The large home aquaponics system that was created by my family is designed to have a lot of growing space to feed a large family. There are definite benefits to this system:
1. It can feed a large family with growth being optimized.
2. The stocking densities of your fish can be higher because there are enough plants to filter the water. More fish= more food at harvest time.
This system was a mid-range system in terms of cost and after set up requires minor maintenance through out the year. It is a high quality system using parts that will last several years or more, even indefinitely.
star screw bit
3in hole saw drill bit
This system is very large (it can be modified to be smaller or larger) so we deal with the elements of building it in several different posts.
Refer to this post for instructions on how to cut an IBC into grow beds.
Refer to this post for instructions on how to plumb the IBC for a continual run, gravity flow system.
After your home aquaponics system is completely arranged on the cinder blocks and plumbed, you get to the exciting part of being able to fill it! The grow media will depend on the number of grow beds you chose to include in your system, the availability of supplies in your area and your personal preferences. Look here for a breakdown of different options for your grow media.
Any rock that is placed in your system needs to be rinsed really well to prevent a lot of dirt debris from sitting in the bottom of your grow beds.
After filling your system with your grow media, begin filling your tanks with water. Here you will have to watch carefully. As your fish tank fills and the water begins to flow into the first grow bed you need to keep a watch out for any leaks. If you see any leaks in the uni-seals or the aquarium glue, stop the system! Take out several inches of water from the fish tank and allow the PVC and aquarium glue to dry completely before resealing the area. I’ve learned from experience that having to stop your system after plants are growing in order to fix leaks can cause all kinds of havoc. So do it right the first time and you won’t have to deal with as many issues later.
Once you are confident that your system is water tight and you have your grow media in place, you can start adding the plants and fish.
The order in which you add the plants and fish can be of personal preference. I chose to add my plants first and add Liquid Seaweed for their nutrients for a week or two before adding in fish. This gives you time to get the proper ammonia levels in the water. It is very important that your tank has the beneficial bacteria built up that is necessary for fish to live.
For this to happen, you need to cycle it with Ammonia. Read this post for information on how to get your system cycled properly. If you don’t do this, you run a high risk of losing all your fish.
After your bed is cycled, your plants, and your fish are added, you can sit back and watch your garden grow hour by hour!
If you create a system similar to this or modify it, send me pictures! I’d love to see what you create!