Friday, February 4, 2011

Aquaponics this should be interesting...

My husband was looking around on his Facebook the other day and saw something really neat. A friend of his had pepper plants with full sized peppers hanging off them; he called them "Winter Peppers"

After asking his friend more about them he found out that he was doing small scale Aquaponics.

(Aquaponics is basically using fish to feed plants, plants to filter the water for the fish and even feed the worms to feed the fish. )  A type of self contained cycle that needs just a little humane input.

When Corey came up and started talking about it I was curiouse.. but not excited.
Then I did research into it... for those that know me that normally means somethings going to happen.
I looked at my husband the next day and said "are you really sure your interested in this because we have an empty room..."

The next thing I knew he was setting up a day for his friend Matt to come out and help us get one set up. I kinda had an idea how to do one, but the mechanics of it I had not grasped fully yet (plus all the ones I saw online were huge scale) He kept telling Corey it's really easy.  He was right.

After looking at what we had, he and Corey and another friend ran into town and were able to get the rest of what we needed. And then the set up.  This took all of a half hour and that's with us talking and joking around.

Basically there is a 3foot long tub (called the grow bed) This has a layer of Pea gravel up and over a pipe with holes in it.

Grow bed with pea gravel over the drain

You can see on the upper right hand corner the water gets carried into the grow bed by a cheap $9 fountain pump with neb tubing attached (we have a ton of nebulizer tubing around the house, just cut off the ends and it's the same size as aquarium tubing.

LOL I just realized the camera put a date on the pic and it's wrong I just took these today ... oops
As you can see there are to fitings to make it water tight for the drain pipe. The pipe fits in and is not glued in so we can take it out and clean it if it gets full of roots.

It drains directly into the tub we are pulling water out of. Right now we have 2 dozen gold fish. I have heard that you can have an inch of fish for every gal of water.

There is an air hose on the side running from a $5 air pump (asthma tubing again)
And the black pump in the corner is the fountain pump that puts the water into the top tank.

That's all it is. 2 tubs, 2 pumps, Pea Gravel, water pipe and fish.. plain water.
(a note about the water. You can use plain water however let the system run 24 hours to evaporate the chlorine. The uckys in the water are okay but the chlorine can kill the fish)

Now your fish create a nitrogen rich enviroment that is then filtered through the plant roots. This cleans the water for the fish and feeds the plants.

The kids are really enjoying watching the fish and before the bed was planted helping wash the gravel.

We are planning on making another one and seeing the diffrence between the goldfish and minows. They both cost the same but do the plants grow better with one type or not? Not to mention if the minnows reproduce then we'd be growing fishing bait.

Yesterday we planted lettuce, spinach, onion, basil and sage seeds in our grow bed.
The lettuce seed is already Germinating ( I need a better camera in order to see them)

So it's exciting and we'll see how it goes if all works out well you'll be seeing a few of these in the room up stairs.


  1. Hi there. Happy to see more people getting into aquaponics. You might want to consider joining the Aquaponic Gardening Community site ( to meet almost 1000 folks doing the same thing. Also, things will be a bit rocky until your system develops it's bacteria base in the media. This article should help you through that process - Best of luck to you!

  2. Thank you! I love finding more information and people who are sharing things they have learned. I signed up for the community and checked out the page on cycling. Thank you so much for the wonderful resources!

  3. Cher, I'm a little worried about the electric cords and the water and the kids..........

  4. All the electrical stuff is mounted on the wall. The picture doesn't really show it good. And the tub is not up against the wall. That was something I was concerned about until we had everything set up. The one coming off the outlet going up is to a light and won't reach in the tub if unplugged.

    Corey is designing a shelving system for a more perminet home. Where the tub will with the fish will be under a handmade table with a hole drilled through for the pipe and air hoses to go down.

    Our kids are very safe and know not to go into that room to begin with unless one of us is with them.

    Thank you for expressing your concern. I wish the picture could show the corn set up better.