In my hunt for more information, mostly on the water pump, I was lead to Pacific Northwest Garden Supply where I was turned down for the pump as they typically deal with much larger systems but, I was helped by the knowledgeable staff about the hydroponic setup that I intend to build. A big Thank-you to Jeff for pointing me in the direction of using rock-wool with clay pebbles as the medium for growing the plant-life since there will be a constant flow of water circulating, and using this method will allow the wool to absorb the water and nutrients for the plants. It will also help in keeping solids from draining back into the tank. Then, since he was unable to help me with the pump himself, he sent me up the street to a great little fish tank store just a couple blocks away. My first impression of this place was that it was tiny, a bit dirty, but family owned and jammed packed with aquariums full of fish. The name of the place is Multiplex Aquarium & Pet Supplies and it was operated by a cute older Asian couple. Albert was very helpful after I had a chance to explain what I was doing and with very reasonable prices, I walked away with what I had set out for, a multi-use micro-pump that will give me about 15” of lift on the water for $31.
Now, with a start point and after some pretty poorly drawn designs to find out exactly what kind of plumbing materials I would need in order to make the best cosmetic design, while keeping the project as cost effective as possible. I set off for Home Depot. In continuing with my original idea, a primary goal of my design is to keep the materials as transparent as possible for peak interest and teach-ability for the children. This in mind, I picked up a roll of clear vinyl tubing, some hose clamps, some plumbing rods that I will customize into drains and a screen for an exit drain cover coming to a total of $45. That concluded my plumbing supplies. Seems pretty simple. The water goes from the pump that is in the fish tank, up to the planter, waters the plants, then drains back down to the fish tank.
Oh right! The planter. Well, to start, I need to extend the rack that came with the grow light and so picked up some 2′ lengths of square aluminum tubing and attached them. Easy, framework ready. A couple months ago, I came across a 1/4” thick sheet of plexiglass that was used under an office desk chair. I was unsure at the time for what, but I picked it up and stored it. I will now attempt to cut and form it into the planter tray.
With the framework pretty much ready, and the fact that I should be able to complete the planter tray this week, I should be able to start testing by the end of the week. I have learned that it takes about 6 weeks for the bacteria to create a livable environment for the fish I want in the new tank, so with the help of our very hardy tetras, I am excited to get the planter going and the water cycling.