Sunday, December 26, 2010

Finally DONE

I finished the last few steps in about 2 hours this morning... and then had problems.

The pipe up from the sump tank leaked a little, as did the drain pipe.  And the pump wasn't pushing enough volume to overcome the drain holes in the stand pipe, so the growbed wasn't filling.  I looked at the pump and decided it just wasn't big enough for the job.  It's supposed to push enough water to cycle the entire system each hour, but it clearly wasn't up to the job and didn't have a volume control.

So I drove 30 minutes to the nearest open aquarium store, bought a 375 GPH pump with 6' head and a volume control, took a different route back to avoid some ugly traffic I'd seen on my way out, and decided on the way to ditch the sump-to-fishtank piping and go with tubing instead.  I stopped at Home Depot and bought some kink-proof hose in the fountain section, and a half-circle bracket to fasten the end to the upper lip of the fishtank.

This pump is a HELL of a lot stronger.  So strong, in fact, that it was exceeding my overflow pipe drain holes.

So I drilled twice as many. 

It's still flowing out the end pretty hard.  I may put in even more holes next weekend.  Yes, I could turn down the pump.  But that's the right amount of water volume for the system.  It's my job to make that work.  And it's working fine, it's just flowing out hard enough to splash and push pellets around, and that's less than ideal.

I also glued the drain pipe, but it's still got a bit of a leak.  I think I'll replace it (can't redo it since it's glued) and use some teflon tape this time.

Now that the pump is pushing enough water, I realized that my clay pellets only came up to the waterline.  It's vital that they be above the high water mark so they don't grow algae.  Luckily, I still had another 100 pounds of pellets I hadn't put into the growbed.  So I dumped those in and it's perfect.

As soon as I recover from it all (and catch up on the housework I intended to finish today and the dinner I planned to cook on Saturday) I'll get the plants in there.  

It's DONE!!!

SO close to done!

So far this weekend, I've gotten the rain-barrel connector pipe glued in, the standpipe glued in, the growbed full of 400 pounds of clay pellets, the overflow pipe drilled and installed, the fish tank drained about 3/4 of the way and jacked up so I could put 2x4s under the back corners to level it, refilled it, tested the overflow, and done most of the pipe work for the sump pump back to the fishtank (it might work the way it is, but it's not as neat a job as I'd like - I'll fix that today).  I would have gotten the drain pipe done but I'd bought the wrong adapter and the stores were closed for the day.  I'll buy the right one today and *hopefully* get the very last of the system completed!

Growbed full of pellets:

Overflow from fishtank:

Overflow pipe drilled full of holes:

Overflow pipe installed :

Video of overflow (tank filled by hose for this test):

Rain-barrels in place:

Sump pump from rain-barrel to fishtank:

Pump sitting in barrel:

Hole drilled in top of barrel for pipe:

Piping from barrel to fishtank:

Monday, December 20, 2010

Broke down and hired a handyman

I just couldn't seem to find time to finish the construction, nor did I have the right tools for the job, and I can't keep asking friends to bring their tools and work on it with me.  So I hired a handyman to come do the construction.  I've still got more work to do, but at least it's down to just plumbing work, and I can handle that.  Heck, I'm getting pretty comfortable with it after all this.

So I had the Handyman come and build the center support, and replace the plywood end with a thicker piece.  He did a fantastic job.

I've cancelled my Christmas weekend plans, and haven't made New Years weekend plans, so I WILL get the whole thing done for the new year.

In other news, I bought an algae eater.  He's about 6" long.  He wasn't cheap, but he and everyone else should be very happy for a while.

The Tilapia are doing well as far as I can tell.  If there are any dead ones, they aren't floating where I've seen them.  And the live ones are eating with great vigor.