I missed  having a vegetable garden.  I tried multiple times but with all other demands and interests in life regular maintenance was irregular at best.  So I started looking into hydroponic and starting thinking about ways to automatic most of the regular maintenance.  During my research I discovered aquaponics and was fascinated with the bio system that it forms.


These two video where intriguing, since part of my motivation is to automate most of the regular maintenance requirements.




Part of the fun of this project is the design and building of the system.  So I started off researching existing designs to create my own variation.   There are a variety of systems; Flood and Drain, Drip Irrigation, , NTF, etc.  After hours researching I narrowed it down to a flood and drain system.   Flood and Drain is a process of pumping water into the grow pot and then draining it out.  Now that I have the basic system decided time to get down to designing the system.


Aquaponic Drain And Fill


For the system to work popularly oxygen concentrations in the water need to be maintained. Plant roots consume oxygen so during the drain cycling the roots are exposed to oxygen.  Fish also consume oxygen from the water so proper concentrations of oxygen needs to be maintained within the water.  This can be achieved mechanically using a aquarium air pumps or naturally by aggregating the water.  Keeping with the cost down concept I need the system to naturally aggregate the water, so the overflow also acts as an aerator by spilling the water back into the fish tank.  The water inlet also act as a drain, leveraging the siphon effect, water is drained to the level of the inlet pipe.

So now that the design is complete it’s time for some automation.  Part II will focus on automation of the system using a SparkIO Core to control turning on and off the pump along with monitoring temperature and humidity to determine how often to drain and fill.