The restaurant and food industry have been using IBC (Intermediate Bulk Container) tote bins for years to store perishable foods like olives and cheese.
Made out of food-grade plastic, they are also excellent to re-use for a home, school or work-based Aquaponic system. Some restaurant wholesalers will sell their used ones for about $100 each.
Two Pittsburghers, Bryan Bischoff and Michael Copeland, friends who met training for the “mudder” race, each have created Aquaponic systems using two IBC tote bins. The totes are 275 gallons in volume but are modified and cut at the top to allow for easy access to the fish and to let light come in for plants to grow.
Bryan estimates that the fish bin is about 150 gallons and the grow bin about 100 gallons.
Their systems are located indoors, in their basements and currently grow mostly tomatoes using Hydroton as a grow medium and a bell siphon to drain water back to the fish tank.
The two friends each started with just a handful of goldfish to get their Aquaponic systems running in August, and now they are eagerly awaiting a shipment of yellow perch fingerlings to power-up their grow beds with more plant vegetables. Yellow perch are native to the Great Lakes region and they are being delivered by truck from Mid-Atlantic Stocking in Owego, NY.
The reason for getting into Aquaponics in the first place? Kids. Both Bryan and Mike have small children and the concerns about what they and their family will eat became a bigger concern once they became fathers. Now, they have a little more peace of mind about where some of their food will come from and how it is grown.