Our first aquaponics tower is coming right along

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Our first aquaponics tower is coming right along
1/7/2013 8:43:12 PM

This weekend was quite exciting on the farm.  Aside from our septic system having fits I made a lot of progress working on our new aquaponics system.  It is still in a semi proof of concept phase!  Let me quickly describe what I am building at a high level first.

I am planning on having a 4’ x 4’ x 8’ hole under a double grow-bed tower to host my fish (just shy of a 1000 gallon tank).  This fish tank should be large enough to support at least 4-5 of my 4’ x 8’ beds.  Over the fish tank I will have two of these beds.  I have made the stand for this tower semi-adjustable so that I can utilize the same tower legs for a fish housing tower or a non-fish housing tower.  Also, the grow-bed height can be adjustable depending on the angle of the sun given that the shelf over shelf may end up causing a shade issue on the lower shelf.  For the non-fish housing towers I am planning on having 3 grow-beds.  The bottom bed can house something with a lower light dependence.  Also, there is enough room between the beds to allow for a low profile grow light or reflective light source.

I was able to finish up the first grow-bed (something I have been tinkering on for a while now).  It is an 8’ x 4’ x 12” plywood box with internal re-enforcement at the seems.  I was thinking that a flood and drain over the 8’ length might possibly introduce dead spots so I also added a center divider at the 4’ mark to ensure proper nutrient flow.  I also like this as it adds strength to the sides and bottom of center of the box.

Once I completed the initial grow-bed I was able to quickly get the second box generated.  Once you have cut all the pieces to the right side, the assembly is quick and easy with only a couple clamps to act as your third hand.  I use a glue, clamp, screw method so that it goes together quickly but is very strong once the glue is dry. 

With the second box completed I started on the tower that will house all of this.  The tower is a big beefy set up.  It has a 2” x 8” ring at the bottom which is the top of the fish tank and will be used to attach the pond liner.  The legs are pressure treated 4” x 4”.  There are 6 legs, 2 at each end and 2 in the middle.  The cross supports for each grow-bed are 2” x 4”.  And the whole thing will be bolted together (including the grow beds).  This should allow the entire structure (short of the HUGE hole where the fish tank was) to be fairly portable.  Also, all the legs are going to be pre-drilled to allow the height of the grow-beds to be adjustable. 

I would have assembled this last night but I found that I had a shortage of appropriate length bolts.  I have a problem in that I frequently plan on the spot at HomeDepot.  I buy according to my plans (which are highly detailed).  But by the time I get to doing the assembly my plans frequently change quite a bit.  I should stop doing this!

This time I recoded a video while doing the second grow-bed assembly and tower fabrication.  I am hoping to generate at least a time lapse video of the box and tower assembly.  I may even toss together a quick tutorial of the whole assembly once I get the project completed.  I still need to finish the tower tonight.  Then I need to fit the pond liner.  Once these are done I will do a dry run with the plumbing and then set it in its final resting place.

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