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STARTING SYSTEM – 10 gallon (2006) – desk top

Everyone starts somewhere.  The important thing is to get into the game.  Some start big, some start small.  Until you start and jump in you will always have questions as to how aquaponics works and is it with in my reach.  Fact is anyone can do it  and be good at it.  Will you make mistakes, you bet.  But that is OK.  Will you KILL fish, yes you will and it will smell bad.  But keep on and you will learn what you need to know.

Well here is where I started back in 2006.  I first followed along in discussion  groups for about  2 years before I got into the game.  I wish I would have done it sooner, but back then aquaponics was very much a hobby concept and really only one commercial operation in the US (S&S).  There was a lot work being done in Australia with backyard systems, but not a lot of blogging going on yet to gain perspective on different designs.

10 gallon DWC system

Top View

Pump and air delivery component

Starting lighting setup & heater

Filter used to help maintain system balance of solids

6 months in changed lighting configuration to allow for more growth

Night View had no outside light source

My PACU and healthy root system

Different view of roots and PACU

How I test my pH - still use this now

Other test kits I use to learn about my tank balance

Plant growth - validated to me aquaponics works

First Fruits - they tasted great!!!!!

View of roots and plant growth




1. Thomas W. - December 8, 2011

Nice pictures, thanks! 😀
Is that some kind of dwarf type tomato plant?
I have given up on tomatoes since mine grow really long and all over the place. I’m cultivating strawberry plants now.
I’m having a hard time keeping the pH level down. Tap water is 8.5 here 😦
Is the pH meter supposed to be kept ‘wet’ all the time? Mine was shipped to me in dry condition. I want to design my own 1-Wire pH meter for my NSLU2.

rik94566 - December 8, 2011

Thomas — Thanks

The tomato plant is a cheery tomato, and it was good……
Strawberry’s are my most favorite crop to grow and eat, so good for you.
As for pH 8.5 is a problem, I keep mine right at 6.5-7. I have more of a problem of it going lower than higher so I adjust it pH up product. There are a number of things you can do to lower the over all pH. Have you checked out http://aquaponicscommunity.com/ there is a lot of good information on this subject there.

When I was using that pH meter all the time I keep a damp paper towel in the cap to keep it moist. Now I have gone to all continuous reading meters as they are much easier for me and I do not have to deal with all the calibration issues. I store my hand held dry and re-calibrate it when I use it. I can check it against a continuous reading one to make sure there is no problems with it. Works fine that way. Would love to learn how you design the 1-wire pH unit. Been looking at adding pH to my arduino setup, but need better understanding of getting it to work. I find pH to be my best thing to watch on my systems. Once pH starts to move around, I need to be looking at what the cause is or things start to die….

I am not sure what NSLU2 is so don’t know how the pH meter fits in there.

Thanks for your comments and keep up with your aquaponics and growing.

2. Thomas W. - December 15, 2011

This is the NSLU2: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NSLU2
but I think Arduino is more up to date and future proof. I’m probably going to switch to Arduino eventually, but so far the NSLU2 is working perfectly.
There are probably lots of free pH circuits out there, but I don’t know if they have a 1-Wire interface.

3. Keith Baranoski - February 5, 2012

Loving the information on this web site, you have done great job on the blog posts.

rik94566 - February 8, 2012

Thanks – it takes time and a positive attitude to work with electronics when it is not in a persons background.

4. Mark Asher - August 7, 2013

Rik Looking for info on the plastic holders you use in the pvc pipe are they available on the net?

rik94566 - August 15, 2013

@Mark – I posted this on the resources page now. You can click on the picture and you will be taken to where I purchased them.

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