Aquaponics plumbing is not an exact science. Each system has its own needs and can be set up in several different ways. In our case, plumbing our Aquaponics system was easy. Following our picture guide will help you see how to do your own Aquaponics plumbing without worry.
After cutting our Aquaponics garden beds we started setting them up in their new location, along with our old beds that we transferred over and are grafting into the new system. Because our system is a gravity flow system, we had to prop the beds up on cinder blocks.
Once we had everything level and set up in the right spots, we started the plumbing. So, for starters, we had to purchase a 3″ hole saw bit (it attaches to a drill). We used this to cut circular pieces out of each IBC. The higher the hole, the more media is necessary to fill your beds but you’ll also be able to fit more grow beds into your system. I recommend placing the holes about 4-5 inches from the top of the IBC.
Because of the way the water flows through the garden beds, we chose to stagger the drain pipes from left to right. This is an effort to keep the water from stagnating in any one spot in the grow bed.
After drilling the holes, we placed 2″ Uni-Seals into the holes. These uniseals help seal the tank to help avoid any leaks.
Then you have to shove a 2 in PVC pipe into the hole, which is a very tight fit. Once all the holes are cut and the uniseals are placed inside the cut outs you can then seal them off with Aquarium glue. Here I offer a word of warning- if you were like us the first go around and choose to cut the holes by hand rather than buying the hole saw piece, you may experience leaks because the uniseal will not be as tight in the hole. We ended up having to recaulk our tank 3 times in the first year because of this mistake which meant we had to stop the tank from running. That becomes dangerous for the fish and can cause the plants to not get enough water. So avoid our mistake!
You have to glue both the inside of the seal and the outside, just for precaution’s sake. It could be a good idea to seal around the pvc pipe as well.
After that plumbing was done, we put the pump in the sump tank and ran PVC all the way up to the fish tanks. There are several ways one can do this but we chose the way that would use the least pvc. Other ideas would be to run the pipes along the ground, which would allow better access to the bed to garden.
Once your beds are completed with all the plumbing you are ready to start filling your tank with your grow media and water!
See our tips on the Top 5 Aquaponics Grow Media