After cutting our Aquaponics garden beds we started setting them up in their new location, along with our old beds that we transferred over and are grafting into the new system. Because our system is a gravity flow system, we had to prop the beds up on cinder blocks.
Once we had everything level and set up in the right spots, we started the plumbing. So, for starters, we had to purchase a 3″ hole saw bit (it attaches to a drill). We used this to cut circular pieces out of each IBC.
Because of the way the water flows through the garden beds, we chose to stagger the drain pipes from left to right. This is an effort to keep the water from stagnating in any one spot in the grow bed.
After drilling the holes, we placed 2″ uniseals into the holes. These uniseals help seal the tank to help avoid any leaks.
Then you have to shove a 2 in PVC pipe into the hole, which is a very tight fit. Once all the holes are cut and the uniseals are placed inside the cut outs you can then seal them off with aquarium glue or a waterproof silicone. Here I offer a word of warning- if you were like us the first go around and choose to cut the holes by hand rather than buying the hole saw piece, you may experience leaks because the uniseal will not be as tight in the hole. We ended up having to recaulk our tank 3 times in the first year because of this mistake which meant we had to stop the tank from running. That becomes dangerous for the fish and can cause the plants to not get enough water. So avoid our mistake!
You have to seal both the inside of the seal and the outside, just for precaution’s sake. It could be a good idea to seal around the pvc pipe as well.
After that plumbing was done, we put the pump in the sump tank and ran PVC all the way up to the fish tanks. There are several ways one can do this but we chose the way that would use the least pvc. Other ideas would be to run the pipes along the ground, which would allow better access to the bed to garden.
We are having all our lava rock delivered this week and we will be filling the beds with both the rock and the water. By next weekend, our garden beds will be ready to plant in! Before we buy the fish we have to verify that the ph levels are near where we want them to be and then we will take the plunge. By the end of March it is my hope that our Aquaponics system be fully functioning!