Decoupled Aquaponics Garden System Kit (800 Gallons) Grow Produce and Fish without water pumps!
22 Comments


Hey! I’m Paul Begue, AST Systems designer.
Today, we are going to look at small scale decoupled aquaponics system. We’re
gonna go over each of the parts and we’re gonna do probably a good bit of
videos on this system and how it operates. This one’s going to be kind of
an overview of what we have. Alright, so first thing we have a 250 gallon fish
tank. We’re stocked with juvenile koi right now (system supports 125 lbs of fish at .5lbs a gallon). This fish tank is gravity
feeding here… the Endurance 2000 filter.
The beads are capturing solids and also converting ammonia to nitrate and then
the outflow is going down to this pipe which is airlifted for our return. Okay,
so the Endurance filter always running always being gravity-fed. Now if you
haven’t seen the videos on the Endurance and how it backwashes, take a look at
those. So I’m gonna run through that real quickly. Alright, but it’s an automatic
pneumatic backwash. The cool part about the automatic pneumatic backwash on this
filter, is that that same pneumatic pressure that creates the large air
bubble for the backwash, also does this really cool thing called pneumatic
sludge discharge. Alright, so here is the beginning of the pneumatic sludge
discharge. Alright so that sludge that is automatically
generated and isolated in this chamber over here is pushed out pneumatically
automatically into a sludge digestion basin here. This is a 34 gallon
cylindrical tub and this waste is deposited about a liter per backwash
Alright. So it depends on or how much volume goes in here depends on how often you
backwash your filter. That’s all controlled with an air flow meter. Again
look at previous videos on the Endurance and how it operates to get an
understanding of how that works. This sludge is digested aerobically, very
important. So we are adding oxygen to this sludge basin here so all of the
sludge that’s generated here, ends up inside of this basin. While
it’s breaking down, clear water is running to this second 34 gallon tank
here. This is just a sump tank but we call it a blending tank. This is where
you can do nutrient additions. A lot of times in aquaponics, you want to add iron.
Okay, so this is then gravity feeding our plant beds here. Those are two 236 gallon
trays with 233 planting sites. Okay so we have bib lettuce, a few
different varieties in there right now– some reds and some greens. Now once the
water runs to the backside of the trays it is then gravity draining until this
point here, where it is airlifted back inside. That airlift is providing really
essential oxygenation prior to the water draining back down to the plant beds. The
most important part about this system is that it’s decoupled- meaning the fish
tank and filter are all (together) that’s a single loop right there. The plant sump and
plant beds, that’s your second loop right there. Where they connect here is your
sludge digestion. This is an extremely efficient way of farming in a really
tight space. So thanks again for tuning in, we’re gonna have a lot more videos on
this system to come.

22 thoughts on “Decoupled Aquaponics Garden System Kit (800 Gallons) Grow Produce and Fish without water pumps!

  1. Can you tell more about the sludge digestion area? Looks like some sort of settling tank. Is that how it works, along with the aeration. Does it only send water to the sump on a sludge dump?

  2. Hey Paul:) Very cool looking filter. I have a question for you. Does this thing sift out fine particles? I run smaller diameter tubing to my dutch buckets and my Zipgrow towers and they get clogged every once in a while.

  3. Such a nice set-up and great explanation of the functionality of a decoupled system.
    Very pleased that someone has commercially designed airlifts for entire system. Air pumps make it so much cheaper to run and nothing to block. I have a small setup that uses gravity and 1 × 35 watt (240vlt) air pump for 4 x 1m square media beds. Plus 1x 20watt for the bead/mineralization barrel that follows a radial flow filter settling barrel.
    If I had the money, I would buy one of your bead filters in a heartbeat.

  4. How many gallons per minute of water does that airlift move?  Love the endurance by the way.  Just discovered that I live about an hour east of you guys.  May have to come check out your facility sometime.

  5. Ever heard of the Ancient Incan chinampa method and the Ancient floating gardens-farms of Burma? Both are naturally organic farms that are naturally self-regulating for they combine hydroponics with soil based-cultivation and soil is a very powerful self-regulating 10,000 year old time-tested and time-proven by nature growing medium that can allow farmers to make a mistake and still grow a sizable harvests and both ancient methods are time-tested and time-proven for countless of centuries and has produced consistent and reliable and dependable harvests for countless generations. Why make things so unnecessarily complicated when you can simplify it by observing nature, studying nature, copying nature, and then using nature to produce what you need without harming nature because you are simultaneously improving nature's productivity output in terms of quantity and quality while enhancing nature's ability to regenerate itself and enhancing nature's ability to make it's water and soil resources richer at the same time as you expand your needs for more agriculture by re-creating a close-loop food chain cycle,self-recycling, life-supporting, self-regenerating, and
    self-improving agricultural biosphere.

  6. Are the materials used in this system reactive to ozone in water? I know PVC is not ideal for ozone system.

  7. How does water replenish the fish tank Paul?

    Really enjoy your bits with Brooklyn St Michael. Great combo of information.

  8. Hi Paul! Thanks for the explanation on the decoupled aquaponics system: it makes a lot of sense to me! I do have a couple of questions about the sludge mineralization part:

    1- Does the aerobic mineralization happen quickly enough to transfer the nitrates to the hydroponic part of the system? In recycled aquaponics, the sludge is usually sent to a separate mineralization tank for a process that apparently happens over a long period of time.

    2- Since you no longer have the filtration benefits of the Endurance, isn’t the water coming out of the sludge mineralization tank full of medium- and small-size particles? Isn’t it necessary to have a fine filter after the mineralization tank but before water gets to DWC, media bed and/or NFT system(s)?

    I really enjoy your videos! Can’t wait to see more and to get started on my decoupled system with your Endurance!

    Thanks!!!

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  10. Awesome system! I'm really impressed. 😀

    Suggestion: Provide a minimum of two independent air delivery inlets in each component. It all hinges on the air pump. If air stops and flow stops, not only are your fish likely to all die, the aerobic bacteria in the filter aren't going to have a good day either.

    Duplication of equipment is a great insurance policy. You could do this with a pair of check valves and two pumps charging your air distribution manifold, but that creates a maintenance and failure point. In a compact system such as this, it is more robust and not really much more money to simply have two or more independent air piping systems. If you're paying labor to inspect, clean, and maintain them so that they'll actually work when you need them to, the cost of a few more sticks of pipe and such is tiny by comparison. After years of headaches with check valves, I now eliminate the need wherever possible.

    A bonus is that taking a pump out of service for maintenance can keep the system operating, just at a reduced capacity. I personally like to divide the air supply into thirds so you have 90 min HRT with two of three pumps operating, but when all three pumps are running, I get 60 minutes. That's a fairly common range, but you could adjust to suit. (Put differently, that's 0.67-1.00x hourly turnover.)

    Extra points if you wire separate electrical circuits so each pump is on its own circuit breaker! Battery backup and generator are worth considering too. A big bottle of oxygen and a normally-open solenoid valve with its own dedicated emergency air delivery system is a cheap way to keep your fish alive too and requires no electricity to do its job. I noticed Dr. Malone threw a pressure switch on the main lines too, that'll open the oxygen bottle if the air pressure in the main airlines drops. Slick idea. I'm gonna add that on my system!

    I mean, a crashed system could mean bankruptcy for a lot of folks. More than the cost of the product you lost, there's the goodwill lost when you fail to follow through on delivery promises with customers and they have to turn to a competitor.

    Walk your system and stare at each component for a while pondering what would happen if each part failed. Inevitably it'll happen right after quitting time and everyone's left for the day and you might not find out for 18+ hours. If you need to order a replacement, how long until you can get that online? Ask yourself whether you could tolerate that, what you could do to reduce the likelihood that it happens, what you can do to reduce the impact when it inevitably does happen, etc. Taking the time to do that could mean the difference between a minor inconvenience and going out of business!

  11. Can do a video explaining your mineralization tank? Does it discharge clean water to the sump tank everytime the filter does a sludge purge? Does the sludge have to stay in the mineralization for a specific amount of time?

  12. Hi Paul – QUESTION TO PONDER UPON – If you're going to be adding stuff for the plants in the mixing sump bin anyway (decoupling the system), why not create an anaerobic denitrification filter for the fish tank (like Dr. Kevin Novak's Biocenosis Clarification Baskets, which he has supposedly used in a Koi pond for over 30 years without requiring maintenance) and save on water there, or would it be better (economically and/or environmentally) to save on nutrients used in the mixing sump?

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