Hello from NE Oklahoma!

Been working on this system for a long time as I am doing the system design and construction… Really surprised at the total lack of Aquaponics in the area… learning how to build out a CHOP I AP system was find what I can on the web and go get into it! My AP system is not anything so inventive or new— thought what I was designing would supply all the water I needed from one pump but the 2nd pump is working at watering the towers and will do the NFT channels also…1200 sq ft chinese style greenhouse. 1200 gal of water in 2 tanks and sump 2 large media beds ( sandponic or iAVS) do the filtration and grow beds for vines (44 toms in!) hope to have 1800 grow sites… hope to prove out as a model for a much larger GH that will use Geo-Thermal heating and cooling —trying to make it work year round without fossil fuels for heating or cooling… more on the GH later…have been doing a ‘fishless’ cycle going into the 2 nd weeks fish coming soon!!

pic is old and will post updates if there is any interest…

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ok step one scoop out all of the sand from the system and replace it with lava rock. This simply does not work and is not remotely food safe.

thank you for your input…


I appreciate all the hard work you’ve been putting into the system. Also love the geothermal inclusion!

In my experience there is not one way to do aquaponics. While sandponics will certainly have limitations, so does a media system filled with lava rocks. For instance the lava rocks are going to be a literal pain to dig through when you are trying to pull roots. A better alternative might be a base layer of lava rocks combined with hydroton or expanded shale as the top layer to allow for ease of digging through the media without roughing up your hands too much. Ultimately your media needs to be inert so it doesnt leach out any unwanted chemicals into your water. Also some other qualities of media would be porous and lightweight. There is a company in SE oklahoma called Symbiotic Aquaponic. They have expanded shale readily available and cheaper then what you would find in a store. You may want to reach out to them to see if you can purchase any?

Sometimes you have to work with what you got though!

Here is an recent article exploring sandponics:

Potentponics is a strong believer in the dual-root zone method for growing in aquaponics so take what he says with a grain of salt… or sand in this case.

For some constructive criticism some issues you may encounter with using sand as the growing media would be the following:

  1. Sand is heavy, especially when wet

  2. Without adequate filtration before the beds, the sand could get clogged up very quickly with biosolids as well as plant roots. Once clogged the sand can easily turn anaerobic and would require cleaning which can be rather difficult and time consuming.

  3. Sand is relatively expensive, especially if you have to continue replacing it!

  4. Sand can move throughout the system and clog filters or settle in tanks or stay suspended in the water which could cause turbidity issues.

Are you planning on growing the fish and plants to sell or for yourself?

Hey now dual root zone production is the gold standard in basicly every commercial aquaponic cannabis facility, every fruit tree facility, and most medicinal herb production facilities currently doing large scale commercial production of those crops in aquaponics. It not only works its been proven to work time and time again and provides a better product than growing with out it in every crop. Thats easily quantifyable with terpene and flavonoid testing this isnt an argument any more.

Now compare that to failed sand beds who refuse to release any data metrics on production and have 0 commercial facilities using the method vs millions of dollars made per year with dual root zone production.

Not remotely the same to compare the 2 methods. Dual root zones planting actually works.

Question: I have read and been told that the sand in an iAVs will not clog, and that any prefilters or separators were not required. SO which is it? I think this is a critical point to resolve. Especially before i start my build!!

Jamesgang: I had looked into the Subterranean heating and cooling back when it was known as the “sunny john” and my feeling was that it was too expensive and too much work (but your situation may differ). Also, appalacian university did a couple of builds and wrote a paper on the results… This was at least 10 years ago. It was a multiple year project and while the first year was made public i never saw the results from the second year but was told they formed a company and went commercial. No idea whether they survived. I doubt it.
MY experience (MA zone 5b/6a) i went with a design called Solaroof… which basically was a double layered GH and the thought was to fill the empty space with soap bubbles for insulation at night. I never got that far because i was pleasantly surprised to discover my GH Never had a hard freeze even with temps as low as -14F. I did have frosts and would still lose some sensitive crops. I added 2 - 8 foot dia. tanks , 4 ft deep and never saw a frost again. Crops grew through the winter with a slowdown in mid Jab - Mid feb and would start growing again.
My largest issue was that the double glazing caused low light level and cole crops did not grow well through the winter. FYI, my wall space was 2 feet on the sides and 3 feet on the roof. I had it for 3 years until the blizzrard of 2013 took it down.
I hope to rebuild this year.
Good luck with your project!