Aquaponic Gardening

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I'm throwing this out there for discussion, spawned by a recent blog, but something on my mind since first being interested in AP.  NO PUMPS. Can it happen, and how?

Why? Well, 'cause if we didn't need pumps or electricity we probably wouldn't use them, and AP might truly join the ranks as a sustainable food production method, and applicable to feeding the poor, saving the world, yada yada...and at the heart of it all, I'm cheap and lazy. I find personal victory in reaching the end goal faster, smarter, easier, cheaper than "how it normally done".

The only thing that comes to mind is a wicking bed of some sort. And I need to consult my book of wild ideas before I open my mouth.

Now I won't be a stickler about including some pumps using waste energy, or some low-tech mechanics, or human power, but try to avoid solar PV and windmill electricity (not that they are not excellent, but they are being done and discussed elsewhere).

link to blog:

Pics, sketches, links, etc are always nice. Happy brainstorming.


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(TCLynx I was typing and didn't read your last post before I posted)

I am thinking the plumbing would definitely be a challenge for dumping into the top one but a siphon with a garden hose (Chemical leech from cheap hoses could be a problem but that's another talk) or a valve on some large PVC pipe (4 inch maybe) that could be attached and removed could possibly take care of it.

I am thinking the faster the sump dump the better but I admittingly do not know the best plumbing for that haha

I appreciate your ability (and willingness) to post drawings.

The see-saw seems problematic from a practical standpoint for the fish and plants, but also with a high potential for breakdown, spillage, and injury.


The "coil" below is an Archimede's screw.
Bob Campbell said:

TC is right about the plumbing.  Not that something couldn't be rigged but the traveling sump tanks seem a bit complicated.  As I recall this idea began with one media/fish tank on a seesaw.  Lifting it was a problem, but we now have a good basic idea for moving a lot of weight and tipping the seesaw. 

Another idea I was thinking about for the seesaw would be a counter weight that would be moved either by a screw through the center or a cable on a come along as shown here;

But TC's pump idea would seem simpler.  Using the peddles of a bicycle again for human power we should be able to move a lot water from the sump to an elevated holding tank with a coil pump and then let gravity feed the water back through the system.. 

The coil pump, as many low lift pumps, is commonly used for irrigation purposes and for drainage of lands. It is currently still used by farmers in Asia.[1]

^ Omitted the word "variation"--Archimedean screw variation.

Oi vey. Just for giggles, get a rolling pin and a rectangular plastic container.  Fill the container with water, and maybe some foam or something to represent the plants.  Balance (but don't let go) the container on the "fulcrum" that is the rolling pin and tip it side-to-side, back and forth. 


Please report your findings here.  (I suspect you'll be prepared to share about a hiccup you discovered.)
Bob Campbell said:

I woke this morning with an idea for the seesaw.  It could be rolled back and forth to vary the position of the fulcrum. Hey ya'll, I wrote a response to this thread. I haven't looked at it in a few days, so sorry for any inaccuracies regarding anyone's work. I will promptly change my analysis. Oh, by the way, there is the tiniest bit of swearing, and a lot of sarcasm, but not demeaning to anyone I promise! @KlaHaYa Gardens, by troll I just mean someone who gets into arguments really, really easily about something inconsequential. It's called a concern troll. When you thought I called you unintelligent, I was really writing late at night and didn't see a syntactical mistake. What I was trying to say (and it's still inflammatory, I'm sorry) was I did not think anyone was unintelligent, the educational seriously fails people. To reiterate, I did not call you unintelligent; I called you an ignoramus. That was wrong. I'm sorry. Anyway...

Hello Eric.  I enjoyed reading your blog


These machines are very all ingenious but all depend on technical prowess and an external source of power.

No-one here has yet looked at the Shaduf which is the most efficient way for a human to lift water.

Graham K

The shaduf was actually mentioned in earlier posts Graham. I think essentially it is just a counterweight which the idea of a counterweight for lifting has been incorporated in many different ways especially with Bob's teeter totter idea illustrated above. Albeit not identical to a shaduf haha.

The Shaduf might be a relatively easy way to lift water using mostly man power, however, how many people here are going to spend all day operating it?

Yeah I would have to say my cut off point for a realistic amount of man-powered time spent per day would be about an hour a day or less or it just wouldn't be worth it for the pay off. 

I would just turn to Geoff Lawton's "food forest" technique instead and shut down my AP. I love that guy haha.

well this is an interesting topic.. Yes you can do aquaponics without a "tipical" pump. Just by using airasion you can move enough water to make it work.  

I know there are people here that have pumpless fishtanks. ones where there is a tube to the bottom of the tank with an air stone in it."this what moves the water. Using the same process taking a tank putting 2 holes in the side. One at the bottom. this is return. and one just above water lvl. About one inch big each. the bottom hole is the return from the grow bed. on the inside put a 45 or a 90 to keep your tanks water moving. the out side goes to the bottom of the grow bed. the top hole on the inside has a 90 and a section of tubing to the bottom of the fish tank. on the outside with a slight downward flow to the top of the grow bed. This completes your plumbing. in the uptube of the outlet.( the tube on the inside of the fish tank that goes up to the top hole) place an air stone inside it. the way it works is as the air goes up the tube it forces water out the top. this water flows downward to the grow bed then back to the tank via the return line.

I hope that did not confuse you

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