It is not advisable to start with complex or large system. It is also ridiculous to start with a tiny system, it’s only meant for show case and school projects.
Size of Fish tank and Grow beds are the two determining factor in Aquaponics, in theory the size of grow bed is directly proportional to the size of tank used. A 1:1 ratio is a rule of thumb, however smaller grow bed to tank is acceptable but not the other way round for obvious reason where insufficient water available to grow beds and fish.
What Tank and Grow Bed size to use ? Try : Here
In the illustration I recommend a 100 gallon tank and a 2’ x 3’ grow bed for a start. This size is an estimate but it’s roughly there.
Simple 2 Growbed Over Tank with Bell Siphon
- Timed Flood and Drain make use of stand pipe and leak (drip) hole
- Continuous Flood and Drain make use of a Siphon.
More Growbed Over Tank with Bell Siphon
For a start, I do not recommend any system with lots of moving parts or those with Sump Drain reason being the extra pump and parts is just additional item to fail or need maintenance. It is too much for beginners to worry about.
In above diagram, Timed Flood & Drained or Bell Flush system, water are fed to the grow bed by using a single pump, estimate about 800 ~ 1200 Liter/hr 14 ~ 20 watt power rating (on Timed Flood and Drain you can use smaller pump), and water returned to fish tank are by gravity. A tiny drip hole is needed in the stand pipe on both this methods, this to ensure during pump “OFF” operation water are drained slowly, to promote the Aquaponics process.
If siphon is used, a recommended 800 l/h water flow for each siphon for its operation. If you have 2 growbed with individual siphon then its 800 x 2 l/h pump total capacity is needed.
Growth medium use normally gravel or hydroton which are popular now, roughly 10 ~ 20 mm in size, not too small and not too big.
I switch OFF at night for power saving and noise issue, with pump OFF its advisable to have an aeration pump running to ensure oxygen are sufficient.
Below is a diagram of CRAFTS, for installation where you need more growbed and fish area as you progress and don't want to add complex rearrangement but modular in approach.
What Fish to use… ?
For those that like ornamental fish, KOI is a good choice, common gold fish also another option. These fishes are hardy and able to tolerate varies water condition.
For those that want fish for the dinner table (like me), its depend on your area, over here in hot humid rainy equatorial climate I recommend;
Barb families, Perch, Mansheer, Gourami, Tilapia (Red Variety is best).
I don’t recommend Catfish and Snakehead, they are predator fish and also they are air breather.
Air breather like Catfish, Snakehead and Climbing Perch (Puyu) will tolerate extreme water condition, as such you will not learn much on how to manage water of an Aquaponics setup. However they are the easiest to get you started.
Fish like Tilapia is quite hardy, but they still need dissolve oxygen, so using these types of fish will make you conscious of water quality and oxygen content.
What Plants to use ?
Again depending on your region and whether you are using a Green house or not. Most leafy vegetable were grown, there are cases where carrot, beet and radish were use. Tomato is a common vegetable for Aquaponics.
On plant I leave it to your imagination.
- How to make a single barrel Aquaponics set : Here
- CHOPS is not a simple system but check : Here
- CRAFTS - Constant Return Aquaponics Feeder Tank System : Here
This page will be revised over time to take into consideration various improvements on either methods or material used for Aquaponics.