I forgot to mention in my last update that back in December, I ripped out all my 1/2" PVC piping and replaced it with 1" black irrigation piping. The difference in flow is fantastic. I think this is crucial due to the CHOP MARK II configuration I'm using. Since in this system, part of the water is always returned to the tank before going through grow beds, you need to move more water than you would in a "traditional" system in order to move the same amount of water-dissolved nutrients and fish waste through all the beds and any filters you may have.
When I had 1/2" PVC, the flow into the tank hardly made a splash. And that was with two 500-GPH pumps running simultaneously. Now the flow is fantastic. I haven't measured it yet (and didn't then), but suffice to say it disturbs the water plenty. If you think pump power is all that matters, think again. You'll get much more flow out of the same pump with a larger diameter pipe.
I did this the day before taking off for a two-week vacation, and was pleased to find the water crystal clear upon my return (yes, I do have someone around who checks on the system).
There is not a lot to update right now. I am waiting for a Matala filter system so that I can install some floating raft beds. Turns out my order (placed in early December) was lost and so I just reordered. I considered making my own filter system, but after checking out Matala's materials and their own purpose-built filter box for the filters, decided the cost-value of designing my own wasn't worth it. I'm getting the basic model, without the UV light. That's only necessary for aquaculture-only systems and don't think the bacteria would enjoy the UV light very much.
In the meantime, this weekend I removed all the basil plants in grow bed #1 and replaced them with lettuce and cabbage. The basil was ready to go and the only reason I ever planted as much as I did is because at the time I had to plant something and that's all I had. It will be interesting to see how the lettuce and cabbage grow in the gravel grow beds and then see how they do in the floating raft system.
Here's a video of the first basil plant coming out. I was impressed by the root system.
And here are some pics.
This video is just a quick update on what I've been doing: