Hello fellow aquaponic-ers, here’s a brief outline of me setting up my first system. Between the pictures and description I hope it helps show what can be done on a tight budget.
Starting my aquaponics system was something I wanted to do for approximately a year. The thought of growing healthy food all year round was so tempting I couldn’t resist trying. I simply you tubed aquaponics and started researching and finding out everything I could. Here I am two years later and still learning new things! A friend sold me a hydroponic system (pipe dream) that hadn’t been used in years. I snatched it up realizing it wasn’t 100% ideal for a setup, but free is a hard price to resist.
I spent hours looking for an IBC tote online as a container for the fish. It was extremely difficult to find a food grade tote. I never did succeed. New or used plastic containers also weren’t cheap. If a person has unlimited money to spend the options are definitely there. My system was built on a strict budget as pictures will demonstrate. I found a plastic outdoor pond container for $20 at a garage sale. Perfect! It wasn’t exactly 1000 liters like I wanted, but close enough. A buddy and I constructed a simple wooden frame around it for support, and we were off.
One of the problems using a hydroponic type system (6in pvc piping) over a flood and drain system is the lack of good filtration. I set the pump up to run through a basic filter, but it wasn’t enough. My plants were growing, but weren’t thriving like plants in a proper system should. I went online and found Alberta Aquaponics. I found the site when I was looking to purchase tilapia. I figured they would provide more food for the bacteria. Going over to Gord’s house and seeing a nice efficient system was great. It proves that this can actually work because everyone has their own doubts at first. The tips and instant problem solving that was provided helped immensely. We constructed a simple flood and drain from a drum cut in half and a magical bell siphon.
Now another problem, number 98,761! Do I put the barrels side by side and have little room to work on the plants and pond, or make a tier system where one drains into the other. To save on space my buddy and I (Darryl) built a frame where one drains into the other. That makes one a few feet higher then the other making lighting an issue. I figured new growth on the top grow bed, old growth on the lower grow bed. Either way both beds will get light, some more some less, oh well. Quick grow had a nice ratchet system for me to raise and lower the lights. Couple measurements later and the lights were good to go. Last step was to get more fish. Two goldfish just aren’t cutting it!
Just a tip, there never is a last step. Always something more to tweak, change or improve. For myself that’s just part of the fun. I’d rather be working on something productive like my system over watching tv or playing vids! Alberta Aquaponics is a fantastic tool to assist anybody in their aquaponics adventure