I am a new member but have been reading and studying both the forums and the book for a while and starting to collect pieces and parts for a system.  I have been amazed at the base of knowledge in the forums and the willingness to help those who are just getting started.

I was leaning toward starting with an IBC fish tank and 50 gal Rubbermaid grow beds but I found a good side-of-the-road deal on a 8' diameter by 2' tall (600 gal) Poly water tank this weekend so now have a bigger fish tank to start with than planned.  The plan now consists of the 600 gal FT and initially starting with two 5'x3'x1' grow beds (30 sf and ~180 gals) filled with expanded shale media.  I would like to expand to four GB but want to work out the bugs and learn on a smaller scale first.

I have gone through the "rules of thumb" and calculated that starting with two grow beds (30 sf), I should stock no more than 30 lbs of fish (when grown out) and at a 1 lb per 7 gal ratio, need only 210 gallons in the FT.  I believe from what I have read that it will not be a problem to have more water in the FT than I have filtration capacity in the GB as long as I do not overstock the FT.  I will probably start without a sump - using the extra volume in the FT as my buffer against drastic water level changes for the time being.  I could use some confirmation or advice if this is not a workable plan.

I am still deciding whether to use a siphon drain system or timed flood and drain.  I like the idea of running the pump full-time but have also read enough to know that the fine-tuning and reliability is apparently harder with the siphons than a timed pump and drain system.

I am likely going to start with channel catfish.  They are fairly easy to obtain and probably fit the climate conditions here best.  I am also drawing out plumbing and fittings trying to plan the system so that it can be expanded once I figure out what I'm doing.

Thanks for all the information that has been shared in the forum and the book... I have lost many hours of sleep over the past few weeks trying to absorb the knowledge.

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Check out the 100 gal rubbermaid stock tanks

Oh, go for the autosiphons. They're a lot of fun! Although according to some it would seem I've had a unique experience with the bell siphon, once I got 'em firing, I've never had to adjust them. And they've been running for over six months. The cool factor is just too good to pass up for a backyard media system.

As a deep GB or as a sump?  I was looking at the 50 gal rubbermaid tanks (12" tall) as grow beds to reduce media cost while keeping same growing area.  Is there a good reason to have deeper grow beds (more filtration for fish water?) than 12 inches that I haven't read through or understood.  I found a 3 ft x 5 ft x 1 ft rectangular poly mixing trough at TSC that looks like it will work well for a grow bed... a little more growing area and a little more filtration capacity than the 50 gal tank.  Should I rethink this?

I will probably add a 150 gal rubbermaid tank as a sump when/if I expand to 4 grow beds.  I am estimating having ~130 gals of water in four grow beds if all are filled at the same time.  Is it reasonable to use the extra water in the bigger-than-needed fish tank as my "sump" volume until I expand to four grow beds?

George said:

Check out the 100 gal rubbermaid stock tanks

I understand your "cool" factor... I'm just trying to decide if the siphons are cooler than indexing valves and timers!

Probably will have to try both.

Alex Veidel said:

Oh, go for the autosiphons. They're a lot of fun! Although according to some it would seem I've had a unique experience with the bell siphon, once I got 'em firing, I've never had to adjust them. And they've been running for over six months. The cool factor is just too good to pass up for a backyard media system.

Yeah, I hear you. Indexing valves are pretty neat too.

D. Clark said:

I understand your "cool" factor... I'm just trying to decide if the siphons are cooler than indexing valves and timers!

Probably will have to try both.

Alex Veidel said:

Oh, go for the autosiphons. They're a lot of fun! Although according to some it would seem I've had a unique experience with the bell siphon, once I got 'em firing, I've never had to adjust them. And they've been running for over six months. The cool factor is just too good to pass up for a backyard media system.

Welcome! We about are you in East Texas? I am between Mt. Vernon and Winnsboro.

I had about a 100 gal FT using blue barrels last year. It went pretty well. I started with strawberries and went through okra, peas, and ended up with tomatoes in the mix. My fish (bluegills) never got over about 6" though. I think because I had too many in too small of a space. I used a flood and drain system with bell syphons. They are easy to build and I never had any problems with mine.

I pulled it all down in January after harvesting tomatoes as late as Dec 15th! I am working on cycling my new system right now.

I'm between Canton and Athens.  What type of media are you using? I thought I had a line on expanded shale and it turned out to be too small... 3/8" and down.

Lance Rose said:

Welcome! We about are you in East Texas? I am between Mt. Vernon and Winnsboro.

I had about a 100 gal FT using blue barrels last year. It went pretty well. I started with strawberries and went through okra, peas, and ended up with tomatoes in the mix. My fish (bluegills) never got over about 6" though. I think because I had too many in too small of a space. I used a flood and drain system with bell syphons. They are easy to build and I never had any problems with mine.

I pulled it all down in January after harvesting tomatoes as late as Dec 15th! I am working on cycling my new system right now.

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