After all, what could be more satisfying than growing your own delicious fruits, vegetables and fish while teaching your kids how to be self reliant in a fun way that’s also good for the planet?
Aquaponics gardening will actually allow you to grow more vegetables in a smaller space than any other type of garden. Many people who do DIY aquaponics at home report that they are able to grow 1 times as many vegetables per square foot! This makes it the perfect solution for people who don’t have a lot of space for gardening (you can even do it inside if you don’t have a yard!)
What Is Backyard Aquaponics?
Aquaponics is a system that combines fish and plants in a water environment. The fish and plants actually benefit from each other and you benefit by having delicious, organic produce and fish to eat (Don’t worry you dont <b>have</b> to eat the fish if you don’t want to!
The way a home aquaponics system works is like this:
- The fish produce waste which is converted to fertilizer by microbes in the water.
- The fertilized water is pumped up through the roots of the plants and gives the plants the nutrients they need to thrive.
- The plants filter the water and it is pumped back to the fish as fresh, clean water that they thrive in.
Here’s an example of an inexpensive backyard aquaponics setup:
If you want to try your hand at your own backyard aquaponics setup, then there are a few things to keep in mind. You need to know how to setup everything the right way, or you could end up with a big mess on your hands. If your home aquaponics system isn’t setup the right way to begin with, you’ll only end up with dead fish and droopy, lackluster plants.
If you really want to be successful doing aquaponics at home, I recommend you invest in Aquaponics 4 You – this is a really great course that gives you a step-by-step guide complete with videos that show you exactly what to do. If you’re serious about doing aquaponics at home, you won’t want to miss out on these specific instructions as setting up your first system can be a bit tricky. (This is an affiliate link for which I get a small commission if you buy the product.)
Of course, the success of your DIY aquaponics project depends on proper planning. You want to be sure to know how many tanks you want to have, how much space you have to dedicate (and where to set it up) ahead of time so you can make sure to get the necessary supplies.
If you’re serious about creatinga home aquaponics garden, then I recommend these books and courses that will show you what to do (These are affiliate links for which I get a small commission if you buy the product.):
Easy DIY Aquaponics – This has video instructions on building a DIY aquaponics setup using an ebb & flow setup.
Aquaponic Gardening – You can get this book in paperback or for Amazon kindle. It’s a great, inexpensive resource that has a step by step guide on how to grow veggies and fish together in an aquaponics system.
Aquaponics4You – This one will help you get setup quickly. It’s an easy step-by-step guide that includes videos and diagrams that show you each step. It also has a great section that details how to avoid common mistakes.
Here’s some of my favorite reference websites:
Home Aquaponics Supplies
So what will you need for your Aquaponics DIY adventure? There’s lots of things that go into an aquaponics system – here is a list of some that you’ll want to consider for backyard aquaponics at home.
Bin for the Fish Many people use giant rubbermaid tubs but you could use a huge fish tank or any other container that will hold a good amount of water for your fish..
Bin for the Plants. This should be a shallow tub because its where you are going to situate the plants. The water will flow through here and drain back into the bottom aquaponics tank that holds the fish.
Heavy Duty Pump. You need a fairly powerful pump for this because it needs to pump the water from your fish tank up into the grow bin that has your plants.
Air Pump. Fish need lots of oxygen in the water and the way to get it is with one of these air pump. You usually attach an air stone to the end which creates lots of bubbles.
Timer. Your water should pump between aquaponics tanks in an on/off cycle so you’ll want a timer to control that. Typically you want to pump for fifteen minutes then rest for forty five minutes.
Hose. Naturally you’ll need a hose to carry all this water from the fish tank to the plant tank. Invest in a solid heavy duty hose or you’ll be sorry later.
Bird Wire or Cover. An open pond or fish tank can be look like a lunch time buffet for local birds. Make sure you cover your fish tank with something that prevents them from feasting on your aquaponics fish.
Growing Medium. You’ll want a growing medium for your plants to sit in inside their pots (the roots hang down into the water outside the bottom of the pot. Hydrogen balls is pretty popular now – other medium you can use include coconut fiber, pea stone and pearlite.
Water Test Kit. As with any fish tank, you need make sure the nitrates and nitrites are perfectly balanced for healthy fish. You’ll want to get a good test kit so you can test your water once a week to make sure action does not need to be taken to bring it into balance.
Plants. Aquaponics allows you to grow anything you want in a hydroponics system. Lettuce, cukes, tomatoes, peppers even fruits like strawberries!
Fish. The most popular fish for hydroponics are tilapia but you can use any fish you want. Don’t want to eat your fish? No problem, you can use fish that are pretty to look at like koi or goldfish instead.
Done-For-You Aquaponics Setups
If you want your own backyard aquaponics system but aren’t a die hard DIY’er there’s still some good solutions out there for you. Some of these are also perfect if you don’t have a lot of space or even to use indoors.
These pre-made Home Aquaponics setups that will save you a lot of time and trouble (These are affiliate links for which I get a small commission if you buy the product.)
Aquaponics Tote Plumbing Kit – This is for the serious Aquaponics DIY ‘er. It’s a 3 bed aquaponics system that includes all the hardware and fittings you would need. YOu by the IBC totes separately, but it’s pretty handy to have all the fittings, hoses etc…in one kit as it would take a bit to figure out what you needed on your own.
Aquabundance Aquaponics System – This is a pretty good deal because you get the bins, the metal frame and all the hoses and fittings you need to set it up plus a DVD. It’s a nice compact system that can be used either inside or outside. Perfect for people that don’t have a lot of room for a big aquaponics setup.
Build Your Own Aquaponics Kit – If you’re looking for a true backyard aquaponics diy project, then this kit might be for you. It has instruction plus all the components needed to build the system (bathtub not included – lol). You can use any type of container including your old bathtub or rubbermaid containers.
Backyard Aquaponics Garden Setup Steps
Here’s the bare basic steps you would take for a DIY Aquaponics setup – Click Here if you want comprehensive details with step by step videos.
1.Pick a Place
Find a place for your fish tank. Make sure it’s large enough for the tank. Setup the tank and cover it so birds don’t eat your fish.
2.Give it Power
Hook up the electricity to your water pump and also to your air pump with air stone. If you have an outdoor setup, make sure your electrical stuff is rated for outdoor use. Really want to go green? Then consider solar power to power your home aquaponics system.
3.Setup The Plant Tub
The plant tub or grow tub of your home aquaponics system is where you put your vegetables. The water needs to drain out of this tub and into the fish tank. Some people just poke a hole in the bottom and hook up a tube using gravity to train the water.
Connect the hose that will carry the water from your aquaponics fish tank into the grow tub via the pump.
Add a little purified water to test the aquaponics system. Is the water flowing nicely? Keep in mind that the flow will get slower once you have plants growing.
6.Test Your Timer
Set your automatic timer and let it run making sure it shuts off and turns back on at the correct intervals.
7.Setup the Fish Tank
Add your fish to the aquaponics tank. After the fish are added you will need to cycle the fish tank making sure they ammonia levels decrease and the nitrites and nitrates are at the proper levels. This should happen naturally and you’ll want to be sure to test the water each day to make sure things are running along as they should be. Cycling the tank before you put in plants is critical, otherwise there won’t be enough bacteria to create the food for your vegetables.
In the grow tub, place your grow medium and starter plants.
9.Maintain The Tank
Feed your fish whatever food is recommended for that species. Continue to monitor the ammonia, nitrate and nitrite levels of the tank periodically to make sure it maintains optimum levels of each. In a backyard aquaponics system, the plants purify the water for the fish so you don’t have to do any water changes like in an aquarium. Once your tank is stable all you need to do is make sure your fish are fed and pick the vegetables and enjoy!
More On Home Aquaponics GardeningGoogle+