Aquaponics is a perfect choice to grow food for your homestead or just as a backyard project for the family. But it may cost you lot of bucks to buy a pre-made aquaponics system. Since it is to make a replica of the aquaponics ecosystem, you can easily build a cheap aquaponics system that will work perfectly well.

Before initiating the process of how to build an indoor aquaponics system, make sure you understand the working of aquaponics cycle:

There is an amicable relationship between fish, plants, and microorganisms.

  • If the concentration exceeds beyond a limit, fish droppings are ammonia-rich that is toxic for fish as well.
  • Plants cannot utilize ammonia as a fertilizer directly.
  • Microorganisms convert this ammonia to nitrites and then to nitrates.
  • Nitrates act as good nutrients for plant growth and fish can live in this clean and aerated water.

Aquaponics Cycle


The process of building an indoor aquaponics

  • Wash the gravel

Wholeheartedly wash the gravel because initially, it is dusty. Once the gravel is washed thoroughly, place it in the bottom of the fish tank. The nitrifying bacteria reside in the gravel that converts ammonia to nitrite and then to nitrate. This nitrate can be used by the plants. Note that unwashed gravel will cloud your tank water.

  • Initiate the drilling process

In the bottom of the grow bed, at every 2 square inches, just drill 1/8” or 3/16” holes. The purpose of drilling is to drain water into the tank. Drill a ½” hole at one of the back corners of the grow bed for the tubing from the water pump to pass through.

While choosing the grow bed, make sure it is slightly larger than the length and width of the fish tank. The grow bed is filled with a growing medium that the plants grow in.

  • The role of water pump comes at this stage

In the fish tank, carefully place the water pump. Now, set the grow bed on top of the tank. Make use of ½” hole drilled in the previous step by feeding it with the tube from the water pump. Keep enough tubing (extend about 3/4 the height of the grow bed and to loop around the inside of the grow bed). Cut away the excessive tube and fold the end over. Use electrical tape to seal the folded piece.

·         Fill the grow bed effectively

Fill the grow bed with the growing medium. Once you fill the grow bed, start puncturing small holes every 2 inches in the section of tubing that loops in the grow bed. Finally, just make use of an inch or two of the growing medium to cover the loop of tubing.

·   Fill up the fish tank carefully

Now start filling the fish tank with water, make sure that pump is plugged to ensure that water is being pumped into the grow bed and it trickles down through the growing medium and continuously back into the tank.

Adjust the flow of the water depending upon the size of your tank, grow bed and pump.

  • Check the pH of the water

Use litmus paper, a pH test kit or a pH meter to determine the pH of your water. For an aquaponics system, the ideal pH should be 7.0. Make use of a ‘pH down’ product if the pH level of water is higher than 7.2. And if it is lower than 6.8, make use of ‘pH up’ product to raise the pH level.

  • Let the water take rest for a while

Once you make sure that pH level of water is appropriate, allow the unit to sit for at least 24 hours so that all chlorine gets removed from the water. If, in any case, you wish to stock your fishes right away, make sure you make use of chlorine remover before stocking the fishes.

  • Stock the fish to fish tank

It’s time to add fish to fish tank now. At first, just do not add more than ½” of fish per gallon of water. Just keep it light initially. Just after some time, like after over a month, start increasing fish density and you can increase it to 1” per gallon of water.

  • Adding plants to the system

An ideal wait-time before adding plants to your system is 4 weeks. But if you are eager to add them immediately, just add few of them or their seeds and increase their number in a month when your aquaponics system is fully established.

Your aquaponics system is fully operational now. Make a proper use of it and reap all the benefits.

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