Aquaponics – Starting Up

I often come across some members who want to try their hands out at fish farming on a small scale basis ...

to see if they have the temparament to run a full fledge fish farming production system and inevitably I am often asked questions about building a small aquaponics system at home.

If you are one of those thinking of going into aquaponics, it is a wise thing for you to know what materials are required for you to be able to construct an aquaponics system successfully.

This article serves as a quick simple short guide to highlight some of the materials you might need to set up your own aquaponics system.

I have also included some links to where you might possibly get some of those materials that I might be talking about that you will need

But before we get started with introducing you to the equipments that will be needed for your aquaponics system, it is good for you to first get an overview of what aquaponics is all about.

Aquaponics is more or less the combination of fish farming (small scale) and hydroponics (which is a term used to refer to growing plants without soil).

Aquaponics is a sort of recirculating system where the waste from the fish provides the nutrients the plant needs and the plants and the medium in which the plants are grown in turn help clean up the water for the fish.


fish farming business - Aquaponics Fish Tank



One of the key advantages of using an aquaponics system to raise fish is that the system in effects cancels out the negative effects of traditional fish farming methods and also the negative effects of hydroponics.

No chemicals need to be applied to the aquaponics system and you only require about one tenth of the amount of water needed for normal fish farming.

In fact the water in the fish tank can be used indefinitely and only need to be topped up from time to time due to loss by evapouration or transpiration.

The fish waste absorbed by plants is pumped to a bio-filter system as a nutrient solution for the growing plants (Grow Bed).

The only external input you will need to add to the system is the food you will be using to feed the fish. Both systems complement each other as a single unit, not as separate units.

You only need to add water maybe weekly to make up for the lost water via evaporation and transpiration by the vegetables

Now that you know the basics of what the aquaponics system is all about, lets move on to the materials and equipment that you will need to construct a small home aquaponics system.


The Materials you will need are as follows:

Aquarium tank

Aquaponic Tank

One of the first equipment you will need is an aquaponics tank.

You dont need anything complex. In fact any clean container that can hold ten or more gallons of water will work here.

However if you are doing this for aesthetics, you may consider using a fish aquarium.

Undergravel Filter


Under Gravel Filter and Pump(s)

You can build your your own gravel filter or pumps but it is generally simpler to buy them.

The filter needs a means of pulling water through the gravel to promote bio-filtration. This can either be done with an air pump and air stones, or with devices, known as power heads, that have an active water pump that draws water up the riser tubes of the filter.

The best way of setting it up is to have the power heads for the filter and then supplement the dissolved oxygen in the tank with an air pump and air stones. You also need an air tube hosing and a gang valve.




Aquaponic Grow Bed

You will also need a grow bed for your plants.

Any container that can have holes drilled at the bottom and can easily sit on top of the tank you have will serve this purpose.

For ease in maintenance, two or three smaller containers may be placed side by side on top of the tank.

The container has to be about 5 - 7 inches deep so that your plants can easily grow in the container.



Submersible Pump

Another thing you will also need is a submersible pump.

This is a pump used in flooding of the grow bed.

There are 3 types of hydroponics pump available; submersible, non-submersible and what I term, semi-submersible.

A submersible sits and pumps completely submerged in the pond, a non-submersible is an external unit outside of the pond and a semi-submersible sits in the pond to pump but the top of the pump must remain dry.

The size of the submersible pump you buy does depend on how much of the water in the pond you need to pump.

If you intend operating a small aquaponics, a small 160GPH submersible hydroponics pump will serve your purpose effectively



You will also need some tubing.

The tubing is used to ensure that there is a connection from the pump at the bottom of the tank up to the grow bed. It should be long enough to cross the length of the grow bed twice.


fish farming - aquarium-gravel


Aquarium Gravel

You also need some aquarium gravel.

Do however ensure that you specifically use aquarium gravel in your construction to ensure that gravel does not leach into the water like other gravels when submerged in water over a long time.

Leaching does have an impact on the PH level of water so it is important that you purchase the right sort of aquarium gravel.

The gravel should be enough to cover the gravel filter.


Aquaponic Growing Medium

For this you can use expanded clay pebbles. They work well.

You will need enough to fill your grow bids to within one inch of the top.


PH Test Kit

While an aquaponics system is easy to maintain, you also have to ensure that you have the PH right starting from the onset so as to be sure of success. You will therefore need a ph test kit. You can get this from any reputable outlet


Siphon Cleaner

This equipment is indispensable for monthly tank cleaning.


Hydroponics Nutrient (Optional)

Due to the fact that an aquaponics system produces enough nitrogen for the survival and growth of the green plants, adding additional nutrient is not very necessary, but adding this nutrient will help you maintain better phosphorous, potassium and micro-nutrient levels.


Light Source

If your aquaponics system is placed close to the window where sun rays enter or you purchase a tank that already has light in-built (which can be easily changed to one appropriate for the plants), this equipment may not be very necessary for you to purchase.

However if you must use artificial light source exclusively as a source of light , it should be around 20-50 watts per square foot.



Finally, if you have gone through this article to this point, and you really are interested in building an aquaponics system for yourself, you can find out more information by clicking here...   Click Here!




Guide to setting up your own aquaponics system




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