View Full Version : NOW YOU'VE GOT DUCKWEED...!

07-23-2013, 01:37 AM
OK, OK..!

You know I work nights and sleep days (Vampire by profession) but you've kept on 'til you got me out in the sunlight with a camera.

First off is what I call the pond. It's where my breeder KOI reside. It's 22' long X 10' wide. The deep end is 5' under the black rubbermaid tubs up to 3 1/2' at this end next to the swimming pool. Yes, I know it isn't clear and that's the way I want it. Here in Fl. we have the Great Blue Heron (bitch) and Osprey (double bitch). Both are protected by law and they know it. There is also 80% shade cloth above the pond and deck. The light you are seeing is afternoon sunlight from the SW.




Next comes my experimental continuous flow grow bed (slash) Ryukin breeder Goldfish tank


The grow bed is 16' long X 4' wide X 12" deep with a standing overflow PVC that flows the water back into the Pond which can be see in the second photo on the right bottom elbowed over the edge.

In the first photo you can see the PVC going from the bio-filters (rubbermaids on shelf) to the far end of the grow bed.

The water is 10" deep and the black plastic pots are sitting on concrete block and a stepping stone so only about the bottom 1" of the pot is submersed in water. It's the pot in a saucer of water theory experiment. It was my mother's (she's 93) suggestion and it's worked great.

The goldfish have body sizes ranging from tennis ball to slightly larger and there are 20 of them and they are truly little pigs even with all the scuds and algae they can eat, they still run like a herd of cattle to the end of the grow bed to be fed each morning.



The Tomatoes played out and stopped producing about 2 wks ago but now are blooming like crazy again with tiny tomatoes already showing. I have a few climbing beans that for some reason didn't do well but the yellow sweet banana peppers have been producing like crazy non-stop. OH and yes, there is a potted house plant in there also...wife's idea and it's worked well also.

OK, I will tell you before you ask, the pots are filled first with a square of old bed sheet material to make a liner all the way to the top of the pot. Then filled with potting soil, then I planted the seedling in the soil, pull the cloth up over the soil and around the plant. I put a few pieces of red lava rock on the cloth to hold it down.


The sheet material works as a wicking material that brings water up the sides and keeps the soil moist bottom to top as needed. When the plants finally matured, their roots have grown through the sheet material on the bottom of the pots and out through the holes to float in the grow bed.

Next is my swimming pool. My son is going on 25 yrs of age and since he graduated from High School, he no longer was interested in the pool. Now he and the crowd go to the beach.

The pool is 9' deep at this end however, I keep it low to keep the Great Blue Herons from standing on the side and eating or killing my KOI if they are too big to eat. Yes, that's what they do. They will regurgitate into the water to draw the fish up and if the fish is too big to eat, they will spear them right through the middle with their beak and the KOI will die within 30 minutes or so.

Yes, I know it's too high at the other end but it has been raining like crazy here every day and I am hard pressed to keep it pumped down. It's also not clear to keep the Osprey at bay.

Also, see how thick the duckweed is in the first photos, that's the way the pool looked yesterday morning when I gathered about 8 pounds of duckweed from the pond and the grow bed and put it in the pool. It was covered completely.

There are approximately 60 to 70 one and one-half year old KOI in the pool ranging from 10" to 18" in size. There are a few smaller runts in there also but you would think they were Piranha the way they go after the duckweed. I have to get them out and separated between now and next spring so I can do a final cull and start marketing them for sale. I have already sold approximately 500 of them from the first two sell-able culls when they were about 3" - 5" long at about 3 months of age for $3.00 each.

Those that are left are going to be somewhat more inexpensive... 8-)

They and the breeder KOI also get fed each morning the same as the goldfish.


07-23-2013, 07:33 AM
Very nice. I have joked with my wife that one day she's going to see some fish in our 24' round pool. Although I tell her that we can share and the pool can become more natural, like an old swimming hole, she is not amused.

Roger L.
07-23-2013, 11:48 AM
JCO, have you tried placing a large black rubber snake about every 3' or so around the pool to scare off the birds? If it doesn't work you can wrap one around the wife's roses and watch the fun. Very nice setup too. It must keep you very busy.

07-23-2013, 12:16 PM
Thanks for the pictures, I like pictures. I do not like fish eating birds though. I had a heron coming to my pond once!!!! ;)
as in past tense, he does not go to ponds anymore.
That swimming pool sure made a nice fish tank.

07-23-2013, 09:24 PM
JCO, how big are those pots, and note did you construct the pond? It looks like pond liner in a wood frame - just wondering how much wood you needed to keep the structural integrity with all that water pressure.

Aloha Don
07-24-2013, 11:29 AM
Nice looking system
How much aeration/ type are you using for a system this size?
When I grow up......
I guess the true statement should be....IF I grow up.....

07-24-2013, 11:39 AM
This thread is beautiful! :mrgreen:

07-25-2013, 01:02 AM
OK, if you are actually interested, as soon as I can get them together, I will post the photos of the actual build of the Pond and grow bed. :mrgreen:

07-25-2013, 06:20 AM
Waiting for pics......

07-25-2013, 07:32 AM
Your could always use that as an Avatar :shock: :o :lol: :mrgreen:

07-25-2013, 10:54 AM
OK, if you are actually interested, as soon as I can get them together, I will post the photos of the actual build of the Pond and grow bed. :mrgreen:
Git er don!!!

I want to dance with excitement! Hurry buddy...


07-25-2013, 11:47 AM
This thread has become very animated. ^^^^^^^
8-) :lol:

07-25-2013, 12:21 PM
We're talking Duckweed here not, Wacky Weed...! :mrgreen:

Roger L.
07-27-2013, 10:21 AM
Being as duckweed likes still water, how do you control the mosquito population? I know in Florida they get about bird sized in August.

07-27-2013, 11:51 AM
Being as duckweed likes still water, how do you control the mosquito population?

I don't know where the concept of duckweed needing still water to grow came from. The duckweed in my grow bed is flowing constantly in one end and out through the overflow stand pipe at the other back to the fish pond. It isn't swift like the Colorado rapids, but it's flowing at a pretty good rate. 8-)

Additionally, I have 20 Ryukin goldfish in the grow bed to eat anything that moves that will fit in their mouths...no mosquito larvae there. :mrgreen:

07-29-2013, 01:20 AM
Now that all of you have been holding your breath until you've turned my favorite color:-


Let's get down to brass tacks:-

OK, history, this is the back of the rehab house I purchased in Jan 2002. I bought it with the intention of rehabing and flipping it. I had been doing quite well at that in the past. :D

I would purchase a rehab house, move move into it, my wife and I would rehab it room by room while we lived there and then put it on the market. While waiting for it to sell, we would look for our next project. Hand no idea we were going to be living here forever but that seems to be the case at present. :cry:

Anyway, that was something I was doing at that time in addition to building spec homes. Notice the pool is clear and ready for a swim but the area around the back of the house is already getting junked up and heading for an AP set up. :D


House from other side with view of Chinese Palm...notice height, It was basically about 6' tall when we moved there.


The palm tree in back yard 5 years ago and it is now at least 10 feet taller than this picture below. At first I could not figure out why the all of a sudden the palm started growing like crazy when we move in until I was digging one of the holes for the 4" X 4" upright post for the shade cloth frame and I ran into a problem.

Can't guess. A little hint. We have a private well and ... yep, a septic tank and one leg of the drain field leads right out to the palm tree.


Remember the old deck with the ramp...gone..history now ... I salvaged the best lumber from the old deck to build the current deck....also as you can see I didn't get to rehab the house on the outside as of yet as expected.

KaBoom..the housing bust came along before we got that far and all my construction cash went up in smoke (sort of except I was the one going up in smoke) with the spec homes I was currently building and the bank was ever so glad to take them off my hands for nothing. Even left me about $95k in the hole....still trying to dig out from that.


Now comes the beginning of the KOI "POND" as I call it. The finish POND will be 22' long by 8' wide with the shallow end next to the swimming pool about 4' and the deep end next to the house at about 5 1/2' deep. I have figured roughly that the Pond holds approx. 4,000 gals. and the grow bed approx. 360 gals. and another 40 gals combining the bio-filters together for a total of 4,400 gals for the entire system.

I used the posts on the side of the deck for one side, nailing to the decks 4" X 4"s and then put 4" X 4"s in the ground 4' apart around the rest of the perimeter of the pond building it up with 1" X 6" treated lumber to about 2 1/2 feet above ground level to keep the frogs out. I put a cap board all the way around to cover the plastic overlap for aesthetics.


Now comes the diggin' out and shaping part, then the smoothing over of the bottom of the pond. Someone sure left a lot of dirt (sand) in the hole I was digging.





What you are looking at here is used foam carpet padding I pulled from a carpet store dumpster. I smoothed the bottom of the pond as much as possible but I didn't want to take any chance there might be a rouge root, rock or anything else that could poke a hole in my plastic.



This material was used to line the dirt (sand actually...Florida you know) part of the bottom of the pond. The bright strip down the middle is sunlight shining between the two pieces of shade cloth I have installed above the KOI pond and the grow bed.

I sloped the sides to make sure the posts in the ground had plenty of support. It also helps with the heavy particulates in the water.

The will flow to the center and then to the deep end where the siphons are for the sump. Water out one end and back in at the other giving a steady water flow to move all the trash to the sump. I empty the sump tank now about every 3 or 4 months.


OH yes, the arrival of the very important 20' X 100' box of 20 mil black plastic I special ordered through Home Depot.


Next I installed a 55 gal glass aquarium between the house and the back side of the pond. This serves as the sump. It is sitting on pre-leveled boards at ground level.



Next I constructed the siphons to pull water from the pond into the sump. The siphons are elbowed with the stand pipe determining the water level of the pond.

I am using a 2500 gph pump with a sump pump electrical shut off via a float in the aquarium. This prevents the sump from being pumped dry should a problem arise such as a leak in the pond.

Here it shows two siphons but I had to finally add another as two would not handle the pumps pull. Additionally I initially had the siphons pulling through a black framed plastic box which I quickly found to be dis-satisfactory so I added a T to the end of each siphon.



I know, I didn't show installing the plastic in the pond but I figured you knew how or could figure out how to do that without any help from me.


Next I installed the bio-filters (2 - 100 gal Rubbermaid stock tanks) on the platform above the pond next to the house and installed the siphons into the sump tank and piped the pump standpipe up to the bio-filters up the back.

The standpipe from the pump goes up and "Ts" to the back, up and over the the edge of each Rubbermaid bio-filter.




The rubber piece you see here with the hose clamps facilitates installation and removal of the pump from the sump. There is a sufficient gap in between the two pipes that when the clamps are loosened, I can wiggle the pump pipe up sufficiently to remove it from the system.


Time to top off the pond. Clearest the water has ever been since that day.


Now comes the construction of the spray bars for the bio-filters.



And the pond construction is complete with the sump and bio-filters complete and in place.


Now comes the construction of the grow bed. I used cement blocks.


The frame was constructed wide enough to allow for the 1/4 inch plywood sides to be added to the 4' width of the base plywood sheet. It was placed on the blocks and then I leveled everything multiple times, length-wise and cross width to guarantee no low end or spots.


Next it came time to put on the plywood sheet. It was heavy and I was tired so I enlisted the help of a dolly to assist in moving it to where I could slide it up on the frame. Worked great.



Then came the addition of the sides which are high enough to allow for a full 12" depth but I only use up to 9".



Then came the side braces which are constructed of 2 X 4s nailed to the frame from the outside with the sides being nailed to the side braces from the inside.

Also, if you will notice, I have installed three two by fours uprights at each end. Those will be use to put string from one end to the other to string up tomatoes, beans...whatever needs support.




Here is a shot of the overflow standpipe install. Nothing fancy.


[color=#008000][b]The overflow standpipe comes far enough straight down from the bottom of the grow bed to be sunk into the dirt. It is then elbowed 90 degrees over to the pond and then more 90 degree elbows to get it up and over the edge of the KOI pond to flow from the grow bed back into the pond.

I trenched it out and put it under the dirt here so I would not be stepping over it every time I walked down that side of the grow bed.



Green Tea anyone. The KOI like it and feed off the sides of the pond. They also get floating KOI pellets twice a day. Lots of excited splashing then with 9 KOI in there ranging from 24" up to a couple that are almost 3' in length. Competition for the food is fierce.


Now it's time to get the water flowing from the bio-filter to the grow bed.

If you will look close you can see the PVC at the other end of the grow bed angled from the bio-filters on the left to the grow bed.

It is fed via gravity. There is a "T" in the PVC from the bio-filters with a shut off valve below the T so I can adjust the flow of water to the grow bed and redirect the excess water flow right back into the pond complete with lots of bubbles.

This redirected flow also puts a lot of aeration into the pond.


Now come the measuring and cutting of the raft system Styrofoam. It came from Lowe's. It is the blue 2" thick 4 X 8 ft sheets. There are two of them. Also it you will notice at the back of the grow bed you can see the PVC coming from the bio-filter to the grow bed and the "T" that feeds it back to the pond.


This is the cut out portion for the overflow stand pipe.


This is the other end and shows the cutout for the PVC coming from the bio-filters.


Finally, showing the time consuming 2" dia. holes for the net pots to be placed in.

The first year I only had plants in one end and they did well. Sorry, no photos of them. I have not used this particular raft system setup since the first year. Wanted to try other methods.

Last year, I had flood and drain with an elbowed siphon and the veggies were in 2 gal plastic planter pots sitting directly in the water. I used red lava rock as a media and the plants went crazy. I had a ton of root coming out the holes in the bottoms of the pots just floating in the water.

The water would come up to within about 3" from the top of the pot before the siphon would break and drain the bed. It would drain back to about 1" or so before starting to rise again. The time from break to top out was about 20 minutes and the same to drain.


OK, that was the show. Questions anyone :?: :mrgreen:

07-29-2013, 11:10 PM
Wow. That was thorough - thanks. I'll have to digest it with a little more time before any questions.

08-02-2013, 05:49 AM
OK, so where's all those members that were so anxious to see the actual build :?: :mrgreen:

08-02-2013, 09:59 AM
OK, so where's all those members that were so anxious to see the actual build :?: :mrgreen:

Sorry, I had a mouth full of pop corn. I prefer not to type with food in my mouth. :lol:

When do the tours start? :mrgreen:

08-02-2013, 12:39 PM
It's not when the tours start that you should be concerned with. :? They are very expensive expecially for people from Nebraska :shock: :o :lol: Did you even look at the build :?: :mrgreen:

08-02-2013, 01:05 PM
JCO, I'm curious about two things,

1 - How do those siphons work? Can't really wrap my head around the fluid dynamics involved.
2 - What is the purpose of the side braces on the GB? It seems to me that they are built in a cantilever setup and do not offer much structural integrity.

08-02-2013, 02:36 PM
1 - How do those siphons work? Can't really wrap my head around the fluid dynamics involved.

They work real well 8-) OH, you mean how to they WORK? If you will look at the photo of the, you will see that the long end goes in the F/T and then up and over the end of the F/T into the sump. The end in the sump is looped back up to the desired height to allow them to draw water from the F/T into the sump. When the water level gets below the upward end of the loop, they cease to siphon water into the sump. When the water level gets much lower, a sump electrical switch with a float shuts off the power to the pump. 8-)

2 - What is the purpose of the side braces on the GB? It seems to me that they are built in a cantilever setup and do not offer much structural integrity.

The 4" X 4" post there are more shallow in the ground so I braced them. The piece that you see running at an angle actually is braced against another piece (you can't see) running at a 90 degree angle under ground. :mrgreen:

08-02-2013, 03:21 PM
So the valve at the top of the siphons is to fill them, removing air and start the siphoning process?

08-02-2013, 07:15 PM
That was the general idea upon construction but it didn't work, so they are just hood armaments. Not everything works as planned. :cry:

I submerged the PVC siphons and capped them off and put the over the side into the sump and uncapped them and the siphon began. 8-) :mrgreen:

08-03-2013, 04:48 AM
Good stuff. I was impressed by those valves - some good bit of ingenuity there, too bad that it didn't work. Sometimes the simplest solution gets it done when the elaborate plan fails to perform.

08-04-2013, 12:45 AM
It was something I thought would work but when I connected the water hose to them the water ran out both ends but would not fill the tubes so no siphon. AHhhhh, back to the drawing board and the tried and true method. This ole dog learned a new (old) trick :mrgreen:

Roger L.
08-04-2013, 05:47 AM
What about a one way check valve that only opened when the siphon opened. Would that help to end the siphon after the suction got to a certain vacuum?

08-04-2013, 10:05 AM
A non-spring loaded ball valve would have worked but I have never seen one for that size PVC. :mrgreen:

08-05-2013, 01:17 PM
Being as duckweed likes still water, how do you control the mosquito population?

I don't know where the concept of duckweed needing still water to grow came from. The duckweed in my grow bed is flowing constantly in one end and out through the overflow stand pipe at the other back to the fish pond. It isn't swift like the Colorado rapids, but it's flowing at a pretty good rate. 8-)

Additionally, I have 20 Ryukin goldfish in the grow bed to eat anything that moves that will fit in their mouths...no mosquito larvae there. :mrgreen:

Most of the info I've found on line says still or calm water. I guess that's left up to each person to figure out the meaning of 'still' or 'calm'.
I had water draining into a tub where I was trying to raise duckweed. The duckweed got caught in an under tow...and ended up stacking up, forming a raft several inches thick.
I don't have time to search for them, if anyone is interested I've posted a pdf or two about duckweed elsewhere in the forum. I think urbanfarmer has too.
EDIT: I had a few extra minutes before the library's computer shut off.... :roll: ...here's a link to a file on duckweed...
http://www.fao.org/Ag/AGAInfo/resources ... DW/Dw2.htm (http://www.fao.org/Ag/AGAInfo/resources/documents/DW/Dw2.htm)

As far as your set up JCO, looks nice...lots of duckweed... 8-)
Just wondering...does the glass tank have some kind of baffles...? I thought you mention one time that's where your solids settle (?)

08-06-2013, 11:09 AM
David, I took a look at the duckweed you provided....WAAaaaayyyy too much reading for me, however here are some photos. This one is of the water coming into my grow bed from the bio-filter. As you can see, I have other water plants in the grow bed also.


Here are two photos of the Styrofoam ring that keeps the duckweed from escaping the grow bed. It doesn't have the water flow of a waterfall, but it is actually moving at a pretty good rate.



Here are a couple of photos showing the water flowing back into the fish pond from the grow bed. That white blur you see below the surface is one of my 24 " breeder Koi.



And in answer to your question about the sump tank, yes it does contain baffles that I installed. They are plastic afixed in place with silicone :mrgreen:

Aloha Don
08-19-2013, 06:28 PM
After seeing your system I took out my small floating bed and put in 3 buckets to wick the water up..
Thanks for your example...hope my plants do as well as yours