So our last post left off with a big (empty) tank, two growbeds with working bell siphons, and a pump with plenty of piping to connect whatever gets put together. There were only a few more steps to reach a finished and, more importantly, functional aquaponics system!
There was some more manual-labor work to be done, such as setting up the planks on top of the tank, and cleaning the gravel before adding it to the growbed.
Before I started to work through those tasks, first I planted the seeds to get an early start on the vegetation that would be grown in the system.
With help from Ms. Poulin, I chose cilantro, basil, arugula, and spinach seeds from our Biology department stock room and planted approximately 30 seeds in a 6 by 6 pod plastic growing tray. I chose to grow the seedlings separately just because I thought it would be easier to transfer the seedlings into the growbed than try to start them in the system before the biological cycle had been set up, and because the timing happened to worked out perfectly.
I planted the seeds right before the long weekend (February 5th), and when I came back (February 10th), all but the cilantro had sprouted. I chose to plant more spinach and basil for my second batch of seedlings, as they were growing especially well. Hopefully I’ll have a substantial amount of vegetation to transfer soon.
Setting up the rest of the system was pretty straightforward, if quite time consuming and also just physically demanding. I actually worked in a pretty inefficient order that involved having to needlessly move around lots of heavy objects (like fully filled growbeds), but essentially, the planks were set up first, then the two growbeds, then the gravel, and then the plumbing system. After everything was in place, I played around some more with specific pump pressures and plumbing/drainpipe set ups to get the bell siphons working well. I even managed to get the aquarium light fixture to fit, so the #aesthetic will be #onfleek.
It’s done! I did a big water change after everything was set up, and have five minnows which will hopefully be hardy and flatulent enough to get the biological cycle going once I introduce them to the tank. After letting that cycle for a while, I’ll transfer the seedlings, and then expand the aquaculture system, and that’ll be it!
I’m looking forward to making this a thriving ecosystem! After all, it’s the living (edible) things that will make the entire system interesting (at least for me).