RevRico GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/21/24 2:35 p.m.

Of note, my frost line is officially 44"state wide. I can't find anything to account for elevation or my specific area. 

What if I dug up my garden and buried IBC totes with hinged lids in it's place. Run fast growing, one season, fish in it, and an air stone, and plant my garden on the lids. 

Being underground, and with a light absorbing lid, temperature of the water should stay reasonable during the growing season. I don't know if any fish would actually grow fast enough here, but I could possibly make up for size with volume. 

I could see a problem needing to pump the water out every year, but maybe I could get lucky. We haven't had sustained sub freezing temps for a few winters, that much water, that deep in the ground, might be safe from freezing. 

Realistically, with a few adapters, I could connect all of the totes together. I could also experiment or read up on different ideal situations for specific plants and run different things in dedicated containers. 

So other than the labor involved, what am I missing? 

Poke holes in the idea, ask questions, suggest solutions. I'm not going to do it this year, just wondering if it's feasible at all. 

jharry3 GRM+ Memberand Dork
5/21/24 3:51 p.m.

How are you going to filter and process the water to remove the ammonia and debris build up from fish waste? 

 My outdoor gold fish pond in a 200 gallon livestock tank has plants and a biological filter to do that. 

(Note Gold fish thrive in this but for some reason the galvanizing seems the likely culprit for killing the snails I introduced to eat algae.)

Also: Adding an air stone under a cover will require some sort of vent for the air you pump in to escape.

SV reX
SV reX MegaDork
5/21/24 6:26 p.m.

So, the top is exposed to let light in?  It's gonna freeze. 

Why is this better than building an actual small pond (that could encourage a natural ecosystem)?

1988RedT2 MegaDork
5/21/24 7:36 p.m.

Maybe draw us a picture?  I can't quite visualize your proposed setup.  An airstone won't be enough.  Fish need to eat food and excrete poop in order to grow.  The water will foul quickly without a substantial filtration system.

RevRico GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/22/24 10:35 a.m.

In reply to SV reX :

We have herons in the neighborhood. Talking to neighbors, koi ponds, which is really all the room I'd have available, are just heron feeders. The river is a mile away, they can eat there. 

In reply to jharry:

The top of the tanks would hold plants in mesh baskets, most likely with hydroton or coco coir.

The tomatoes for sure would cover the tops, peppers maybe, not sure how squash and melons would grow in this fashion though. The root systems and plants themselves, from what I've seen, do a really good job of filtering the water by themselves. 

I could conceivably cover them in the winter fairly easily.

RevRico GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/22/24 10:44 a.m.

In reply to 1988RedT2 :

so on the left, a side view of the totes. Hinged lid with plant baskets, above the water line so the roots grow in, and the fish. 

On the right is a top down estimated view of the garden. Realizing now how many totes could fit in my 20x40 patch, that's a lot of water and maintenance. Even with stand alone filtering tanks connected to the system. 

4 wide and 8 long would leave room for dirt between them all. 3x6 would allow a lot of dirt, or insulating material between each tote. Perlite, rockwool, compost? Stuff that won't hurt the ground around it but will unfortunately require regular maintenance and replacement.

I concede this is a bit of a dumb idea, especially when I have an endless supply of chicken manure that only requires scraping and carrying down steps to get to the garden. But I've wanted to try aquaponics for a long time, and it sounded like a fun way to get a freezer full of crappy or tilapia or maybe a few bigger live purchased trout and catfish at the same time as a garden harvest. 


I've seen people in other parts of the country use hinged lid IBC totes just for fish, and they cover them in bamboo style fencing to keep the light out and it works. I've seen homesteaders use the totes as giant hydroponic feeders for their gardens, adding teas and raw fertilizer salts as needed. I feel like there's a way to overlap the ideas is all.

SV reX
SV reX MegaDork
5/22/24 12:53 p.m.

With a 44" deep frost line, I'm still trying to figure out how these won't freeze. 

You are doing a LOT of work to bury them, but then leaving the top exposed to freezing. What's the advantage to burying them?

OK, the sides are insulated. But the top is exposed, and the totes are not taller than 44".  Unless there is a heat source, they are gonna freeze. 

Kinda like building a house with no roof.

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