The start of great things - AP Oklahoma

After reading everything I could find on the internet about aquaponics, after watching a thousand DIY videos on the internet, I was finally able to take part in my first aquaponics project. A good friend, Steve and his brother Billy were able to setup a greenhouse and the plan was that the three of us would put together our first AP system. The project was lead by the brothers, but the experience was invaluable and solidified my love for the technology. I quit my job, sold everything I owned and set off for the great state of Oklahoma. It was Jan 2011.

The goals were simple, keep some fish and plants alive. The plan was to use elevated grow beds constructed from 2x4s. The beds were shallow, less the six inches deep and had uprights for trellising. We used leftover greenhouse plastic to line the beds and constructed our own bulkheads for the drains using PVC and silicone. The beds were filled with standard hydroponic clay pellets. We had four beds and the water was pumped on a schedule via a timer from two 240 gallon totes using perforated PVC pipe along the edges of each bed. These totes contained our choice fish, koi. We went with koi because it was winter and we knew koi were cold hardy. The pump timer ran just long enough to fill the beds so that they could drain ebb and flow style. The beds drained to a stock tank we dug into the ground, below both the level of the grow beds and the fish tanks. The water was returned back up to the fish using a submersible pump with a float value.

We started plants from seed, but needed plants right away, since we had fish in the system already. We figured that an easy start would be to use some native Oklahoma weeds. We filled one bed with identified weeds which grew well and we were underway in our first AP adventure.