How To Build A Basic Aquaponics System

A Basic guide on how to build your own Aquaponic System. This system is based on the Barrel Ponics and the S&S setup and was built by me in the summer of 07′.

Step 1: Three parts of aquaponics:

Aquaponics is made up of three main parts. First there are fish, second there are plants, and third there are bacteria. Bacteria are very important to the balance of the whole system. They live with the fish and the plants. Fish are what help the plants grow, and the plants work with the bacteria to keep the fish happy.

Step 2: Cut container into three:

Here we have a 275 gallon liquid storage container used for storing many different substances. I have gone ahead and cleaned it out with regular water, marked it where I would like to cut it, removed it from its cage, and gone ahead with a skill saw and cut it into three separate portions as seen here. I have then gone ahead with a hack saw and cut the cage into two portions as well: a top and bottom. I have then gone ahead and fastened the top with zip ties to the bottom and also rotated the top portion 180 degrees, allowing me to have extra space in the back for where I would like to have my reservoir to sit on top to complete an ebb and flow cycle.

Step 3: The reservoir:

Here is my reservoir. I have gone ahead and added regular water out of the hose, and I have spent the last two weeks trying to grow algae because I did not know what was in the containers. By growing algae, it assured me that before adding anything into the system it is able to grow what I would like it to grow. This is a good container for aquaponics because if anything happens, the water will spill right back down into the bottom area where the fish are stored.

Step 4: The Fish:

Seeing here I have two types of fish: goldfish and carp fingerlings. This has now completed the fish portion of the aquaponics system. I have gone ahead and purchased a basic goldfish food found in most stores. I feed them twice to once a day in order to keep them alive.

Step 5: The plant life:

The plants in the system I have kept real basic. I've added lettuce, basil, marigolds, onions, peppers, tomatoes, and zucchini. Seen here is a root system from a lettuce and basil cutting taken ten days ago.

Step 6:

How the system works. Water is pumped continuously through this closed-loop system. It exits through these two drain holes coming from the grow bed after the reservoir is completely filled, and empties through a self siphoning system. Water goes up this black pipe from the pump, a little of it trickles into the reservoir, and when the reservoir is filled, it empties into the grow bed.

Step 7: Thanks for watching.

Ready-to-harvest cherry tomatoes. These cherry tomatoes were on the vine for about a month and a half before they were ripe and ready to pick. I have jalapeno peppers shown here which have about two to three more weeks to go before I will pick them. Thank you for watching and have a wonderful day.

Also known as:
(How Do I Build A Basic Aquaponics System)

Thanks for watching video How To Build A Basic Aquaponics System For more how to videos, expert advice, instructional tips, tricks, guides and tutorials on this subject, visit the topic Small Space Gardening.


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Friendly Aquaponics


Do you know how to grow your own food? Do you earn your living from growing food, or from some other business that is less than dependable in these difficult economic times?

In addition to running our commercial aquaponics farm, Friendly Aquaponics has been sharing what we’ve learned by teaching commercial aquaponics for two and a half years now, with a 30-40% “hit rate”. In other words, thirty to forty percent of our students have successfully built and are operating commercial and home aquaponics systems. This is because our courses are developed from our real-world experience, and are tailored to give you useful and practical aquaponics knowledge rather than simply “book learning” and formulas (although those ARE included also in our trainings, based again on our real-world experience making money with aquaponics). Both our live Hawaii aquaponics trainings and our DIY aquaponics instruction packages are a wild success, based on the number of people who have successfully built aquaponics systems from them. And that’s what we’re basing the measurement of OUR success on, the number of aquaponics systems actually getting built and operated; rather than the number of students in our courses and packages sold.

If you can’t make it to Hawaii for an aquaponics course, or you’re interested in building a smaller system than the large commercial systems we operate, we’ve developed DIY aquaponics packages for apartment/condo, backyard, family, and commercial systems that make it easy to grow food for yourself or for a living. With the easy-to-understand instructions, drawings, and information included, it’s easy to build and operate these productive aquaponics systems yourself without having to buy expensive “kits” from aquaphonies. These are the “experts” trying to sell you aquaponics kits and information that have not been tested for success in the real world the way our systems have.

What you need for commercial success in the real world is an aquaponics system and technology that is affordable and makes more money than it costs. This also holds true for backyard aquaponics systems, because if you could buy the same produce for less than it costs you to build and run the system, then there’s no economic incentive to grow your own food as there is with our system designs. These people do NOT make their living from selling the vegetables and fish they claim their systems will grow, as we do; and thus there’s no need for these aquaponics systems to be as cost-effective as ours are. There’s nothing wrong with some of these kits except they cost five times as much as if you built the same system yourself, by purchasing the parts from the same people they buy them from. If you begin by spending that much more than you need to to produce the same result, it will be that much more difficult to create a successful commercial (or backyard) aquaponics operation.

Our family farm, Friendly Aquaponics, Inc, is the only commercially successful sustainable organic aquaponics operation in the world we know of that teaches ALL of our knowledge openly and transparently to others. We do not hold any information back so that we can hire out as “consultants” later and make more money. Our commercial aquaponics trainings and commercial DIY package include everything we know about aquaponics success in the real world. This makes it easy for you to start a commercial aquaponics operation and be successful right from the beginning without an expensive learning curve. Because of the innovations we’ve made in the last three years in energy-efficiency, ease of construction and construction cost, you can build and operate these aquaponics systems for a fraction of the expense that turnkey “kits” from others cost. In addition, our systems and growing processes are the only ones we’re aware of that are certified organic, which certification will bring you from 50% to 100% more for the same produce on the wholesale market.

Because we have to make our living from the food these aquaponics systems grow (rather than from selling overpriced “kits”), we have been forced to continually become more efficient and stretch our knowledge in all areas of aquaponics production, processing, and marketing. You benefit from this information that is in all our aquaponics training packages. Ask any of these others how many of their systems have been certified USDA organic. We were the first, and since then six of our students have gotten their commercial systems certified organic as well.

Aquaponics is a sustainable food production system that combines aquaculture (raising fish in tanks) and hydroponics (growing plants in water) so that both grow better.
Aquaponics uses less than 2% of the water that traditional farming does.
Aquaponics is energy-efficient: our current systems use one-tenth of the energy conventional farming does!
Aquaponics has eight to ten times more vegetable production in the same area and time.
Aquaponics is fully scalable from indoor systems to backyard family systems to full commercial systems.
Aquaponics is pure, clean, and natural: USDA Certified Organic and Food Safety Certified.
Aquaponics is easy to learn and operate: anyone can do this!

In contrast to hydroponics systems, where the aim is to have a sterile system to avoid disease outbreaks, aquaponics systems are teeming with life. They are miniature human-made ecosystems: there are mosquito fish, prawns, tilapia, water fleas, and little red worms in our systems. Those are just the things visible with the naked eye; there are also myriad smaller creatures and bacteria, all of which contribute to the incredible health, dynamic strength, and stability of these systems.
Things we grow in our aquaponics systems for income are:

Malaysian Giant River Prawn; these grow in the hydroponics troughs under the vegetables and don't eat the roots.  

We planted 90 different vegetable varieties in our first aquaponics system for market tests and to see what grew best. 

White Tilapia. We think these are a cross between niloticus and mossambicus.

The reason we’ve been so successful with aquaponics in such a short time is that we built on the work of the many researchers who went before us, primarily the excellent research done at the University of the Virgin Islands under Dr. James Rakocy. We’ve done a lot of aquaponics research ourselves in the three years we’ve been operational, coming up with valuable new technology such as our new Low-Density energy-efficient aquaponics systems, new vegetable sprouting and tilapia hatchery techniques, new water circulation designs (that use only 10% of the energy the original UVI designs did) for pumping water, and many other useful cost and labor-saving developments. Our main interest in aquaponics has always been to make it sustainable in the real world and this is what really sets us apart. We are among the first to take the wonderful research that has come from the university setting and adapt it so it earns us a living.

Being sustainable in the real world means aquaponics needs to turn a profit for the average person without advanced and expensive technology. There are many good existing hobby systems and university research systems. However, if they don’t pay their way and turn a profit, they have little or no use in the real world! In our course materials we’ve made every effort to make aquaponics accessible and easily duplicatable for anyone anywhere in the world to feed themselves, or feed others and make money doing so.

We have clients currently building commercial aquaponics systems in mainland China, Barbados, Trinidad, Hawaii, Hong Kong, Spain, Singapore, Vermont, Australia, Oklahoma, and California. Our first aquaponics training (in October 2008) had 78 participants, and of those, fifteen have built and are operating aquaponics systems; six of those are small commercial systems (five of our students have gotten organically certified as of June 2010), and we know of four others from the same course that are under construction.

We’ve done our best with this website to help you to see clearly into the science of Aquaponics. Please see our FAQ and cruise this site for information on how to determine if other “aquaponics experts” really know what they’re talking about.

Aquaponics can feed the world with energy-efficient, sustainable food-production methods. We think individuals and families with backyard aquaponics systems will do a lot of this important work. We have allowed agri-business and mega-farms to become the source of most of our food, and that needs to change. As these aquaponics systems become more economical and efficient, backyard aquaponics systems will become more common until every neighborhood has one, and the neighbors will want one too! This will put tremendous power back into the hands of individuals, as they become more and more responsible for their own food security and head toward what we refer to as “food freedom”.

Thank you for your interest in aquaponics; it is our honor to share it with you. This is what we call “food freedom”, or “food sovereignty”.
Our commitment in Aquaponics is to:
Share our knowledge in aquaponics with as many people as possible.
Develop new and profitable aquaponics applications and technology to share.
Put ourselves out of business as soon as we can. When you know what we know and are teaching each other aquaponics, we’ve done our job, and we can finally take the family sailing in the big sailboat that is our dream to build.

This article is very helpful, thank you.

Do you have any information about solar powered water pumps and irrigation systems?

How great is this? TY Freedom, this was a topic of conversation around our lunch table. Gonna check it out, thanks for giving us the legwork and "map". Let us know if you build one and keep us informed will ya? :)


"Destroying the New World Order"



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