Following the previous article, we will continue with 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.
First, you need to separate the base, the cage and the plastic tank from the remaining two IBC's.. You will need a battery drill and T-30, T-35, T-40 driver security bits, to remove the machine screws holding the cage to the base. We can also use ordinary hex headed machine screws, depending on the IBC type.
We can start to cut the cage and tanks to make the growbeds and sump. I would recommend laying the cage on its side to do the cuts. Because of its fast and clean cut, 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, two of the plastic tanks will be cut into 3 grow beds and one sump. The 375 mm (15'') piece from the first plastic tank will be a sump and the same cut piece from the second tank will be 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 fish species 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 conditions;
- local regulation - some fish species are not allowed to be grown;
- fish for consuming or for selling;
- fish weight.
After you have made your choice, you should try eating a fish from every chosen species. Don't spend months and months trying to grow a fish that is untasteful.
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 aspect to consider when choosing the right aquaponics fish. Why do you want to grow fish: you want to make a living out of it or just to treat your family with a fish meal, a couple of times a week? Fish hatcheries usually sell fingerlings in big quantities, normally 100-200 fingerlings/sale.
Also when consuming the fish, around half of the fish weight will be lost in inedible bits (head, guts, fins or bones) so a good serve for an adult will be around 500 grams of fish. 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;
- fish size;
- fish species;
- system capability to dissolve oxigen levels;
- system bio-filtration;
- system nitrate-removal ratio
Manage these aspects in a proper way and I will guarantee you will get an excess of 50kg of fish, every year, in a 1000 litres fish tank.
In conclusion, don't make the mistake of skipping this important step for your future aquaponics system. You can thank me later!
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Let's learn how to build an aquaponics fish tank using three IBC's. Firstly you need to purchase or lease the IBC's. Once you have the IBC's decide which one works best for a fish tank, then cut another IBC into three Grow Beds and the last one you will use it as a sump.
How do we know which one is good for a fish tank? Take a look at the base pallet condition and choose the IBC with the best one. This is an important part in building a fish tank, because we need a firmly tank as sometimes, when we discard the IBC's from a truck, some of them might suffer some fork lift damage. Therefore, we can use for the Grow Beds the IBC that has a damaged pallet base.
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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After we've checked all of the above, the chosen fish tank IBC needs to be cut out on the top to allow fish access. After that you need to remove the side-to-side top bars. If this doesn't work lay the IBC on a side or even remove the base bars. If you still can't remove the plastic tank, try levering the tank out with gentleness. Remind yourself to but the bolts in a secure place, as we will need them on later stages.
Remore 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.
The plastic tank will need to be prepared for painting in order for your paint to stick. You can find some of the best primers in the auto-shops. You must choose a dark colour for top coat because dark colour keeps out the light better. When the system is up and running, green algae can develop on the inside surfaces of the aquaponics fish tank so therefore we must use light blocker colours. Although the green algae will develop for sure inside of the aquaponics fish tank, black paint will not block it entirely, but will reduce it very much.
Be sure to let the paint dry for a few hours. After this is done all we need to do is to re-assemble the cage as well as the base and the tank. Therefore, use the initial bolts to do that.
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First of all, Aquaponics is a combination of Hydroponics and Aquaculture . Aquaculture or Aquafarming involves the farming of organisms which lives in water, for instance fish fish,molluscs, crustaceans and water plants.Basically Aquaculture is raising freshwater and saltwater populations under controlled circumstances.
Hydroponics is a category of hydroculture and symbolizes growing plants with the help of mineral nutrinets in water and it doesn't require soil at all. Unfortunately both Aquaculture and Hydroponics are not self sustienable , for example Aquaculture can amplify and transfer disease and parasites to wild fish populations also it can pollute water systems with excess nutrients (fish feed & wastes). But when these processes are combined all the bad aspects transform into positive ones, therefore this system is considered the perfect "fish and vegetable growing" mechanism. It's all natural like it supposed to be .The fishes feed with plants and the vegetables feed with fish waste.
Why is Aquaponics better than the classic 'soil growing' method?
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 need about 10% of the water used in the classic soil growing
OK OK so how does it work?
Take a look at the following pic where we can see a fully functional :
The system pictured has fish tank , and a growbed filled with 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 absorbes the water and nutrients they require to develop, 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 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.But more about that in the next article.