Getting started with my aquaponics garden

Over the past few years, I have become more drawn toward the ideas of self-sustainability.  As our society becomes ever more dependent on food delivery systems that are completely outside of our control, the idea of having some level of sustenance in my own back yard has seemed increasingly important to me, and having the kind of skills that would help in the even of some kind of disruption to food lines.  That notion has manifested itself in various ways over the years, but most recently this has resulted my creating an aquaponics garden.   Aquaponic gardens are a combination of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (growing plants in water instead of soil).   In aquaponics, the fish and plants develop a symbiotic relationship, in which the waste of the fish is provided to the plants as nitrates, and then the garden is responsible for feeding the fish and for helping to filter the water to keep the fish happy.  Ultimately, depending on your choice of fish, the fish then can also become food as the grow and multiply.  Lastly, given the recycling of the water through the system, aquaponics farming uses just a fraction of water that is used in traditional farming and gardening.

After studying countless videos on YouTube and attending a local aquaponics class at Frank’s Aquaponics with my son, I put together a system that consists of a 100 gallon fish tank, a 55 gallon sump tank and then various grow beds.  I have three horizontal 4″ PVC tubes that each support 8 plants.  I have one ebb & flow bed that supports 20-24 plants, and one raft bed that supports about 20 plants.

As of the time of this post, I have actually planted about 40 plants and have a school of 23 tilapia that are about 2-3″ long each.  I have recorded a couple of videos along the way though, so I figured I would post them now and do follow-ups with my progress.

Even looking at these videos now, I realize I have learned quite a bit over the past few weeks and have modified the design slightly, but they are still pretty accurate to where I sit today.

Initial construction of my aquaponics garden…

Cover for my fish tank…