Aquaponics Updates

Do you like the aquaponics build we keep in the front lobby?

  • Yes
  • Should be bigger
  • Should be smaller
  • No

0 voters


I’ll be posting updates on the aquaponics system here as replies to this topic.

For the most part over the last year there hasn’t been any major problems other than the lid starting to rot last year.

I installed a time lapse camera and have compiled a couple videos over the last year


YouTube Playlist where I load the latest timelapse->

The system has been pretty self managing for the longest while. Needing about 4p gallons of chlorinated water per month, the pipes cleared every 2 months, and the glass window cleaned peridoicly.

Food needs to be refilled every 2-3 months.

The original 8 fish have gotten much bigger of the last couple years. And are looking fairly healthy.


May update

Even though I havent been able to check on things in the last 5 weeks (usually want to go no more than 4), everything seems to be going smoothly, main tanks water is pretty clear. The cotton and basil are still going, and I’m surprised with how big the aloe has gotten.

Things have definitely gotten a little over grown, so I opted to give it a bit of a trim and harvest some of the cotton.

[V- Brown cotton harvest -V]

Now the main reason I dont want to go more than 4 weeks without doing maintenance is because the system runs the risk of running dry and burning up the motors. Looks like the sump got as low as 25 gallons left in the system the lowest I’ve ever let it get. Luckily it doesn’t look like anything got burnt up by this low level. Usually I never want it below 45 gallons. (Which you can see from the float gage I installed)

Last thing is the food. I forgot to bring food for me to refill. If anybody would volunteer I could get some feed delivered if somebody else could fill it for me. (They have about a weeks worth left. But I dont wanna wait till next weekend when I can come out again)

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What is the picture that looks like you trimmed your dog?

Cool stuff James. I usually live not far away you can always hit me up if you need help.

That’s the brown cotton I harvested from the system today.

What about adding a top-off reservoir to keep the water level maintained?

The system loses about 1 gallon per day.

Adding 30 gallons to an overhead reservoir would only delay the top off to once every 2 months. It is doable, but I’m fine with just topping it off with 50 days worth of water and just filling it up as needed.

If you’d like to make such an add on your welcome to do so. Just let me know.

Btw, I just uploaded the most recent semi-annual time lapse to youtube today for new years till July 1. ->

Is there a hose available which could supply the water rather to a smaller tank?

I had a system running with a 5 gallon bucket fed by a hose with an inline filter and a float valve. Then the float in the secondary tank. This was outdoors so I was loosing quite a lot of water during the summer.

I do keep a hose that I use to fill the tank. There are a couple issues for the setup though.

  • the de-chlorinator cant be pressurized without flowing water.

    • (Not sure why but it’s one of the warning its packaging had)
    • the in-line de-chlorinator would need to be after the valve
  • we would need to run the hose to an available faucet.

    • I’ve been running it to the sink in the woodshop, but it’s only there while it’s being filled. I’m not sure where another faucet is.
  • a pressurized water line runs the risk of a leak happening without anybody seeing it for several hours.

Yeah, the lack of a dedicated faucet makes it a non starter. Although we could put a splitter under the counter if there is a good out of the way route for the hose.

I was exploring leak detection and faucet control but never implemented anything. The hose and float valve were never an issue, I have had the same in my pasture for years and they only seem to fail if I forget to turn off the water on freezing nights.

The pumps were always the issue, clogging and burning out. I ultimately shut id down because of a failed pump lost the fish.

Yeah the system has had a couple pumps die int he last year and a half, luckily it was more of a cosmetic pump i had int he fish tank for the fun of it.

Another reason to do a monthly PM on it, so you can check for hiccups.

The general rule of thumb is that for a healthy aquaponics system, if the system were to die. You have 4 hours to save the plants, and 2 weeks to save the fish. (not for the super industrial systems with giant filters and injected oxygen for the crazy amount of fish)

In my old system I essentially had it to where the pumps had died for a month (the person i asked to keep tabs on it never did) the water was black as tar but the fish were still swimming. (they died the day after as i had waited till the next day to fix everything)

(It was terrible we had to seal the top of the garbage can with tape to stop from stinking up the neighborhood)
(If i ever find out the garbage man who picked it up i owe him a steak dinner)

August update

System is looking healthy. The basil has planted itself again. Went ahead and pulled the new on out.

Looks like one of the baby fish has grown to a decent size.

I am concerned that the water is pretty hot. It’s gotten up to 94F, the tilapia can survive it but it’s not ideal. My guess is the summer sun is hitting the water warming it up. So I opted to lay some trash bags over the lids to try and block the sun and see if that helps the heat.

Next month I’ll need to clear the lines as they are starting to get backed up but their fine for the time being.

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Digital monitoring is now installed.

I installed a Pi-0-w with a pimoroni Enviro+ board by the front of the grow bed.

It has a little display so you can see the current states of the sensors. It monitors, temperature, humidity, barometric pressure. Oxidizing gasses. Reduction gasses, ammonia gasses.

Then I also installed a Pi3 with a Pi-Plates _ DAQC2 plate, this one will eventually be what controls the pumps, heaters and more. But for the moment it is just a passive monitor (maybe later itll get upgraded)

I’ve got both setup for remote access while I work on getting them programmed.

Finsihed the programming to upload the data to a database, just got a graph off of each Pi

Monitor Pi, with temp sensors and water level sensor of the sump

Enviromental pi, for air enviromental measurements

Also as I start progressing with adding sensors, a long term goal is to start adding water quality sensors. but these sensors start to be very expensive. It’ll be $800 for PH, Dissolved Oxygen, Conductivity, ORP.

Atlas Scientific Sensors

Got the first 24 hour charts from my newly installed sensors. First up we have the Tank monitor, for now it only monitors the temperatures, and the sump water level.

Some Take aways from this graph.
1- there is something wrong with my pumps mechanical timer, we should see the water level drop every hour, but it looks like its skipping some hours. This will need to be addressed soon. I also don’t know if this is a new issue, or if its been this way for a long while as Ive never monitored it like this before.
2- Saturday i removed a heater from sump tank, it was a small one, but looks as though it may have been stuck on, regardless of temperature. As since Ive started monitoring the temperature has consistently begun to go down. This may have been what caused the dangerously high temperatures a few weeks back. Hopefully this was all it was, and that there isn’t another one acting up.
3-There appears to be alot of static on the temperatures lines, not sure if this is interference, or just the resolution I’m able to get with the thermistors, so I may need to start using some signal averaging to clean it up (right now its just documenting the single instantanious readings with no avergaing or filtering.

Seeing the environmental Monitor there are some more take always we can see about the space (or atleast how things are right at the growbed)
1- temperature and humidity seem pretty stabl all day, up until the grow lights turn on, then it slightly warms, and gets slightly dryer.
2- the light coming from the window has minimal effect compared to the grow light. You can see the Lux is near zero until sun rise, where some sun comes through the window, then it gets a minor increase. But once the grow light turns on in the evening, it boosts to over 7000 lumens (considered to be indirect outdoor sunlight levels) Maybe if i relocate the sensor we’ll get a high reading since its not directly in the sunlight with the cotton plant blocking most of the window.
3- it looks like the air stagnates over night, the levels of ammonia, reduction gases, and oxidizing gasses (the sensor is a relative sensor, the values cant be evaluated to an exact level of said gasses) tend to increase, Im guessing the sudden drops are from people passing through stirring the air. Maybe we need a fan to help circulate the air?
4-Barometric pressure hasn’t changed much at all over the course of the day, so it’ll probably need to be monitored over a weeks time to see any significant changes.

@kye @dannym @board

Could somebody check on the aquaponics system? As far as I can tell all my Pi’s lost power on friday and havent rebooted.

Did a power cord come unplugged, or the pi’s just needing a reboot? Itd be much appreciated.
( I could come in tomorrow if needed but I’d prefer not to make the trip from SA for something minor. )

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I was by at about 5:30PM today (Sunday). Fish were being fish. The little OLED screen was lit. The tank water was pretty cloudy. Didn’t notice anything additional.


Thanks @dannym , I’m able to connect now, so I may have just had my connection info wrong.

I’ll plan on coming in this weekend to clean the pipes.


Sad news to report, we had our first fish die. After over 1.5 years without incedent.

Went ahead and did my monthly maintenance early to make sure there wasnt something wrong that may have caused it.

Went ahead and cleared all the pipes. As usual the only one with any issues was the main pump line, but it wasnt looking to bad.

Went ahead and skimmed the water in the sunp to stir things up and collect any real sediment or rot that may have been there but didnt really see anything of concern.

The only thing different from usual was that the water was a bit cooler. But still in a healthy range for the fish.

So im kind of at a loss for what may have caused this.

Im currently in the process of topping off the water in the tank. And ill do some water qualoty checks after.

Oh btw I repositioned the time lapse camera to capture more of the growbed, instead of just being zoomed in on a basil.



Let me know what yall think. This webcam is a wide angle lense. It was needed when the camera was right up on the tank, but it may be better to go with a more standard camera now. Havent decided yet

I really like the aquaponics system. Whenever I need a little break from what I’m working on, walking by the plants & fish is refreshing (although seeing fish in tanks does kinda make me a little sad).

I snipped a piece of the basil & propagated it- now it has roots & I’m gonna plant it soon!

Glad you enjoy the system it’s what it’s there for.

Cool to see the basil handling the transplanting. Those basil plants have been thriving well for me in the system.

If you’d like to get involved I could use a hand with decorating the tank. Let me know if your interested.

(I’ve kind of gotten behind on the system’s maintenance due to finals week this week)

New years update on the system.

Just uploaded a new timelapse video of the growbed onto youtube, a 3 minute video for 2020 July 1st through new years.

I like the new camera position, but i don’t like how bright and dark it flashes so i may try and change the angle a bit to make it less flashy/

I added a new power supply to the system to power the pi that logs temperature and sump water level.

The mechanical timer i use to control the growbed pump, Ive shifted the triggers as it looks like the contacts on the selected times had started to wear out. So here hoping this will help to keep the pumps running reliably.

I do have a database where the data collected is going, if somebody wanted to try and do something with the data let me know, i would love to try and make a web portal so people can see the data that’s being collected.

The water is a bit murkier than I had hoped. I’m hoping the new timer control may help filter the water a bit more effectively.

I will be looking to get a digital timer and some replacement parts for the system. I went ahead and ordered some clear tubing so we can monitor how they clog overtime.