I’m sorry for the long delay in getting a new post up about the progress of the Aquaponics system @ C&L Farms. We have been busy planting and pulling weeds which has taken up most of our time. 🙂
The Aquaponics system has made some major progress since I last wrote about it. The growbeds have been positioned, the bell siphons build & installed, and the gravel washed. We found that the Quikrete All Purpose Gravel (50lb bags) that can be purchased at the Big Orange (you know the one) big box store doesn’t react to the vinegar test so hopefully no issues with PH buffering. We tested the gravel by pouring some vinegar on the gravel and had zero bubbles. That is a good sign so hopefully we will be PH neutral.
Both growbeds have been filled with washed gravel (the picture above was taken prior to the 2nd bed being filled with gravel btw). Of course, there is absolutely no way to wash the gravel to remove ALL of the dirt so we did experience some fine dirt covering the fish tank and sump tank. Once the water has cycled through the gravel for a few days and the suspended particles have dropped to the bottom of the tanks, we will vacuum it up.
I added some Maxicrop liquid seaweed fertilizer to the water to help the plants get started while the tank is cycling. I threw in some leftover seeds from the herb garden as well as some lettuce just to see if they would grow. After just 2 days, the lettuce has already sprouted and is growing. Pictures to come. We also have some thyme sprouts coming up after just 3 days. I also had 6 tiny basil seedlings that were put into one of the growbeds and they appear to be getting established also!
The next step is to order another fish tank as well as more growbeds in the coming months. I don’t think we will have enough growbed filtration for the tank size so two more growbeds will be added before the 2nd fish tank is setup.
I just want to say that I am pleasantly surprised that the bell siphons were very easy to build and they worked the first time I filled the gravel free growbeds! They both kick in within 10 seconds and burp once or twice once the bed has drained. I’m getting about 6 fill/drain cycles per hour which I calculate as around 250 gallons per hour. I think this is a little bit low since the pump has a head of about 380 gallons/hour. I’m going to fiddle with the ball valves to see if I can get at least 300 gallons/hour which will match the fish tank size.