How do you build a backyard aquaponics system?

Once your tank has worked properly, you can add the fish. The beds themselves need a network of PVC pipes on the surface to distribute water from the fish tank. Drill ¼ inch holes every 6 inches in the pipe and structure the beds with several parallel pipes, each approximately 12 inches apart. You can plant a seedling in each of the small holes in the PVC pipe.

A small water pump is used to pump water from the fish tank to the grow bed. After the water is pumped to the culture bed, it is gravity fed to the fish tank. You'll need enough tubing to go from the pump outlet to the top of the grow bed and form a circle inside the grow bed. Fish excrete ammonia in their waste and through their gills.

In sufficient quantities, ammonia is toxic to plants and fish. Nitrifying bacteria, which naturally live in soil, water and air, convert ammonia first to nitrite and then to nitrate. In your aquaponic system, nitrifying bacteria will thrive in the gravel of fish tanks and in the culture medium of the culture bed. Plants use nitrate to grow and flourish.

Plants easily absorb nitrate in water and, by consuming it, maintain safe levels for fish. The miracle of aquaponics is that plants (along with their growing medium) filter waste products from the fish tank, allowing them to thrive without adding fresh water, while nutrients from wastewater are the perfect fertilizer for most herbs and vegetables. Fortunately, the Internet has allowed those with talent in the DIY department to share their ideas on how they built their own aquaponic structures. Plant a leafy crop, such as lettuce, and a fruitful crop, such as tomatoes, and control which one works best in aquaponics.

Aquaponics is the cultivation of vegetables and fish in a closed loop system and is perhaps one of the most efficient farming methods for growing your own food. Pumps and plumbing are where aquaponics can be a little tricky; if you don't have basic plumbing and electrical skills, find a friend who does to save on the amount of trial and error you undergo. The aquaponic bays are self-contained and can be built inside greenhouses for fish and vegetable harvests all year round. This video guides you through the entire process of building an aquaponic facility inside a large greenhouse.

Yellow perch is the third most common species used in aquaponic systems and has the advantage of being able to grow in colder waters. If you have a tank, you could fill it with water and fish (such as a storage tank) and some pieces of PVC piping; you could easily have a gravity fed PVC aquaponics system. A healthy aquaponic system has abundant nutrients for leafy crop growth, but fruiting plants will lack sufficient amounts of certain elements. Aquaponics combines fish farming (aquaculture) with the practice of growing plants in water (hydroponics).

The only downside to aquaponic gardening is that many of the installations seem expensive and complicated. Aquaponics %3D aquaculture (the breeding of edible fish) +hydroponics (cultivation of vegetables and herbs without soil).

Erika Shipley
Erika Shipley

Subtly charming beer nerd. Extreme internet specialist. Devoted travel junkie. Proud coffee maven. Friendly problem solver.