Saturday, January 2, 2010

Aquaponic System partial Review

My brother isn't the only person to get a fish tank. Remember this thing? I actually bought it though I have to say it's very over priced. I suppose you could argue not by a whole lot though. The large flower bed above is probably the most expensive item. Along with being lined with waterproof material, there's PVC pipe running through it. It's a simple design and snaps together easy. The trouble is all this could have been done much easier and far cheaper by myself.

First off the 10 Gallon Aquarium is not included which I'm fine with. Stones I'm also fine with buying by myself. These things help avoid insane shipping costs and remove the possibility of it all showing up broken.

This sits on a sheet of wood with wheels on it... and is fairly useless besides. All aquariums are not exact in measurements, they're off by a few millimeters; just as the wooden part your 10 gallon tank is suppose to fit flush around is. This can be fixed with some simple sanding but nowhere in the instructions does it say this. The other issue is the wheels. They're so tiny and have to support so much weight I struggle to think when wheels on this flimsy thing would come in handy at all. Weather it's the deck, the rug, or over your hardwood floors, you're not moving this thing without some disaster. It's a useless piece of wood as far as I'm concerned, and you'll be far better putting the fish tank on a proper stand.

Moving our way up we find the wooden frame or stand that sits on top the aquarium. This too doesn't fit flush with the lid and can be fixed with some sanding. It fits just enough though to not be flimsy so that's good I guess. And it does support the full weight of the flower bed above it.

Next we come to the flower bed itself which is probably the only reason to buy this thing. It's just, I wish they sold this by itself as it's the only useful thing in the box that required some skill to build. And comes pre-assembled of thank god. Finally I found some value to this product! Two PVC pipes come along with this, one with groves sawed in it to drain water out the top, and another that gets inserted down below ... which isn't really needed but it helps I guess.

At last we come to the pump itself. Take a moment to view it on amazon and enlarge the picture just a sec. See that huge aqua green sleek looking pump that actually looks nice. Well that's not what they send you, no no, they send you a much smaller, but does the job though the hose doesn't fit pump that you could have bought at any pet store. I suppose I'm happy that it is smaller, and it does do it's job when the hose is laid down on it. It's just another thing on my "Why Did I Pay This Much?" list.

So I set it up just as you see in the picture. As per the instructions you need to get the water level right and play around with the timer some. The timer is another cheap thing but at least they included one. I personally upgraded that adds a few outlets. In toying around with this thing I discovered a few things.

1) When running expect to hear the constant sound of running water. It annoyed me to no end! For 15 minutes of every hour of the day you have to keep this thing running on the timer. So much for having it in the bedroom or anyplace that requires thinking.

2) There is no reason for there to be that much space between the aquarium and the flower bed above. Had this been lowered down it would have fixed problem number 1. I guess it's needed to get the plants at eye level, but you'll be bending over to look at and feed the fish, which are far more interesting anyhow. You'll be better off taking a VERY strong shelf next to some windows or grow lights and drilling a hole for the drainage pipe to connect with the fish tank below.

Let's do some math before continuing. At one point the instructions say add water to test the system out, but they don't say how much water is needed. So I filled the lower fish tank full of water and started filling the flower bed. The lowest drain always leaks some which is good and bad. This brings us to the next thing I learned.

3) Should the pump ever fail, all of the water in the upper flower bed can easily flood the fish tank below. Even when you only have the fish tank below filled with water, it's important to keep track of how much water is in your system. The pump only sends water to the flower bed for 15 minutes of every hour. The rest of the time it's either draining back down or doing nothing. So the only time you can really judge if the fish tank needs water when it's doing nothing at all.

That's where I'm at thus far. Please note I'm not following any directions with growing plants in such a system. I don't think any came with this thing but how hard can it be? So don't blame this product should I come back and moan about how awful my plants are doing. I've actually changed some things with this product to make it better. Like I said I cut a hole in a real shelf to get the fish tank and flower bed closer and I'm happy to say this got rid of the running water sound completely.