Aquaponic Gardening

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I read that one method of vegetable growing in an aquaponics system is to take recycled one liter soda bottles with the bottoms cut off and hung upside down with grow media and on rows to allow water to flow through the media and through each one. I'm looking to cut costs as much as possible so would this be a viable option for a beginner? I have a 55 gallon fish tank that I intend to fill with tilapia (Or whatever fish is easier to grow since I'm new at this).

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Soda bottles? Why not? The only downside I can think of is that it might take quite a bit of plumbing to connect enough bottles to cover a 55 gallon fish tank.

I've done this on a small scale. It does work, and is certainly one of the better looking incarnations of aquaponics. There are some things to think about though:

  • Unless you have a large window space to work with, it may be hard to provide the grow space needed to balance a 55 gallon aquarium. Most would recommend having approximately the same volume of media to water initially, and expanding the grow space over time. I would suggest starting with a low stocking density and/or pairing your window garden with a media bed to achieve this.
  • Worms. Their ability to break down solid waste makes them essential (in my view) to a sustainable system. I am not sure if a worm could survive in the small amount of media one bottle would provide. If someone has tried this, I would love to know how it worked out for the worms. Maybe have the top bottle of each column be a particularly large one to be safe? That is where the majority of solids would collect I imagine.
  • Most water bottles are made of #1 PET plastic. There is much debate about the re-usability of this particular plastic, as it may leach plasticisers, antimony, or other chemicals into your system over time. I think the most popular opinion on the matter is that they do leach, but not in quantities that are particularly harmful to humans. I would suggest you read up on this and form your own opinion.
    • If possible, use HDPE bottles (#2). These are generally accepted as safe to reuse and are commonly what plastic milk jugs are made from, as well as the IBC totes that are so popular in aquaponics.

Take some pictures if you decide to try this and let us know how it goes!

That would work.  The window garden guys proved it...but they were doing hydroponics.  55 Gallons might be a bit much for those though.  

A couple of the concrete mixing tubs from Home Depot or Lowes would save you time and would be much easier to set up.  

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