Finally got all the aquaponics barrels installed. Each of the halves are bolted to the one next to it to provide stability and to make sure they don’t move around too much. Short stainless steel bolts, washers, lock washers, and nuts were used for this.
As you can see from the photos, there’s a 2″ x 4″ frame that runs the length of the fifteen barrel halves. This frame will hold the PVC that will provide the water input for the barrels. There isn’t a great shot of the back, but the one above (shot from the outside of the hoop house) shows the frame is screwed to the wood that is supporting the barrel halves. There are about 5 or 6 of these vertical 2″ x 4″s supporting the 2″ x 4″s that have the aquaponics input plumbing attached.
All the PVC input lines were cut and assembled. The plan was to assemble them and leave them just friction-fit, but they leaked like a sieve, so it was necessary for me to take them all apart and cement them a bit. Taking them apart was no easy task, as I had pushed the pieces together as far as I could.
I put a shut-off valve every three barrels so the barrels could be planted starting at the far end. That way, it only a few of them have plants in them, there’s no need to run water in all of them.
Also added a drain extension to all of the stand pipes in the barrels. It was very fun crawling around in the gravel to do this. (Wish I had figured out how to do this before the barrel halves were installed.) Also used gutter (for now) to catch the water as it drains. I plan on replacing the gutter with a large diameter PVC pipe to keep the evaporation and splashing to a minimum.
The red bricks tilt the gutter so the water flows back to the far end – close to the fish tank. Trying to stick with a one pump system. Since the land naturally slopes toward the close end (in the pictures) it was necessary to use 4 bricks at this end and there are no bricks used at the far end.
In each of the aquaponics barrel halves, there is a standpipe (shown above) that goes through the barrel bottom and attaches to the drain extension below the barrel. The standpipes go through a Uniseal in the bottom of the barrel half. Uniseal are great. They are a bit expensive, but if you need to put a bulkhead fitting through a curved surface, you won’t do better than a Uniseal.
Over each of the standpipes in a bell siphon. These were all made according to the plans from the University of Hawaii’s agriculture program documentation. It was pretty easy, as they advised what size and length of pipe to use for various volumes of water. Tested every one of them and, even though they aren’t exactly as the instructions specified, they all worked like champs.
Over the bell siphons goes a length of slotted drain pipe. This will prevent the rocks that will fill the aquaponics barrel halves from impeding the function of the bell siphon.
Now, it’s time to get the barrels cleaned with a mild bleach solution, rinsed well, and the rocks put in.