Bonsai Aquaponic

Introduction: Bonsai Aquaponic

Hey there, this is my first Instructable and I hope to make a good first try. I'm always eager at trying them out but now that the Age of Aquariums Contest is ongoing i decided to make my own.

I want to try making a big aquaponic garden so i decided to start small with a bonsai tree aquaponic system.

Step 1: ​Gather Up the Supplies

What you'll need is:

some wood

measuring tape

a circular saw or wood saw

an aquarium

plastic bag

small pebbles

small pump



clamp (optional)

fish pipes

and most importantly you must wear safety gear, this includes goggles and a mask to avoid breathing in the harmful sawdust or getting it in your eyes. for extra safety wear closed shoes and gloves

Step 2: Cutting Your Wood

first i would like to apologise for the messy workstation, we're reordering the garage and at the moment me and my dad share the same small table.

I bought a small fish tank for about $2. The wood is some excess wood from the deck we built.

So to start the DIY you have to measure the length of your tank. Using these measurements add about an extra cm to where you want to cut your plank.

remember that th bottom piece and the two side panels (your length) will be equal in length. the two side panels for the width are a different matter. So after cutting your first plank you can use it to measure the other planks (given you cut straight). after you succesfully cut all your planks we can move on to assembling the box.

Step 3: Pilot Holes

Pilot holes are essential, you cannot just add screws or your wood will take a drill-bit that's a bit smaller than the threaded part of your screws. Use this drill to make a whole between the two planks you want to join.

Now take a drill-bit that's slightly larger than the head of your screw so that you can securely fasten the two planks. with this thicker drill now drill about halfway through the first plank over the smaller hole. when this is done start adding your screws. please bear in mind that while undergoing this process everything should be square or you box will be a fail.

Step 4: Adding the Width Side Panels

On to the side panels making the width of our box.

You can measure how long these two planks should be either with the measuring tape or by using the the box itself as demonstrated above. Cut your two planks and get ready to make more pilot holes.

Above you can see how i made the pilot holes. As you can see i chose to make one hole at the bottom of the width plank and one on each side.

After making the pilot holes fasten the planks with your screws. Just be sure that everything lines up before even making the holes.

You can use a clamp to hold everything in place or ask someone to help.

and there we go, there's your box! i added the bonsai to give an idea of the end product.

Step 5: Sealing the Box

Now for the aquaponic system to work you need water pouring int box and also pouring out thus making a sort of filter. Now in my photos you can see there's small pebbles in the box, this will act as my filter.

To get the water to come out drill two or more holes in the bottom for water to come out of. just mind not hitting any screws while drilling.

Wood isn't waterproof and will swell if it gets wet. Now there are lots of ways to seal the box against the water, but for my method i chose a plastic bag. Place the bag over the top of your box and then simply push it in, making both a bottom and sides (like a plastic bag box) .

Now add fish pipes to the holes you drilled in the bottom, you don't need to cut them shorter yet. Using a knife or carpet cutter make a small incision where the fish pipes are. Afterwards push the fish pipe through the incision carefully so as not to tear the bag more.

Using silicon seal the pipe and plastic bag together so that no water comes into contact with your wod. To do this thouroughly i used a tooth pick to spread it. I had a light source behind the box so i could see if i missed any holes or gaps between the pipe and bag. After letting the silicon dry properly cut the fish pipes on the outside.

Now you can add your pebbles or whatever substrate it is you want to use as a filter as long as it's not soil.

Step 6: Adding the Tree

As the title suggests, add the tree to you box. Be sure not to let the the tree push the bag's sides down to the bottom. When the tree is in push the plastic bag sides protruding out the side of the box inwards by folding it in.

Step 7: Rough Work Preview

Nnow just add your pump and place the box on top and there'll you have a preview.

Step 8: Adding the Beauties

To hide the ugly plastic from the bag and holder of the tree, I decided to add synthetic grass we had lying around. Silicon was the answer here. I added silicon on the top sides of the planks, cut the grass to appropriate lengths and then stick them on.this effectively draws attention away from the less attractive plastic.

in the tank at the bottom i added pebbles as substrate, and a synthetic plant to hide the pump.

Step 9: Final Product

Everything seems nice and neat and attractive. Plug in the filter, add some fish and get the system going!

Something i forgot to mention earlier, i did not remove the tree from the plastic holder it came in because it had tree holes in the bottom. The tree stands on the substrate in the box so it won't pull up to much water thus drowning the plant.

I hope everyone enjoyed this instructable as much as i did making it. Also i would like to thank my dad for the help he gave in the making of this DIY/Instructable and i hope i get some votes ;)

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    Question 4 years ago on Step 9

    I have been want to do something like this - but ficus sap is poisonous. Did you ever have any problems w/ the fish getting sick?


    8 years ago

    Very nice! I'm gonna try to make one tomorrow. Just a few questions, is your pump on all the time??? I know the bonsai had a few holes so it wouldn't suck up much water but still, won't it drown? And what fish are you using?

    Hannes Lindeque
    Hannes Lindeque

    Reply 8 years ago

    Hello and thanks for the nice words.
    No I switch it off every now and then, the soil for this tree should be moderately moist. The tree also stands elevated on the pebbles in the box so it isn't places directly in the water.
    For the fish I wanted to use my beta, but unfortunately he died suddenly the day I finished the box. So for the photo I used some guppies. I'd like to use a beta though


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Cool! I've always been fascinated by bonsai, and this is an interesting take on it. Thanks for sharing this!