4" and then it goes through an elbow so that the flow going it causes the liquid to be spinning in the bucket so the solid matter stays towards the middle.

    The cleaner water goes upwards through a 1.25" drain. The drain is the elbow facing upwards. That drain goes through a 1.25" bulkhead fitting. From there the drain of the swirl filters returns to the sump tank via that 1.5" PVC pipe that the 2 right most grow bed emergency drains are also connected to.

    On the front of the swirl filter I have a 3/4" bulkhead fitting with a spigot on the outside. On the inside there is a 3/4" PVC pipe and elbow that goes to the bottom center of the bucket. When I open the spigot it will cause the solid matter to get sucked up and out. I can then use that dirty water for my plants outside.
    Warning: Spoilers inside!
    The bell siphon makes it so when the grow beds fill up with liquid to a certain level, the liquid will dump out of the grow bed and into the sump tank.

    The bell siphon has a few parts to it to get it to work correctly.
    Outer 3" thin wall drainage PVC with slots cut in it. Acts as a media guard to keep the clay pellets and roots out of the rest of the siphon.
    2" PVC and cap that acts as the bell.
    3/4" PVC that I flared out the top, and that acts as the stand pipe.

    I put some zip ties on the stand pipe to make it so it is centered inside of the bell pipe.

    For more info on how a bell siphon works, just check out some videos on youtube. I don't feel like explaining it here.
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    This is the little tool I made to help me put the bell siphon together.
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    I use these suction cups to take apart the bell siphon when I need to inspect it. I will make something a little better when I come up with a good idea of how I want to do it.



    This is a video of the bell siphon draining one of the grow beds. Works quite nicely.
    Warning: Spoilers inside!
    The grow beds are filled with Hydroton brand expanded clay pellets. They take up about 2/3 of the total volume inside the grow beds, the liquid takes up the other 1/3. I calculated that with the grow beds full of water and clay pellets it is over 1,300 lbs.

    Many others use something different for their media, but I much prefer these for many reasons that I dont want to explain here. The only downside is that you have to wash the dust off of them first which was a pain in the ass so I did it in my bath tub. My wife wasn't too pleased about that.


    Well folks. So that was a lot of the details of this grow system. I have made it so I can expand on it and eventually add vertical grow tubes and whatever else I want.

    I hope you all enjoyed this. It was fun putting it all together. It took me about 2 months, about $2k - $3k usd, and like a hundred trips to Home Depot, Lowes, and many hydro stores to find exactly what I needed to put this all together.

    Thank you all for viewing.
     
    Last edited by DeadlyFoez, Oct 19, 2016
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  2. DinohScene

    DinohScene Feed Dino to the Sharks

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    What type of plants you planning to put in?

    It looks amazing tho!
     
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  3. DeadlyFoez
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    DeadlyFoez GBAtemp Guru

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    Kale, spinach, lettuce, rosemary, sage, majoram, chives, chard, mustard greens, marigolds, and some others that i can feed the family with.
     
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  4. cearp

    cearp the ticket master

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    i understand it's nice to try to be self sufficient, but from a purely financial aspect: how long until it pays itself off, as opposed to buying from the supermarket?

    very cool either way!
     
  5. DeadlyFoez
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    DeadlyFoez GBAtemp Guru

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    On this scale, likely never. But the benefit is the freshest produce possible, all organic, no pesticides, and i dont need to go to the grocery store. This is more for hobby and preparing for when i do go larger and build a greenhouse.
     
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  10. cearp

    cearp the ticket master

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    thanks, and do you mind sharing how much this cost/could cost?
    it seems really cool and i would like to do it, but price is always a factor!
     
  11. DeadlyFoez
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    DeadlyFoez GBAtemp Guru

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    Oh damn. I want to say that I have spent about $2k to $3k usd on just this aquaponics system. But I have also spent close to another $1k usd for my other hydroponics system. That is including all the nutrients, additives, meters, and misc. that I have also had from my previous systems.. which partially includes the computer control part that I haven't posted pictures of yet.

    I have two 275 gallon IBC tanks that I plan to use for an outdoor greenhouse aquaponics system. I expect to spen about $10k usd to get that all done, including hardware, wiring, plumbing, and misc. I plan on making that next spring. This is just my starter system to get the feel of it since aquaponics is new to me and I want to culture some beneficial bacteria with this system that I can move to the next system and give it a small boost.
     
  12. mechagouki

    mechagouki Kill 'em all...

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  13. cearp

    cearp the ticket master

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    that's pretty expensive, i hope you make the most of your system. i hope stuff like this gets cheaper in the future.
    i used to have that trailer in 3gp format on my s60 phone... on a 128mb memory card lol :)

    i've never seen it in anything above 80p, 120p? 240p? i'm not sure the screen res it had.
     
    Last edited by cearp, Oct 18, 2016
  14. DeadlyFoez
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    DeadlyFoez GBAtemp Guru

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    What is great is that my wife is earning a degree in biopharmaceutical engineering. She is amazingly smart. Michele works with culturing cells in bioreactors and a high level of testing that is involved too. She does not have much experience with plants, but I am teaching her it and her experience and wisdom combined with min we could create some great stuff. She has the ability to culture individual cells from donor plants and create full grown plants from them. We are kinda a perfect team, I just have to make more stuff for a clean room and we can both enjoy playing with this stuff together.
     
  15. cearp

    cearp the ticket master

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    wow that's incredible, i'm sure she worked hard to get there.

    so i can give you a piece of a carrot and, even without seeds, you guys can grow a bunch of the same carrots?
    don't get interested in animal breeding lol, you might need a license to clone dogs ;)
     
  16. weatMod

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    "biopharmaceutical plant" but what was in those drums originally?
    also is it cheaper than say hydroponics seems so much more complicated,is the fish food cheaper than organic hydroponic solution

    i have have seen some people do shrimp in these so i guess that would be more economical
    aslo what kind of lighting you plan on using? i hear some people say LED's are getting to be more efficient than HID's now
     
  17. DeadlyFoez
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    DeadlyFoez GBAtemp Guru

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    What was in those drums was actually the compound that I would use to adjust PH up and PH down. And they were completely cleaned before I got them and then I even cleaned them all myself.

    The are both pros and cons to growing both in an organic way and just strictly staying with nutrient salts. Feeding the fish seems like it will be cheaper in the long rung instead of buying fertilizers.

    Currently I am using a fluorescent fixture for vegetative growth, and a 400 watt digital ballast HPS for my flowering. I could really utilize more power. I did hundreds of hours of research in LED's WAY back in the days, and I almost think that a lot of these current LED growing light manufacturers are going based off of my research. I would love to go the route of using LED's, but so far every kit available has fallen sort on one aspect or another. I need to design my own from scratch and I dont have the capitol for it. So I will wait on doing LED's in a large scale until I find a system that does it right.
     
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  18. DeadlyFoez
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    DeadlyFoez GBAtemp Guru

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    Updated OP. More pictures and shit.
     
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  19. DeadlyFoez
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    Just wanted to give you guys a quick update. I added red wiggler worms to the grow beds. I didn't have enough clay pebbles to completely fill all the grow beds so one is covered to prevent algae since water is rising to the top of the clay pebbles in that grow bed.

    I also made a temporary stand to hang lights from. I plan to eventually make something out of aluminum square tubing, but this works great for now.

    Finally, I added some plants to the system. Currently in the system there it basil, garlic, spinach, romaine lettuce, marigolds, parsley, sage, kale, and rosemary. So far everything is going smoothly. The plants have been in the system for only a few days and they are showing some good growth and great signs of adapting quickly to it. The basil plants are some clones that I cut off another plant.

    I am going to be picking up another 400 watt HID setup for some short money off of craigslist. But I also now just remembered of a police confiscation auction site that sells lots of grow stuff so I should also check that shit out too.
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    Thanks for checking my shit out.
     
  20. cearp

    cearp the ticket master

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    that's very funny! hope you get some good deals.
     
  21. DeadlyFoez
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    DeadlyFoez GBAtemp Guru

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    I DID! I just ordered a 1000 watt ballast for $46 from the site and they normally go for close to $200. It is a little bit of a gamble because you never know if the stuff will work.
     
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  22. weatMod

    weatMod GBAtemp Advanced Maniac

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    you shouldn't patronize criminal thieves selling "confiscated" (stolen) equipment though
    besides the fact that it is completely immoral to do business with and give money to such shady characters
    you have probably already been entered into a database or put on a watchlist and are being watched now

    would not surprise me in the least if they raid your house and confiscate all your equipment and charge with conspiracy to cultivate
    it is not worth saving a few bucks to get involved with those kinds of people
    and to let them know your business
     
    Last edited by weatMod, Nov 4, 2016
  23. DeadlyFoez
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    DeadlyFoez GBAtemp Guru

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    If you were to read what I have written, I am only growing fully legal plants. Nothing to be worried about.
     
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  24. weatMod

    weatMod GBAtemp Advanced Maniac

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    i know you are
    but it doesn't matter they do this sort of thing all time even when the equipment is not even purchased from a police auction you are just begging to be targeted
    these people only care about one thing ,generating revenue for the state ,they will look for any excuse to harass you and try to extort money from you

    spoiler

     
    Last edited by weatMod, Nov 8, 2016