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Small DIY Aquaponics System

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This is a small aquaponics system i built so i could experiment with the concept. If it works out well for me I'd love to build a large version of this system but before I do want some working knowledge of how it works and any problems i might encounter before I invest a lot of time, effort, and most importantly $$$ into it. This way was a cheap and easy way to gain that knowledge as well as a fun little project. I also want to see what will grow well in the grow bed.
 
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Step 1: Tools and Materials

Picture of Tools and Materials
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First things first! Tools and materials.

Tools:
1. Drill
2. 3/16", 1/2", 7/8" Drill Bits
3. Hacksaw
4. Pipe Cutter
5. Razor Blade
6. Cutters
7. Thread Seal Tape

Materials:
1. 15 Gallon Plastic Bin (Grow Bed)
2. 1/2" Irrigation Tubing
3. 2 1/2" Ball Valves
4. 3 1/2" Barb Adapter
5. 1/2" Flex Pipe Tee Insert
6. 1/2" MNPT X Barb 90 Elbow
7. 2 #14 O-Rings
8. 2" PVC Pipe 8 3/4" long piece
9. 2" PVC Cap
10. 1 1/4" PVC Pipe 6 5/8" long piece
11. 1 1/4" PVC Cap
12. 1/2" PVC Pipe 5 5/8" long piece
13. 1/2" Male Adapter
14. 1/2" Female Adapter (Electrical Conduit)
15. 2 1/2" PVC Pipe 3" long piece
16. 2 1/2' 90 Degree Elbows
17. Growing Medium (I used a combo of hydroponic rocks and pea gravel)
18. 30 Gallon Plastic Tote (Fish Tank)
19. Black Plastic Sheeting
20. Plastic Storage Shelves
21. 100 - 130 GPH Submersible Pump

Some of the lengths here are approximate because you have to cut to fit and fine tune the system by taking a little off here and there. Also I had to use an electrical conduit fitting because normal pipe threads are tapered and you can't screw them down all the way. I needed a tight fit to prevent leaks from the grow bed.
jeffrey4283 (author) 2 years ago
Just a quick update. The ammonia levels in my tank spiked yesterday to around 4 ppm so i changed out about half my water for fresh. Unfortunately I had 2 fish floating this morning. These were the 2 smallest so hopefully there will be no more.
I really appreciate your instructional post on DIY aquaponics. This is something that a lot of people are looking for these days. It may not be easy but it is all worth the effort when you have fresh fish and vegetable on the table.
tmassicotte6 months ago
I also live near Tampa, Fl where did you get your grow bed from?
JRocket196310 months ago
So Jeffrey, anything new to report? The fish getting bigger? The plants getting bigger? Just curious because I'm about to set up one similar to yours for my wife's college course.
Hope it is still going well and you haven't had to spend too much in the way of flowers and such.
altainta1 year ago
updates please
Tabbytha1 year ago
Hey I'm a woman and I'm looking into setting up a small aquaponic system... Heck, my mom is deathly afraid of snakes but I don't mind them at all, as long as they don't bite me. Some woman like fish + reptiles, some don't.

I am thinking of setting up an aquaponic system and keeping river/pond minnows as bait fish for catching bigger fish. You can have success with dead minnows, fish pieces and cooked shrimp as bait apparently. Heck, I remember keeping small fish and cutting them up as bait with my dad when I was a kid.

Hope your system works out :) I'm in an apartment too or I would love to try to raise tilapia.. they are soooo good!!
diy_bloke1 year ago
Interesting article, but quite honestly, i can't follow it. You seem to have a ton of tubes and valbves and what not, but in the end I only see one tube sticking out of the gravel bed. I think a drawing of what tube goes into what other tube and where a ball valve or ring or tubing attaches too would do wonders for the 'abstract vison impaired'
bbsux1 year ago
part of your problem with the ph may be the goldfish. They spew tons tons of ammonia waste, they are a VERY dirty fish. I hate to say it but you may want to consider buying a aquarium charcoal filter and running that sometimes.
Hayzr1 year ago
One trick I learnt if not using Hydroton and the water becomes acidic, is to crush egg shells and bury them in the grow medium. The Calcium Carbonate will neutralize the acidic water.

I have a system close to your size, I struggled to produce good lettuce but was able to get Pak Choi, peppers, tomato with a few Tilapia. I am re-designing my own to include a Sump and actually reduce the flood time to around every hour or so. I found the 15 min flood was actually damaging the roots.
slamfist2 years ago
ive been building and using different aquaponics units for about 3 years now and yours looks like it will work really well, depending on what your growing the gravel bed is the best setup in my opinion, i was getting 2 crops of romaine lettuce in the gravel to every 1 in the dirt.. good luck and happy fishing, ps if your close to the kootenays i might be able to help you out in getting tilapia.
jeffrey4283 (author)  slamfist2 years ago
Thanks. I'm actually in Tampa, FL so no joy o the fish. I hope to build a much larger system in the 300 gallon range when I get some more space and I've learned all I can from this smaller setup.
mstyle1832 years ago
nice.. i definitively want to incorporate fishes in my next hydroponic set up.. check out my hydroponic set up for a cheap way to get lots of plants growing
jeffrey4283 (author)  mstyle1832 years ago
That's a nice setup. Ive never tried hydroponics. This evolved from container gardening but I have a very chaotic schedule so they'd dry out. I'll have to try out hydroponics when I get a chance.
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