Arizona Aquaponics

Helping each other to learn and grow big nutritious plants and fish to help feed the world.

Location: Phoenix
Members: 205
Latest Activity: on Friday


Thank you all for joining my group, I hope to do a lot with all anyone interested. Please
tell me any event suggestions you would like us to do.

Discussion Forum

Comment Wall


You need to be a member of Arizona Aquaponics to add comments!

Comment by James Wilson on Friday

Hi Larry. Doing a buried sump or tank and using the earth to regulate temps is not really viable for a ibc system. Any effect the earth has in changing the temp of your water is mitigated by the rest of the tank that is exposed above the frost line making it null. That's why ponds freeze over. You would need approx. 80 percent below frost line for it to have any effect. So the best thing you can do is heavy insulation like I suggested earlier for both summer and winter, Heat with small heaters for night and 100' plus of black irrigation line exposed to sun during day. For summer use mass aeration and make your water return like a rain shower. moving water and air cool, Think swamp cooler/mister. If that is still not enough cooling you have other options as well. Just like the heating irrigation coil, bury 100' of irrigation line 3 to 4 feet deep and run water through it, just like the heater but back to using earth to cool it. Being as 95% of the coil will be buried with no exposure to elements and below frost line it works well.

Jeff. we never stop water flow to sump tank only to grow beds at night. Several reasons. One, running the pumps at night actually reduces your DO(dissolved oxygen) in the tank/sump as no matter how hard one tried there is going to be some form of algae in there, At night algae uses mass amounts of oxygen for photosynthesis instead of sunlight. Two, it helps to control fluctuations in water temp. Constantly raising and lowering temps more than a few degrees daily is bad for your fish(diseases/stress) as well as can have adverse effects on colonization of beneficial bacteria. Three, A small solar panel can run your pumps all day but not at night unless you use battery backup.

Hope this helps. Any questions just hollar. James

Comment by Jeff S on Thursday

Larry, I 'm not sure isolating the sump at night would make a difference overall. If the FT stays at 80 and the sump drops to 60 whenever you turn the pump back on in the morning you still have to re-heat the sump water. My sump is halfway surrounded by water due to a high water table. It's insulated as good as possible by 2" foam. The water around the sump is pretty much the same temp as the sump water. That would indicate to me that the ground is acting as a heat sink. I've actually used that water to refill the sump when I didn't have any de-chlorinated water available. 

Comment by Larry on Thursday

Comment by James Wilson 10 hours ago

"Side note- buried sumps/tanks make it hard to regulate the temp and the ground is a large heat sink."

My system is 4 years old  now

I was thinking of dropping my FT and sump into the ground? got a question about your comment. I can understand the heat sink in the summer but heating all this water in the winter seems to me my issue. My thoughts are it would be easier to maintain winter temp using the earth as a thermal mass?  My summer time water temp with everything above ground is 95-98ish, in the  ground hoping to drop to maybe to 90ish low enough to keep the lettuce crops alive in the summer months.

Winter water temps are low 50's running two small heaters. But, I was not Isolating the FT water from the grow beds at night.

Comment by James Wilson on Thursday

If you are using tilapia then the position of your tank really does not matter all that much. Tilapia love the warm water. The biggest problem is heating it and the tank sitting in the sun in the winter will not heat it but 2 to 3 degrees above the low night temp. The best thing you can do when you design/build your system is to heavily insulate the tank and I mean allot. The cheapest way to insulate is to use a few old sauna covers(craigslist), they are usually 4-6 inch think high density foam and can hold the temp very well. I cut one to fit under the tank part and between the cage bottom. The I cut more to fit the sides, shrink wrap the entire thing to create a vapor barrier and then hang a tarp over the side and wrap over top between the tank and the cage for looks with seam on the back side stapled together. Then another heavy foam/wood top. This will allow you to have 75 degree water in the winter with minimal heating. I used 2 small 300 watt tank heaters for the night. one on each side and they very rarely came on. during the day I ran the water through a small pump and 100' of coiled up black irrigation line and back to the tank. works great. I turn off the pump to the grow beds at night. Side note- buried sumps/tanks make it hard to regulate the temp and the ground is a large heat sink. For the grow beds you want east to west. Make sure a minimum of one is a media bed for nitrification and filtration. the other 2 can be whatever ya choose. As others have stated, large plants to north side. The most important things are adequate water flow and mass aeration(most important for all aspects of your system from plants to fish to biological). Tips- NO more than 30 fish for your IBC. adjust nutrient level by feed. Sex your tilapia as soon as they are big enough. If you plan on growing the fish for food then. only keeps males in the tank. keep 4 females in the sump. Date night when ya need new batch of fry. If not for food then just keep males in tank and no females at all. They get very hostile when put together and the males grow bigger faster. when you start your tank add fish right away and add a bunch of water lettuce(craigslist) to your grow beds as well as some good bacteria culture from a friends system or fish tank or you can get a small bottle from a hydro store for about ten bucks, will jump start your system quick. Pull water lettuce as you add plants. something needs to be in the system to cycle. Thats about the basic setup. Any questions let me know. Good luck...

Comment by Jeff S on Thursday

John, I used a 1000 watt bucket heater last year. Ran 24/7 and barely got the water to 70. Light bill was fun. I had 1" foam around the tank but this year I'm going to beef it up and try some other heating method with the bucket heater as a backup.

One thing I'm doing is removing the IBC top completely and putting 2" foam with 1/4" plywood backing flat on the cage butting up to the foam walls for better sealing. The top will hinge at the back and about 1/2 way out for a feeding door. The back half can be used as a table until you need to open the entire top.

Comment by John Carlton on Wednesday

I have 2 GB's on the east and 2 on the west side of my FT my 75 gal sump tank is 75% under one GB (GB's are sitting on blocks for easier access). I also have a float valve in the sump tank. For this winter, probably starting shortly, (water temp is already falling into the low 70's at night) I will be using a 1000 watt bucket heater in the sump tank monitored by a STC 1000 temp controller set to 80 degree-on 86 degree-off activating the coil side of a Dayton 6GNP4 120v relay. the heater draws more amps than the STC 1000 can handle - thus the relay. I will take and post pictures and wiring tomorrow.Check out my facebook post under John Carlton aquaponics update. that I posted today.


Comment by Christian Richards on Wednesday

I live in SV and currently have mine arranged E/W across my South Wall. It works well for getting plenty of sun all day long and when i, eventually, cover it with a hoop house, it'll collect the most sun at mid-day.

My biggest fear is here in the next month or so trying to keep the water above 50F. This is my first winter and I overthink everything.

Comment by Michael & Kristine Stoddard on Wednesday

Good point, Jeff. Thank you. We hope to also have a float valve in there just in case.

John, thank you as well. I was planning to do something similar with the top of the FT, but adding a wood top as well since we have a few little ones that will be running around. How are your GB's arranged in relation to the sun? Are they lined up North/South? 

Know Green Valley well. Lived in Sierra Vista and Sonoita growing up. Beautiful area, (well Sonoita anyway, SV; meh).

Comment by John Carlton on Wednesday

Michael and Christine- Welcome to the community. I have an IBC system in Green Valley AZ (south of Tucson.) I am having problems with my computer downloading video from my phone. I will put a video of my system on my facebook page-john carlton-. It may give you some ideas. I left the top of my FT in place and cut a "door" on both sides of center andf hinged them with U clamps and coated the metal with plastidip.and use bungycords to secure the doors. It keeps critters and junk out of the tank and prevents "flying fish". I used a 75 gal. stock tank for the sump which gives me 1 more grow bed. My pump is in the sump and flows to the top of the FT through the filler cap. For additional aeration I added a 90 degree elbow inside the tank, 15" extension, 45 degree elbow with a 1/2" opening pointed down for circulation and drilled 8 -3/16" holes in the extension (4 on both sidesto spray water on the surface). I started with 33 tilapia fingerlings in March ALL have survived the summer and most will be ready to harvest in late Oct. Oh ya, my system is constant flow. No syphen stuff.  

Comment by Jeff S on Wednesday

I have had fish in my sump in the past with no problems. However if you have them there make sure the pump is high enough off the bottom to not pump the sump dry in case of a problem.


Members (205)


© 2015   Created by Sylvia Bernstein.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service