Aquaponics Vertical Garden





Introduction: Aquaponics Vertical Garden

I've always been a fan of aquaponics gardening ever since I saw something on facebook about it. The almost closed loop (or at least the possibility of a closed loop system) is very interesting. Of course once I saw a vertical hydroponics system I immediately wanted one. Being the frugal DIY guy that I am I didn't want to pay the nearly $1000 for one plus I didn't like how it looked. So I made my own.


1 Wood Planter or what ever style you want to hold the water

1 5"x5"x8' White Vinyl fence post

1 Top cap for the fence post.

1 3/4" pvc elbow and pipe to attach pump hose.

Plastic sheet to line the inside of the Planter.

16 3" 45 degree PVC elbows

1 3" PVC pipe

Fountain pump - I used a 320GPH but depends on your needs

Grow lights - I have 2 Sun Blaster CFL's. one 4 foot, one 3 foot.

Timer's for both lights and pump.

Poles to attach the lights to. I'm using bamboo poles I found on a ski hill.

Some wire to hold poles in place

Wood to cover plastic on top of planter and act as a clamp for wire holding lights.

Rock for growing medium

Rockwool cubes for starting plants and to act as a filter.

Step 1: Preparing the Tower

Cut the 5x5 fence post to your desired length. I made mine about 6 feet as there were square holes at either end of the post for it to attach to other fencing parts. I chose the best side that would be in the water and allow the fish to swim through the post.

Measure how far apart you want your holes for the plant holders (3" 45 deg elbow) and then stagger them on each side. I used a 3" hole saw and started my first hole about 3" from the top of the planter box and the next hole 12" from the first.

For the plant holders I wanted to use rock as my medium so I needed a tray to connect the elbow's on each side. I measured in between the elbows when they are inserted into the fence post and cut the 3" pvc pipe accordingly. Then I cut a section out of those pieces, using a sawzall and a bench vice, to open them up and allow them to fit into the elbow's. Drilled 4 holes in the middle of each piece in a cross pattern to allow the water to drain at a steady rate. This took some testing to determine how many holes to drill to get the water to drain fast enough.

At the very top I drilled a 3/4" hole in the middle of the fence post and used a 3/4" pvc elbow and pipe to get the pump to send water into the top planter.

Step 2: Preparing the Box

There happened to be some poly sheet left over from another project so I used that to line the wood box. I did about 3 layers of it to make sure it wouldn't leak. I stapled the sheets to the top and cut off any excess. I cut 4 pieces of wood to cover the plastic and to use as a clamp for the wire holding the light poles. For wire I just cut up some coat hangers and bent them into a loop and to 90 degree angles.

As you can see in the pictures I used the bamboo poles to secure the tower in place and keep it from falling over. Just centered the tower, measured the space in between the tower and the inside of the box and cut the poles to fit.

Step 3: Putting It All Together

With everything prepared I put it all together, filled the box with water, the elbow's and pipe with rock and rockwool and attached the pump to the 3/4" hole up top. I cut the bamboo poles to length and attached the lights using twist ties.

After some testing and getting the water to cycle (waiting for the bacteria to convert ammonia to nitrites and then to nitrates) I then added my fish and planted some seeds. The aquaponics side of things is a whole instructable in itself.



    • Science of Cooking

      Science of Cooking
    • Trash to Treasure

      Trash to Treasure
    • Paper Contest 2018

      Paper Contest 2018

    We have a be nice policy.
    Please be positive and constructive.




    One question. How healthy is it for goldfish to live in a dark box?

    I agree.... As beautiful as it is, i couldn't let the poor fish have no life outside of a dark room.... I'm weird though so it might just be me

    Not at all healthy. Besides, it would be cool to see them, if you're planning on using them as fertilizers

    I just want you to make one for me for a Christmas present. :)

    Sweet! This is probably the first system that has an aesthetic aspect to it (and one that goes beyond a sterile minimalist iPhone style, too). I've spent some time browsing for fenceposts and tops like yours now but no luck. Do you happen to have a link?

    I think there is too little room for optimal root growth due to the trays being small and preventing the roots to extend downwards. Most systems dont give the plants the proper root space and while I don't think it's a major flaw I do think it should be mentioned and adressed so maybe someone will find a better solution to for conenctors than shallow trays which will be shared by the root systems of two plants.

    Why not use cups and let the roots hang instead of the half pipe connector inside of the upright. just a thought if you think it would let more root growth happe.

    Wonderful ways to decorate home in best possible ways, though floors also needs to be taken care off.

    I made a vertical garden using your post and planted ivy geraniums. It is spectacular and I get so many comments. Thank you for your well written instructable.

    How do you know if the fence post is made from food-safe plastic? One class of endocrine disruptors called phthalates is present in plastic products containing PVC. Phthalates are loosely bound to plastic and easily absorbed into food, beverages and saliva, and like BPA, have been commonly detected in our bodies. Most concerning is the effect phthalates have on reproductive health in males. Exposure in fetuses has been linked to the malformation of the male reproductive system. See also:

    Beware the "experts" with the sector-friendly posts. Such is the internet these days. Stay off the industry-funded search engine results (especially certain a certain country's regulatory sites whose CEO's are usually former lawyers for the industries they're now paid to "watch").

    Pay no attention to anything else or anyone that doesn't state the peer-reviewed research and *full* sources then decide for yourself.