Please Read: I made a very simple aquaponics system in about an hour using mostly materials I already had on hand. Well, all but the fish that is. I made this on the same day that I put up the porch in front of the tiny house on wheels.
And to explain to my regular viewers why I have taken time out to make an aquaponics system when I have so many other projects going on: I need to feed myself and save some money. I want to experiment with a smaller setup now so that later when I build the full scale system, I know more about keeping the balance in the system.
I plan to live self sufficiently within about a year or so. In order to make this happen I need a more efficient system for growing food. After studying aquaponics for about a year now I decided to go with this system. In winter I hope to have a heated porch to keep a larger scale aquaponics system in place to provide me with fish and vegetables all year round.
This little aquaponics system uses a small 2 gallon aquarium I had laying around, a plastic container which I also had from the dollar store, and a solar water pump from Harbor Freight. I am using solar power because I am off the grid.
The system is quite simple really.
Put the water pump in the aquarium and run a hose to your grow bed. The grow bed should be placed above the aquarium.
Then drill some holes in the grow bed (plastic container in this case) which are just too small for a silicone tube to fit through. Then force the tube through the hole. This creates a seal around the tube but allows water to run out. The other end of the tube should run into your aquarium.
Now test the system with some water in the fish tank and the grow bed above. See if the water flows out as fast as it flows back out. you want a balance to the grow bed will not overfill.
The level of water in the grow bed should be just above the bottom of the container. Even just at the bottom lip is fine.
Drill more holes and add tubing as needed to keep up with the flow of water from the water pump.
Next, when the system was working fine, I went down to the creek and got a bucket of gravel. I filled the grow bed right up to the top level. I used larger stones around the exhaust tubes to prevent anything from plugging them up later. I used the lager gravel all the way up to the top above the tubes. The rest of the container I just filled up with the gravel, some of which is quite fine.
The water tube coming from the aquarium water pump should sit on top of the grow bed. This allows water to flow into the gravel and flow through it, then back out into the aquarium again.
Make sure the water flowing into the container is on the opposite side of the water flowing out. This ensures that the water has to pass through all the gravel and gets filtered out properly before returning to the aquarium.
I used pond water so I could immediately put fish in the tank. If you use fresh or tap water then you MUST let the system run for at least a week in order to allow the chlorine to evaporate out and for beneficial bacteria to build up in the water. Then you can put the fish in the tank. Otherwise your fish will die.
When buying new fish, before adding them to the aquarium, float the bag they came in, on top of the aquarium water for an hour to let the fish get adjusted to the temperature of the water in the tank. This prevents the fish from going into shock when you release them into the aquarium.
You should also have plants on hand right away or even better, plant them before getting the fish.
In my case, using pond water, there were enough nutrients in the water to start with both fish and plants right away.
I pulled out some lettuce, catnip and dandelion from my garden and planted them in my new aquaponics grow bed.
When the sun shines I have water flowing through the entire system, cleaning the fish water and feeding the plants.
At night, when the fish are dormant anyway, the system is at rest.
One more thing you must have though is an aerator to provide fresh oxygen to the fish at all times.
I did not show this on the video yet but I have one running off a little power inverter connected to a solar powered battery bank.
I will later set up a separate battery and solar panel to run this entire system 24/7. The water pump I will have on a timer to give me a 30 to 50 percent duty cycle. This should be sufficient to keep the plants and fish happy.
Follow my daily progress on the path to self sufficiency on my off grid solar homestead.
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