The water which my system produces is in essence an aquaponic solution. Due to the total volume in the system (80,000 litres approx) it is by nature quite stable in its quality and as such is very suitable to be used as a feed for growing plants. I use a number of methods to do this presently.
The first method I used was simply to use the water to irrigate my shadehouse, lawns and garden plants. I have an 800 litre treated water storage tank which has a 25mm pressure pump connected directly to the tank and my reticulation piping which allows me to spray my shadehouse and garden beds using my irrigation controller. This system has been in use for several years and has totally replaced my dependance on purchasing artificial soluble fertilizers. I have noticed that my shadehouse plants tend to be a little less green looking but not noticed any signs of toxicity or lack of vigour. The garden beds and lawn areas are looking excellent compared to how they looked prior to using the treated aquaponic solution as they rarely (if ever) had fertilizer applied.
The below shows the main ‘raft’ method I presently use which is constructed from 90mm PVC tube and fittings to contain rafts of styrene growing containers. The top part of the composite photo shows the tube surrounds are still well exposed while the below part shows the same area after further growth and how they become mostly covered by the luxuriant aquatic plant growth.
Below is a detail showing the styrene growing containers (freshly planted) contained within the 90mm PVC tube surrounds which are anchored to the pool edge at several points to stop them being blown around the pond BUT still allow variation in water level to occur. The styrene growing containers are simply modified fruit and vegetable boxes which I cut down to be around 150-200mm deep and then I line them with shadecloth to stop the media washing out into the pond and then I fill with a mix of 50/50 course sand and good quality potting mix. I try to have them floating around 50-100mm above the water surface when they are fully wetted. Many of them will be almost fully submerged once the plants grow to their full size…doesn’t matter that much but sometimes I find I may need to add more styrene in an underneath layer to adjust the way they float.
Below is a second type of raft design which is used. This method uses a flat piece if sytrene which is prepared with holes drilled out using holesaws and is designed to hold plastic pots (well spaced) planted with a variety of edible or ornamental plants. These rafts sit in my settling ponds and are designed to fit neatly within the space and require no anchoring as they are contained wholly by the relatively narrow pond walls.
Below is a detail showing growth after approximately 2-3 weeks from planting out advanced seedlings of mixed Asian Lettuce and Pak Choy.
Recently I have setup another type of growing arrangement using 90mm PVC tobes constructed to allow a continuous recirculation of my aquaponic solution to the tubes from a solution storage tank. There are many variations on this tube growing system around and if you search tube type aquaponic system you will find a wealth of further information that may be of interest.
My system was designed to do a couple of things:
Growing area for small water lillies
Growing area for veggies
Allow an unused pond to become better utilised and stay cleaner with little work
Below is the basis of what I ended up with to meet those needs. It is constructed from 6 X 200 litre recycled polythene drums and 90mm PVC tubing and some second hand bits and pieces of solar panel rails and other hardware. Below shows day one after startup with freshly planted seedlings.
In the below detail, the first 4 drums (closest) are planted out with the small water lillies. While the 5th drum (in the distance) is setup as a Bio Filter which ensures the quality of the water in the growing tubes remains high.
The tube growing system is based on a sidestream of water returning to the pond from my sand filter. I have tapped into it to allow a means of returning water from this system to the pool (by gravity) via the Tube Sump. Although connected the two systems to all intents remain separated by the Tube Sump.
Below shows how a trellis was added to allow Tomato plants to be trained as a vine
Below is a detail of the upper Trellis
Home Assistant Control
The Tube Aquaponic System was built on an old redundant pond system so all it required was some minor wiring modificatons, the modification of my existing PLC program and reworking the UI in my existing ‘PONDS’ view.
There are two small pumps within the system namely the Aquaponic Circulation Pump and the Aquaponic Sump Pump. One is always running unless there is a low level in the Aquaponic sump. If that should happen the Aquaponic Circulation Pump will run continously unless there is a low or high level within the Aquaponic Tube Tank system.
The process idea is that fresh aquaponic solution is regularly introduced into the Aquaponic Tube Tank. Driving that function is the constant filling of the Aquaponic Sump via a float valve. As the level in the Aquaponic sump rises to above the RUN LVL the Aquaponic Sump Pump will run. As that level decreases to below RUN LVL a timer runs for four minutes to allow the majority of the working volume of aquaponic solution in the Aquaponic Sump to transfer to the Aquaponic Tube Tank. One cycle of the process takes about 35 minutes.
The increase in water volume in Aquaponic Tube Tank causes it to overflow to the main pond via the Tube Sump. While being filled by the Aquaponic Sump Pump the Aquaponic Tube Tank remains pretty much static (it rises by about 15-20mm) due to the overflow design, however around 600 litres of ‘FRESH’ aquaponic solution will have been introduced into the tank in that process.
The level in the Aquaponic sump will then rise slowly and after rising above RUN LVL the process repeats…infinitely. Below shows the Lower Pond Circulation Pump which should be read as the Aquaponic Circulation Pump. Sorry but I have not renamed the pumps within my config yet…only within Lovelace so don’t be confused.