Lungy spent a long time designing and working out the plan for his system. The system had to pass scrutiny of the wife and had to fit into the yard and match in without seeming out of place. He had decided early on that he wanted to use some of the premade Backyard Aquaponics growbeds, but for fish tanks, IBC’s seemed like the ideal solution.
The plan was to put the IBC fish tanks into the garden shed, this would work well in keeping the sunlight off the tanks to stop degradation of the IBC and stop algal growth, as well as keeping the fish happy in darkness rather than out in the sunlight. Also the whole interior of the shed would be lined and insulated to control the temperature a little better. Temperature fluctuations in a metal shed can be quite extreme.
There was a garden bed along the back fence that just happened to be the perfect width for the growbeds, the stand were a little tall but that was fine, they could be sunk into the ground to a more accessible height. Lungy wanted the system to run as a CHIFT PIST style of system, this meant he would have to increase the volume of his sump. With 4 growbeds filled with 500L of media in each, this would require a very large sump but he didn’t really have the space for such a big sump. The plan then evolved to not only have a 1000L main sump at the end of the row of beds, but also to have a 200L sump under each individual grow bed, then link all of them together, almost doubling the sump volume.
Water was pumped from the main sump to the two IBC’s in the shed where the fish were. From here the water flows out the base of the IBC’s through a flexible hose into a manifold. The pipe work then comes outside through the shed and along the back of the growbeds where individual taps are set at each bed to control the flow into the beds. The drains of the beds have auto-siphons installed in them to flood and drain the beds, the water then drops into the sump and ultimately moves through the underground piping before being pumped back into the IBC fish tanks in the shed.
The growbeds got quite hot during the day over the summer so Lungy set up a simple shade cloth cover to keep things a little cooler.
The system was set up and running beautifully but Lungs wanted to add another aspect to his aquaponic system. Although he had power in the shed for running the system, why not put some solar panels on the shed roof and run the system off the grid. With a couple of solar panels on the roof, batteries and inverters inside the shed with the fish, everything was looking good, the system was booming and it was running on solar power as a bonus.
Here begins the warming. When setting up solar systems yourself you must be very careful. Lungy left for work one day but shortly after received a call from his wife, “The shed was on fire!” By the time he got back home and started to hose the shed, there wasn’t much left. It seems that an electrical fault had started the fire, quite a strong fire too, even the IBC’s melting and tipping their 2000L of water out into the shed hadn’t put it out.
Apart from this unfortunate accident the aquaponic system was a great success, and the destroyed shed was soon replaced so that things could get back on track.