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DIY Vertical Aquaponics System

Vertical Aquaponics System  FrameAre you interested in creating a vertical Aquaponics system?  Vertical Aquaponics systems are ideal when you have a small growing space and need to utilize it as best you can.

This system was created by Foresta and Richard. They are both well educated and nearing retirement age.  This system was created in an attempt to be more self sufficient and provide a hobby.

This system requires a wooden frame but the results are a lot of plants in a small foot print.  Because it is raised off the ground, you can still place planter boxes under and around it in order to use your space even better.  This can be built on a patio, in a narrow location, or even as part of your natural backyard.  When filled out, the foliage creates a living wall that creates a nice backdrop.





1-2’ length of 1 inch PVC piping

6- 6’ lengths of 4 inch PVC piping

1- 6’ length of 6 inch PVC piping

5’ length of 1 inch plastic tube

5’ length of ¾ in plastic tube

12- 4 inch PVC caps

2-6 inch PVC caps

14- 4 inch J hooks

2-6 inch J hooks

56-2 inch net pots

2-1 inch elbow joints

1-¾ to 1 inch PVC converter

To build the frame you’ll need:

4- 6 foot 2x4s

4- 34inch 2x4s

3-4 foot 2x4s

2- 75inch 2x4s

For the tank:

Large tote for fish tank

Aquaponics pump


2 inch hole drill bit

1 inch hole drill bit

Power screw driver

Power saw


Vertical Aquaponics Frame

To build this system, you are going to create a frame out of the wood.  The frame is going to be 6’tall by 4’wide by 34” deep.  The two 75” boards will be the diagonal pieces which your PVC will sit on.

After building the frame, attach the J hooks to the diagonal beams.

Using the 2 inch hole saw drill bit, cut out 8 holes in the top of all 6- 4 inch PVC pipes and the 1-6 inch PVC pipe.  This is where your net pots will sit and your plants will grow.

On each PVC pipe, using the 1 inch hole saw drill bit, cut one hole in line with the 8 others at one end of the pipe.  This hole needs to be about 4 inches in from the top of the pipe.  Flip the PVC pipes over and on the opposite end of the pipes drill another 1 inch hole on the bottom of each pipe.

Vertical Aquaponics Frame With Plants CloseupBegin setting them up on your frame inside the Jhooks, placing the 6 inch PVC pipe on the top.  As you place the PVC, make sure the 1 inch holes you created are staggered from side to side so that the hole on the bottom of one pipe sits directly on top of the 1 inch hole on the top of the next pipe.

Next, cut 3 inch sections out of your 1 inch PVC pipe. These should fit snugly inside the one inch holes you drilled in each PVC pipe.  Measure the distance between each of your PVC tubes and cut corresponding lengths of 1inch plastic tubing.  Slide one end of the plastic tubing over the end of the 1inch PVC section and the other end in the one inch hole in the bottom tube.

Place end caps on each of the PVC pipes, making it water tight.

On the very bottom pipe, fit the 1 inch PVC into the bottom hole, fit that with the elbow pipe, and then fit another 1 inch PVC pipe to the other end. From there, slide the remainder of your 1 inch PVC tubing onto the elbow pipe.  This tubing will be your water return into your fish tank.

Inside your fish tank, place your pump and attach your ¾ inch tubing.  This tubing should be long enough to reach the top of your frame work.  Connect this tubing using the ¾ to 1 inch PVC converter and then use the same technique as earlier to connect this to the system, using the elbow pipe.

Vertical Aquaponics Frame With PlantsOnce assembled, you can fill your system with water and watch for any major issues.  There may be some leaks around the 1 inch PVC fittings and if you desire to, sealing these with a water proof caulking is fairly easy.

Another option is to add netting to the top square of the framing to allow your tall plants to grow above your system and into the netting as a support.

This vertical Aquaponics system is not going to be the easiest to assemble but it is beautiful and very sturdy.  And being a vertical Aquaponic system instead of spread out, you will be able to plant a wide variety of amazing food in a much smaller square footage!

You still need to make sure you cycle your system properly before adding in your fish and read up on Aquaponic pumps to make sure you are buying the right one!

If you end up creating this amazing vertical Aquaponics system or modifying it, send me pictures! I’d love to see what you come up with!


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  1. Colleen Colleen
    June 25, 2015    

    I am really wanting to do a variation of the is but am unable to find the hooks. I was wondering where they can be bought. Please and thank you.

    • brittabeach brittabeach
      June 26, 2015    

      Hey Colleen!

      In the supply list I’ve linked to some J hooks that are for sale on Amazon. If you prefer not to purchase from Amazon I know that the J hooks that were purchased for the system shown were purchased at Lowe’s. They are a pretty common plumbing supply so if you have a plumbing store nearby, that would also be a really good place to check.
      If you are up for it, you could build a simple wooden hook to replace the plastic hook, or you could use old metal coat hangers or other wiring. The goal is to make your pipes a place to sit that is secure so wrapping the pipes in wire is a viable option.

      Thanks for stopping by! Send in some pictures of your system after you build it!

  2. July 10, 2015    

    Well I got my system done but it is nothing like I was wanting it to be. I ran into a TON of set backs requiring me to redesign. I have a ton of pictures up on a blog that I started. I put it in the website box 🙂 I don’t want to post the link in the comment in case you don’t want links 🙂 Thank you for your help with where to get the hooks. I found those in the store.

    • brittabeach brittabeach
      July 12, 2015    

      I’m following you! That is so exciting! I know that the first time you set things up its crazy how many problems you run into, but it looks like you did an excellent job of problem solving!

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