Thursday, May 1, 2014

Say Goodnight, Aquaponics

Free (to grow) at last, free(to grow) at last.

EMCC student conference was fuuuu-uun. It was hands down one of the funnest things I've done this week, and that's not even compared to all the crappy pre-finals stuff going down. Speaking of, what a stressful week. The tiny light keeping the vast darkness at bay is that the aquaponic system is now primed for production. I've been asking around as to what'll happen to it at semester end, but haven't received a straight answer between it being dismantled or expanded: both ends of the spectrum. Perhaps some of you feel the way I do having spent so much time with your project up to now, but it's difficult to let go. Maybe especially so after the conference, where my passion for research was reignited and I have a ton more ideas for collecting data with the aquaponic system. Oh man, last post cry coming up.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Get Your Aquaponics!

Some Explaining
Without sounding too optimistic the system is finally starting to come together nicely. Fish are alive, bacteria are colonizing, and now it's up to the plants to do their part. As soon as the plants take it's only a matter of time before a near perfect ecosystem is established and PC will be rolling in whatever is planted in the media bed. Probably basil, so PC will be rolling in basil. I'm really excited to see the amount of buzz the aquaponic system is creating, too, and to that end I'd like to share some links to some websites that I've found helpful:

-This is probably the single most helpful website I've found so far, it has a wealth of information and advice on everything aquaponics and I wish I'd found it months ago:

-120 things in 20 years is a one man message board. The blog writer lays out complex ideas with very easy to understand language and never keeps any secrets about what works and what doesn't, which is maybe the best part. It takes some fiddling around, but the blog has tons of info and links on aquaponics:

And just for the sake of completeness I'll add that I'm no expert but am more than willing to help any of you cool kids set up your own systems. Lastly, if you're still reading, go with the bell siphon. When you finally get it cycling I'll buy you your first drink that night.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

I've Destroyed So Many Lives...


     So I got dem fishies on Monday. I should start by noting that on Sunday night, in the process of catching I accidentally killed (murdered, actually) a small mouse in my house. Thus began my reign of terror on animals this week, culminating with the deaths of many goldfish. The pH of the water is within a livable range for them so I'm at a loss as to why they're not surviving. I'm going to get more fish tomorrow to bolster the dwindling number still in the tank, and hopefully it will increase the morale a bit as well. I need these guys to live long enough to eat, digest, and then poo. In other news the poster for the conferences is coming along easier than I thought it would, owing to an engaging template passed on to me by Matt.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


Behold the glory! Use your imagination!
     It works, the bell siphon works, it works. It works greeeaaat, with a fill and dump cycle occurring every five minutes or so. Sometimes it hiccups a bit at start or finish, either getting the column formed or breaking the seal, but the hiccups never last more than fifteen or twenty seconds. What worked in the end was increasing the diameter of the stand pipe, finding the correct pump size to use, and angling the outflow tube rather than the water dumping straight down. There were a few other minor kinks that Jenn helped me iron out, but ultimately it was tenacity and a better understanding of the system (and really figuring out how sensitive the system was to minute changes) that granted victory. I know most of you have seen it by now, but take a few minutes if you haven't and check it out. If I'm not there Josh or Matt can direct you to it and explain the theory behind it.
Future home of a jungle banquet

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Planning the Demise of Sir Siphon

Air tube, where have you been all my aquaponic life...
     After getting some proverbial air, I think I've come up with a few ways to help succeed where I've previously failed with this bell siphon problem. One blog in particular I came across references what's called an 'air tube,' that, when connected to the top of the bell and run along the outside helps break the seal that I keep running into as the problem. So tomorrow I'll break out the power tools again and add an air tube to the system first thing. Failing that, I think that if I either increase the height of the media bed thereby somewhat restricting water flow into it the difference will be enough so that an equilibrium won't form between the inflow and outflow. Failing that, I will adjust the inner standing pipe's diameter in the chance that it will either help break or create the seal with regularity. Aye, dos.

The helpfullest little blog and picture credit:

An Unbreakable Cycle

Christopher and gravity, cyclin' some water.
     Boy, have I learned a lot about bell siphons in the last week. If fate is a cruel mistress then bell siphons are like fate's dastardly mother-in-law, or something to that effect. The smaller fittings work wonders, and I obtained two new pump sizes, one a 92 gph and the other a 200 gph, so before I moved to the two level system everything worked the way it should. That is everything worked when gravity was working for me. On the two level system the pump is working against gravity and the flow rate is thus affected to the extent that the inflow and the outflow create an equilibrium. This renders the bell siphon useless as it either never forms a suction due to there not being enough water buildup, or it creates but never breaks a suction which never allows water to buildup. Aye.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

New Fittings Make the Water Go Round

You can never see the end from the beginning.
     The flu thought it had me, but I triumphed. With only the time to stop in this week and momentarily reacquaint with the new parts for the bell siphon, I'm optimistic. Matt picked up a few much smaller sized fittings than what I was using before, but I think that it will make all the difference. Hopefully Friday I'll have enough time and either Josh or Matt will have enough leisure to really get past this phase with the setup so I can finally get some fish pooing and some bacteria colonizing and some plants growing. Next step is general construction on the two level system so if you hear construction-y sounds over the next week, fret not, there's men at work.