Paul Nickerson

Some Recent Learning Experiences…

In Aquaponics, Gardening on March 25, 2012 at 11:08 pm

So recently we have been having some interesting “learning experiences.” I think it sounds better than “problems” or “complications.”

ImageA couple weeks back, the fish gave birth. With the addition of an extra pump in the system, this led to concerns about how best to manage the new arrivals. What I thought was a quick alteration brought countless hours of headache. The main concern was that the small fry would be drawn out of the main tank through the overflow, into the sump tank, where the pumps draw from. To avoid this, I put a screen in the overflow. The system was running fine until we began adding food scraps (SOMAT) to the tilapia’s diet.

The uneaten pieces of food became trapped in the screen, limiting water flow from the main tank. As a result, I showed up to work to find an empty sump tank, pumps drawing air, and a fish tank overflowing with a hundred gallons on the floor. To fix this, I cut the screen, draining the water back into the sump tank. After topping the system off, and priming the pumps again, we were faced again with the problem of keeping the fry from becoming chum.

ImageRound two. I decided to leave the overflow open to the fry. Before the GroTech system was added, the earlier hatch of fry moved freely into the sump tank, where they lived happily until I retrieved them. To keep the fry safe from the pumps, I enclosed the pumps in a cage built from the bottom of a bucket. I took the bottom nine inches of a bucket, and littered it with small holes.

The top of the bucket sits just about level with the water. This allows water to get to the pumps, while allowing the fish to live safely in the sump tank. In the picture, you can see the submerged pump, as well as a black hose in the bucket. The hose is attached to the inline pump supplying the gutters. I’ll be sure to explain the need for the hose in my next post. For now, the system seems to be running fine, and the fry should be safe.


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