I'm about 2 months in on my aquaponics setup and already I'm looking to upgrade.
I started with a small Back to Roots out of the box with some mint and tetras (more on that in my introduction thread). But, now I'm looking to go bigger for a few reasons:
Since I'm in a small studio apartment, I'm wanting to stick with a small display aquarium with enough grow bed to service for cocktail garnishes and the occasional salad.
Size, maintenance, and aeration have been my biggest issues with the Back to roots. So I'm starting off with this 15 Gal acrylic tank as my base aquarium. It retains most of the same width footprint while giving me 4-5" more depth to work with to add secondary filtration, equipment, and allow for some room to maintain the tank and do water tests. The greater height gives me the ability to grow my tetra school and add some bottom dwellers. The height also gives me the ability to have a proper gravel bed of 1" to allow eventual live plants and a nice home for the bacteria.
One of my biggest issues has been getting enough mechanical and biological filtration surface area. The tank kit comes with a hang over the back filter that can help increase this. I know that it's not traditional for aquaponics, but my design is to go for aquarium first and take advantage of the nitrates, not super high yeild plant growth. The grow bed can then be used as an added benefit for filtration. I will likely keep the air stone as a way to add more oxygen to the system (although now I will have a nice water flow from the grow bed and over the side filter).
I'm going a bit low tech, the grow bed will likely be a 12"x8"x6" rubbermaid or the closest size I can find that fits. I hope to be using a flood and drain method with a large grow bed rather than the limited grow pods with continuous flow (more on this decision below). Eventually I would like to make this grow bed have a custom housing and hinge it so that it can cover the tank fully during normal operation but move out of the way completly (or mostly of the way) for maintenance, testing, feeding, etc.
This tank will have a custom wooden stand. The stand isn't really part of the aquaponics setup, but it does give me dedicated storage for my test kit, liquid seaweed, food, etc.
Since this will be a bit of a hack and build I hope to do this in stages (maybe a few workshop hours and $20-50 a week) over probably 2-3 months.
I hope to use this thread as the journal for an open source (and open discussion) about this setup and I hope to share the actual plans, equipment, and stuff on Github or something similar so that it can be repeated since I think really beautiful aquarium hydroponic setups are less documented.
If you have any reccomendations I'd love to hear your feedback! I should be starting on the stand/cabinet in the next few days so there's definitely time to change some of the future plans (the stand can't change too much since I have only a 24"x30" spot on my floor).