This quick and dirty set-up is cheap, and works great for college students, in a den, or just in an apartment living room. My set-up is in front of a single pane glass window, which is best for plant lighting, but for the winter, when it can get too cold to keep the blinds open, I have a $30 single grow light. They're good for a year, and they put away quickly.
Home Aquaponics have been around for while for food and because of the set it up and forget it type of attitude. From my living room I gain instant access to beautiful flowers, delicious herbs, and mint teas. In exchange for leaving the plants to produce for me, they clean my aquarium's water!
- Established Aquarium, nitrate cycles kill!
- Hanging fruit basket; Obviously the type affects longevity, but you can't really see it, so the choice is yours. I like this one because it is at the dollar store.
- Two-Four stick like objects (I used the aluminum rods that come with desks for manila folders buuut...)
- Medium: Medium refers to Hydroponic mediums which include, but are not limited to;
- Expanded Earth/Clay
- Lava Rock
- Any other hard pourous material that doesn't dissolve(I'd bet meerschaum would work great if you didn't mind the sulphur smell)
I use pumice because it is really light and delivers water consistently.
(These are available at your local home repair store or gardening store or Worm'sWay?)
- Size Aquarium, (55, 29, or 10) With aquariums, you'll find the bigger they are, the less you have to do to upkeep, its a temperal parosocks, but what are ya gonna do.
- Home Repair store indoor green house (There's a million of them.)
- This is where the choice of size for aquarium comes from. The ten gallon will fit neatly on the shelf of the greenhouse. The 29 gallon will fit perfectly between the base of most cheap indoor greenhouses, and most cheap indoor greenhouses fit nicely on top of the 55 gallon aquarium.(Note, if you like this, you can use electric fence rods for 75+ gallon) Its not necessary to have a greenhouse, but I think it looks neat and it holds lights up well.
- Door screen material from the home store thing. It comes in rolls, it should be vinyl, and is usually around $5. My fish are live bearers, and it kinda drives me crazy during water changes not knowing whether or not tiny fish are wriggling around on rough rocks...
Step 1: Set Up the Thing
Alright, so you have your six dollars worth of free spice set-up.
- First you rip the chains off the fruit basket. (Violently, or gently, its still metal)
- Second, you run your stick like objects through the slots on either side of the basket, as if to set it atop the aquarium.
- Finally you pour in some of your air filled rock material.
Here is the one tricky part:
- if you want to use a store bought plant, you need to massage the dirt off of the roots with warm water in a bucket. Why a bucket? Because clean-up. Also, its a little less violent, and sometimes you can shock the plant a little too much. After rinsing as much dirt as you can, place said specimen into a single layer of the pumice and then cover with more pumice.
- if you want to start from seeds, you can simply fill the basket up half-way with the pumice and pour the seeds on top. Pictured is one of my flowers that finished its cycle, and the second generation is just popping up in her place.(Google controlled pollination) The final option for seed is to use rock wool in a standard seed starter. Your local gardening store should have the rock-wool. There are better options, like sponges, for starting seeds, but I'll leave that to your judgement. (Warning, some cheaper rock-wool brands can make fish irritable)
If you happened to get the optional greenhouse attachment (Sold separately), you are sure to notice it came with its own instructions! simply place the newly fitted greenhouse on or around your current set-up to enjoy fully.
Step 2: The Possibilities Are Endless!!
I've grown tomatillos, I've started tomato plants before spring, mint, purple cabbages, I change it up every few months, mostly because you can freeze herbs.
- Oh, did I mention you can propagate with this kind of system? All of the vines that insulate and cleanse my tank were broken off from an office plant, but a lot of other plants work the same way, you can stick it into the medium, and it may decide to grow roots! Sometimes, when I like the look of a random plant, I'll ask to take a sprig and let it sprout roots for planting! There are other resources on the internet for which plants this works best with. Also, I don't recommend arid plants for this system.
One last note, I guess, is that for the winter, when you need a supplementary light, wally-world carries $3 manual 24-hr timers. (Set it for 16hrs on 8hrs off because it is a low intensity)
I've used Instructables for many years, but this is the first time I've ever made a post. My system went through some terrible editions before I got it to this state, running through basically every rendition of a hydroponic system you can think of, and this is the only one that doesn't give me a headache. I would have posted sooner, but that second place prize got me excited.
Also, thank you for all the project ideas you've given me over the years!
Step 3: Bonus Round: Fish Scenery
Added benefit of a safe haven for newborn fish.
Roots can be trimmed to desired length without much consequence.