Aquaponic Gardening

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My Grandfather and I are finally building an aquaponics system in his backyard. Living in Las Vegas in the heat of the day where temperatures can soar up to 110 degrees F proved to be a challenge. Our system design is pretty basic:

  • Fish tank is made of retaining wall concrete blocks and pond liner. Half of the tank is in the ground and the other half comes out of the ground by 1 foot. 160 Gallons total. 
  • There are hopefully going to be two grow beds which will be made out of wooden frames and pond liner. One grow bed will be on the south side and slightly higher than the second. The first will be a RAFT bed and the second a flood and drain. The RAFT bed flows into the Flood and Drain. 
  • We are planning to make a cheap greenhouse to go around it which will not have clear panels until the winter, instead it will have shade cloth. 

I will post pictures of the design I built from Google Sketchup soon. 

Is there anything you desert growers would recommend? What am i missing? I put the fish tank partially in the ground and on the north side of the system so that it is shaded and also heavily insulated. I am also putting a wooden cover over the tank so that fish won't jump out and also to avoid heavy evaporation. 

What am I missing for the plants? This is my very first system. The fish tank itself is almost exactly 160 gallons, but should I worry? I am working on the grow beds right now and will have volumes for them soon. 

Let me know! Any tips will be greatly appreciated!


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That's a challenge. I have similar problems in SoCal but maybe by half.

You should probably plan on having the whole thing covered all the time with that white material they use to make hoop greenhouses (shade cloth). Maybe rig it up to the house and the base. You don't need (or want) to keep the air in or out -- the goal is to reduce direct sunlight, which will help keep your water temp down and promote growth. You'll want this at first so that the plants don't die from the excess sun and heat, but you'll also need it because of how much heat the rocks hold in the GBs and pass through to your fish tank.

We usually want this on the south side of the house, but for you I'd shade to southeast of the house so as to get less direct sun, and when you're getting it more in the morning when it's not as hot. My GBs are right on the side of the house.

I like the rafts - that will control temp and evaporation.

Unless someone suggests otherwise, I'd recommend tilapia for being more heat tolerant. They won't live below about 64 though so in winter you'll need a way to heat. I have heaters on a timer, and I flood and drain less frequently at night to reduce heat loss.

Good luck. You'll work out some kinds and then it will work great. And working out the kinks is the fun part.

Hey Joel

hope things have been going good in your aquaponics here in Vegas. Now that is November, how did your system do in the heat?  Hopefully well see some pictures of your project.


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