Introduction: AquaGrown ( Fish + Plants )

Picture of AquaGrown ( Fish + Plants )

Aquaponics at home. This is one of many systems I have created during a journey to get Aquaponics systems in local classrooms. The one that you will learn about today is a very simple system that not only conserves water but allows you to grow various types of plants and even add more grow space to your Aquaponics system needed.

A Quick note: Yes this system takes a good amount of water to get started but I used less than 5 gallons of water every two weeks to grow a vast amount of vegetables. One thing to keep in mind it that you only lose water due to evaporation and plant intake. There is zero water loss when compared to ground watering gardens which you can loose up to 90% of the water.

The total cost of this system was $75 ( It was a goal to use recycled wood and parts when available )

What you will need to complete this project with ease:

Plumbing, Liner & Pump:

1- 45 GPH water pump (Home Depo) $30

Bell syphon : 1 Bulk Head, 3 - 1 foot 1/2 inch threaded pipes, 1 1/2 threaded right angle, 1 -1/2 threaded T

Link to an 'Instructable' on how to make a bell syphon:

7 x 7 ft of Pond liner


4-4 foot 4x4's For the Legs

16 - 3 1/2 foot 2x4s

1 - 55-gallon blue food grade container

1- 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 (1/2 inch flat board )

1 - 3 1/2 x 4-foot door ( I use an old upcycled chalkboard )


3 Medium Koi ( This is what will feed your system the nutrients it needs)

Black Lava Rock 5 1/2 bags ($8 per bag at Yard and Garden Land)

Construction Screws Approx 80 - 3 1/2 inch or 1 box

8 1/2 inch Construction Screws

Tools Needed:

Drill, 1/2 inch bit, Philips bit, drill bit 1/8th inch, Chop Saw, Table Saw, Hole saw, Right Angle, Measuring Tape

Step 1: Create Your Bed and Base.

Picture of Create Your Bed and Base.

Stack your 2x4's using the right angle to get the best fit. You will be creating a square frame out of 4 -2x4s, repeat this process 4 times to create your outside bed frame Shown in image 1 and 2. On the bottom of the frame you will be adding the square 3 1/2 ft plywood as the bottom support of your bed. At this time it's good to cut 3/4 through the wood to place the bulkhead. Do not cut all the way through with the hole saw you will only need to cut 3/4 of the way through. Chipping out the remaining areas. This was a simple process but you may need to sand the area flat after chipping out the drilled hole. ( See image 6 for reference.

Each square frame stacks on top of each other. I staggered the boards to have a nice offset as shown in image 2. This seems to be a stronger method.

Step 2: Line You Bed and Add Bulkhead

Picture of Line You Bed and Add Bulkhead

This was the hardest part of the process. You will need to lay the pond liner in the bed. Hint: I filled the bed with water which put enough pressure on the liner to then secure the liner at the top with the 'Top Fram Boards' shown in image 3. After securing the liner at the tip with construction stables I used the top frame board to hid the excess liner. After the liner was placed I then found the hole for the bulkhead and made a slit in the has if an X being careful to not make the slit to big and cause a leak. This complete the bed.

Side Note: Don't worry too much about excess liner it will be covered up anyways by the black lava rock. The Bulkhead threads need to be placed upright as shown in image 2.

Step 3: Add the Legs

Picture of Add the Legs

I cut out the legs to best fit the system as shown in the image above. I personally used pressured treated wood. I cut out 8 inches down and half the width of the 4x4. This allows the legs to be secured to the side of the bed and lets the bed rest on the ledge of the legs. I then place to large construction screws through the legs into the bed.

Side Note: Don't puncher the bed liner!

Step 4: Cut Your Fish Tank ( Food Grade Container )

Picture of Cut Your Fish Tank ( Food Grade Container )

Cut the 55-gallon food grade container. I cut the container in half ( width) and added a bulkhead and hose valve to drain the water if ever needed. If you cut the dimensions right then the fish tank will fit perfectly snug under the bed.

I recommend using a Sawzall if you have it available.

Step 5: Add Your Plumbing and Bell Syphon

Picture of Add Your Plumbing and Bell Syphon

Place the water pump in the fish tank and measure your hose from the pump to the top of the bed. It's best to over cut than under cut. Add the right angle to the top of the hose. Add another 6 inch hose to the open right angle and then one more right angle pipe connector so the hose can not fall out of the bed.

Add your Bell Syphon. and connect the pieces.

Side note: There is no sound on the video but it does shoe how all the plumbing works. I also left the link to create a bell syphon by another Instructable user for reference.

Step 6: Add Rock, Plants and Water

Picture of Add Rock, Plants and Water

After you have completed the creation of tank, bed and stand you will want to add the lava rock and some starter plants. It's a good idea to Google Search 'Aquaponics cycling' to learn more about the process in setting up your system to be successful. You can add fish right away but cycling your system before adding fish will help reduce the chance of early fish loss due to spikes in the system.

I have add the rest of the image for reference. I look forward to refining the system and adding more instructions to help anyone interested in the wonderful hobby. I will admit this was not a well thought through instructable. Feel free to ask any question and Ill get right back to you.

Step 7: All Other Images

Picture of All Other Images


DanielaK5 (author)2016-08-05

Poor fish ?

BetterThenNew (author)DanielaK52016-08-05

I'm not sure what you meant by Poor Fish?!? Overall the fish tend to live longer and healthier in auqaponics systems. I have never had and Ick or other parasitic/sicknesses with Aquaponics. I keep the tank darker to prevent algae growth. It seems the fish grow larger and faster with aquaponic systems vs. aquariums. The Gold Fish are now 9 inches long and healthy as can be. They also seem to be much more active in the aquaponics water.

koopman (author)BetterThenNew2016-08-05

I think DanielaK5 is talking about the fact that the fish are in such a dark and tiny place. Or at least it seems that way from the photos. How can you tell they are very active if you can hardly see them?

I'm not gonna say aquaria are per definition better, people put too large fish in a too small aquarium all the time. But not everybody does that, and it should not be an example for aquaponic systems. Why not make the best of both worlds and use an actual aquarium for the aquaponics system, it would look very cool as well!

But apart from all that, congratulations on an instructable well done. It looks very nice and I like the fact that you kept it relatively simple. It seems a great project for a beginner in aquaponics. The vegetables look great btw!

DanielaK5 (author)koopman2016-08-06

Yes it is such a tiny barrel.

BetterThenNew (author)DanielaK52016-08-06

Yes, it is a smaller system. The barrel holds about 27 gallons of water. Not so tiny for they size of the system. The new one I'm working on uses a 60 gallon 24x24in glass tank . { Shown in the previous comment

BetterThenNew made it! (author)koopman2016-08-06

Good clarification koopman. Yes, the fish are enclosed :( but not 100% the back is left open (partly). I mostly choose to use the enclosure because we have possums in the area not to mention a curious family of raccoons. It's also easy for little kids to put their hands in the tank and I was running a heater at the time. (Kids+Electricity+Water = Bad News)

Your absolutely right about not being able to see the fish. I actually created another much more advanced and aesthetically pleasing system. The new system caters to the fish much more. I don't want to show everything about the new system because I plan on doing an instructable for it but I left a sneak peek attached. If you liked this one your going to love the new one.

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