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Aquaponics is essentially the combination of Aquaculture and Hydroponics.

Both aquaculture and hydroponics have some down sides, hydroponics requires expensive nutrients to feed the plants, and also requires periodic flushing of the systems which can lead to waste disposal issues. Re-circulating aquaculture needs to have excess nutrients removed from the system, normally this means that a percentage of the water is removed, generally on a daily basis. This nutrient rich water then needs to be disposed of and replaced with clean fresh water. While re-circulating aquaculture and hydroponics are both very efficient methods of producing fish and vegetables, when we look at combining the two, these negative aspects are turned into positives. The positive aspects of both aquaculture and hydroponics are retained and the negative aspects no longer exist. Aquaponics can be as simple or as complex as you’d like to make it, the simple system pictured above is made from one IBC (Intermediate Bulk Container). The top was cut off and turned upside down to become a growbed for the plants. Water is pumped up from the fish tank into the growbed. The water trickles down through the media, past the roots of the plants before draining back into the fish tank. The plants extract the water and nutrients they need to grow, cleaning the water for the fish. There are bacteria that live on the surface of the growbed media. These bacteria convert ammonia wastes from the fish into nitrates that can be used by the plants. The conversion of ammonia into nitrates is often termed “the nitrogen cycle”. This will be dealt with in more detail elsewhere on this website. Growbeds filled with a media such as gravel or expanded clay pebbles are a common method of growing plants in an aquaponic system, but there are many different methods that can be used. In fact any method of hydroponic growing can be adapted to aquaponics. Plants can be grown in floating foam rafts that sit on the water surface. Vegetables can also be grown using NFT (Nutrient Film Technique), or through various other methods using a “run to waste” style of growing. This is done by removing a percentage of the fish water each day and watering vegetables planted in different media such as coir peat, vermiculite, perlite etc. Many different species of fish can be grown in an aquaponic system, and your species selection will depend on a number of factors including your local government regulations. Quite high stocking densities of fish can be grown in an aquaponic system, and because of the recirculating nature of the systems very little water is used. Research has shown that an

aquaponic system uses about 1/10th of the water used to grow vegetables in the ground. An aquaponic system can be incredibly productive. I’ve produced 50kg of fish, and hundreds of kilograms of vegetables within 6 months in an area about the size of your average carport, 8m x 4m.

This is a system that requires no bending, no weeding, no fertilizers, and only uses about the same power it takes to run a couple of light globes.

Type of Systems
These are the most commonly used type of aquaponic systems.

Media Filled Beds
Media filled beds are the simplest form of aquaponics, they use containers filled with rock medium of expanded clay or similar. Water from a fish tank is pumped over the media filled beds, and plants grow in the rock media. This style of system can be run two different ways, with a continuous flow of water over the rocks, or by flooding and draining the grow bed, in a flood and drain or ebb and flow cycle.

Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)
Nutrient Film Technique is a commonly used hydroponic method, but is not as common in aquaponic systems. In NFT systems, nutrient rich water is pumped down small enclosed gutters, the water flowing down the gutter is only a very thin film. Plants sit in small plastic cups allowing their roots to access the water and absorb the nutrients. NFT is only really suitable for certain types of plants, generally leafy green vegetables, larger plants will have root systems that are too big and invasive, or they become too heavy for the lightweight growing gutters.

Deep Water Culture (DWC)
Deep Water Culture, works on the idea of floating plants on top of the water allowing the roots to hang down into the water. This can be done in a number of ways. This method is one of the more commonly practiced commercial methods. DWC can be done by floating a foam raft on top of the fish tank, however a more common method is to grow the fish in a fish tank and pump the water through a filtration system, and then into long channels where floating rafts filled with plants float on the water surface and extract the nutrients.

Which Style is Best Suited to Me?
So there are the basics of aquaponics, it really can be as simple or as complicated as you like, if you want to start off small and simple take a piece of polystyrene, cut some holes in it, stick some mint cuttings or water cress cuttings through the holes, and float it on the surface of an aquarium or pond, within no time you’ll end up with a mass of floating herbs, and you’ll have cleaner water for your fish. Through lots of experimenting over the years, and through the trials of members on the online discussion forum, the flood and drain media based system, has been found to be the most reliable and the simplest method of aquaponics, especially for beginners. It can be done very simply using a wide range of different containers. The flood and drain media bed system, also requires minimal maintenance. We are going to concentrate on the media bed style of system, you can mix different styles of system but for the moment just straight media filled beds will do. Even with just straight media beds there are a number of different ways you can run the system.

Running the System
Media Bed System

There are a few common methods of running a media bed aquaponic system. You can flood and drain it by using a timer on the pump to switch the pump off and on, while a standpipe in the grow bed controls the flooding level. You can flood and drain it using an auto siphon within the growbed and running your pump continuously. You can also run the system with a continuously flooded grow bed using a standpipe in the bed. We have been running some trials of these three different methods here at Backyard Aquaponics and you can follow the results on our forum if you’d like to compare the different systems.

The growbed then drains into the sump tank before being pumped back to the fish again. Not the simplest method of setting up a system because you have to incorporate a sump tank in your design. we gave reports over 3 editions of the Backyard Aquaponics Magazine.At the time of writing this our trials have been running for over 12 months and in reality there’s been little difference at the end of the day between the three different systems. Not often set up with timers on the pump unless you have a very large sump as it requires a large capacity to top the fish tank and fill the growbed in a pumping cycle. There were some differences in the early period but after 12 months there really is very little difference between them. Chift Pist Chift Pist systems are popular amongst the aquaponics DIY sector with many people. flowing out into the growbed. This means that the overflow pipe in the fish tank goes right down to the base of the fish tank where it will draw solids upfrom the bottom of the tank and deposit them into the growbed. Water is pumped from the sump tank into the fish tank. with the final results summed up in the thirteenth edition. Uses either an autosiphon within the growbed to flood and drain the growbed or run with the growbed constantly flooded. this causes the water level in the fish tank to rise. If you’d like to read more about the Trials we ran with the different systems. but: Advantages     Pump is in sump tank away from fish and wastes Water level in fish tank remains constant Great if you have a tall fish tank Larger water volume because of sump Disadvantages     Extra equipment required (sump tank) Must have tall fish tank or stand can take up larger footprint limited running methods (no timer possible) . This being the case I would recommend running your IBC system continuously flooded as we have set up our IBC system on this website. A SLO (Solids Lift Overflow) is normally incorporated into these systems.

By changing the length of the standpipe you can adjust the flooding level in the bed. If you want to flood the growbed to make caterpillars or slugs come up out of your media. Constant Flood . hence the flooding and draining action. or you can use a siphon in the growbed. The debate over which method is better is a hotly debated topic and I think the answer is fairly simple. A stand pipe next to a drain fitting.Simple Flood and Drain Simple flood and drain can be done a couple of ways. or just a coupling fitting you can enable the bed to flood. that each has advantages and disadvantages. Advantages    Simple design Only two major system components Great if you have a tall fish tank Disadvantages    Pump in fish tank Water level in tank fluctuates a little What are standpipes you might ask? This is a standpipe. lowering the flood level in your bed There are two small holes in the bottom of the stand pipe. so all systems I make. then sitting in the drain fitting. use standpipes. If your media level in the bed drops over time then you can cut a little off the stand pipe. causing all the pests to come up out of the media. then slipping a slightly longer piece of pipe over the end. you can either have a standpipe in the growbed and timer on the pump. this allows the water to slowly drain out of the bed when the pumps off. Personally after playing with siphons on a few different systems I decided a long time ago that I didn’t want to use them.

Anyway. If you’d like to learn more about the different methods of setting up and running your aquaponics system. The idea is that you need to get a system ‘cycled’ which means establishing your beneficial bacteria populations within the system so that they can they can convert the ammonia wastes into nitrates so the plants can use them. then join the forum. Most importantly if this is getting a little confusing for you don’t worry about it.don’t worry. with each person insisting that their method is best. so will pond filters or even just the pond or aquarium water. especially when using fishless methods requiring addition of different sources of ammonia. Aquarium filters will be filled with the beneficial bacteria you want growing in your aquaponics system. it will help your system to establish even quicker. you’ll find lots of information on the forum. If you can’t find any. they will establish themselves naturally. it can be difficult to conceptualize exactly how these things work. there are a number of different ways you can get your system started. Starting A System If you ask 10 people how to start an aquaponic system you’ll get about 9 or perhaps 10 different answers.Looks a bit similar to the one above? Yes that’s because it is basically the same as the flood and drain system above. if you follow through our simple building and installation steps you’ll be able to build yourself an IBC aquaponic system in no time. It’s always good if you can ‘seed’ your system from an existing system or from someone who has an aquarium or pond. it will just take a little longer. or don’t know anyone you can source some bacteria from. . except that when you remove the timer from the system the grow bed remains constantly flooded. You may want to get yourself a test kit so that you can follow the cycling of your system. So if you can collect some of this.

Urine contains urea and urea breaks down to ammonia. some people get their system started and cycled by adding urine to the system. It’s a goo d idea to age your urine for a few days to a week in an open well ventilated area before adding it to the . mainly because you need to be sure that the system is working well and there are no leaks or other potential problems. Methods of Cycling Peeponics Yes. it’s a good idea to leave your system running for a minimum of a day or two before introducing fish or begining any long term plans. it is as it sounds. once you have ammonia this can be a useful source of food for beneficial bacteria populations. ammonia. you don’t want to then stop your system for running repairs or changes if you can help it. nitrite and nitrate is best.A test kit which tests pH. Sort out any little niggling problems you may have with the system before your fish arrive because once they are in. Keep in mind that the most important thing is to get your system up and running.

generally available from agricultural suppliers. Feeder fish and/or fingerling Possibly the simplest method of starting a system and the method we recommend so long as you follow a few simple golden rules. You can also stock the system with fingerling of whatever type of fish you plan on growing in the system and this is the way we start our systems and the method we recommend people start theirs. per 500L of media.system. This is a fairly straightforward method of cycling a system. The dead prawn or fish Yep a method of cycling practiced a fair bit within some aquarium circles over the years. By placing some rotting fish or crustacean in the system you are inducing a source of ammonia for the bacteria to feed on. stop feeding until the algae clears. hardware stores and nurseries. you can just add straight from the source if you wish. After 2 months you can start increasing feed levels slowly because your bacteria would have been established. there are plenty of cleaning and industrial ammonia sources but they often have perfumes and other additives. No more than one tablespoon of feed. Locating your system . Fish feed You can start cycling a system by introducing the fish feed you will be using to feed the fish into the system. But feeding the fish must be kept to a strict minimum for the first 2 months. Your system can be cycled by adding feeder fish. regular water testing is recommended. Ammonia Household ammonia can be sourced from many different places. As with urea. usually cheap bronze comets or goldfish to start the system before adding your final fish species. If you get an algal bloom. care is required to ensure you don’t overdose the system. Also when sourcing your ammonia make sure that you only use food grade ammonia. as the feed starts to break down on the bottom of the fish tank and in the growbeds it will release ammonia for the bacteria to feed on. however you must be careful of your dosing. You can easily monitor this with a basic freshwater master test kit. Urea Fertilizers Another method to add an ammonia source to help establish the beneficial bacteria is to use Urea fertilizer. per day. but not totally necessary. If you are taking any type of medication it’s not recommended that you try this method.

If you are building your system in summer. Seasonal differences. But. once your growbeds are full of plants. but keeping the tank and growbeds clean can be difficult with large quantities of leaves or flowers dropping from above. you need to be sure when planning and constructing your system. these need power to run so you need to be able to run your power lead to a power point. Surrounding vegetation. For some this may not be an issue. You may have one or you may have both. Access to power. Keep in mind that although you may think you can get to most of it. that your system is child friendly and pet friendly. you might only have one place it can go. If you can’t help but have your fish tank in the direct sun. if you have some choices as to location. Pets and Children. and vice versa. or any plant with heavy blossom drop. Fish deaths from this is not a regular problem we hear of. there’s a good chance the sun will actually track a different course in the sky come winter time. It’s not great to have a system directly under a deciduous plant of any type. Growing Media . you might like to think about having some floating plants on the surface of your fish tank. harvesting and maintenance. Floating plants in your fish tank offer shelter and hiding places for your fish and fish are far happier when they feel protected. your fish do not need sunlight. we normally allow at least 70cm between growbeds. Access for planting. This can sometimes be one of the harder fish death causes to pin point as it may only take a few leaves or flower of a plant to affect fish if the plant happens to be highly toxic. Also plants hang out over the edge of the growbeds. I’ve seen many system built from IBC’s where there is only a very small access point into the fish tank. What may have been good sunshine during the summer could perhaps be no sunlight at all during winter. Even this isn’t enough sometimes when plants are growing really well. I’ve seen many systems that people have set up where there’s been little to no allowance for access to the whole system. getting to that back corner of the growbed might not be as easy as it was when everything was new and empty. however. You need at least 4-6 hours of good sunlight a day for your plants to grow well. Access to the fish tank is also important. Sun on your fish tank leads to algae growing. not really big enough for a fish net to catch your fish. The water’s surface can be a food production area as well as a good place to grow invasive plants like mint and water cress which will take over your media filled growbeds if you plant them in there. I’ve known of plants contamination from some shrubs and trees which has caused fish deaths. You will need to pump water and possibly have an air pump as well.There are a few things you may want to keep in mind when it comes to locating your system. one of the first things to consider is sunlight. and in fact you’re better off not having any sun on your fish tank at all if possible.

High pH can be a bit of a problem in an aquaponic system so if you are unsure. drop it into a jug or cup of normal household vinegar. a quick way to check any rock you are thinking of using is to do the vinegar test. a classic example of this is limestone. Four Readily Available Types Other types of rock media are probably available locally for you. which can cause you’re pH to go very high. Some people have found that their local crushed rock or gravel media can have a high pH level. releasing bubbles from the rock. plus planting becomes a lot harder. scoria and many others. . we prefer to use a media that is between 8mm and 16mm. You want to be a little careful with the rock you choose as some can have high levels of limestone and other high pH minerals within them which can lead to nutrient lock out. Get a handful of the media you want to use. then chances are it has a high pH and best if you can look at an alternative. Your choices are to go for a hydroponic expanded clay or alternatively you can use a local crushed rock media. shale . The advantages of rock media is that it’s readily available and usually very cheap. If the media is a lot smaller then there’s not a much air space between the media when it’s in your bed. if the rocks appear to be visibly bubbling. things like river-stone. though there are a couple of things to watch out for. Firstly there’s the rock or particle size. Rock media or gravel is also very heavy so you need to plan to have enough support for it when building your growbeds and their stands and supports. If the media is a lot larger. there are some disadvantages if you go very far out of this range. your surface area is markedly reduced.There are many different types of growing media you can use in your aquaponic system.

Importance of Fish Fish are the power house of an aquaponics system. then they also provide protein for yourself. it’s easy to plant in. depending on your local climates and available supplies. . Keeping fish may be a little daunting to some. to ready to eat fish can be extremely simple. however you shouldn’t be discouraged. and makes sure that you have a nice media for planting and harvesting in. also cuts the weight. then go for the rock. Some people like to take the middle road. Choosing a fish species There are many different species of fish that can be used in an aquaponic system. Keeping fish in an aquaponic system is more simple than keeping aquarium fish. they provide the nutrients for the plants and if your growing edible fish. so long as you follow simple guidelines then growing fish from fingerling size. you can fill the bottom of your bed with gravel/rock then fill the top half with expanded clay. there’s also lots more general information about what to look for with growbed media you may have in your local area. pH neutral. if you want quick and money is not the most limiting factor. You will need to weigh up the pros and cons yourself. Edition 3 of the Backyard Aquaponics Magazine has the results of our trial testing the 4 different growbed media mentioned above. especially those without any prior experience. Western Australia. usually very expensive. Our local climate in Perth. this cuts the costs significantly. if you are more concerned about cost and you’re willing to spend a lot more time on constructing stronger supports and moving and cleaning your media. However it’s downside. then expanded clay is the go. comes in handy bags.Expanded clay is extremely light. easy to clean and sterile.

you need to get your broodstock in the first place. so that you’re not having to harvest fish out seasonally. Here’s a list of useful aquaponic species with a few details about each . or you may want to grow an edible fish that can live year-round in your area. so that you’re not having to harvest fish out seasonally. or Jade Perch year round. In deciding what is the best species for you to grow. but they often take a longer time to mature. In warmer areas of Australia people generally grow Barramundi. you should take a few factors into account. even with species such as Tilapia that breed readily. The second most important factor is ‘What’s available?’ You need to be able to buy fish to stock your system. In deciding what is the best species for you to grow. you need to get your broodstock in the first place. Western Australia. or Jade Perch year round. most importantly is what you want from your system. even with species such as Tilapia that breed readily.allows us to keep Rainbow Trout through winter. If you don’t want to eat your fish then you probably won’t want to grow edible fish. There are also a few choices for year round fish that we could grow. you should take a few factors into account. or perhaps another locally produced fish species. then a warmer species like Barramundi during summer. or you may want to grow an edible fish that can live year-round in your area. or perhaps another locally produced fish species. but they often take a longer time to mature. depending on your local climates and available supplies. If you live in a cooler climate you might be looking at growing Trout all year round. If you live in a cooler climate you might be looking at growing Trout all year round. in most warm areas throughout the world Tilapia is the fish of choice. then a warmer species like Barramundi during summer. In warmer areas of Australia people generally grow Barramundi. Choosing a fish species There are many different species of fish that can be used in an aquaponic system. There are also a few choices for year round fish that we could grow. The second most important factor is ‘What’s available?’ You need to be able to buy fish to stock your system. in most warm areas throughout the world Tilapia is the fish of choice. If you don’t want to eat your fish then you probably won’t want to grow edible fish. most importantly is what you want from your system. allows us to keep Rainbow Trout through winter. Our local climate in Perth.

however. as an eating fish. their tough nature and ability to readily adapt in many areas of the world. Catfish There are many different species of catfish around the world that are well suited to aquaponics. Growing your own Barramundi excites guests and is the envy of neighbours. and often there are high fines and fees for keeping them. Carp There are many species of carp that could be very well suited to aquaponics. In most western cultures carp also have a fairly poor reputation. carp is still the most widely cultured fish in the world as it’s . Catfish don’t have scales so they need to be skinned. at the end of the growing season. Channel catfish are the most widely farmed aquaculture species in the United States. They provide a decent harvest at the end of the season and are one of the more majestic species of edible fish. and as such they are not easily obtainable. Barramundi that is grown in an aquaponic system has an exceptionally clean. crisp taste. unfortunately because of their reproductive capabilities. Most growers will buy fairly mature stock so that they can harvest larger fish. and they are available in many areas of Australia. carp have become noxious pests to native waterways and the environment. they are quick growing and have a good food conversion ratio.Barramundi Barramundi are often grown in aquaponic systems through the warmer months of the year.

at local pet shops or fish suppliers. they grow quickly and fingerlings are readily available in warmer areas.grown throughout most of Asia. In many areas they will breed in a tank. . Jade Perch This native Australian fish i’s worth a special mention here. Very well suited to an aquaponic system. In fact it’s so high in omega three oils that growers are trying to breed the oil out of them. They require warm water and consume an omnivorous diet. and this is what they will be sold as. although they generally need plant cover within the tank to breed. Goldfish Although some people may group these with the carp. I’ve decided to cover these seperately as most people refer to them as goldfish. Goldfish are generally pretty tough and make a great addition to an aquaponic system. as it has the highest levels of omega three oils of any fish species in the world. they are trying to breed a less oily fish because they’ve found people don’t like the high oil content.

though they’re not as fast growing as many other fish. known to grow to enormous sizes in their native habitats. One of the downfalls is that they must be kept at high stocking densities. Murray cod are grown in recirculating aquaculture systems. but better known as “Koi” rather than carp. They grow within a wide temperature range. another species of carp. and a great eating fish. For those who love Koi. and kept well fed otherwise they cannibalise each other.Koi Once again. Perch are omnivorous and will happily eat green scraps as well as Duckweed and Azolla. and can also been grown in aquaponic systems. Koi are very common within many Asian communities and they are often found in large ornamental ponds. an aquaponic system is a great proposition for stocking the fish. taking 12-18 months for fingerlings to grow to plate size. Murray cod Murray cod are a magnificent native Australian fish. Silver perch Silver perch are a good allround native Australian fish that grow well under a variety of conditions. hopefully this fish will be utilised more over time because they are quick growing. . their tank culture is still in reasonably early days.

Other Species There are other fish species which are quite suitable for aquaponics. Trout Trout are a great fish for aquaponic systems where water temperatures are a little cooler. consume an omnivorous diet and are good eating. Tilapia are also a declared pest in many areas. They are an ideal species for aquaponics for many reasons. The only downfall for some people will be that Tilapia require warm water.Tilapia The second most cultured fish in the world. . If you live in a cool area you are far better off growing a fish species that will grow well in your temperature range. Trout prefer water temperatures between 10°C and 20°C. that might be available in your local area. within the United States such species as Bluegill are often available. They are easy to breed. rather than trying to heat the water. fast growing. They have extremely fast growth rates and excellent food conversion ratios. withstand very poor water conditions. while in Australia we also have a number of other native species like Sleepy cod which would be suitable. In Europe many different species of carp are grown. and extremely popular in Aquaponics systems.

they will happily grow in flooded grow beds. They also grow fairly quickly. Numbers of Fish This can be quite a hot topic of debate amongst people who practice aquaponics. The Yabby is also a attractive crustacean as seen from this picture to the left. and for those in cooler areas there’s Yabbies or Marron. and fresh water crayfish. as well as long daylight hours.Other aquatic animals that can be incorporated into an aquaponic system are fresh water mussles. Crustaceans make a nice addition to an aquaponic system and there are a few different species available depending on your location and water temperatures. fresh water prawns. and do a great job of helping to clean the water. Stocking levels of fish within a system can be as high as many intensive recirculating aquaculture . Mussles are a filter-feeder. or can be incorporated into fish tanks. For those in tropical areas there’s Redclaw. Yabbies breed readily. a fast growing native Australian species. given the right environment and the correct water temperature. but they can be prone to fighting and cannibalism when stocked very densely.

systems. this is assuming you have growbeds that are around 25-30cm deep.The fish tank is 5000L and there’s a 1000L sump on the system. The plant growth in the eight beds was fantastic. A wide mixture of plants were grown in the beds. In very heavy stocking densities you need to keep a constant eye on all water parameters to be sure that conditions are kept at the optimum. Growth rates of plants in lightly stocked systems can still be very impressive. this eight bed system was stocked with only 70 fish. Fish Stocking Every system is different and peoples environmental conditions can vary quite a lot. however the higher the stocking density the higher the likelihood of things going wrong. The fish in the system at the time of taking this photo were trout and they were around 300 – 400g. We recommend stocking around 20-25 fish for every 500L of growbed media in your system. but there has to be some form guideline as to what will work well for the majority of people. thats less than 9 fish per growbed. If you lower the stocking levels of fish then you lower your levels of risk and stress. .

maggots. People often ask about keeping a system completely closed loop. fish species and water temperature. and a lightly stocked system is more resilient if things happen to go wrong. This growbed has 250L of media in it. you can supplement this with alternate feeds like worms.Ultimately the amount of fish you can safely keep in your system depends on many factors. If your system is mature then we recommend that you feed your fish as much as they want to eat within a few minutes. then you can pretty much double the amount of fish you have to 20-25 fish in the system. to name a few of the major factors. So how much do you feed your fish? Basically. let’s say perhaps that you are looking at making a very simple system like the example system we have built in this manual. I Want More Fish in my System . number of plants. however you must have external input into the system if you are removing nutrient from the system in the form of food to eat. as much as they want. producing all the feed you need within the system and from system rubbish and scraps. was running on only 70 fish when this picture was taken. fish transporting can often depend on the size of the fish and the distance you are travelling with them. Feeding Your Fish We recommend that you use a quality aquaculture pellet to feed your fish. black soldier fly larvae and plenty of other different types of alternative feed. made from the one IBC cut into two pieces to make the growbed and fish tank. So.[/caption] We’ve found with experimenting that you can grow a lot of plants with only a fairly lightly stocked system. this can allow them to be transported for long periods of time with only a slight chance of losses. or the amount of time they will be spending in transport. This works to a minor extent. Getting my fish home. pumping rates. If you double the growbed by adding another one the same. Any uneaten food should be removed from the system before it sinks and rots consuming oxygen from the water while increasing ammonia levels. this is good so long as you take along a battery aerator with you to supply them with air for the trip. Sometimes you may be required to take an esky or similar to the fish supplier. That’s less than 9 fish per 500L of growbed media. You should speak to your fish supplier first. water flows. This is allowing for them to grow from fingerling up to a plate size of around 400-500g. feed rates. however it’s always good to have the basis of a pellet feed there as an essential component of the fish diet. perfect for around 10-12 fish. Often suppliers will bag small fingerlings in clear plastic bags with oxygen added to the bag. This 8 bed aquaponic system with about 4000L of media and a 5000L fish tank. oxygen levels.

Personally I like to use a combination of seedlings and seeds. and ensuring that your often expensive fish feed is put to good use. it simplifies the system while still allowing reasonable levels of fish production. Plants The following video clip will give you an idea of plant growth in an aquaponic system. but these are 100% real images taken daily of my system at home just outside my back door. In any and all of the previously mentioned methods of cycling a system we recommend that people plant out their beds as quickly as possible. Please excuse the poor quality of the images. . preferable into a worm farm or into your garden. You will however have to regularly empty these solids and dispose of them in some way. This is a fairly hotly debated area of aquaponics and really it’s up to the individual and what they want from their system. Personally we prefer to leave the solids within the system. growing the plants in your system.If you want to produce more fish in your system but can’t increase the size of your growbed area then finding a way of removing solids from the system will help lower the nutrient levels. Installing some form of solids removal like a swirl separator or settling tank allows you to remove the majority of large particulates (uneaten food and fish manure) before they go into the growbed.

sand and slow release fertilizers. Now simply remove the seedling from the punnet. When planting seedlings we strongly recommend washing the soil or potting mix off the roots of the seedling before planting. You don’t have to be too careful to get it all off. the various seeds will get buried in the media and before long they will germinate and fill your growbed. I know some people don’t do this. just the majority of the soil. You can very simply get a bucket and put a couple of inches of water in the bottom of it. you may also like to add some seaweed extract to this or worm juice. these will aid the new seedlings in establishing well. . but it’s adding unnecessary contaminants to your system in the form of organic matter.Seeds germinating under the more advanced plants You can sprinkle seeds over the top of your growbed media then plant seedlings throughout the bed. swish it in the water and the soil should easily wash off the roots. As you are digging in the seedlings to plant them.

then let it spill over the side and ramble over things. if your system is located near a shed or wall or fence. though a few things to keep in mind when deciding what you will plant. Other plants you may want to let ramble. tomatoes. here’s one members trees. cucumbers etc so that they can grow up things. you can plant a pumpkin in one corner of your growbed. plant everything very densely. Vacant unproductive land with poor or no soil is fine because the pumpkin plant gets all of its nutrient and water from the system. yet collects sunshine from where ever its long tendrils grow. Try and make use of areas where plant growth can expand and extend. Quite a few people are growing dwarf fruit trees in half barrels as part of their system. from trees through to potatoes.When planting in your growbeds. and plant climbers like beans peas. You can pretty much grow anything. . erect something for the plants to grow up. you can plant things a lot closer together than you would in the soil because these plants with have as much water as they can want. What Plants Can I Grow I know people who have grown just about everything.

IBC’s and Blue Barrels for part of Ivans System .

Say perhaps you only have a simple system made from the one IBC like our sample system on this website. check out some of the following pictures from members of the forum. one growbed above the IBC fish tank. there’s not much sense in growing lots of cabbages if you don’t really like them or eat them. removing the mature ones and planting new ones to replace them. You never want to pull out all of the plants at once.Dwarf Peach Tree Firstly. To give you an idea of how plants can grow in an aquaponics system. that way you are able to cycle through plants. You also want to be sure that you always have things growing in your system. these have all been grown in different aquaponic systems. otherwise there is nothing left to extract the nutrients from the system. mature plants. you want to grow things that you will eat. It’s always best if you can have a broad mix in the system at any one time. . while leaving many plants in there using up the nutrient. half grown plants and seedlings all at once.

Nice broccoli grown at the BYAP shop .

Silverbeet leaf of a plant Simo grew Lovely Cauli grown by Welshdragon .

a weighing over 1kg beetroot Armenian cucumber weighing over 2kg .

a beautiful trout grown in Ivan’s system not a A tomatoes Charlie grew couple of .Ok. vegetable.

generally as Murphy’s law would have it. you want to be sure that your fish are not going to die. it will be when you are not home. But. A well stocked system filled with fish will not last long as they consume the available dissolved oxygen within the water. There are a few ways you can go about this. you can keep battery operated aerators or a generator handy for when the power goes out so that you can implement your contingency plan when things go wrong. if the power is going to go out. . bordering on essential. so you will be unable to react to the power failure. If and when the power goes out.Backup Having a backup system is very handy. so you need a way to get oxygen into the water that doesn’t rely on mains power.

something like a car battery. Normally they run while plugged into the power. pumping air through air lines and air stones in the fish tank. There’s a lot more information about backup systems on the Backyard Aquaponics forum. There are a couple of simple ways you can do this. these are air pumps with internal rechargeable batteries in them. you can leave out the inverter and use 12/24V DC components if they are readily available. Another method used by some is to make their own back up using either water pumps or air pumps. a trickle battery charger and a power fail switch. and it will need to be automatic. using batteries. but it’s larger and in an individual components form. We like to use AC/DC aerators. an inverter. often up to 10 hours. Essentially this does the same thing as the AC/DC air pump above. the internal battery is recharged. When the power comes back on. When the power goes out they switch automatically over to their internal batteries and continue to pump air into the water keeping the fish alive for the life of the battery within the unit.An AC/DC Air pump with internal battery This means you will need to have your backup system already thought out before hand. . This type of system can be chopped and changed.

as excess and overspray is never good. as most of the time pH goes down in mature systems. however they should always be used in moderation. Caterpillars are easily controlled by applications of Bacillus thuringiensis. Potassium bicarbonate is available under a number of different brand names around the world. It also can help a system by adding potassium. . of course most of these require no petrochemical based sprays as these are generally very toxic to fish and also possibly the beneficial bacteria within the system. this is a natural soil borne bacteria which is available around the world under a number of different brand names.Pests And Deficiencies There are a few different methods of dealing with any pests and/or diseases in your system. Often organically certified the spray is safe for aquaponic systems. these are often available commercially now a days. something often lacking in a system and the bicarbonate helps to keep the pH up. For sap sucking insects you can use chilli and garlic sprays. For moulds and fungus on plants you can use potassium bicarbonate sprayed onto the effected plants.

a small saucer filled with beer will attract them and they easily drown. Dealing with deficiencies We have found that generally supplementing for plant deficiencies is not necessary when using good quality aquaculture feed. aphids and whiteflies and are a good way to monitor visitors to your aquaponic system. Coloured sticky traps work well for thrips. making disposal simple and effective. the systems here at our display centre rarely receive .If slugs are a problem.

General Safety Power supplies Ensure that power safety is a priority at all times. Potassium bicarbonate for potassium deficiencies. thankfully there are a number of sites online which can help you diagnose particular deficiencies with images. but often considered better if you can get liquid extracted by crushing rather than boiling as you have the advantage of getting added elements like humic acid. you should turn the pump o ff at the power supply first. Chelated Iron. Any pond pump you are using must have its power supply protected by an RCD for safety. perhaps once or twice a year we might dose our systems with seaweed extract if we see some deficiencies. Top Up Water Supply It’s a great idea to have a timer on the tap where you fill your system. Seaweed has very high levels of most micronutrients and minerals.any supplements. Deficiencies can be difficult to diagnose. Often this can lead to fish deaths because of the extremely low oxygen levels in the water from the tap. there have been many stories on the forum of people putting the hose in the tank and turning on the tap to top up the system. readily available in powdered and liquid form. so long as your pH is not high already. very large amounts of chlorinated tap water can also lead to killing off the bacteria populations which have built up in your growbeds. it can also come in a powdered form or as a liquid. Seaweed extract is available under a number of different brand names around the world. Tap timers are cheap and readily available and they can save a lot of heart ache. Be sure your pH is not high before you try and add elements to fix a micronutrient problem. Keep any electrical items like air pumps out of rain and away from water. Keep Things Safe . Keep all leads well protected and out of the way of general access. Water Risk Be sure to have any open water protected in some way so that small children and pets cannot get into the water. sometimes extracted by boiling. then forgetting about it. Some other things you may want to add if the relevant deficiencies are showing in your plant growth. Whenever dipping hands into the water that contains the pump. One of the simplest ways to deal with any deficiencies is by the addition of seaweed extract. Generally IBC’s are easy to protect because the IBC tank is square so it can be as simple as some heavy mesh covering your fish tank. never have an air pump sitting above your fish tank where it may get knocked into the water.

keep it locked up. vermin and child safe. .If you have a test kit. but if you don’t spot it straight away it can lead to trouble. I’ve heard of some people that have lost their fish though small children tipping all the fish feed into the system. Not just because of the safety of the children. Just helping of course. this also goes for any other associated things including fish feed. keep it up out of the way.