Fishy Food


November 28, 2009

Have you ever heard of Hydroponics? It's a system in which you grow plants in water... with nutrients and such in the water... now you remember, right? Well anyhow, I've always wanted to make a Hydroponics system, but then I found out about "Aquaponics". Now that sounded cool to me. Its much like Hydroponics, except you have fish in the water, and they (as in their waste) supply the nutrients. I think it is totally cool, because you don't have to add anything to the water, and you get veggies AND fish for dinner!

I saw this video of a guy who made a small Aquaponics system out of old barrels, called "Barrelponics". It sounded just like what I NEED ;). So I did some research and learned a lot about Aquaponics/Barrelponics, and found plans for the Barrelponics system.

Adriel and I made one last weekend! It is in the basement with grow lights.

Here are some pictures explaining how it works:

First of all, the fish tank:

Right now I just have three goldfish that I took from the pond for the winter, I'm going to get some Talapia fish for it as soon as enough bacteria builds up.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The tank is pretty basic, It is just where the fish live and supply the nutrients. I have a pump in here (that I also took from the pond) which pumps the water up to the top tank called the "floating raft tank"

The Floating Raft Tank:

Click to enlarge

The pump pumps the water up from the fish tank into this tank, which is just a place for the water to sit still. I have a piece of foam floating in here as you can see. I'm going to cut holes in the foam and put net pots in them so I can grow lettuce in the pots.

Click to enlarge

The water flows out this stand pipe and down into the "flood tank".

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The Flood Tank (my favorite part):

The water flows from the floating raft tank into this.

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So basically the idea here is to flood the grow beds every once in awhile. To do that we use a toilet flusher! After the water gets high enough it flows into this bottle:

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When the bottle get heavy enough it pulls the string and flushes the water into the grow beds! I think it's so cool, it even sounds like a toilet! I have holes in the lid of the bottle so the water slowly runs out. When the bottle gets empty it goes back up until the flood tank gets full again.

The Grow Beds:

The water flushes from the flood tank into these.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

And this is where it all happens. I have pea gravel in them for the plants to grow in. The water from the flood tank comes out the pipe, into the beds, and then flows out the pipes at the bottom, back into the fish tank. I have smaller tubing inside the PVC so the water comes out slower. The flood tank flushes out enough water to fill both beds, but the water only comes up to a few inches from the top of the gravel in each bed because it is running out the pipes at the bottom.

Click to enlarge

I also have a pipe at the top of the beds, so if the bottom one gets clogged the water will run into the fish tank instead of on the floor.

Then the cycle starts over again.

I am going to plant lettuce in the top tank (like I said before). Some of the things I am planning to plant in the grow beds are: Tomatoes, Broccoli, Beans, Onions, Carrots, Radishes, Cucumber, Peppers (both red and green). And Doran already planted a Bean plant that he had started earlier.

I am pretty exited about it, and mom is exited about having our own homegrown veggies all winter!

Stay tuned for updates as I learn and experiment with it.


Twila Kulp said:
That is uber cool! My uncle used to grow hydroponic tomatoes (so delish)...I wonder what your barrelponic veggies will taste like. :)
Rose Shirk said:
That is really neat! I can already imagine that first homegrown lettuce salad with radishes, carrots, peppers and tomatoes in it. You can serve it with pride. Do they need sunlight? Will grow lights be sufficient light? Just curious.
Aunt Char said:
Grama K said:
What a Superaquabarrelponictastic idea!
Aunt Mel said:
You guys are genius's! Way to go on successfully completing another amazing project! You might need to make a business out of it...I bet you could sell fresh homegrown veggies in the winter for a pretty penny,eh?
Gunnar Kerschner said:
That's pretty cool. I think I'll try it sometime ;)
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