Hot on the heels of starting the ‘cycling’ of the Aquaponics system using the small beds around the edge, the big central growbeds are going in. Here’s how they have progressed:

And final one for the night – the growbeds in place, drainage fittings all complete, and the gravel starting to go in. They are going to need a LOT of gravel – I foresee a week of shifting gravel coming up

There we go – the growbeds on the long side are all done, the drains are all connected, and they’re plumbed in to the fish tank. And we’ve finally taken the plunge – the pump is now running automatically, once an hour:

Now I just need to start keeping an eye on the Ammonia readings to see how our bacteria are going – I guess they’ll be growing VERY slowly this week wth the frost we’ve been having.

We’ve made some major progress on the Aquaponics in the last couple of weeks, and now I’m getting ready to start ‘cycling’ the system. This is what you need to do to build up the colonies of beneficial bacteria in the growbeds that will clean the water once we have added the fish. To minimise the risk to the fish you do this cycling ‘fishless’, by adding ammonia manually to the water. Once the bacteria are going well they will feed off this ammonia, turning it into nitrates for the plants. Without the bacteria, ammonia in the fish water would quickly reach a fatal level, so we need to have the bacteria well established before we add any fish.

We’re going to start cycling the completed side of the aquaponics system while I complete the plumbing and gravel-washing on the other sections, and here is the completed side:

Now you can see the plumbing all connected it hopefully makes more sense: The water overflows from the fish tank at the back into the dark grey pipes which feed each growbed. The water then slowly drains through holes in the bottom of the growbeds into the white return pipe, which returns it to the sump.

I’ve connected up the pump too. It’s quite an impressive beast:

What’s even more impressive is the flow from it – the pipe in the photo is 38mm (1.5″):

So now I just have to get the bacteria to build up and we’ll be ready for the fish – I might even start to plant some seeds in the beds while we’re waiting.

As my work laptop is currently a smoking wreck on the bench of our local IT support guys, I’ve had a bit more time to work on the Aquaponics system. And so here we are: the first growbed is ready. All the piping to it is cut, the standpipe and standpipe surround are in, and I’ve filled it with gravel.

Completed aquaponic growbed

I have to admit, that is a pretty good feeling – even though I now have another 11 small ones like this, and then 3 large ones to do. Pretty fantastic stuff really!

Not long and we’ll be planting, and adding fish.

Polytunnel With Polythene

Finally, after much work inside and outside the polytunnel over the last few weeks, we have put the polythene onto the tunnel. We only just got there – had a full-on Sunday getting everything ready and then doing it. We haven’t finished yet – one end needs more battens, and we need to put the doors back on. We did manage to do it though, and just in time – the first frost of the season was last night, and while everything outside the polytunnel was frosty, everything inside was just a few degrees warmer, with no frost. Not bad bearing in mind we only got the cover on at dusk, so it didn’t have much time to heat up yesterday.

Here’s what it looked like just after we had finished – showing the fantastic lighting:

Polytunnel at night

Today we’ve started to put the completed growbed stands  in. The growbeds now all have drain holes in their bases and the drains are almost all in place. We’ve even connected all the sumps together (nice big 110 mm pipe). Now I just need to get the tubing and fittings for the drains and inlets and we’ll be ready to start the system up.

Here are some more pics of the growbeds and stands:

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Steel for Aquaponic Growbed stands

Following last weekend’s adventures with timber (cutting the legs for the stands and the fish tanks), The steel rails for the top of the growbed stands is now here. Luckily it’s cut to size, so now I just need to finish the legs off, drill some holes, and assemble the things.

Easy 🙂

 

Aquaponics Tanks

The aquaponics system is all coming together – the tanks and growbeds arrived yesterday. Here they are laid out in their final positions in the polytunnel, and luckily thay all fit! Now I just have to do a little bit of digging to sink the sump (the mid-size tank at the top), get the stands made that’ll support the growbeds, and do the plumbing!