Another week passed and a bit more progress has been completed on the aquaponics system. I took a bit of a drive up to Hayward to pick up some hydroponic reservoirs. These things look like they will do very nicely for grow beds. Normally these things retail for upwards of $90 each and I scored some used ones for $40 a pop. Originally, I was going to go the way of buying an IBC and cutting it in half. You can see an example in the photo gallery below. I figured this was a lot less work and they were designed for hydro in the first place.
The only thing that had me a little wary was the sides bulging out from the weight of the rock. I built a 2×4 frame around the top lip with a stringer in between each bed. Hopefully this will keep anything from warping or distorting. Being that they are designed for water, and 40 gallons of water weighs 320lbs, I’m pretty confident…for now.
One of the biggest cost points when it comes to aquaponics can be the grow medium. A lot of people use Hydroton and it can get pretty pricey. At about $250 for 32 cu/ft that I needed, it was out of my price range. Luckily with my YouTube hunting, I came upon expanded shale. It has better “root grip” than Hydroton and at about half the price. I visited the guys over at RASA Hydroponics in San Jose and they gave me a killer deal on the stuff. They just started packing their own in bulk and he sold me half a pallet. Beep Beep, forklift right into the bed of the truck! Definitely give these guys a call when you want some grow media.
Luckily plumbing is the easy part. I bought a whole slew of pipe, adapters, valves, bulkhead fittings and the like from Scotts Valley Sprinkler. They are great guys there. I recommend you do some of your local buying with them. They treated me very nicely and even gave me a bit of a “contractor discount”.
Coming up in the next part: plumbing, building a bell siphon, pump installation and filling grow beds.
By the way, check out part one if you missed it: Aquaponics Construction: Part 1 – Under Way!