Building an Aquaponics System
Planning, sizing and building an aquaponics system. There are three distinct steps for creating your aquaponics system. Aquaponics is the combination of raising fish and vegetation together, using the fish composed manure as nutrients for your plants.
In this article, we will be discussing the building stage of an aquaponics system. Now that you know that you have your plans for your aquaponic system as well as the testing completed and size of the system has been calculated and you are ready to start.
I hope that you found a forum that you like and have started building relationships with people in the community. Having a community to connect with, will make a huge difference as you find new challenges to overcome and turn into more skills and conversations in the forum.
We will look at the small size system and how to build your in house system. A small home system, could be a Counter Top System about 2 square feet in area. You can get a small to medium sized aquarium at a yard sale, purchase a pump (except the standard pump came with the tank), a plastic storage box and material for a growing medium.
Now follow these steps, as this is my test bed.
1. The Grow Bed is where the plants grow. The grow bed medium can be anything that will support the plants. You can use smaller rocks or expanded clay. You can also use a clean metal screen to support the plants. Just make sure that it is clean.
2. Fill the aquarium and verify that you do not have any leaks and that your pump works
3. Now you need to drill two holes in the end of the grow medium box
1 for the Pump to go through
1 as an over flow valve in case drain holes fail.
4 or 5 smaller holes on the lower side of the box to drain the water back to the tank
4. Place the grow bed on top of the tank, angle the bed box so that the bed will drain properly, as the water is pumped to the grow bed, then it drains back to the aquarium.
5. Set up your pump so that you can set up a flow schedule that does not drown the plants.
6. Now run the system to ensure it does not over flow and look for any issues.
7. Wash your growing medium, and place into your growing bed.
8. Go to the local pet store, or talk to one of your new friends in the forum and find the type of fish that you want to grow. (A pet store may purchase Koi if you grow them to a certain size)
9. Once the water is balanced, the fish are thriving, now you start growing in your new aquaponic system! Lettuce is a good first crop according to what I have read. But choose what it is you want to grow!
10. Test, Test, Test and change what does not work for you to what does work for you. It is a journey of building relationships and discovering a new passion and joy in your life.
As you choose to make a larger system, scale it up and ask questions from our community of experts. I will share my experiences as we build our Aquaponics system here in Colorado.