It’s human nature to find innovative and creative ideas. One such innovation was aquaponics. Aquaponics is a simple process of growing plants and fishes together in a place where both benefit from each other’s existence.
It is a massively popular technique that is being implemented all over the world. While it sounds like a very posh thing, it’s a fairly simple process that you can implement yourself in your backyard.
If you’re a pond owner, using this in conjunction with your pond is a smart move. Are you confused about how to start? Chill.
I’ll explain how to build an aquaponic pond in detailed and straightforward steps, so you don’t miss a thing. How about you keep reading below?
Building a DIY aquaponic pond
An aquaponic pond is a bit more hands-on than a typical fruit/vegetable garden but doesn’t sweat it, my friend; I got your back.
With determination and a little mechanical skill, you can do it. If this is your first time, then I suggest starting small, then go large scale later.
So, without further ado, let’s get the show on the road.
Necessary Components For An Aquaponic Pond
Building an aquaponic pond is part science and part art. There are tons of customizations you can do to make your pond look unique. However, a few core items will be present in every aquaponic pond.
To make this operation smooth for you, I have listed all the necessities down below:
Tank Or Container
First, you need one tank. Theoretically, you can stock a pound of fish per gallon of water in an aquaponic system. Even so, it’s better to start with one fish every 10 gallons of water to keep things simple.
Commonly, DIY pond owners go for a barrel [55 gallons] or a square bin [225 gallons], as they can get recycled containers from the food industry.
Warning! Be wary about whether they used to hold anything toxic and if any residue is left or not. Something benign like soy sauce isn’t a big deal.
Vinyl swimming pools are fan favorites for large tanks.
A waterproof container is just the start; what you need most is a soilless medium. Although many commercial products help your cause, we’ll take the DIY approach and wing it!
The simplest way to go about it is to build a wooden box with a depth of 6-10 inches like you would do for a regular raised bed for farming. When the box is made, take a pond liner and line it properly.
Now, you have to fill it with an inert growing medium like gravel. Gravel is readily available, inexpensive but heavy. Another popular choice is perlite, which is light and allows you to raise the bed’s elevation.
The professional’s choice is something fancy like Coco coir for its fantastic air and moisture retention. Some even think it is a great idea to make an equal mixture of all three layers. But we aren’t working on a professional system yet, so let’s stick to the basics.
This way, you can fertilize a vast amount of area.
Do you know what the best thing about aquaponics is? It filters fish poop and other waste from the pond so that there is always clear water inside the pond.
Feeling bad for the nutrients that got exerted with the wastewater? Don’t worry, they’ll be the perfect fertilizer to grow herbs and veggies.
So, to ensure an equilibrium, you need a pump to circulate water between the tank and the pond, creating a self-sustainable ecosystem. You can go use a solar power operated pump and make this system a self-operated process.
But, by no means working with pumps is easy, this is where you need a little finesse. You need someone who has decent plumbing skills and knowledge about electrical devices. If that’s not your forte, then you need a friend, or you gotta face rigorous trials and errors.
The pump could either recycle the water from the grow bed to the tank, or collect the water and distribute it over the bed; it depends on the elevation.
Your tank is ready, and your grow bed is set, there is a pump to start the work. It’s time to connect them.
You need PVC pipes to distribute the water from the tank. You should drill ¼ inch holes on the pipe in every 6 inches distance. Place the pipes 12 inches apart parallelly. Plant a seedling in each of the holes.
We haven’t mentioned one important tool yet, but it is very critical for this arrangement to work, an aerator. What does it do? It’ll supply the oxygen to the fish. It could be a mechanical aerator or something natural and aesthetic like a fountain, whatever you prefer.
You need some friends to accompany the plants in the pond, fish!. There are a few fish that suit the aquaponic pond system more than others. I’ll mention a few:
- Fast reproduction and growth
- Low oxygen demand
- Easy breeding
- Tolerates various temperature
- Lives long
- Survives adverse climate
There are other fish like salmon, trout, bass, but I think these are the best to start with. All of them are safe choices.
It’s time for the main guest to make an entry.
Plants that are harvested as leaves, basil, spinach, and kale reciprocate nicely to the nutrients in waters and don’t need additional supplements.
But nothing is stopping you from farming your favorite strawberries, tomatoes, and zucchinis. They just need some fertilizers.
Putting it all together
We have everything we wanted, now we just have to arrange it all. First, find a good sunny and level field to set up your tank. If you don’t own a greenhouse, you want to be prepared by spring so you can start fish stocking when the water hits 70 degrees.
Stock the fish and start planting seeds in potting soil simultaneously. This way, fish will be big enough to produce waste that supplements the grow beds by the time seedlings grow.
Make sure water reaches the grow beds because the growing medium makes the cleaning happen.
Keep the aerator on 24/7 for the fish. You should run the pump several times on short bursts and experiment with the duration and watering frequency. This is to make sure the grow bed isn’t dry or way too wet.
Ideally, feed the fish in 3 sets of 20 minutes. Do not overfeed your fish as it can cause several issues like illness of fish or degrading water condition. Automatic feeders exist to make your life easier.
Remember this rule when you’re starting out, “simple is best”.
Building an aquaponic pond is an inspiring journey. You know how to build an aquaponic pond, now just assimilate the required goods and start your very own DIY project. I have full faith in you that you will be able to obtain magnificent results.
All the best.