Sunday, June 13, 2010

More set up

This morning I did a little more shopping, and got some things set up.

Plastic primer ($5.49)
Copper paint (hey - no reason not to make it festive, right?) ($3.99)
1-1/4" bore bit ($5.49)
3/4" bore bit ($4.79)
Power strip ($4.49)
10 piece saw/driver set (for removing slats from the plastic shelves in order to have room for the drainage) ($14.99)
24" Level (I've been wanting one for quite a while anyway) ($8.99)
Zip-ties ($2.49)
Water test kit ($21.00)

I'm only going to set up one bin at this time.  If I screw up, I'll have a back up.  If the system requires a second one, I'll do it then.  But for now... I don't want to get overwhelmed.

I've primered the first bin:

And here's the coat of copper:

While the primer was drying, I took my first water reading:

The results are:
Nitrates - 160 - Way too hig
Nitrites - 0.5 - Barely high
Hardness - 150 - Hard
Chlorine - 0 - Good
Alkalinity - 300 - Way too high
PH - 8.4 - Alkaline

I actually think this is really good.  This means that my fishtank already has complete ammonia to nitrate conversion happening in its gravel.  The water is too hard, but that won't kill the plants, and I can start replacing some of the water with filtered water, in order to counter that.

I worked HARD this afternoon!

Drilled drain hole and overflow hole:

Inserted fittings.
Bottom drain (it was supposed to self-seal, but it leaked a bit so I siliconed it):

Overflow grommet:

Assembled the siphon pipe, manufactured the bell - including a breather hole to break the siphon  (The bottom crenelations were made with a round file):

Drilled the ever loving bejimineys out of the guard pipe:

Purchased plants.  Since my nitrates are so high, I thought I should hurry up and get plants in there instead of waiting for seeds.  (Basil, Parsley, Cilantro, Red leaf lettuce, Cherry tomatoes, Roma tomatoes):

I also washed the expanded clay. OMG it floats!  That could be a problem.  But it only floated when I got the water level up to the top.  And the water should NEVER be above the growing medium or you'll get algae.  So I supposed it'll stay put well enough.  I hope.

I've also put the airstone in the tank and hooked it up to the pump and plugged it in, and put the water pump in the tank (no hose yet) and plugged it in. 

I tested the siphon (in the sink with a clear pint glass) and took some videos:
Bin filling:

Siphon activates:

Water is emptied, siphoning stops:

And here are the real parts:

And now I'm resting, waiting for the silicone to dry (3 hours) so I can put the bin on the shelf, fill it with washed clay pellets, make sure the siphon works, and get the plants out of their dirt and into the clay.

Whew!  What a day!

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