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How to build a desktop aquaponics system for indoor gardening.

Aquaponics system: How to build a desktop aquaponics system for indoor gardening. Aquaponics guide.


As the days get shorter and the nights get colder, we can no longer deny that fall is on the way and winter is around the corner.  For me this means that hot summer days toiling around the garden will soon end. Last year, I started to experiment with hydroponics so I could continue to grow fresh food during the winter months.  I learned that with a little know-how, growing fresh fruits and vegetables is not only possible but easy to do. For the past year I have been researching alternative methods for indoor growing and really gravitated towards aquaponics.

What is aquaponics you might ask. Those of you familiar with hydroponics would recognize the system built in this video as a simple flood and drain or ebb and flow unit. In fact, you could just use this system for hydroponics, just delete the fish out of the equation. That said, what is aquaponics?

Remember when those lions were singing about the circle of life? Well aquaponics is kind of the same thing. Nature has a way of working things out for herself, take a pond for example. Fish eat bugs, fish, and plants. The fish create waste in the form of ammonia. A bacteria called Nitrosomonas comes along and convert the ammonia into nitrites. Then a different bacteria called Nitrobacter converts the nitrites into nitrates. The plants in the pond and nearby banks use the nitrates as food therefore keeping the water fresh for the fish. This is known as the nitrogen cycle and is what makes aquaponics possible (insert singing lions here).

The flood and drain or ebb and flow aquaponics system built in this video emulates what happens in nature. We feed the fish in the totes below the desk. The fish produce ammonia that gets pumped up to the totes on the desktop. These desktop totes hold the plants and thus are appropriately called the grow bed. The hydroton and plants in the grow bed act as a biological filter and breeding ground for beneficial bacteria. The bacteria converts the ammonia to nitrates and the plants chow down. Clean fresh water returns to the fish and restarts the cycle. This creates a green and sustainable way to grow food.

This video is intended to be the first of a series that will outline step by step how to setup and run an aquaponics system. I truly believe that we can all enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables year round no matter how much space you have.

Tools and supplies list:

Tools:
Drill
1 ½ inch hole saw
Assorted drill bits
Miter saw

Supplies:
2 totes 8 to 12 inch deep (Ikea $16 each)
6 ½ inch bulkheads (eBay $1 each)
2 ¾ inch PVC threaded pipe (Home Depot $6 each)
2 inch ABS pipe 3 feet long (Home Depot $7)
2 120 liter totes (Home Depot $13 each)
½ inch tubing 10 feet (Home Depot $4)
½ inch clear tubing 10 feet (Home Depot $9)
½ inch threaded ball valve (Home Depot $5)
2 ½ inch threaded to pressure fit connector (Home Depot $1)
½ inch reducer (Home Depot $1)
1400 liter per hour submersible pump (ebay $6)
½ inch pressure fit T-joint connector (Home Depot $1)
2 x 50 liters of Hydroton (Hydroponics supply $36 each)
Total = $183

For more tips and projects visit my blog http://www.getforked.ca.

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Comment by Cornelia on August 20, 2012 at 11:16am

This is so well presented, Robert. You're a terrific teacher! Thanks for sharing the video and I'm eager to see the next installment to learn about the fish and plants I'll need!

Comment by Robert Brennan on August 20, 2012 at 1:26pm

Thanks for the comment Cornelia, I hope to have the next part of the series up next week

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