Building A Home Aquaponics System From Off The Shelf Parts
From 2012-2016 students and I designed, built, and ran an aquaponics system at Jasper Place High School. The aquaponics system was great for a school but way too big and expensive for the average home. The whole project was an amazing experience but I’ve been thinking about how to scale its size and design for home use. The goal – to create an elegant, home aquaponics system from a standard fish tank and off the shelf parts for as little money as possible. This article is an up-to-date account of my home aquaponics built. I will update it as I progress and eventually place the final plans online.
Design Considerations For Home Aquaponics Systems
So I’ve been thinking about building this system for a while and have settled on a few design criteria:
- Simple and Elegant In order to be useful, a DIY home aquaponics system needs to be as simple and as clean as possible. Nobody wants to fiddle with a fussy system that only works have the time. A home aquaponics system should be straightforward and beautiful. It should be something functional but also something you want to show off.
- Foolproof The last thing anyone needs is dead fish, dead plants, and a flood. Good design is redundant, safe, and reliable. The smart aquaponics builder will ask “what happens if the power goes out? Will the system implode and make a mess or will everything survive?”
- Affordable There’s plenty of pre-packaged aquaponics kits but they’re often costly. A DIY approach should be affordable and repairable. Parts should be easy to find and simple to replace. For this reason, I’ve also decided to build the system with standard fish tanks – the kind you can find on Kijiji or Craigslist for dirt cheap.
- Modular and Customizable Not everyone wants the same thing and preferences change. A home aquaponics system design ought to be flexible enough to adapt to your needs.
- Do-able What use are home aquaponics plans if they require a master craftsman to execute? DIY home aquaponics systems ought to be simple enough for a novice to build but flexible enough that it can be taken t the next level.
The DIY Home Aquaponics System Design and Build
At the time of this writing, I’m a little more than half-way through building my home aquaponics system. For simplicity, I’ve decided to use a standard 40-gallon tank. For the grow beds, I’m using 1 by 8 pine treated with tung oil and lined with coroplast. I was hesitant about using wood but it’s affordable, easy to work with, and won’t come in contact with any water.
The liner is made from a single piece of coroplast folded to make a box. The seams are welded with a two-part epoxy and sealed with a marine grade tape I picked up at HopeDepot. To keep the wood away from the water, I’ve used a few lengths of ready-rod to build a frame for the coroplast liner to rest on.
At this point, I was able to find everything I needed from my local hardware shop, though, I had to venture a little further afoot for some of the plumbing fixtures such as hose, through hulls, and a pump. I’m presently in the process of plumbing the system. Once plumbed, I’ll be able to fill it with water for some initial testing. I’ll be updating my progress (and this article) as I go.