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Starting New Build in Ochelata, OK, USA

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  • #16
    Originally posted by kerber View Post
    Kerber Sand Tests

    One of the important steps for iaVs is the select the appropriate sand. Reference link for testing sand is provided. Below are the results of our sand testing.

    We live north of Tulsa, OK. The Arkansas river flows through Tulsa and several sand companies are located south of Tulsa. All sand in the area comes from these quarries. Two sand samples were collected: Sample-1 did not pass the Vinegar Test, so no futher testing was conducted. Sample-2 results are below.

    1. Vinegar Test - The sand was inert (no carbonates).
    2. Turbidity - See pic-1.
    3. Diffenential Settling - See pic-2.
    4. Pore Space Volume - Used 4 gallons of sand (16 cups) as indcated in directions. The original distance of sand to the top of the bucket was 2" (see pic-3). It took 3/4 gallon (14 cups) of water to saturate the sand bringing the water to the top of the sand. 14/16 = 87.5%; 12.5% I then waited 5 minutes and was able to remove 4 cups of water off the top of the sand. Recalculating gives 10 cups of water to 16 cups of sand. 10/16 = 62.5%; 37.5%

    Note: I'm a bit unsure about this test, but I think the Pore Space Volume test must be 'in the range' between 25% and 30% (based on the 12.5% and 37.5% results above). Your input / thoughts are welcome on this one.

    Regarding a drop in the volume of sand in the bucket after soakings: after soak #1, the sand level dropped 1" (see pic-4); after soak #2, the sand level dropped another 1" (see pic-5).

    5. Hydraulic Conductivity - Results are shown in pic-6.
    6. Water Retention - no results specific to this as it was part of Pore Space Volume test.
    7. pH - regular tap water tested 6.2, tap water with sand 6.2, tap water with sand stirred up 6.2
    8. Full Chemical Analysis of Water - Have not done this yet; will post results when available

    As I interpret these results, this sand should work for iaVs. BUT, if you see any red flags with the results, please advise asap. (Our current plan is to purchase the Sample-2 sand this coming week or the following week.)

    Thanks all!
    What can you tell me about the sand in terms of its sand fractionation range? It looks to be almost gravel in some of your photos.

    I'm a bit concerned about the 2" slump that has occurred during the tests. That suggests to me that there has been substantial settling...with small particles having gravitated into the void spaces. That will be less of an issue if the particle size of the sand errs on the large....but it will definitely be a problem if small particles (less than 0.25mm) are working their way down into the lower reaches of the beds.

    What was the original depth of sand in the bucket before you commenced testing?

    Don't be afraid to sacrifice a 5 gallon bucket by drilling 3/16" drain holes at the point where the side meet the bottom. That will allow for as many tests as it requires to confirm that the hydraulic conductivity remains where it should be. Given what you've already spent on this build, this will be a good investment.

    Visual inspection of a dry sand sample...just a handful...should give you a further indication of the sand fractionation range.


    • #17
      The sand bed dimensions (poly bunk feeders) are interior 26" wide x 106" long x 16" deep. I've estimated each sand bed requires 90 gallon to flood; empty of sand, I've estimated each sand bed holds 150 gallons of water; estimating sand reduces the water by 60 gallons.

      The sump is 24.5" wide x 120" long x 16" deep (estimated 200+ gallons).

      About the IBC for the fish tank. I looked at many options, but they were quite expensive and most did not have a cone bottom. So we decided to try the IBC for now.

      The vertical towers will have their own high powered pump. The water flow is continuous from the sump to the towers and the drain back into the sump is also continuous. The sand beds have their own pump and timer and the plan would be to flood them one at a time in succession.

      Yes, the sump is in-ground and the sand beds are above ground. The sand bed drains dump directly into the in-ground sump.

      I believe I am ok in my sump size, but would like your input. I figure the 275 gallon fish tank, 200 gallon sump and flooding sand bed 1, will reduce the fish tank by 90 gallons leaving it with 185 gallons. Then separately, sand bed 2 will flood using 90 gallons and return.

      The current plan is for 4" drain pipes and 1.5" water supply pipes.


      • #18
        Regarding sand tests: I do not know about the 'fractionation range'. We just asked for course sand and showed the printout of the 'hand selection guide' ( The man that advises at the quarry directed us to two sand sources (the two samples I spoke about in the post).

        You are correct. Once settled, it seemed to have almost gravel and sand mixed from the appearance.
        The bucket itself used for the sand tests measures 11.75" from bottom to top level. The original depth of sand before the test measured 9.75" (shown in pic-3).

        I've taken a picture of the dry sad just now. See pic-7 attached. What do you think about the appearance and fractionation range?

        The Hydraulic Conductivity test utilized a 5 gallon bucket with a number of holes at the bottom. Look at the results shown in pic-6, where we repeated the test 5 consecutive times. The only drop in the sand level occurred with the first test.when it went from dry sand to wet and dropped 3/8"(measuring 9.75" dry to 9.375" wet and water drained out via the holes in the bottom perimeter of the bucket). Each of the 4 consecutive tests showed no sand drop.

        I just now looked again on iAVs and see this - I'll read it and will contemplate all (I think I missed seeing this one somehow). If I can get a better sand from Home Depot or Lowes that will be great. We were headed out tomorrow to pick up the sand that we had tested, but I'lll postpone and research more.

        Let me know what you think about the pic-7 and the added details given here.
        Attached Files


        • #19
          On the Hydraulic Conductivity test 16 cups of water went 'in'. The amounts of water coming 'out' the bottom holes of the bucket are shown in the results chart (pic-6) rightmost column.


          • #20
            Just me thinking "outloud", but I get the feeling you're kinda overthinking this whole iAVs business and trying for perfection. Can't speak for everyone, but I have found iAVs to be a bit flexible in its requirements, and forgiving of someone's venturing outside the envelope a little. If you're having trouble sourcing "perfect" sand, look into coarse blasting sand. When I built my setup the "perfect" blend would have been a custom run at the sand supplier and would have been much more expensive than the coarse blasting sand I am now using ...... which has been working just fine for almost 2 years.
            How do you plan to flood each bed on their own individual schedule? That seems, to me anyway, as if it could get more costly than necessary. Why not consider simple ball valves on the supply lines going to each bed? I think youre going to need some sort of control over input as your system matures, anyway.
            I've experimented with both the timing and duration of the flood cycles with no harm to fish or plants.
            Over time you should find the same ; iAVs is the most versatile, forgiving, simple system. Once you get it set, everything runs pretty much on cruise control. Relax and enjoy your system.
            I'll be watching your progress with interest. I intend to expand my system this spring with the same feeders.


            • #21
              Kerber...I agree with what Aufin has to say about iAVs being more flexible that perhaps we realise sometimes. Having said that, if we get too much fine material in the mix, it will (over time) gravitate to the bottom reaches of the bed and inhibit drainage...with all of problems that accrue from that. At the other extreme, the beds may drain too quickly...and that has consequences, too. Of course, given the choice between the two, I'll go for the beds that drain a little too well. That can be addressed by top dressing the beds with some sand of around 0.4mm in diameter.

              In the meantime, I suggest that you keep flooding your bucket (the one with the holes in it...and time how long it takes to go from draining flat out to becoming just a few drips here and there. If the duration of the drain increases with successive floods, you know that the finer particles in the mix are migrating downwards. If it's stable, then it's OK.

              While not wishing to appear flippant, the worst that you have to look forward to is to shovel the sand back out. Getting the correct sand is the most arduous part of iAVs. The rest, as Aufin has attested, is easy. You're getting close now...and you're to be commended for your systematic approach.


              • #22
                I appreciate the various inputs from both Aufin & Gary! It's ok to take a bit more time to try to find the best sand and in the worst case we can clean the sand beds (but I'd rather not). It's not obvious from the yellow pages and internet where to find it, but as we talk to various persons, we are peeling back new layers of information and following the tips.

                I read Mark's document talking about getting sand via Home Depot. 1) I went there today and they made the call to local (Tulsa) wholesaler Quikcrete - the coarse and medium grades will have to come from Atlanta, GA and likely an entire pallet of each. Waiting to hear a price quote. 2) I was able to go online again searching 'quikcrete #1963' and found a wholesaler myself in Tulsa - they too would have to get a full pallet at $260 each pallet.

                3) One of the sales persons gave me a tip on a local commercial concrete/mason supplier who may have the coarse blasting sand that Aufin suggested. We went there: the blasting sand was very small size, but they had graded course and medium sands. $5.50 for 80 lb bags. Emphasis on 'graded' and clean. We bought one 80 lb bag of each and will test them tomorrow (Sample 3) using the 7 parts coarse to 3 parts medium that Mark's post suggested. I expect the size and drainage to be good. We'll have to pass the vinegar and ph test first. These are also sourced from the Arkansas River right here in Tulsa, as were our Samples 1 and 2. Sample1 did not pass the vinegar test, but passed the ph. Sample 2 passed both. I think Sample 3 will be better yet on all. Getting closer.
                Last edited by kerber; 01-26-2018, 11:26 AM.


                • #23
                  I originally tested the ph in the mason jar, Turbidity Test. I think it had been sitting for sometime - maybe 2-4 hours. There was a couple of very cold weeks between items 1,2,3 and 4,5,6,7.

                  Item 7. pH - regular tap water tested 6.2, tap water with sand 6.2, tap water with sand stirred up 6.2
                  was a separate test, where I took some of my sand sample 2, approximately 1/2 cup, and filled the balance of the 8 oz cup with water, stirring up the sand with a spoon. I don't think I waited too long - maybe 3-5 minutes at most. Now realizing, I likely did not leave enough time.

                  I will be running all tests on a Sample 3 tomorrow. I'll make sure I note how long the sand has been in the water and will do more than one ph test with time intervals noted. I had earlier read your posts documenting your challenges with ph. Sure want a stable range pH.

                  BTW - Gary says he will move all these posts to my topic "Starting New Build in Ochelata, OK, USA". He has to do it as Administrator. For now, I'm just keeping it all together here, so he can move it all at the same time and it'll be in correct time sequence.


                  • #24
                    Just a thought, have you considered decomposed granite...?
                    Not sure what is available in your neck of the woods, but I will consider it when I expand beyond the two beds I have.
                    .....just a thought, mh


                    • #25
                      Have not looked for decomposed granite (yet). Started with sand since it's abundant here.


                      • #26
                        Kerber Sand Tests – Round Two

                        After reading Mark’s article,, we sought out the home boxes stores for Quikcrete Commercial Grade Sands (coarse & medium). The Quikcrete supplier advised Home Depot, these two grades are not available currently in Oklahoma and would contact Atlanta, GA to then quote and it would likely be a minimum of a crate (much above the amount we need). We have yet to hear from Quikcrete via Home Depot.

                        One of the sales persons provided a tip on a local commercial grade sand company, so we sought them out the same day. We purchased one 80 lb bag each of ‘coarse’ and ‘medium’ grades of sand. We mixed these two grades per Mark’s article (7 coarse to 3 medium). This is our Sample-3. Below are the results of our sand Sample 3 testing.

                        1. Vinegar Test - The sand was inert - no carbonates .
                        2. Turbidity - See pictures (after 10 seconds).
                        3. Differential Settling – See picture (taken after 13 hours)
                        4. Pore Space Volume - Was 30%. Used 5 gallons of dry sand, which took 24 cups of water to saturate. Sand depth in blue bucket was 13”. The original distance of sand to the top of the bucket was 1.5" (see pic). There was no noticeable drop in the sand level with soaking.
                        5. Hydraulic Conductivity - Used 5 gallons of sand. The depth of the sand was 11.5”. Results are shown in chart attached. Note: the sand level was very stable and did not drop.
                        6. Water Retention - no results specific to this as it was part of Pore Space Volume test.
                        7. pH - regular tap water tested 6.2, tap water with sand (after 20 minutes) 6.2, tap water with sand (after 12 hours) 6.2
                        8. Full Chemical Analysis of Water - Have not done this yet; will post results when available

                        As I interpret these results, this sand, should work for iaVs.
                        Thanks all!
                        Attached Files
                        Last edited by kerber; 01-28-2018, 06:05 AM.


                        • #27
                          Congratulations, Kerber. Don't be concerned about having too much sand. It's likely that you'll expand at some stage so, aside from the fact that it can be used for many other things, too much sand is no big deal.


                          • #28
                            So, how's everything coming along? Been a while.