Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

I set this system up in our kitchen last year to help hone my skills of growing lettuce and herbs using a 50 gal reservoir with the plans of switching to a 50 gal fish tank this year.  Just getting ready now  make that move, and trying to figure out what kind of filtering system would be best.  I used coco 3" cups in the gutters when doing "hydroponics" and I am wondering if I should switch to the clay in the gutters and add earthworms.  Am I barking up the wrong tree? Any advice out there?  Also wondering what kind of fish I can do in that size tank.  It is my hope to get the basic skills with the balancing between fish and plants and then go to something bigger and on a more commercial level.  We sure enjoyed our butternut lettuce all last winter and can hardly wait to have the aquarium right there in the kitchen!!







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Comment by Jesse Hull on December 21, 2011 at 5:34pm


Comment by TCLynx on November 7, 2011 at 7:03am

Here are a couple links with pictures of diagrams that might give you some ideas for how to lay things out.


Plumbing Class


I would caution about trying to fill the nft with media since unless they are especially huge, I know people who have run into major clogging doing that.

You would probably be better off having the fish tank over flow through the media bed and have a lower tank as a sump to collect that cleaner water and pump it back up to your NFT and fish tank.  If you are wanting to grow out edible size fish you probably need at least a 50 gallon fish tank to grow a few tilapia and you should probably start out stocking only one fish per cubic foot of media bed (that would be 1 fish per 7 1/2 gallons of media bed.)


So if your fish tank is 50 gallons but the grow bed is only 25 gallons, you should only start with 3 or 4 fish.  Once you become comfortable with aquaponics and the amount of fish your system can support you will probably be able to get away with more fish but by that time you won't be needing us to tell you how many fish your system can comfortably support.

Make sure you get a test kit so you can keep an eye on how things are going.

Comment by Oma Richmond on November 6, 2011 at 8:33pm

There is the golden key!  Filtration!  That is why I was so excited to find this group and be able to be connected to people who could guide me.  I was thinking of filling my NFT troughs with the clay balls and some earthworms (as I have a healthy 4 x 4 worm bin).  Do you think I can do that?   I am prepared to also use one of my two 25 gal reservoirs off to the side and (as you say) also have it doing double duty and filter and grow.  Just needing to wrap my mind around how I set up my pumps and timers so they will do that.

Thank you!!  

Comment by TCLynx on November 6, 2011 at 5:16pm

In addition to the "hydroponic" part of an aquaponic system and a "Fish tank" part, in my opinion the most important part of the aquaponics system is the Filtration.  If you are going to send fish water to your NFT troughs, you need to filter it first and the amount of fish your system can support short term is based on the filtration you have.  The long term load carrying capacity of a system is affected by the number of plants.


So, you need to plan some filtration for your system.  Just a tiny bit of clay balls in the net pots supporting your plants won't cover it.  You can either look into a separate filtration system or you might just get a tub and fill it with gravel or other media and flow your water through that before sending it to your NFT troughs.  Handy thing with the media bed, you can grow plants in it too.

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