COMPLETE AQUAPONICS SET UP – Start to Finish

COMPLETE AQUAPONICS SET UP - Start to Finish



We are now in the process of building this
aquaponic system. Today, I went and bought my IBC totes. We are going to have 6 grow beds, two fish
tanks, and I am going to use the other tanks for some other things as well. What I am going to do is talk about preparation. We have to prepare the grow beds. What we are going to do is cut the framework
around these IBC totes. So, to make the grow beds, we need the top
of the IBC tote to be 14 inches. Then you fill it up with media, rock, lava
rock, or whatever you choose to do. You fill it up to 12 inches. There are different size IBC totes and you
have to plan accordingly. We are going to use 3 of these IBC totes to
make the grow beds. If I measure here to here it’s exactly 12
inches. So, I am going to cut right here. Then we will have about 2 inches beyond that
and then we are going to flip that upside down. I was thinking about using the reciprocating
saw, but it seemed like it was more cumbersome. So, what I did, I went to go purchase some
bolt cutters. And I did some tests on it. If you get a nice clean cut here it works
out really nice. As you can see, it cuts really nice. And you don’t have to worry about the reciprocating
saw blade cutting the plastic. A really nice cut that makes it easy and fast,
then you don’t have to worry about cutting the plastic either, cause obviously, you don’t
want to cut the plastic. OK, in the previous video, we talked about
removing the center section of the IBC tote framework. We are going to make a grow bed out of this
section and this section. Then eliminate the center. So, I showed you to use bolt cutters to cut
this. I have a reciprocating saw but you would always
have to be concerned about cutting the plastic. The bolt cutters were a great investment. It was easy. We were able to get this done quite quickly. So, I cut out the center of the IBC tote. Now, what I have done is take a straight edge. Brought it out over and measured down. I want my grow beds to be 14 inches tall. As you guys can see, we have now cut all tops
and bottoms. They are roughly 14” high. Now, we are going to wash them all out with
soap. The key is, if you get used IBC totes, you
have to make sure that whatever product they had in there was not toxic. Everything has been washed with soap and rinsed. Now, we are ready to put everything together. Then we will talk more about how the plumbing
goes together. Now, that we have washed all the tanks. It’s time to put everything in place. One thing that I want to caution everybody. You have to methodically think this out. If you don’t, you are going to just throw
some tanks in and then you are going to decide that’s not where you wanted it. Before we got to the place, we actually put
everything on the ground and positioned it. We looked at it and analyzed it. We put stakes in the ground, ran string to
make sure everything is in place where we wanted it. Now, you can see, we determined where everything
is going to be. We now actually put everything on a foundation. As you can see, these are the grow beds. I put all the bottoms of the IBC totes in
one row and the tops in another row. It doesn’t look like it, but they are all
the same depth. It just doesn’t look like it because the
bottom of the IBC tote is taller. When you are dealing with the top of the IBC
tote. You flip it over to make a grow bed out of
it. Obviously, you have to make sure that you
seal these caps really well. What I do is use some Teflon tape. I put that around the threads there. Then there is a rubber gasket inside this
cap right here. Then you have this middle as well. So, I Teflon tape around that but also this
is actually a vent. Make sure you squirt some one hundred percent
silicone in there. Installing the bell siphons. You can see here is a bulkhead connector. What I’m doing is I’m putting them in
the corners. I am doing this strategically. Some people like to put their siphons like
in the center so forth obviously were deal with other issues as well. I’m really comfortable about putting my
bell siphons over here. This is a three-quarter inch pipe. I have it measured to the top from floor eleven
inches. That gives me one inch in my grow bed as far
as a dry area. From the floor to the top of the edge here
is fourteen inches. I should have another two inches of nothing
here so this should works out really good. Here is a siphon right here and as you can
see, I used a four-inch pipe. I cut a series of lines in here. I watched a video how it’s nice to have
these lines. When you get roots in there, you can just
simply twist the pipe. The lines will actually cut the roots. I cut a series of lines with my chop saw. Here is the cap, I drilled a hole in the top. I watched a gentleman, he incorporated at
the bottom. What happens is, as the water comes up and
down, this will help stop the siphon a little bit better. He felt like this was a better design. The methodology behind all this is, this is
your waterline because I have gone eleven inches from the bottom. From there is another one inch of grow bed
material about that is dry to avoid any algae growing in your grow bed. This is a three- quarter inch pipe here. A lot of people talk about that you don’t
have to seal any of the joints, but I like doing a little bit extra. They say you should double your pipe. This is a three-quarter inch pipe and this
is one inch and a half pipe. So, if you do an one inch pipe, you should
do a two inch pipe. Essentially, no matter what, you double whatever
you use as your standpipe. This is one inch and a half material. This is a bell cap. As I set this down, the top of the standpipe
comes to the very bottom of this cap. As you can see, I drilled a hole and put an
elbow here and then put a water line here. Be careful about the tubing you buy. This is going to work, but if you unroll it,
it’s still curvy. So, it’s not straight. I had to heat up the tubing to try to straighten
it. The reason why I put this piece of wood here,
I wanted to space it out enough so the cap can freely float up and down with the water. You don’t want your tube so short so your
cap can float out from underneath it. You want it long enough so it goes inside
that cap. This is set up now. At the bottom of the housing, I cut a series
of slots as well. There is my bell siphon. Here is a sleeve that goes over that. When you put your grow bed around this, the
outer sleeve will be firm in place. Then periodically, you will want to check
your siphons to ensure they are working properly. Now, I am going to focus on connecting all
the drains. Obviously, you will want to find your point
where you are going to drain too. Then you will want to slope it. What I did was a quarter inch drop from each
bell siphon. Then I will do another quarter inch drop out
here. Then I am going to drain everything over to
the sump pit. You want to make sure you have a nice slope
on all your drainage. What I want to do now is walk you through
all the plumbing process. Come over here and look. This is my sump pit. This is where all the water will be collected
into the sump pit. As you can see, I got my pump down there. It’s a 1026 gallon per hour pump. It’s pump the water up into the fish tanks. Right now, I have this set up to only use
one fish tank, but it’s set up for two tanks at a later date. That will require me to incorporate more grow
beds cause those are your bio filters to clean the water for the fish. Right now, we are going to use only one. I have installed shut offs right here so I
can shut off one side to use only one or I can shut off both. On the bottom of the tubing, I have drilled
a series of holes. It will spray down into the water to cause
a natural aeration process for the fish. I am going to aerate it as well, because you
can never get enough oxygen. I have a small aerator that I will be using. I want to show you this as well. In Honduras, we get a lot of rain. So, what I did, I have an overflow here. If we get an excess of water, it will flow
out underneath the grow beds on the other side. Trying to prevent any issue that may occur
with downpours. We get massive downpours. Over here, as you can see, we tied the bottoms
of the IBC totes together. What I am going to do, on the other side,
I am going to insert a tube that has perforated holes in it. The pressure of the water is going to push
the water through the pipe, but also, the solid waste from the fish will go through
as well. That’s why I placed the drainage at the
bottom. This right here, dictates the level of the
water in the fish tanks. If you have a situation where the system shuts
down, you want it in a way where the water will not drain out of the fish tanks. If the system shuts down, my water level in
the fish tanks will never go below this. That’s my safety net right there. I have a back up battery system for my aeration,
but I don’t have one from my water pump to pump the water through the system. Over here is my solids collector. Initially, you are going to want some solids
to go into your grow bed. That’s something you will want to monitor
and manage, because that will help mature your grow beds. I want to show them inside here. As you can see, I have a swirl filter here. As the water swirls, the solids will float
to the bottom. But, if some solids come up and go into the
grow bed that is OK for now. I have it draining into the grow beds now. I sure you know by now, you want a slope on
all your piping. That’s why everything has been set up the
way it is. Everything has a slope. This has a quarter inch slope drop as it goes
down. Over here, I put an extension and clean out
so I can examine it. If I feel like am getting any kind of clogs,
I can pull that cap off and examine my piping inside. I glue my system together, a lot of people
say they don’t, but I glued everything together. As you can see, I put faucets here and the
water is going to drain out over here. You don’t want any stagnation in your water. That’s why I put the faucet and drain in
a diagonal fashion. Then the entire grow bed will get movement
of water. As you can see, every grow bed has water being
dispensed into it and I have valves in ever grow bed so I can be able to adjust the water
flow. I want to ensure the flow of water is even
in each grow bed by adjusting the valves. As you can see underneath here everything
slopes properly underneath the grow bed. The drainage out of bell siphons, they say
you will want an extension over to the main drain to be at least twelve to twenty-four
inches. That gives it a good suction out of the grow
beds. It can siphon the water out of the grow bed. You don’t want it to immediately come out
of the grow bed. Everything has a quarter of an inch slope. It's all going to slope back to the sump pit. Here is where the overflow will drain out
if there is a huge overflow. Also, here is a valve for maintenance, if
I feel like a have to much solid in the fish tanks. Then I can shut this off over here and then
turn this on here and drain my tanks if I need too. As you can see, it pipes back over here back
into the sump pit. It processes back into the fish tank and then
back into the grow beds. Ok, obviously, a lot of things have happened
since I recorded last. I apologize. I am going to walk you through some things
here and how we got here. As far the system itself, you saw it last
when it was white. One thing you are going to learn, you may
not always do everything right the first time. As time goes by, you are going to have to
make adjustments to the system. I wanted to show you something over here. This will set the height of the water in the
fish tanks but I had a loop. It was actually creating a natural siphon. So, when the power goes off, it would actually
drain the fish tanks because of the siphon effect. It would go into my grow beds and then flood
my sump pit. The fish tank water would go down severely. So, I installed a vent right here. As soon as the water goes off and reaches
a certain level about right here. That’s an adjustment I made since the last
video. Don’t be shy, you put a lot of work in this,
then you find out something is not working quite right. Don’t be shy in fixing something. Continually fine tune your system. As you can see back here, I added another
feature to the system. I will talk to you about that in a minute. Another thing, after we put the grow media
in, we got a lot of rain. I saw some sinking in the grow beds because
the cinder blocks were sinking down in the ground. Over here, you can see where the system had
sunk. The water is supposed to be one to two inches
below the surface here. As you can see, it’s sunk down and the water
level is there. That needs to be repaired. I have shored it up. I have put shims there for the time being. You are going to have some settling and be
prepared to repair those areas. The only thing I could have done was pour
concrete piers. But if it’s not your property or you may
not want this permanently in your yard. As you can see here, we have regular river
rock for our grow media. You want to test it first. You put a series of rock in containers. You pour vinegar in the containers. If you see any severe fizzling, you have some
media that is not going to work with your system. What that does, it will drive the PH up to
high. Then it will affect your system and hinder
the growth of your plants. What I did was tested it over and over. I got a little bit of fizzle on a few rocks,
but as whole, I didn’t get much to affect the system. It’s river rock that we sorted it. As you can see, we got various sizes. You don’t want to get to small. What happens, it gets to compacted. Also, you don’t want to get it to big either. You want to make sure your worms can freely
move about. You don’t want to big
to small. These are the bell siphons and they are working
great. Your goal is that your system floods and drains
every forty-five minutes. What is does, the system will drain, it gets
the water off the roots and sucks oxygen down into the grow beds. My whole system is on bell siphons. Every grow bed is draining and filling back
up every forty-five minutes. The painting here, the mistake I made, I painted
them within the metal brackets. You can easily take them out, if I had to
redo the whole entire thing, I would have taken them all out, painted them, and set
them back in. It was not fun trying to paint all this. I would highly recommend painting everything
first and then assembly it. I just think it would have been much simpler
in doing so. I talked about we were going to grow oregano,
but we changed it to another plant that is down here in Honduras. It is a mint that is used in a lot of their
dishes. I found out that it is not readily available
in the marketplace. We went into the mountains. There are people up there that grows it. We got a bunch from them and transplanted
it into the system. As you can see, it’s doing wonderful. I had some insect issues. I had a lot of caterpillars. We have been going through the system and searching for caterpillar poop. That obviously identifies that there are caterpillars
in the area. We have been removing the caterpillars. As of right now, I am doing really good on
insects. We did plant some watercress on this side,
but we got attack by silkworms. It wasn’t worth the battle. It is not a product that I must have. So, I decided to plant all mint. A lot of insects don’t like the smell of
mint. It has reduced my battle with them. As far as nutrients, you system is not going
to get to the full effect in about six to eight months and nutrients can be an issue. There is a store in the United States, it’s
called True Aquaponics and I put the link in the description below. I highly recommend that you get a hold of
Roger Loper. He is an incredible guy. He has helped me. I have taken a photo of my plants. He then recommends everything I need for my
system. Obviously, he sells that product. Please don’t take advantage of him. He tells you what your problem and solution
is, but you shop somewhere else. My product from him is coming next week. In the meantime, I have used seaweed called
Maxicrop. I have put eggshells under these valves. I have used Chelated Iron. According to Roger, you have to be very careful
in what type of Chelated Iron you use because it can affect your fish. Just by using the seaweed, eggshells, and
chelated iron, my leaves have greened up really nice. I am getting a lot of growth. I have added fish to the system. I am very happy with what I have seen so far. Especially, for a system that has been running
for about a month. I believe once we get the right nutrients
we are going to see even more growth. He has talked to me about potassium and other
products. He has all kinds of products and he can help
you do what you need to do. Also, we have worms coming. It’s not like the United States where you
can go to the local store and buy worms. We have worms coming from a university from
another area of the country. The worms are incredible for the system. They do a lot of activity that you can do
research on. Once the worms get here, get more fish into
the system, and add the nutrients, we are going to really see this system take off. Also, we have stuff coming to rid the system
of insects. You will want to research that. There are a lot of great videos at that as
well. You don’t want to use any chemical unless
it’s absolutely safe for fish. You need to be always protecting your fish. Let’s talk the duckweed system here. What I initially thought was to put duckweed
in my sump pit. When I put the duckweed in there and the water
level goes up and down, the duckweed was collecting the walls of the sump pit. Also, the roots were floating to the bottom
and clogging up my water pump. Immediately, I took another IBC tote and set
up the system up. I trickle a little bit of water into the duckweed
grow bed. Duckweed doesn’t like a lot of water movement. I put a bulkhead with a standpipe. Then I surrounded it with a four inch pvc
pipe to prevent duckweed going into the sump pit. That’s just draining down into the sump
pit. This duckweed is an incredible food source
for the fish. I have an aquaculture system as well and I
use this to feed them. At first, the fish were just use to eating
fish food, but now, I mix it with the fish food and they eat it up. It’s a great source of nutrients for your
fish and it cuts down on the cost of fish food. What is neat about duckweed, when I initially
put it into this system. It barely covered this area, but within three
days it covered the whole surface area. What I noticed, it was getting real thick. Now, what the fish can’t eat, I scoop it
out and keep it evenly spread on the surface. Then I have to dispose some of it cause it
grows so fast. Duckweed doesn’t like direct light. Here in Honduras we don’t have the same
sun as like in the United States. Cause of the roof of our home and tree, it’s
not a constant light. Let’s talk about feeding the fish. I am growing moringa trees here because this is another
great food source for the fish. I have been slowly introducing these moringa
leaves to the fish. I take a little bit of leaves and lay them
on top of the water along with the food. Moringa is a great food source for nutrients. You want
to make sure any standing water is covered. If you don’t, you will have mosquitos laying
eggs in the water. This is my swirl filter and I covered it up. I check it periodically. Also, I clean the fish waste off of the bottom
as well. I covered this up and now, we are not having
as many mosquito issues. If they lay eggs in the fish tank, that’s
fine, the fish will eat them. Because of the moving water in the siphons,
that should not be an issue with mosquitos. As far at the duckweed, I put some fish in
there. Right now, I have one baby fish. Then in my sump pit I have two. Also, I feed them periodically. They will eat any mosquito eggs. Do research on earthworms. You can find things on how to introduce them
into the system. It’s very important that you put earthworms
in the grow beds. They are going to keep things clean by processing
the fish waste and cleaning about the roots. The True Aquaponics store is a great source
for your nutrients. He will even tell you the dosage and everything. A wonderful gentleman to work with. I love how he follows up quickly and gets
right back with you. He works through emails. He will respond to your emails immediately. As far as the fish, I have an aquaculture
system and so I used fish out of that. I was using them in my breeder colony and
they were not working out well. So, I put them into my aquaponics system. Right now, I have nine fish in this system. Obviously, I am going to add more. I have fish that I am developing. I am going to add more into this system. The rule is three fish per one gallon of water. That’s really pushing it. The general rule is one fish per five gallons. I have about 550 gallons here. The math tells me that I can put approximately
one hundred and ten fish into my system. There is a calculation between the grow bed
size and the amount of fish. It is a balancing act. You need to ensure that you are properly testing
your water; watching your ammonia levels, nitrites, nitrates, and PH. Just be careful on that. There is a lot of information in regards to
the ratio of the grow beds to the amount of fish population. I gentleman told me, it is 40 pounds of fish to 16 square feet of grow bed surface area. I calculated that
and it was about right in compared to another book. It is a little more different calculation. There is a lot of information on it. When beginning, don’t try to push it. Be conservative in your calculation. If you push it, all you are going to do it
cause heartache. It is better to follow the ratios and as time
goes by if want to push it a little bit more, then push it. Right now, I am looking at expanding my grow
beds, but I won’t do that until this system matures and the proper amount of fish. In testing water, this system hasn’t even
cycled. What I mean by that, ammonia levels rise,
then your grow beds begin to develop the proper bacteria to properly process the ammonia. The bacteria will convert the ammonia to nitrites
and then it will be converted to nitrates. Right now, I don’t even ammonia in the system. The PH is 7.6 and everything else is zero. I haven’t cycled the system yet. In time, about six to eight months, this whole
system will cycle. You do want to check your water by testing
it. I use the API master test kit. It has all the testing you need. It is not something to be worried about. At this point, I will test it about once every
two weeks. I don’t even have all my fish yet. Later on as the system matures, you will definitely
want to be testing it. That is pretty much it. I am still learning. Right now, I am learning on how to develop
worm castings and worm colonies. You will always want to be searching YouTube
and doing research. You can feel free to ask me questions. I will do my best to answer it. I will be glad to help you find the right
information. I love to help people. My system has been running for about two months. I can see a lot of improvements. I have made a lot of changes. Next week, I will be working on insects. I will be working on the caterpillars. There are a lot of great videos on insect
prevention that is safe for the plants and fish. Will introducing nutrients into the system
next week. I believe in my heart, we will see these plants
really grow fast and healthy. Like this plant here, it was really small
and now it’s spreading out all over. Soon, we will be harvesting these and we must
have a really good product for those that will be buying it. Alright, that you for watching and don’t
hesitate to ask any questions.

20 comments

  1. I just bought the 88 pages book and I can tell that this is the most complete and professional guide I've ever seen in a DYI aquaponic  system. Shawn you are my hero overall for the social work that you are doing with people in Honduras. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

  2. Awesome video! I just started my aquaponics system about two months ago.
    Here is my humble setup. Please watch and comment what more can I improve!
    Much love from the Philippines!
    https://youtu.be/4O1XEArvcBU

  3. Hey mr. Do you think you could recycle some pee into the water to raise ammonia levels before the fish come in? I hear it helps a lot with bacteria control. XD Im not so serious.

  4. wonderful – well-done…learned more quickly and easier than I had seen up-to-now… just trying to make sense of it….very helpful….thank you…what a vast wealth…of info…..I already raise worms for castings and herbs….so good combination

  5. River rock is so heavy. I would have went with the clay balls. Great video and awesome system! What fish did you use?

  6. Thank you sir, it was very informative video. I just didn't understand then 39.03 minute part and it will be helpful if you tell us the size of all pvc pipe.

  7. at 12:00 the height of the overflow does not matter when doing a siphon. the limiting factor is the point that the air enters. equilibrium is the top of the blue solids tank on one extreme, and then the intake of the flow into the plants on the other. the lowest water level would be equal to the bottom of the discharge of the solids filter.
    if you wanted an actual limit, remove one of the elbows from the inverted p-trap and put in a Tee. the top of the tee would allow air to enter and break the siphon.

    it seems that at 17:00 you had figured that out and fixed…..

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