Aquaponics Setup: Your First Aquaponics System

Aquaponics Setup: Your First Aquaponics System

Have you heard of aquaponics? We all know that some people are fond of growing plants, while others love having aquariums full of beautiful fish. An aquaponics setup combines these two passions into a sustainable and promising method of providing your home with food throughout the year. With this efficient model, you can use bacteria from fish waste to grow plants—it’s not only convenient, but it’s a great space-saver too!

What Exactly Is Aquaponics?

An aquaponics setup is an excellent way to grow food sustainably. It combines hydroponics and aquaculture into an integrated system. And when you get started, there’s practically no need for further effort or maintenance.

In short, aquaponics takes the waste produced by fish to feed the plants. In return, the plants clean out the water for the fish, thus creating a continuous cycle—it’s that simple!

Aquaponics Setup: Setting Up Your First Aquaponics System

Assembling the Fish Tank

View at beautiful zebrasoma salt water aquarium fish

When it comes to fish keeping, consider relevant safe practices.

First, consider how much space your fish will need. Space will be the primary consideration when looking for a tank. Depending on your tank’s size, you may even get away with repurposing an old tank. Most people, however, choose to work with food-grade containers (the ones with opaque sides) or large barrels.

You can set up your tank the same as a typical fish tank. Be sure to dechlorinate and allow the water to cycle in the next 4 to 6 weeks before adding any fish. This step allows the bacteria to build up, ensuring enough bacteria to break down the nitrites and ammonia to feed the plants. Don’t forget about the pump—this will help draw the water from the tank to the plants and back.

Building the Media Bed for an Aquaponics Setup

Your media bed—also known as a flood table—can rest beside the tank or above it. The bed will hold the container for your plants. It can be a wooden crate or a heavy-duty tray. Your media bed must be on top of a stand that can hold the weight bed.

After you finish arranging your bed, the next step is to fill it with the media you’ve chosen. Clay pebbles are one of the most popular types of media used in aquaponics. They are pH neutral, and as a result, they won’t affect the water. In addition, they are also good at holding moisture. In the early stages, try to create a 1:1 ratio for your grow bed and fish tank size. Doing this ensures the same volume.

Adding Fish to Your Aquaponics Setup

Now that you’ve finished your tank’s cycle, you can add fish. Some of the most common choices that work well in aquaponics are:

Because they produce a lot of waste, they are ideal for the setup.

  • Tilapia:

These are very easy to grow, withstand diseases, and are simple to care for.

This species grows to be large and can produce a significant profit when sold.

  • Pacu:

These fish are an excellent choice for people looking for an exotic option.

  • Tetras,

guppies, mollies, and other ornamental fish are also good options.

  • Silver perch:

These fast-growing school fish prefer high densities.

  • Carp:

This fish is easy to grow and reproduce well.

  • Catfish:

These don’t have scales, so don’t handle them often.

  • Barramundi:

In aquaponics, these are often called the prince of fish.

Adding Your Plants

The best plants to grow in aquaponics are the leafy ones. But if you have a large number of fish, you may even be able to grow plants that produce fruits such as tomatoes and peppers. Here are just a few of the best plants to grow in your aquaponics system:

  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Mint

As mentioned, if you have a lot of fish and the proper aquaponics setup, you may even be able to grow these plants:

  • Cabbage
  • Beans
  • Cauliflower
  • Squash
  • Cucumbers
  • Peas
  • Strawberries

Just as you would plant in soil, it’s best to use seedlings first to give them the best chance of thriving. Start by gently placing their roots into the pebbles, ensuring they can reach the nutrients from the water that passes through the system.

Aquaponics Setup - addimg plants

Maintaining Your Aquaponics System

Start by feeding your fish a good diet. It’s OK to stick to simple food flakes while giving them a treat occasionally. However, be careful not to introduce any disease to your tank. Because of this, it is dangerous to give your fish any live food. Be sure only to feed your fish two to three times every day, and don’t give them any more than they can finish in five minutes. 

Next, you need to test the water inside your tank every week or so for the nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, and pH levels. The nitrates should maintain low levels if the plants are doing a good job, while the nitrites and ammonia need to be undetectable. The pH level needs to be neutral –  around 6.8 to 7.0. This level is ideal for bacteria, plants, and fish.

After the initial cycle finishes, the pH level will drop below 7.0. To fix this, you can add potassium carbonate and calcium hydroxide in powdered form to the tank. Lastly, tend to your plants as you would with your outside garden, but you should see that weeds don’t grow as much.

We hope you’re able to take away many valuable techniques and information from our work. Aquaponics is an excellent solution to your fish and plant needs while also growing food to share with your friends and family. With the basics outlined here, you’ll be an expert in no time.

FAQs for an Aquaponics Setup

No. You first need to dechlorinate and allow the water to cycle in the next 4 to 6 weeks before adding any fish. This step allows the bacteria to build up, ensuring enough is present to break down the nitrites and ammonia to feed the plants.

The pH level needs to be neutral, which is around 6.8 to 7.0—this is ideal for bacteria, plants, and fish.

The best plants to try, especially if you’re new to aquaponics, are basil, lettuce, kale, watercress, and mint.

Some of the easiest kinds to care for are goldfish, tilapia, koi, pacu, and any type of ornamental fish.

Put simply, aquaponics combines the sustainability of hydroponics and the ease of aquaculture to work together as an integrated system that feeds off each other. It practically requires no maintenance once it’s set up.


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