Aquaponics Koi Pond . . . Progress

Had a little time yesterday to work on the second grow bed.  Placed an 8×16 foot liner in the grow bed area that sits a foot above the pond.  After leveling it out and dropping the liner, I transferred my 1″ siphone over and plugged it in.  I filled the grow bed with water and then brought in my gravel.  You can see the finished images below.

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As you can see, the algae bloom is cleared up and the pond is doing fantastic.  You can almost see the bottom of the pond clearly now. We’ve had a couple of bull frogs join us and they love to sing bull frog at night. . . . It drives the dogs nuts.

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Algae Bloom in the Koi Pond

Koi Pond June142015The electrician came during the week and got my Sequence 9700 pump up and running.  Initially the water began to clear, but because I was running two much smaller pumps, I think I had an algae clog in the end of my grow bed piping because the bed wasn’t filling very fast and the pond continued with its wonderful shade of green.  I realized it was clogged and was able to clear it with a change in the pressure and water flow.  Now the pond is cycling quite well and I am hopeful that over the next 48 to 72 hours it will begin to clear up so we can see the Koi.

The ducks are loving the pond and have been fun to watch, but they keep eating my plants.

Listening to the sound of the water and the quack of the ducks is really one of the most relaxing things I’ve found to do while sitting on my porch on a Sunday afternoon.

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So, now as the water cycles and begins to balance itself, the next step is to finish bringing in the boulders, rock and landscape the perimeter of the pond.

Levels and Liners

Had some time last week.

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Took time to shore up the walls, smooth out the rough areas, and level the bottom.

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I pulled out the underlay material and my son and I lined the pond bottom in preparation for the rubber liner.

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Prepped the bottom drain to make it easy to attach the liner by taping over the screw holes ahead of time. . . learned this little trick from The Pond Digger (Thanks Eric Triplett!!)

IMG_1480I called up my family and coaxed them over to the house to roll out the 700lb liner . . . Stay tuned for the moment of truth.

Pond Persistence

I’ve been working on this pond now for the last four months.  Little by little it is taking shape. I never realized it would take this long, but I have learned a great deal about pre-pond design, making walls, plumbing and filtration.

I placed my bottom drain, swirl filter, skimmer and found a large water trough to use at the top of the waterfall.  The swirl filter was designed by cutting the top off a 55 gallon barrel below.

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Once the filter was placed, I filled in the area and this is what it looks like from the top.

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With these pieces in place, walls have been shored up and the waterfall base has been built.  You can see the skimmer in the center of the image.  I was impressed with the Helix Skimmer from The Pond Digger.  I got my bottom drain plumbed, concreted in and smoothed out.  You can just see it (bottom drain) at the base of pond (I’ve got it covered with a piece of underlayment.)

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I decided on the Koi Toilet from The Pond Outlet and I’m hoping that the 4″ drain will accommodate for the ducks.

The The Pond Outlet has a much better image of this bottom drain that I included below:

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Bottom Drain with aeration line (fromm http://www.thepondoutlet.com)

I’ve reinforced the waterfall base with cinder block and used a 100 gallon water trough as the waterfall collection tank.  this way I can plant some plants in the top of the trough that will further hide the waterfall.

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So, the next step is to begin laying the underlayment to protect the liner from holes.  Stay tuned . . .

Pond Progress

The aquaponics Koi pond is progressing . . . slowly.  I could get so much more done if people didn’t get sick and have to be seen.  Although, I’d be out of a job.

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I coaxed my son into helping me with the concrete.  We placed and poured the concrete into the retaining wall.  I started pre-setting the cinder-block for the waterfall and the grow bed.

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We used re-bar and concrete and it worked quite nicely.  The boss was pleased.

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Because we have ducks, I am afraid there will be no way to keep them out of the pond, so I need to add a swirl filter for the heavy waste that will come out of the bottom drain.  I did a great deal of reading and I think a simple design like this one from http://koi-bito.com will work.

55 gallon swirl filter design

I dug the swirl filter location out yesterday and purchased a nice new 55 gallon drum and have my hole saw at the ready.

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The dogs have been helping as much as they can.  They are on 24/7 gopher duty. They’ve also been helping to keep my level floor less than level by digging holes and burring bones while I’m at work.

Next step is to place the swirl filter and the skimmer and set the water level.

Who knows, maybe I’ll have my liner in by next week.  We’ll see.  Have a great weekend.

Aquaponics . . . A Work in Progress & A Great Hobby!

“Aquaponics . . . what in the world is that?”

It is the question that I get all the time when people first see the raised garden grow-beds sitting above two 50 gallon water tanks powered by eight beautiful little Koi.  I’m about two and a half months into my aquaponics gardening experiment.  Aquaponics is a system of aquaculture in which the waste produced by farmed fish or other aquatic animals supplies nutrients for plants grown hydroponically, which in turn purify the water.

Koi in Aquaponics Tank

I installed my aquaponics system in late October and look at the results in just two months:

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Three different kinds of lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries, stevia, lemon grass, cilantro, cauliflower, and bell peppers . . . to name a few of the plants that are doing very well.  Here in Arizona, we just got our first below freezing temperatures (it was 30 degrees the last few nights) so I’ve had to cover the plants at night, but they are doing very well.

Koi tank and sump tanks

The 50 gallon trough on the RIGHT holds the Koi and the 50 gallon trough on the left acts as a sump tank keeping the water in the Koi tank balanced.

Pump

A single water pump pulls water from the Koi Tank to the highest grow-bed at the top of the image above.

Modified Venturi Gravity Siphon

Venturi Siphons

Then using simple 1 inch PVC modified Venturi siphons, the water is pulled from each grow bed by gravity back into the Koi tank and sump tanks.  (Yes, those are shotgun shell Christmas lights).  The grow-beds are lined with 45 mil pond liner and filled with “Pea Gravel.”  (No dirt – just water and gravel – amazing!) Water was crystal clear within 48 hours of starting the system.  It really is THAT simple.  (My father is probably rolling over in his grave.)

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I have been amazed at the rapid growth of the vegetables and herbs . . . three times faster than I had imagined.  The only maintenance in the last two months has been feeding the Koi once a day . . .

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and occasionally topping off the water in the Koi tanks (my dogs prefer to drink the water out of the Koi tank instead of their water bowls).

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My wife loves the fact that she never has to water the plants, and she has yet to pull a single weed . . . gotta love it when you provide maintenance free food for your family.