If you’re thinking about starting an aquaponics farm, the first thing you’ll need to do is build it! I know, that sounds simple. But before you can begin building your system, there are a few things you should know.
First off, there are different types of aquaponic systems that are suitable for different types of climates and growing spaces.
The three main components in any aquaponics system are grow beds (where plants grow), fish tanks (where fish live), and sump tanks (where water from the grow beds drains back into).
|Aquaponic farming is a sustainable method of farming that combines aquaculture and hydroponics.|
|In an aquaponic system, fish waste is used to fertilize plants, which in turn filter and clean the water for the fish.|
|This closed-loop system results in highly efficient and eco-friendly farming.|
|Aquaponic systems can be used to grow a variety of crops, including fruits, vegetables, and herbs.|
|Some of the benefits of aquaponic farming include increased crop yields, reduced water usage, and no need for harmful pesticides or fertilizers.|
|However, aquaponic farming also comes with its own set of challenges, including the need for careful monitoring of water quality and nutrient levels, potential disease outbreaks among fish populations, and the initial investment required to set up the system.|
Install A Water Pump
The first step in building your aquaponics system is to install a water pump. Water pumps are available at most hardware stores and come in various sizes, ranging from small tabletop models to large industrial models that can pump thousands of gallons per minute (gpm) of water.
Aquaponic Pump Sizes
If you’re just starting out, it’s best to start with a smaller submersible or above-ground water pump for your home aquariums and grow beds.
These pumps usually range from 1/4 gpm up to 50 gpms depending on the size of your system and how much water flow is needed for your particular layout.
A good rule of thumb is that if you have one 400 litre fish tank or grow bed with four fish tanks or grow beds connected together then each should have its own separate pump so they don’t compete with each other while sharing the same line going back into an aquarium tank where food waste will be broken down by bacteria living there as well as nitrifying bacteria which turns ammonia into nitrates (which plants love).
If you are planning to set up an aquaponic system, check out our complete guide on aquaponics system. We have covered everything from system design, plant selection, to maintenance and control.
Make An Aquaponics Grow Bed
You will need to make sure that the grow bed is the right size. It needs to be big enough for all of your plants and media, but not so big that it won’t fit in your space.
The most important thing is that you use a material that will not corrode in water, so stainless steel or food grade plastic works great!
Make sure it’s strong enough to hold up under the weight when filled with soil and plants. Also make sure it can hold up under the weight of your fish tank when full if you have one!
|Grow Bed Type||Pros||Cons|
|Plastic Containers||Affordable, Available in different sizes, Easy to use and transport||Not very durable, may leach chemicals into water over time, blocks sunlight|
|Fiberglass Tanks||Durable, longer-lasting than plastic containers, Customizable, easy to transport||Expensive, prone to sun damage, limited size options|
|Wooden Beds||Natural-looking, easy to construct, customizable||May rot or decay over time, degradation can contaminate water with toxic chemicals|
|Concrete Blocks||Sturdy, Durable, Long-lasting, Cheap||Heavy, Cannot be moved easily, uneven water distribution, limited customization|
Assemble Your Flood Table
You’ll need a flood table to hold your water. A flood table is a trough filled with stones and gravel, which allows the water to flow freely into and out of the grow beds.
This system keeps the water moving and oxygenated for your plants, so that they don’t drown in stagnant water.
The flood table should be large enough to accommodate all of your grow beds, as well as any overflow from them if you have one or more extra drains installed alongside them (you can also make an overflow drain yourself).
Are you having trouble deciding what vegetables to grow in your aquaponic system? Our post on vegetables to grow in aquaponics provides a list of the best vegetables that can thrive in an aquaponic system.
Prepare The Plumbing For Your System
Next, you’ll need to connect your plumbing. The pump should be connected to the grow bed, which then needs to be connected to the flood table.
Next, connect the flood table to your fish tank and install a water level controller if you’re using one (if not, skip this step).
Finally, attach tubing from your sump tank which sits above all of this equipment to each level of your system.
Build A Stand For The Grow Beds
To build a stand, you will need to use lumber. The most common types are pine and cedar but any light-weight wood that is sturdy enough to support the grow beds will work. You will also need an electric drill and screws or nails to hold each piece together.
An important step in the process of building your aquaponic farm is leveling the ground where you want it placed.
This can be done by either digging out some dirt from underneath or by adding dirt on top of it if there isn’t enough room for water circulation between layers of soil/sand/clay etc..
Once leveled properly, place two pieces of wood parallel with each other at least three feet apart from end-to-end with two more pieces perpendicular between these two parallel ones so they form an X shape when viewed from above (like upside down).
Now take another board running diagonally across these four boards and attach them together using screws or nails; this should provide enough strength for your grow bed supports but if not then add additional crosspieces until satisfied with its strength level.
Aquaponic Grow Bed Stand Comparison
|PVC Stand||Inexpensive, Lightweight, Easy to build, Customizable||May not be very sturdy, limited weight capacity|
|Wooden Stand||Sturdy, Durable, Customizable||Expensive, prone to water damage, requires maintenance|
|Metal Stand||Rust-resistant, Tough, Durable, Adjustable||Expensive, may require welding skills to build, prone to corrosion over time|
|Cinder Block Stand||Durable, easy to build, customizable, Cheap||Heavy, difficult to adjust height, may shift or crack over time|
Add Media To The Grow Beds
The media is the material that holds your plants. It should be dense enough to hold the plants in place, but porous enough to allow water to flow through it. This allows for a healthy environment for plant roots and prevents root rot.
The best materials for growing media are coco coir or polystyrene foam (Styrofoam), which are both biodegradable and easy to find at hardware stores.
If you are using soil as a growing medium, make sure it drains well so that water doesn’t pool at the bottom of your grow bed.
For example, if you’re using soil from your backyard garden, it might be too dense and compacted to allow proper drainage in an aquaponic system you’ll want something lighter like perlite or vermiculite instead!
Creating a private backyard farm is not an easy task, especially if you have a small space. However, our guide for making a small backyard private provides some practical and easy-to-follow tips that can help you create a peaceful and private backyard farm.
Add Plants To The Grow Beds
Now that your system is built and filled with gravel, you’re ready to add plants to the grow beds. This can be done in one of two ways:
Planting directly into the grow bed
As mentioned above, some plants are better suited for direct planting than others. Typically this is because they do not require much space between their roots and the water such as lettuce or herbs.
If you choose to plant directly into your aquaponic system, make sure that you have enough room between each plant so that they are not touching each other or touching any part of the water supply (it should flow freely over all surfaces).
Fill Your Aquaponics Grow Bed With Water
You’ll need to use a watering can, or another similar method of transferring water from your reservoir tank into the system.
To achieve optimal results, here are some tips on filling the grow bed:
Fill the grow bed until it is about 3 inches from the top—but not so full that plants will be standing in water!
Adding extra media (like gravel) to soak up excess water is also an option if you find yourself with too much liquid in your system.
Assemble A Fish Tank
To start, you can begin gathering your materials. It’s important that you make sure the tank is large enough to hold the fish you want to raise and has an overflow, so that water from the aquaponic system can be drained back into it if necessary (and not onto your floor).
Also make sure that the tank is made of a material that won’t corrode over time or leach chemicals into your water!
Once you’ve got all of those things together, it’s time for assembly. You’ll need some basic tools like a hammer and nails or screws along with whatever connectors are appropriate for your particular setup.
If you are interested in setting up an aquaponic system, consider checking out our article on the cost of aquaponics. We have explained the expenses you may encounter in setting up a system and what you need to know before starting.
Set Up And Connect The Sump Tank
Once the sump tank is in place and connected to both the fish tank and grow bed, you’re ready to connect a pump.
The pump will send water from the fish tank up into your grow beds, where it will trickle down through the gravel media.
The last step before adding plants or fish is testing your system. You want to make sure that everything is working properly before you add any living creatures!
Move And Test The System Before Adding Fish Or Plants
The first thing to do when building an aquaponic system is to move and test the system before adding fish or plants.
This way, you know that all parts are connected correctly, it’s working as expected, and it’s safe to add livestock.
You will also be able to make any repairs or adjustments needed before starting with live fish or plants in your system.
Following these steps can help you avoid major problems with your aquaponics system down the road—like having a leaky pump or clogged pipes!
Determining the right number of fish to keep in your aquaponic system can be challenging. Our post on fish density in aquaponics will help you understand how to measure fish density and what to keep in mind when deciding on the number of fish per liter of water.
Now you know all about Aquaponics and how it works. You have also learned how to build your own aquaponic farm.
Now it is time to get started, so get those shovels out of the shed and start building!
Here are some additional resources you can use to learn more about aquaponic farming:
The Technology Behind the Aquaponic Garden: This article explains the science behind aquaponic farming and how it works.
Aquaponics: The Complete Step-by-Step Guide: This guide provides a detailed overview of how to start an aquaponic system, including the materials, equipment, and processes needed.
What is an Aquaponics System? How Do They Work?: This article provides a clear explanation of what an aquaponic system is and how it differs from other forms of farming.
What Vegetables Can Be Grown in Aquaponics?: This article discusses the types of vegetables that can be grown using aquaponic farming methods and provides tips for growing them successfully.
How Much Does an Aquaponics System Cost? Explained: This article breaks down the costs involved in starting and maintaining an aquaponic system, including the initial investment and ongoing expenses.
How to Grow with Aquaponics in 5 Simple Steps: This article provides a simplified, step-by-step guide to setting up an aquaponic system.
How to Build a Homemade Aquaponic System from Scratch: This video provides a visual guide to building an aquaponic system using materials found around the home.
What is aquaponic farming?
Aquaponic farming is a sustainable farming method that combines aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (growing plants in water) to create a closed-loop system. In this system, fish waste is used to fertilize the plants, which in turn filter and clean the water for the fish. The result is a highly efficient and eco-friendly farming method.
What are the benefits of aquaponic farming?
Aquaponic farming has several benefits, including:
- Increased crop yields and faster growth rates
- Reduced water usage and waste
- No need for harmful pesticides or fertilizers
- Lower energy costs and reduced carbon footprint
- The ability to grow both fish and plants in the same system
What challenges are involved in aquaponic farming?
While aquaponic farming has many benefits, it also comes with its own set of challenges, including:
- The need for careful monitoring of water quality and nutrient levels
- The potential for disease outbreaks among fish populations
- The initial investment required to set up the system
- The need for specialized knowledge and expertise to maintain the system
- The limited range of crops that can be grown in an aquaponic system.
For 15 years, Hellen James has worked in the gardening industry as an expert and landscape designer. During her career, she has worked for a variety of businesses that specialize in landscaping and gardening from small firms to large corporations.