Posts by Scott

Fish Tank Slab Form

Fish Tank Slab Form

After the first slab was complete most of my energy left my body in the form of sweat.

95+ degrees in the Louisiana Swamp will do that.

I did not mention that I live in / near the Honey Island Swamp. The area is beautiful but sometimes very hot and humid. If the heat does not get you the mosquitoes will try to take up the slack. Lucky for me, I’m part Cherokee Indian and mosquitoes seem to not like the way I taste. They still bite but are not as agressive toward me as they are on the pale face visitors.

Today I will setup and dry pour the second slab. I’m showing this so others can see how easy / hard it is. Some may think they can’t do it or can’t afford concrete to be done by a contractor. But using this method it is easy.

Here is a picture of the fish tank form. I’ve already cleared and leveled the area.

Notice the ‘elevator’ in the back.  This was an old pallet lift i rescued. It makes bringing groceries upstairs easy.

The area for the concrete I poured yesterday is to the left in this pictue about 40 feet away.

This is my place.
My Place

My Place

As you can see, I have plenty of land to use for a garden.
The big issue is where?
Do I want it close to the house (way off in the picture)
Or somewhere on the 6.5 acres.
There is a bayou completely surrounding the property with only a small driveway connected to the real world.

After several days of considering the spot I think I will put it near the house and use IBC containers as fish tanks and reservoir tanks.  These will give me about 250 gallons of water in each tank.  With a bayou completely surrounding the property, water is not in short supply but this will be a closed system and will not make use of that water.  With more and more pollution in this world, I think filtered water from the well will be the best option.

I will put the tanks on the right side of the house with two 250 gallon fish tanks near the house and two 250 gallon reservior tanks near the bayou and about 24″ lower. (the land near the water is lower than the land near the house).  This will work out well to allow natural gravity flow from the fish tank back to the reservior tanks.  These reservior or sump tanks will hold the water pump that will pump water through the system.  I will be using a single pump and let most of the water flow be a natural gravity flow from the grow beds to the fish tanks and back to the sump/pump tank.

This is the area I have sellected for the sump tanks.  I will be pouring a concrete slab in this area for the tanks.

Proposed site for Sump Tank

Proposed site for Sump Tank

The other two tanks will be about 40 feet away (directly behind me) sitting under my raised deck.  I have a deck around most of my raised home.  The home sits on piling about 10′ above the land. The building code in this area required I build up about 3′ above the land and I decided to go up 10′ so I could use the space under the house for a patio, carport, etc.

This was a good decision.  I live southern Louisiana. in 2005 Hurricane Katrina paid us a visit.  The eye actually crossed over my property.  The water from the gulf reached a height of 8 1/2′ onto my land.  If my house had not been built up 10′ we would have lost everything in that storm.  But we were back at home two days after the storm with only my workshop and garage damaged.  A lot of the trees and neighbors did not fare as well.

The area I have choosen for the tanks has a lot of root and over growth and it will take a bit of sweat to remove them and prepare the area for the concrete.

I don’t know if many of you have tried this but I am going to dry-pour the concrete.  I’ve found for simple jobs such as this, the process is simple and a lot less labor intensive than doing a wet pour of the concrete or getting a concrete truck to deliver a small amount of concrete to a remote area.

With the ground prepared and the forms in place we are ready to begin.  Here is the picture of the forms ready for the concrete.

Sump Forms

Sump Forms

The first thing to do is to figure out the amount of concrete sacks needed.  I will be using 80# bags from the local building supply and a 4″ slab 4′ X 8′.
I have calculated that I will need 18 bags of concrete.
If you don’t know how to figure it, go here:
http://www.quikrete.com/Calculator/Main.asp

I will purchase 20 bags since I will be pouring a second slab and the extra may be needed if something goes wrong.

With the forms set and the ground level, I will put the first layer of concrete in by dropping the bags into the forms.

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Once the bags are in place, I take a shovel and break the end of the bags with the point and pour them dry into the forms.  You can see the first two opened in the forms.

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After all of the bag have been opened use a garden rake to level it out.  Notice the concrete is only half way up the forms.43691847-20120723_185547

Next I will add some metal to the forms.  Normally I would use 4X4 mesh but this is an informal job so I will just use some old hardware cloth (heavy screen) I have laying around the house.  It will do and I won’t have to buy mesh for this job. You can see the screen on top of the concrete in the forms.

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The second picture is the roll of the hardware cloth.

Hardware Cloth

Hardware Cloth

 

With the hardware cloth in place, I will add the remainder of the dry concrete.  Once all of the concrete is in place, you can level it again with the rake and a leveling board. The leveling board is simply a 2X4 that will span across the entire form from side to side.  You will want to pull it across the form wiggling it side to side as you pull it.  If the concrete is slightly above the forms, it will pull the concrete level and make a nice level surface for the tanks to sit upon.  If you can’t visualize what I am saying, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXhkvV3LJ0Q) about 2:50 into the video shows the process.  This video is about wet pour so the other steps are a lot harder than the way I did it.

MAKE SURE IT IS LEVEL.  After you have it level. Water the concrete by putting a sprinkler on it for several hours.  It is important to only ‘mist’ the dry concrete at first so it does not run or puddle up.  I watered my slab for about 4 hours before I turned it off and went to bed.

 

After the concrete has gotten wet you can use a hand trowel to smooth the concrete but it really is not necessary unless you require a very smooth surface.  The finish surface of this type of slab will have some exposed rocks but I’m sure the fish will not mind so neither do I.

This is a picture of the misting of the concrete.  I chose to mist the concrete between the first layer and the second but it is not necessary.

Watering the concrete

Watering the concrete

 

Now that this slab is being misted and I’m tired, I will call it a day and pour the next slab tomorrow if the weather cooperates.

 

 

The next morning, the slab was hard enough to walk on.  I wet it several times in the next few days.  A light wetting for several days is needed to cure the slab.

If you have any questions or comments, let me hear from you.

AquaBiotic: Water is Life !!!

AquaBiotic: Water is Life !!!

Twitter: @AquaBiotic

This blog will be a journal of my project to create an aquaponic garden on my property.

AquaBiotic:
What is this and why did I name it that instead of aquaponics?

Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture (growing fish or water creatures), and hydroponics (growing plants in water).  This is an appropriate name for the process.  However, I like to be a little different from the crowd so I started looking for some thing a little different and came up with the name AquaBiotic.

I like to think about the name as meaning several things:

Aqua meaning water.
Biotic meaning living things.
When combined we have Water of Life or Living Water.

I kind of like that because the water is alive with nutients and living creatures that feed the plants that grow in it.  The plants ‘pay-back’ the water by adding nutrients and removing harmful things from the water.  So the fish, plants and water all work together to make a system of growing living water.

The idea of creating an aquaponics garden has come and gone many times in the last few years.  It was not until I became very concerned about food and the condition of the available food supply that I decided to take it more seriously and try to actually grow my own food.

I’ve had small gardens in the past but they always ended up requiring more work than I had time. The garden would end up suffering and end up as a weed patch in the yard.  I know that is just an excuse but the gardens would seldom last more than one season.

I’m getting near retirement age and I think it is time to look to creating something that will help prolong and improve my later years.  I know that nutrition is a very important consideration at all ages but with new aches and pains everyday it seems much more important now.  As a result of that I have become an avid homemade juicer.  I make a delicious vegetable juice that I drink at least once a day.

Juicing is not only very healthy, it is very expensive.  The price of organically grown or naturally grown fruit and vegetables is getting harder to find and more expensive every day.  It seems as if most of the offerings in the grocery are either of poor quaility or loaded with artificial insecticides and/or additives.  I know growing my own produce will require some work but I’m willing to do that for better food quaility.  Also, maintaining a garden will allow me to be active doing something I can enjoy and see the results of my labor.

So the journey begins:
I will be posting pictures and videos of the entire process from start to finish during the creation process.  I know I have a lot to learn about aquaponics but I love challenges.  I’m sure I will make lots of mistakes and hopefully I will not hide too many of them from the blog by admitting my errors that others going down the same path can benefit from my inexperience.

If you have any comments or suggestions, please post them so we can all enjoy the journey.