Indoor Aquaponic/Hydroponic Food System




This gravity-driven, indoor aquaponic system can be built in an hour. It uses the Nitrogen Cycle to aid in maximum plant growth. This is a symbiotic relationship that benefits you in two ways-You grow edible plants & you can use edible fish, as well. Beneficial bacteria break down the ammonia & fish effluent, converting it to nitrites & nitrates that can be absorbed by the plant roots.

Step 1: Plan With Measurements

Here are all of the measurements from my initial sketch/plan. This is the initial plan, but can be adjusted to

specific measurements needed. With these measurements, total cost of system is around $200-$250, using all new materials.

Step 2: Base Frame

Start with the 2x3 ft rectangle, framing the bottom.

Step 3: Bracing

Add bottom(floor) braces & front, lowest shelf brace.

Step 4: Bottom Shelf

Add front shelf legs & screw shelf pieces on to them.

Step 5: Middle Shelf

Add middle shelf legs & attach shelf pieces.

Step 6: Top Shelf

Add top shelf legs.

Step 7: Top Shelf

Add top shelf pieces.

Step 8: Lower Braces

Add braces that attach the shelf legs of different shelves together for stability.

Step 9: Inner Shelf Braces

Add back shelf for optional 2nd tank(bottom tank collects sludge, top tank has the fish).Add shelf for aquarium tank.

Step 10: Make It Mobile

When completed to this point, you can (optional) add casters for easier movement(if needed).

(2"-3" rubber wheels work best)

Step 11: Grow Beds & Plumbing

Add totes with holes cut(for plumbing) in the totes

& cut lids for plant baskets & PVC pipes. Aquarium caulk is used around plumbing, to seal it from leaking. Uniseals work, as well.

Step 12: Add the Tanks/Aquariums & Pumps

Add 1-2 tanks/aquariums(5 &10 gal), 1-2 small pumps(lift

must be between 3 & 4 ft. for best results), aquarium gravel & any live aquatic plants.

Step 13: Choose Your Food

Add seeds or seedlings(leafy greens work great) & fish(FYI-Japanese shubunkins are very hard to kill and produce the needed ammonia to kick of the nitrogen cycle).

Step 14: Light It Up

Add/attach plant lights/bulbs for maximum indoor growth. Within 4-6 weeks you can be producing enough salad items to feed a family of 4. Enjoy!



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    6 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Great instructable. This is a lot like ones I have built in the past. I used only one pump and placed the fish tank on the bottom. The drain went through a gravel filter just before returning the water to the fish tank. Worked great. I built mine for less than $50 using storage containers and 2x4 s


    3 years ago

    How have you attached the pipe to the underside of the trays? Is there a lip on the inside of the tray which allows water to gather in the tray to the height of the fitting before draining into the next tray?

    2 replies
    Austin ESSrfawcett

    Reply 3 years ago

    The pvc has screw together adapters, sealed with aquarium caulk. Flood & drain kits can be bought for $10 at hydroponic retailers & they tend to not leak.


    3 years ago

    Can you tell me what's the name/brand of these grow beds and how did you attach the pipes? Also how can I be sure that there won't be any leaks? Did you use something to wrap around the pipes?

    1 reply
    Austin ESSplain_jane

    Reply 3 years ago

    Flood & drain kits can be found at hydroponic retailers for $10.