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Evolution of aquaponic designs continues – Macro Sapian

In our previous discussion about mineralizing solids in aquaponics I thought it a good idea to provide you with an example of how this can be done very easily in aquaponic designs.  As promised, I introduce you to the next link in the evolution of aquaponics, The Conscious Man. I was tempted to name this one of many aquaponic designs “The Founder” (have a search for the founder effect if you are interested).  The founder represents the most genetic diverse of populations and from there founder groups break out and they are far less genetically diverse eg; The Southern Ape. But… in my wanderings I came across an interesting article about Conscious Evolution reported to be the next step in our evolution.  I thought it fitted perfectly here.  One particular paragraph stood out: The fact is, through our advanced understanding of nature, we have suddenly gained radical new powers, the magnitude of which we used to attribute to our gods. For the brave ones, we can use this “advanced understanding of nature” to our advantage and create or co-create with nature engineered ecosystems that utilize all our inputs to net the most outputs possible.  This is where sustainability starts.  Sustainable is not something we are it is something we are ever becoming.  Because of technology advancements and fast access to information, we can speed this process of evolution up. [heading] Evolution of aquaponic designs continues – Macro Sapian [/heading] Let’s get on with it.  The schematic above is a very similar to the many simple aquaponic designs.  There is a fish tank, growbed, solids filter, biological filter and a sump.  The addition of the Digester in the mix allows us to use all of the solids within the system and effectively break them down or dissolve them for use in the grow bed. The other marks are simple as follows: Red are valves Orange are pumps and Blue is the new bit, a venturi of some type Let’s break that down further Valves The red valve coming from the fish tank to the solids give you the control to bypass the solids filter to clean it and keep the system running as normal.  A valve is not needed on the top outlet from the tank to the bio because it would be rare to stop this flow for any reason and it will be at the top of the water level so turning the system off will not overflow it provided your sump is big enough. The two valves going to the grow bed and the fish tank are there to control the flow to each and or isolate one or the other should you need to.  At home this will be rare but handy just the same. The dotted line surrounding the filtration system connects to the “Digest” tank.  this indicates all three tanks, solids, bio and sump should have a valve on each connected to a common manifold to drain any solids from each as you normally do with your solids filter.  The dead bacteria and the like will settle in the other tanks as well and can be a bugger to clean without capacity to siphon off the bottom now and again.  All of these should connect to your “Digest” tank. The return line from the grow bed back to the dotted box is best connected to each, the solids, bio and sump, each with a valve.  This is a handy addition for when you want to flush your media grow bed or clean your raft and not waste any water.  Bypassing the sump and putting the nastiness from the grow bed back through the filtration system for processing before any of that gets to the fish is a good idea. The Pumps and Check Valves Being the heart of your system it is important to get them right or it will all come crashing down at some point.  In this configuration we have foregone the flow switch between two pumps with one running under duty and the other as back up.  This time we are opting to have two pumps running all the time.  They should be capable of pumping at least half the flow you require each.  I would be avoiding the oft spoken rule of thumb “exchange your tank water at least once per hour” and opt for a pump set that will exchange the water twice per hour.  This will give you some “fat” should you need it. Don’t be shy about buying a bigger than needed pump.  Be sure they are high flow low head and design your pipe work well (spend some time on that). There is a need for a “full swing” check valve above each pump are there to prevent one pump from pumping back through the other in the case of a pump failure.  This configuration is your backup for your pumps.  It is rare that two pumps will fail at the same time so if one does fail, the system will run at half the speed (and you have extra pumping power you can use) until you replace the busted one.  If a failure does occur simply close the valve on the grow bed and run all of your water through the fish tank.  The plants really wont mind. The Venturi Nutrient Injection Last but not least in the Venturi attached your pumping line to the grow bed.  The suction line for the venturi (red line), instead of sucking air it will suck dissolved nutrients from your bio digester tank.  You can buy Venturis or you can make them yourself.  My advise is to buy one!    This injection of the nutrients from your digester gives you huge control over how much is put into your grow bed for your plants.  You will have a small irrigation type valve to set the amount of goodness mixing with your supply water to the grow bed.  You can automate this process with a small 1 inch 12 volt solenoid valve on that line. Then you can use your digester to add anything you might need, sort of treat it like your nutrient tank in hydroponics and do your acid or base addition and other supplemental nutes as you need them.  They will then be constantly delivered to your grow bed slow and steady so you don’t shock the system with one thing or another. I have somewhat rambled on this post and so much information yet to come on aquaponic designs.  So with that in mind, I will go into more detail in the next post to give you clarity on how to make these digesters function well.  You will be very surprised by the changes to the growth in your system. Until then, stay tuned and subscribe  Regards Paul [Originally published October 2013]…

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