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 Post subject: Hi from Perth Hills
PostPosted: May 20th, '20, 15:37 
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Joined: Apr 6th, '20, 18:23
Posts: 1
Gender: Male
Are you human?: Yes
Location: Perth WA
just thought id drop in and introduce myself
thought im at that point where i should share my system for feedback!
its been a gradual work in progress starting from when i knocked up a system out of a olive drum and plastic laundry trough after learning my sister was getting rid of her pond.
i acquired their 3x small koi and all the goodies in the pond water.

i had to learn to overcome the challenges with the block... mainly the shade and the elevation/awkward hills block.

the sunniest spots were on the large deck built a few years ago.

the issue with building an aquaponics system on a deck was the sheer weight. i didnt want to have tons of grow media and water sitting on a deck that was only engineered to hold 180kg/sqm.

seeing as i did have a small veggi garden going, and that fruit trees are impossible to grow here in the ground, i decided on setting up olive drum grow beds with a deep 500mm media zone.

i originally trialled one of these with a small fig tree, but as it thrived i was worried about the invasion of roots in the auto-siphon (loop siphon) so i revisited my design and pulled out the fig tree.

pomegranates would have to be one of my favourite fruits (that and blueberry), so i planted a sucker off a local tree to see how that goes. the pomegranate have a fairly shallow root system, well suited for aquaponics but do not require too much water (they say to let them starve of water for fruit development). plus pomegranates are deciduous and wont uptake as much nutrients in their dormant months.
the sucker took off and didnt lose leaves in winter or even have them change colour. happy indeed,.,, almost overtaking in growth of its parent tree.

an additional 2 olive drum grow beds were added to the system along with a 800L fish tank which i placed as high as i could underneath the deck, digging out a level footing from the clay ground. only the first light touches the fish tank, and with the added thermal cooling of the clay the fish tank never really gets above 23C.

i noticed the plants never thrived in that early spring sun, unlike the vegi garden which had its soil warm up. the aquaponics stayed cold for a long time into summer before the plants took off again.
i added a 6m length of 100mm pvc pipe with net cups as a nft fed off one of the grow beds to hopefully add more fast growing leafy greens and heat.

the ph, being topped by by Perths hard water hovered consistently around 7.5, and never dropping below 7.
ammonia levels kicked up to a max level of 0.8ppm, but mainly stayed at 0.25ppm.
nitrites were only present each time i added a new grow bed but only just causing the test kit to colour.
nitrates did build up towards the 80ppm, but was usually around 40 in the warmer months and 5-20 in the cooler months.

i have been keeping an eye on the GH/ KH, which have slowly been coming down from 14* / 7* to 6*/3*.
im hoping to keep it low and keep an eye on the ph slowly drop to 6.5 before adding a carbonate. not sure which one but i think potassium/magnesium/calcium are going to be a deficiency i need to keep an eye on (and know more about!).

i have been substituting the kois feed with worm castings/slaters and slugs as well as cabbage and citrus fruits.
i also add iron and worm tea to the beds, plus bananas and worms.

i did have a problem with thrip mites eating the roots off my chilli and coriander, killing the chilli before i caught them. it was pretty bad and i was worried about the pomegranate (and refused to pull it out).
having 3 separate beds worked in my favour when dealing with the thrips. i just flooded the bed and scooped out thousands of them into the fish tank (they float and drown/eaten by the fish). i then increased the level of the flood and drain so the water is basically visible before it siphons.
it also made me learn that its easier to fight thrips by throwing in a food competitor to take care of the leaves and other organic matter before the thrips take hold.
luckily being up in the hills theres no shortage of insects looking for a easy meal. paper wasps, spiders and even soldier ants have made a dynamic ecosystem. no adult thrip to be seen :)

the 2 new grow beds hold a new variety of pomegranate tree (a fancy one) which i hope to train into a pretty thing. its a good fruiting variety. it is definitely deciduous losing all its leaves in winter. the last grow bed (that feeds the nft) has a papaya tree (that germinated in my worm farm) and rocket.

along with the total of 3 "tree sized" grow beds and the nft, i added 5 new koi (who made the 3 original koi look like monsters)

Koi have impressed me as a fish to incorporate into an aquaponics. not only do they give a kind of "pet" feel when it comes to watching and feeding them, they do a great job in keeping the tank clean. the bottom of the tank is spotless and hardly any algae. they don't eat a whole lot in the colder months, but they are very hardy. not that they've had a terrible home... adding salt every few months keeps them happy.

recently as winter has approached, i added another fish tank below the deck and have it fed from a SLO off the original tank. theres a transfer pump that pumps from the new tank to the old tank (minimum height means great flow). the transfer pump is on a timer and only comes on for 15minutes every hour or two.
I relocated the Koi to the new tank and added 10x rainbow trout to the original fish tank (after netting the outside of the tank so insects can get in but trout cant jump out - thinking about adding a light here to attracted bugs!).
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the trout tank feeds the grow beds above it, using only a 50w pump.
to avoid having 3x 100L of water soaked grow beds on a deck, i added 2x 3-way ball-valves, controlled using arduino. so basically water is fed to each bed, one at a time for only 3 minutes. in which time the bed would have began to auto-siphon. the idea is to add another 6x of these olive drum style grow beds, evenly distributing the weight at 2m intervals across the sunny deck. while i think more of these beds reducing the time if water on individual plants may not be desirable for leafy greens, but fruits such as the pomegranite could do well with prolonging the times between refills.

future plans for the tree beds include hops, cucumber, pumpkin, watermelon and tomatoes.
im also hoping to add another overflow tank and plumb in a rain water feed as top-up water.

i also want to use more of the potential in the ardunio uno. i want to measure/monitor the DO, temperature and ph as well as being able to isolate grow beds, top tank water up, autofeeders, etc. ill shelve that idea for now and let it do its thing.

ph at 7.2 after buffering it up from 6.8.
temp 13degrees
total fish tank volume 1500L
total wet media 350L
trout are hungry fish eating a lot more than i thought! (100-150mm rainbow fingerlings)


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 Post subject: Re: Hi from Perth Hills
PostPosted: May 21st, '20, 21:58 
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In need of a life
In need of a life

Joined: Apr 7th, '13, 20:30
Posts: 1555
Gender: Male
Are you human?: Yup
Location: Perth hills.
Hiya Boogy, welcome to the forum. Sounds like you’ve got it all under control.
Yep trout sure are hungry buggers, grow fast and make lots of waste but can be a bit precious.
Keep us updated mate I missed the trout again this year, where did you get yours from?

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Skeg In The Hills.


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 Post subject: Re: Hi from Perth Hills
PostPosted: May 24th, '20, 20:23 
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Joined: May 20th, '20, 10:33
Posts: 5
Gender: Male
Are you human?: YES
Location: Perth (NOR)
Hi Boogy

Love your intent to use tech to automate and monitor. Heading down a similar path, albeit perhaps not as sophisticated as your intended set up. Looking forward to hearing more.


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