Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

Discovering aquaponics has been an interesting journey for us. I started discussing it with my hubby as a way for us to cut the grocery bill and I liked the idea of a closed loop system rather than the traditional soil gardening style. We considered the Ruth Stout gardening system and will likely use that in conjunction with and adjacent to the aquaponics. My parents also got excited about AP and now the system needs have grown significantly. We plan to feed 9+ family members and hopefully some to sell at the local flea market. With that in mind, the old barn was turned over to us for this venture. It was poorly constructed by previous owners and has suffered some damage in addition to that, but with some TLC and adding walls on 2.5 sides, we will have 30' x 49'6" to work with. It has a freeze hydrant and electricity, but the wiring inside the barn will probably have to be replaced. 

The work list draft:

  • Draft up a new/larger aquaponics schematic while waiting for rain to stop 
  • Remove everything in the center hall of the barn not related to our project (horsey stuff gets a new home)
  • Use the tractor bucket to muck (horse poop, goat poop, and hay all in early compost stage)
  • Check electrical lines and water lines for any issues
  • Horse stall setup relocation (new horsey home)
  • Some PT exterior plywood side walls added 
  • Create chicken duplex in the shed and a chicken yard just off those - keeping the two breeds separate. Will add a small brooding area for the Silkie hens we will be adding soon.
  • Build short portable tunnels to allow the chickens bug eating privileges in the planned kitchen garden (just Southwest of the West barn door)
  • Build and hang doors on both ends of barn (East, West)
  • Build and hang interior doors (2 for chicken pens, maybe one or two for other purposes)
  • Begin rough layout for AP setup


Item 1 completed (see attachment)

Item 2 - in progress

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That is a big project! My first recommendation is to start a small system right away so as you are building you are learning aquaponics - you are also getting a head start on raising bacteria. Starting small will help in that when you make mistakes they are small mistakes and not big ones. Don't give up your terrestrial garden, the two gardens can complement each other. You can start your plants in AP and transplant to the dirt in the spring. In the summer you can also use AP water and fish waste in your garden. Don't expect your AP system  to mature for a couple of years.

This is the draft of our proposed AP setup. I discussed starting small with all involved and got a big VETO on that idea. The stall door section will be removed in a couple days and I will be able to get inside with the small tractor and blade the barn floor. There is moisture several inches down with a couple inches of dry matter on top. The moisture problem is from buildup on the North side of the barn that causes rain to flow into the stalls and sit. I began work with the small tractor today, blading soil away from that area and down into the catch pen where there is no grass currently growing. Will have to break up some stubborn clay before finishing that task. Once the stall door unit is removed and I have the scrap lumber and goat stanchion moved, I can see how dry I can get the barn floor area. Whatever material we move out of the barn can be used in the soil garden we plan adjacent to the barn.

`Wow! That is ambitious!  Best of luck!


Carla&Dave said:

`Wow! That is ambitious!  Best of luck!


Thanks! We made a little progress and some changes to the draft based on outside input to simplify plumbing. I will post pictures as we get started. 

Looking at your thought comes to mind...I WANNA PLAY!  love your idea ! hope your actualy making your own bell syphon pumps w recycled materials. I am jealous that i dont have room to expand or build like that. I love creating these systems. Good Growin to Ya! Wild Dog

There are lots of things you can do but the first thing I would change is moving the GBs far enough from the walls to walk around for ease of bed planting/harvesting. 40% of your media beds will be water so your sump will need to be large enough to hold all the water the beds hold in case they all drain at the same time. 12 beds @40 gallons each = 480 gallons so you will need a minimum 500 gallon sump.

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