I'm finally about to get started putting together my first tiny aquaponic system. The tank will be a cylinder which is 15" high by 18" in diameter. The grow bed will be a plastic tote which is 24" x 15" x 12". The tote originally had 4 drain holes in the bottom. I have plugged those with silicone. I hope that will hold. I bought about 2.5 cuft of river pebbles from Home Depot which I am currently testing in a glass of vinegar to see if it bubbles (checking for alkalinity in the pebbles). Next is to plumb the system and then buy the fish. Exciting stuff!! I hope it works. LOL!!
Latest problem I'm running into are:
1) Kale leaves are disappearing rapidly from the young plants. Not sure if I need to get more aggressive about insect control or need to take precautions with birds.
2) Auto Siphon appears to be starting, draining, and then stopping, but then filling halfway and starting to drain again before reaching the stand pipe. That SHOULD be impossible, but seems to be happening.
As an update, I have had trouble getting the pH down on this system since day one. It causes the plants not to thrive. I still don't think it's the media, though. The dechlorinated tap water I'm forced to use for top off has a pH of 8.2 out of the tap. It is also fairly hard, which makes it resist changing down into the mid 6's. I've tried vinegar with little success. I'm now going to start hitting the top off water with muriatic acid before topping off. I'll mix in the acid, mix, test, let it sit for a few hours, test again, add more acid if necessary, mix test again, etc.... Hopefully this will fix the problem.
I am in the process of doing a small basement system for this winter up in the northern mid west. I ran into the same PH level issue with my daughters glow fish tank straight from the tap. and for the size of the fish glow fish are pricy to have keep dying at roughly 8 dollars each. I have a PUR water filter on my tap which wasnt much at all and after doing a 50/50 tap/Pur filtered water it brought my PH down to a 6 in my 10 gallon tank. and when we started it was higher than 8.5 during flooding time up here.
It might be worth a try by getting a gallon of purified water from the store and make some test mixes untill you find a good PH level you are happy with. and add a cheap aerator for oxygen if you think the gallons of purified water dont have enough in them.