Aquaponic Gardening

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Hello everyone,

We have been absent for a little while from this site but we wanted to share a project with you.  These are the plans for a micro aquaponics system that we have had up and running for 18 months now and it is going really well.  We wanted to share the plans with as wide an audience as possible so that anybody could put together their own small, cheap aquaponics system just to get a feel for how it works.

Please feel free to take a look at what we have done, and if anyone has any feedback or questions then we would be very happy to answer.  I am sure that all aquapons share the passion to promote and develop aquaponics, and to convert just about everyone they know to aquaponics... so hopefully an easy little DIY project like this one can be a great starter... and one that kids can easily help with.

http://www.japan-aquaponics.com/micro-aquaponics-plans.html

Here is the finished article:

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Would be great to get some people's feedback on these little systems and if anyone has actually built them then we would love to hear from you.  This hack is now on the front page of Wikihow!  Hopefully more people will go out and build a system.

Can't say that I'll be building one.  However, I've enjoyed reading the material on your site and have made use of some of the recommendations.  For instance, I've added a T connector after my pump to help reduce the flow rate and improve water retention time in the grow bed.

As you already have a great web site up and running, would you mind adding a section on converting an aquarium to a mini-aquaponics system? 

Kent gave some great ideas such as raising Livebearers and using pool sand.  I have some numbers suggesting that a grow bed of 1/3 the tank volume is sufficient for 10 minutes of water retention time and still moving the volume of the fish tank water sufficiently.  Also, I think it's important to suggest weekly removal of fish solids as this help avoid anaerobic regions in the small grow bed that may otherwise eventually kill the fish.

Dave

Hi David,

Glad to hear that some of the info was helpful... loads more advice on this forum as well so you should never be short of answers... or wiling volunteers to help answer the questions!

Re the removal of solids, I have to say that this has never been a problem in the past 18 months.  We do use worms in the growbed so that helps somewhat I think.  There are some alternatives that I tried for a little while, and if you think that the amount of solid waste is building up:

  • In between plantings, give the growbed media a shuffle with your hand to dislodge any spots where solids might be building up too much - just distribute things around a little.
  • Vary where your inlet pipe to the water discharges so that it is not constantly discharging into the same spot.
  • Put a sock, or a stocking over the inlet pipe to catch the largest solids - empty if required or just let the solids mineralise from there.
  • Put a larger PVC pipe into the growbed where the water enters (similar size to media guard perhaps) and put filter media in here - again, a sock, or scrubbing pads, bird netting etc etc.  Make sure that the PVC pipe has holes in it to let the water out into the growbed.
  • Keep your stocking density low so that there is not too much solid waste coming up to the growbeds.

Just a few ideas if you think that solid waste will be a problem - but in our case it has not been yet to be perfectly honest. Good management of your system should ensure that there are few problems with solids and anaerobic areas.  As with all smaller systems you need to regularly monitor pH and nitrate/nitrite/ammonia levels as changes occur much faster in a smaller system.

By the way, you mentioned about the T-connector pipework.... if you want more plumbing tips then you should take a look at TCLynx on this forum as she has some excellent advice about plumbing that most of us follow!

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