Using an IBC for an aquaponic system
There is a multitude of ways of constructing an aquaponic system by using an IBC barrel. Everything depends on your personal taste, space availability and the way you want to use it. Here are some steps to follow in your pursuit.
Step 1: make sure it was properly cleaned
Knowing what was used for makes the difference. Certain liquids can be harmful for you and your fish. Inform yourself on the IBC`s usage and ask if it was professionally cleaned. Furthermore, clean it again and leave it to dry in direct sunlight. UV is known for its capacity to diminish the harmful properties of certain chemical elements.
Step 2: Do the liner
After carefully removing the supports from the top, you can extract your IBC from its cage. You can use the liner as a base for your system. At this stage you will have to use a liner in order to mark where to do the cutting. Make sure you are cutting everything in the same size. You do not want them to not fit back together.
For the plastic barrel you can use an angle grinder, while for the metal cage it is recommended to use a powered electrical tool. This will save you some time and prevent you from ruining the job.
Step 3: The base
For the base of your aquaponic system, you will want to cut a large square in order to insert the plumbing. You can do this by using the electric grinder.
Step 4: Clean again
After securing the cage back around the plastic tank, clean everything. This will remove dust and any other remains like plastic or iron pieces.
Step 5: Setting the grow bed
After cleaning, you can put in position your IBC. Use wood in order to offer support for your soon to be grow bed. Place the designed part for growing on top of the fish tank. Install the draining pipe and make sure it is not in the way of growing roots. Use whatever media you want for its base and pour water for about 5 to 10 minutes. Clean the media until you see the water is getting out crystal clear.
Step 6: Pump and pipes
The last step that separates you from the final product is represented by pipes. The goal here is to allow the water to flood and drain your future crops. At first it is recommended to use a longer stand pipe and adjust it depending on the flow you will achieve in your aquaponic system. Usually, a submersible pump is the best option, but you can choose any kind.
Step 7: the actual grow bed
The goal with the pipes is to properly irrigate the grow bed. Use pipe and place it all around your grow bed. This will help you in preventing the water to act like a fountain and will send the water directly to the media. By preventing the water to flow freely on your bed, you skip the risk of developing algae around your crops. From this point, you are done with the construction. You can use a timer to predict the flooding process or you can allow it to flood and drain all the time.