10 Essential Tips on Building a DIY Aquaponics System

You’ve seen aquaponic systems before. Maybe they were the beautiful addition of plant life to your home. Maybe you’ve even had the chance to enjoy some delicious vegetables created by them. Now you’re curious and want to build one for yourself. But, what are these systems exactly?

Aquaponics is the combination of raising fish and soilless plants together in one system. One provides benefits for the other. According to Engineering for Change, the fish waste provides organic food for the plants, and the plants provide a natural filter for the water that the fish live in. They are mutually beneficial and create a thriving and sustainable environment when combined. The biggest benefit of an aquaponics system is that it is a cost-effective method of home gardening and growing some delicious food to enjoy!


No matter what you use your aquaponics system for, here is a list of 10 tips on building your own Aquaponics System:

1. Learn How It Works

Do some research on how an aquaponic system works. You know the basics, but you must learn how each part of the system works so that you can get the full benefits. Find out what you’ll need and what each part of the system does. This way when you’re ready to begin, you already have some knowledge about where the parts go and what they do, making building and maintaining the system easier.

Here is an excellent presentation of how aquaponics systems work on a larger scale from the North Central Regional Agriculture Center. Your aquaponic system will work in just the same way but on a smaller level, and may only contain house plants rather than food.

Watch videos of how others have created their aquaponics systems and learn from their mistakes and triumphs. There are many different methods out there, some simpler than others so be sure you know how much work you’re willing to put in and don’t bite off more than you can chew. Research is a very important aspect of this project. You can even put together your own personal plan for building your system or find an easy step-by-step guide if you’re not feeling very adventurous at first. There are kits out there designed to help the entry-level aquaponic systems engineers.


2. Gather Your Supplies

You know that you will need fish and plants and of course, water. But, there are other supplies you will need as well. If you’re working without a kit, make sure you have all the pieces and parts you will need. After you’ve learned how an aquaponic system works, decide which method you will be using.

First-timers should begin with a simple method before advancing on to more complicated systems.  You will need a fish tank, a garden (a place to grow your plants), a sump tank, a pump, fish, plants, tubing, and a few other necessities depending on the type of system you plan on creating. The easiest way for beginners to build an aquaponics system is to purchase a kit that will have all the necessary parts.

Don’t forget about the living supplies! The type of fish and plants you get are important. Research is important for this step. Almost all plants will be able to grow in an aquaponic system, but you’ll have more success if the plants and fish have been able to thrive in the same conditions.


3. Picking Your Fish

When building your own aquaponics system, one of the most important questions to ask yourself is, “What kind of fish should I use?”. To get the most out of the system, people like to use fish that they can eat alongside the plants that they grew. There are many different types of fish for this, but first timers might want to go an easier route.

For beginners, it is best to use a fish that is easy to maintain. Goldfish are a popular option because they are a very common pet that most people have taken care of before. They are easy to feed and keep alive. Their excrements have a healthy dose of nitrate, which is good for the plants.

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