In Episode 1, Keba and Eric show us that an aquaponic garden is a great environmental way to grow your own food. But they can also be a little difficult and expensive to make. There are unlimited resources online about how to make one (check out this roundup of DIY Aquaponic videos), but by far the easiest, cheapest how-to I found on making a small aquaponic garden is by the blogger “expectus”.
Here’s what he says:
- Aquaponics is a combination of Aquaculture and Hydroponics that stimulates an ecosystem where bacteria process fish waste from nitrites into nitrates which are absorbed by the plants and then return clean water back to the fish.
- If you’d like to grow and eat your fish, many people use tilapia, silver perch, jade perch, trout, and other coldwater fish in their Aquaponic Systems. You can also raise ornamental goldfish if you don’t want to eat your fish or don’t have room for larger fish.
- To make your small Aquaponic Garden, you’ll need
- A 250L Pond Bin
- 150L Grow tub
- 1000 L/ph pump
- Double outlet air pump
- Extension cable
- A large garden hose
- Bird wire (to keep birds away from the fish)
- Vegetable plants
- 50kg of fine gravel
- Digital timer (used to run the pump to circulate water to the plants, running every 2 hours)
- 6 goldfish
- Bricks and roof tiles
- “expectus” says he had some of the elements already – the grow tub, extension cable, garden hose, roof tiles, and bricks. Everything else cost a total of around $120. You can substitute some items (ex: big stones for bricks) in order to make your system cheaper.
- Now that you have your materials, first you’ll need to dig a hole for the fish tub to go into. By building your fish pond below ground you ensure a steady water temperature.
- Second, run a long outdoor/waterproof extension cable from the nearest power source (your house? a shed?) to the fish area, and connect the pump and the air pump to the power outlet.
- Third, drill or make a small hole in the bottom of your grow tub so that the water can drain out and back into the fish tub. Set up a place for the grow tub to site. It’s good for it to sit as close to the fish tub as possible so that the pump won’t have to work too hard to get the water from one tub to the other.
- Fourth, connect a hose from the pond pump to the grow tub, and set it up with the digital time to control when you want the pond pump to turn on and off.
- Fifth, fill the fish tub with de-chlorinated water and fish. Run a few trial runs to see if the water flows from one tub to the other and back. Also, check how fast the water is escaping because it will slow down a lot after you add your fine gravel.
- And sixth, wash your gravel and add it to the grow tub. Simply drop some seeds into the grow tub and cover lightly with gravel and wait for germination to begin. Be patient and seedlings will appear! Or you can always transplant already sprouted plants to your grow tub.
- Maintenance will include
- feed the fish
- keep an eye on the pump cycle
- keep an eye on fish health and fish tub water level
Here’s what the garden, which has been up for about a year, looks like: