Running a Deep Water Aquaponics System

What You'll Need
20 gallon Rubbermaid container with a flat lid
2 or 3 inch net pots (about a dozen)
Hole saw
Cordless drill
Aquarium air pump, tubing and stone
Gravel or Hydroten for the pots
Washed gravel
2 catfish
Fish (1 inch of fish per gallon of water)
Nitrate/Nitrite test strips
Plant seedlings
Optional: "Cycle" beneficial bacteria
Optional: small aquarium pump

The aquaponics system is a natural and efficient gardening method that involves raising fish in an integrated system. The fish produce natural fertilizer and the plants filter and oxygenate the water. Both the plants and the fish can then be eaten. There are many different types of aquaponics systems. One of the most popular is the deep water system. A deep water aquaponics system can easily be made and run in your home.

Step 1 – Location

Decide on the best location for your aquaponic system and make sure there is adequate lighting.

Step 2 – Cutting

Cut holes in the lid of the container for your plants and accessories. Decide what arrangement you want to use and how many holes you will need and mark the spots. Small plants should be approximately 3 inches away from each other, large plants 5 inches from each other. Also make a hole for the cords and for feeding the fish. Place the lid on the container and cut the holes with your saw.

Step 3 - Gravel

Add a thin layer of clean gravel to the bottom of the container. The fish waste with settle into the gravel where it will decompose and provide nutrients for the plants.

Step 4 – Air Pump

Assemble the air pump and put the pump and air stone into the container using the hole that you cut and run the cord out through the same hole.

Step 5 - Water

Fill the container with water and add some Dechlor and Cycle, following the directions on the bottles.

Step 6 – Pumps

Plug in the air and water pumps. Certain breeds of fish will require a heater. If you are going to use a heater, wait until it has been in the water for a minimum of 1 hour before plugging it in.

Step 7 – Fish

Give the water a day or two to settle before putting the fish in. Hang the bag of fish in the water for 20 minutes before putting the fish into the container in case there is a temperature difference.

Step 8 – Plants

Put the plants in the pots and gently tease the roots through the holes so that they can hang into the water. Put some gravel or Hydroten into the pots to keep the plants stable. Then put the pots into the holes in the lid.

Step 9 – Maintenance

Test the water every day for the first 6 weeks to make sure that the Nitrate/Nitrite levels are healthy. After 6 weeks, the tank should be sufficiently cycled and you should only need to top off the water when it gets low.