Alpha Prototype & MBG Display System 

The Alpha Prototype was Michigan Aquaponics’ first attempt at creating an aquaponics system. Built in the summer of 2015 by students Seongjun Kim and Eric Li, the flood and drain media system featured a media bed of Hydroton with an automatic bell siphon. Water drained every 3 minutes into a 10 gallon fish glass fish tank with ten goldfish, giving us incredible oxygenation. In the 7 months which we ran and maintained the system in the Matthaei Botanical Gardens, we observed mature growth of our leafy greens in under three weeks.

Being our first design, we had several issues with the function of our system. One issue was that the media bed was built on a slight incline, inhibiting the ability for our bell siphon to function properly. We also found that the water level in the fish tank was fluctuating due to the lack of a sump tank. Our changes to this system are described below. 

The Alpha Prototype media bed and bell siphon
Significant growth of lettuce after just two weeks.  
The Alpha system with display signs in Matthaei Botanical Gardens
 Seongjun, Amy, James, and Hannah work on the initial construction of the system. 

To address these issues we redesigned the Alpha system into a small scale CHOP2 System where the pump is placed in a small sump tank and feeds to both the media bed and the fish tank at the same time. We also increased the size of the media bed and redesigned the bell siphon. With these changes, we hope to see better function of this system and keep it running as a display system in Matthaei. We are calling this system update the Matthaei Display System, which is expected to be up and running soon.   

The Matthaei Botanical Gardens Display System Design