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



  • Stick It! Contest

    Stick It! Contest
  • Oil Contest

    Oil Contest
  • Creative Misuse Contest

    Creative Misuse Contest

25 Discussions

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!

1 reply

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.

1 reply

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.

2 replies

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

i have been using this bucket for a couple months now to grow tomatos and they are all happy and growing well, i did have to make an adjustment to the screen that keeps the rocks out of the siphon, but only because i ruffed it up and broke it

I am thinking of making an aquaponics setup myself. Just a couple of questions for you. How often does the water cycle? One of my biggest concerns is root rot. I was curious as to how often your grow bed flooded and drained per hour. I noticed you have a continuous flow fountain pump do you think this would be similar in flow to a water filter aquarium pump (I have one I am thinking of using). I was also wondering how many fish, and are they goldfish?

first off ive been experimenting with different timing on water cycles and it doesnt really seem to make a difference as long as the drain cycle is very fast to add oxygen, the aquaponics forum website says it should be about every 12 mins but mine is about every 4 . my pump is around 75 gph but i have also gotten away with smaller ones and larger ones in the same setup.... as for the fish i have used almost every kind there is from feeder goldfish to pond fish and also edible tilapia, and guppies, they all seem to work about the same the only thing is that you gotta watch your ammonia and nitrate levels in the water, if you get too much nitrates add more plants, not enough nitrates and you need to add more fish! there is also other types of setups using rafts and gutters if you want to know more just gimmie a shout long story short just play around and dont stress it should work out just fine

michaels, a craft store, sells bottle cutters for about 25 bucks

how do you make the bell siphon? Some help please because I'm thinking of making one from plastic instead of PVC.

1 reply

steps 3-5 show how to setup the siphon its actually very easy, just put a bottle upside down over the funnel bottle on the bottom, it needs to be about an inch taller than the funnel

the yogurt container keeps the gravel out of the drain it holds it all back so you can take the top off the drain and clean it

did you make cuts to the the bottle. Because I can see you made triangular cuts and also did you glue it the funnel section?