I have been messing around with a new aquaponics setup lately, and have ordered several types of vegetables as well as began looking for some tilapia. Hopefully with time I will be able to eat some fish grown in my basement. Right now I am using goldfish to cycle my tank as I prepare for actual eating fish.
I decided on an ebb and flow system, as it’s the easiest to build and operate. Basically for each fish tank I have a pump and a grow bed. By use of a timer I flood the beds every hour, and then they drain back into my tank.
I basically made two types of systems in one tank tank.
In the tank itself, I have another grow bed that fits in the aquarium itself and hangs down into the water. This allows a place for the beneficial bacteria that converts the fish waste into useful fertilizer to live.
Above the tank, I have a large “U” made out of PVC pipe. The ends are capped and holes have been drilled into the top of the pipe every 8 inches or so.
I have plastic cups with several holes melted into them that fit the holes in the PVC. Each cup holds some hydroton clay growing medium as well as a plant. This is where the mail filtration takes place. As the fertilizer filled water is pumped up into the pvc pipe, it fills up about half of the interior of the pipe.
This is almost a “deep water” aquaponic setup. The plant roots have grown out of the drainage holes in the plastic cups and feed from the water. When the timer shuts off the water supply the pvc pipe drains and this allows the roots to dry a little so that they do not rot.
Not a Normal System
My system does not exactly follow any accepted hydroponic setup, and there is not a lot of actual calculations involved. I used a little of everything as I synthesized a system from the parts I had on hand.
The water is being filtered enough for the fish to grow and be healthy, and my plants are growing well, and this is proof that the system is working. It could work better, but I am happy with it for now.
Normally you can find a fish tank on craigslist, but I have a link for some of the best 30 gallon fish tanks available for purchase.