How to build an aquaponics system

Part 3 – Aquaponics in Cabarete

This week brought new challenges as usual with some unexpected surprises too.

With the new gravel cycling and part of the rafts beds planted, I moved the majority of our fish from system 1 to system 2 to increase the ammonia and nitrate levels.

This was done so I could take apart one of the grow beds of system 1 and replace its gravel with our new clean gravel. While taking out the gravel, I found some small holes in the liner and decided to change it out. I also found a nice ant’s nest between the liner and bottom boards. As this climate and area is prone to ants, it was decided to replace the box style grow bed and go ahead and use some plastic 55gal barrels.

How to build an aquaponics system

These barrels are readily available almost everywhere, they last a long time, they’re easy to mount and plumb together. Just be careful of what was stored in them before if you’re using recycled ones, and stay away from any that had toxic chemicals in them.

Cutting them in half is a relatively easy task using a saber saw, angle grinder, or even a handsaw.

How to build an aquaponics system

Using the original grow bed base with some added supports under each half barrel, it was perfect because it fit four half barrels with room for top edge supports too.

How to build an aquaponics system

The threaded hole in the barrels fit a rubber fitting perfectly with a 2 PVC pipe in the middle. Now we only need to cut and fit two sides of flow piping to make all the half barrels fill and empty evenly with water. Note: Make sure to have the water enter one end and flow out the other and not use the same holes on all one side as you will not get even flow through the beds.

How to build an aquaponics system

How to build an aquaponics system

While the search for some extra good fitting for the other sides continues, I moved on to start making some breeding tanks.

I used the same style 55gal barrels cut in half the opposite way as the grow beds. This was done sooner than planned because we found a source for freshwater shrimp, so the extra tanks are to keep the two different species apart.

How to build an aquaponics system

These tanks were put together quickly on Saturday as we were expecting the shrimp the following week, but as we have come to expect here in the DR, that what your told and what you actually get may be two very different things altogether. Still waiting for the shrimp today.

On Monday while going through my daily checks it was a very unexpected surprise to find some small fingerlings in system 2. There was about 25 all swimming at the top of the tank and away from the big fish and no longer with their mother. Using the small fish net, I scooped them up and put them into the newly built breeding tanks so they would not get eaten by the other fish. I will indever to get a photo but may take some time as they are very small.

For now I am adding a couple of liters of algae water to feed them and will later make a batch of algae egg yolk flakes for them.

Progress was also made in the other garden area as well. This area will eventually have some larger aquaponics system and a big greenhouse for them. To start, we are clearing out the over growth and removing the car tires that had been used. First it was important to build a larger compost box to utilize the food scrapes from restaurant and all the other organic wastes that have built up. Timber mill off cuts were used to build both the compost box and to make the garden bed edging. It was cheap and a perfect size for both jobs.

How to build an aquaponics system How to build an aquaponics system

Oscar also showed me where he gets the horse manure mix from, which we are using to help build up the garden beds.

How to build an aquaponics system

Always great to find nice things in places you never expect too :)

Until next time!