Aquaponics the Cheap Easy Way!!





Introduction: Aquaponics the Cheap Easy Way!!

please bear with me as this is my first ever instructible. in this instructible i will show you how to make a 20 min aquaponics setup using only recycled materials.  the first step is to gather your materials keeping in mind that even though the fish do not live in this part of the system that they are exposed to it constantly, so it is always a good idea to use "food-grade" plastics,  "i know drywall mud is not food but its all i had!!"

Step 1: Step One: Mark and Drill Your Holes

in this step you simply mark where your siphon needs to be in the bucket and drill out the hole.  i used a 7/8" drill bit but that depends on the size of your bottle.  also note that i said mark then drill as shown from the patch on the bottom of the bucket this step is important lol.
the location of the hole doesnt really matter for function but as this is an addon for my current system i need the hole in a certain spot.

Step 2: The Gravel Guard!

you will need to install a gravel guard to stop the gravel from plugging your siphon, and to allow you to take the cap off for cleaning and maintenance later on!!

Step 3: Modify Your Garbage!! or Recycle Like a Pro Bell Siphon

the next step is to cut the funnel section of your bell siphon to height.  i am using just under 5 inches for this bed, however most sites recommend a depth of 1 foot. then simply insert bottle in hole and secure the cap, i know it seems hokey but with a properly drilled hole i have never had a setup like this leak!

Step 4: The Bell Siphon!

this is what you should have after inserting the bottle

Step 5: The Bell Siphon

i cant tell you exactly how long to cut the cap bottle but you do need some room above the inlet for the water to start the siphon.

Step 6: The Finished Product!!! Congrats

remember to test the unit in a bathtub or outside check to make sure siphon starts and stops the emphasis on stop!! if you are having trouble getting the siphon to start check to make sure your funnel is sitting "level-ish" and that your pump is pushing enough water to overwhelm the funnel. problems with the stopping of the siphon can usually be fixed by either slowing your pump or adding an air relief hose to the top of the siphon cap! as shown in last picture.

Step 7: Now the Finishing Touches

to finish this project and put it to use all you need to add is some growing medium "hydroton clay, expanded slate, or gravel" and set up a pump to add water from your fishtank. i am going to be using hydroton and growing two tomato plants in here in addition to my other plants in the system.... happy growing



  • Microcontroller Contest

    Microcontroller Contest
  • Spotless Contest

    Spotless Contest
  • Science of Cooking

    Science of Cooking

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




This is kind of sexy.

Hey Slamfist; where in the Kootenays are you located? I'm in Nelson and I was wondering if you knew where I could find some Tilapia fry. Thanks!

im actually in trail, i downsized huge and only have 7 fish left but ill ask the lady i got mine from and get back to you.

so just to swell my head a little bit, did anyone actually use my design in there aquaponics setup?? if you did or maybe even improved on the idea i would love to see a picture or two. im now running a huge setup with tilapia but in the process of setting up another outdoor for the summer.

Hey Slamfist,

I will be testing something like this out and would love any insight you can offer. I run a program called the Makers' Lab at a private K-8 school and someone came to me interested...I had very little knowledge, but the conversation had me rapid prototyping something today very similar to what you have. Before we open it up to the students I am going to use your instructable as a reference. All pictures will be posted here:

We even talked about doing trout as the fish so we could eat them. I let them know how incredibly tough it can be to farm trout and suggested Tilapia! Anyways...thanks for the instructable!

One of the problems I've noticed with most of these instructables is a lack of a system diagram. It would help to show how everything is connected in the finished product. I'm assuming the fish are in an aquarium, the siphon draws the water from the the growing tank and the pump, pumps water from the aquarium. Is this correct?

looks like a fun project and I'd like to try it, but would like to get it right the first time.

Keep up the great work, and thanks for sharing.

yeah this was my first try at instructibles, sorry for the lack of clarity. if you look at step 7 in the second picture you can see the rubbermaid on the bottom, that is the fishtank, there is a pump in the bottom of the tank that pushes water and waste directly into the growbed/bucket the siphon is then responsible for the flood drain cycle as the water drains back to the fishtank. you cant see it but i had to let the falling water drain into an open ended cup into the tank so there was no actual current in the tank as it was pushing all my duckweed into the pump and taking over the growbed.. if you need anymore help just let me know and i will gladly help you get setup.. thanks

Thanks for the clarification, I now understand. Great job.