I love aquaponics and have been tinkering around in the backyard working on my first system that I set up. But now, I'm thinking that fall is going to hit in a couple of months and my fish and plants won't survive the winter. My wife has been looking forward to me putting a system inside so that she can grow her herbs there. This is how I did it. I'm all about improving, let me know in the comments what I can do better. I also like to know what I did well, please tell me how awesome parts of my project are too!
Step 1: Grow Bed
I wanted to use most of what I had existing so I didn't spend any extra money. I did have to buy a couple of plumbing fittings, everything else I had lying around.
So I had a planter box that was 8"x40" and a bunch of sprinkler pipe and some other tubing.
The planter box has holes in the bottom and a drain pan, so the typical flood and drain system doesn't work here.
I cut a hole in the bottom of the pan of the planter box and fit the drain fitting through, I screwed in an adapter for the sprinkler pipe (1/2").
I used a couple of elbows to get the drain pipe outlet to where it needed to go, so it looks kind of funky in the air.
The drain adapter that I used was pretty thick and sealed up with the bottom of the planter box and none of the water from the drain pan could flow out. I used a dremel tool to cut a couple of grooves in so that I could get some outflow going there.
Step 2: Inlet Water.
I had a fairly simple system set up to pump the water into the grow bed.
There is a pump with 3/8" tubing.
This goes to a flow valve for spot watering and clean out. (My previous system got clogged a lot. Too much fish poo.)
It has inserted a 1/4" barbed T about an inch before the flow valve.
I have 1/4" drip line through the whole box, which drips constantly. This eliminates the need for timers or any such gadgetry.
I would have preferred to do a traditional flood and drain system, but like I said, the planter box is what I had and my wife didn't want the 4" PVC that I suggested in the living room. Wonder why?
Step 3: Transferring Plants
I used quite a bit of the gravel from my previous system as the top layer of gravel in the new system. This helped to make sure that I already had some established colonies of bacteria to convert the ammonia (Fish poo) to plant food.
All of the rest of the gravel I got from an empty lot across the street. Last year we used it as a garden but it was too rocky, so I got some of the rocks to grow plants in! I made sure to rinse them well and sifted out the dirt and tiny rocks so that the gravel was between 1/2" and 1" diameter.
My wife had all her herbs in a starter tray and she carefully rinsed all of the dirt off of the roots and I dug little holes in the sharp gravel (Ouch!) and put the little plants in.
Now it just is the waiting game to see if her plants thrive!
Or if I kill them all...