It will cost you thousands to buy a pre-made aquaponics system, and for most people including myself, that’s a hell of a lot of money to be shelling out.
Fortunately, since aquaponics is an easy to replicate ecosystem, you can build a cheap aquaponics system that will work just as well as any other.
In this article, I’ll be explaining the factors you need to take into consideration during your construction, but before we get started, you should check out The Starters Guide – Aquaponics Plans to help determine what type of system you need.
Location, Location, Location
Just like in real estate, the location of where your aquaponics system will eventually go plays a very important role in the long term.
When deciding upon the final location, you have to take these two most important factors into consideration:
- Climate: In Australia, where aquaponics became hugely popular, the climate enables aquaponic gardeners to grow all year round. However, if you reside in Europe or North America, then during winters you would have to relocate your system indoors (whether in your home or a greenhouse) or just shut your system down for the winter.
- Space: How much available space do you have? If you live in a high rise building then you’d have to grow indoors, which means you either have to use window lighting, artificial lights, or both. If you’re fortunate enough to have a backyard, your plants will get the necessary sunlight during summer months. Ideally, a greenhouse enables you to control much of the environment and is the most convenient place for an aquaponics system.
Aquaponics System Parts
Running costs such as fish food and electricity are dependent on the type of system you build and what you decide to use. There are ways to reduce these on-going costs but that will be saved for another article.
For now, I want to talk about the parts you need to start up a basic aquaponics system:
- Fish Tank: You can use a traditional glass fish tank though that would be a bit more expensive. As an alternative, it’s very common for aquaponic gardeners to use a large barrel or a stock tank.
- Flood Table: This will be used as a grow bed for growing your plants on. The bigger the size, the more plants you can grow, but you also have to factor in whether your tank can hold enough fish to provide enough nutrients for the amount of plants you want to grow. Click here to check out various effective grow beds.
- Support: You need to support the grow bed with a sturdy foundation. Using sets of concrete blocks and lumber will do well. Alternatively, you can get pre-made frames but once again, they tend to cost a bit more unless you pick up a second hand bargain. Click here to check out a variety of sturdy grow bed stands.
- Water Pump: When choosing a water pump, make sure that you get a reliable and trustworthy brand. Magnetic drive (mag-drive) pumps are best because the motor has its own separate compartment which is sealed off and it should never leak any oil into the fish tank. Click here to check out highly effective water pumps.
- Air Pump: This is used for pumping oxygen into your fish tank. It’s hard to put too much oxygen in your system so this shouldn’t be much of a concern. Click here to check out highly effectively air pumps.
- Grow Bed Media: Gravel is cheap but depending on the rock used, it can affect pH levels in the water. You can also use clay pellets which are pH neutral and holds moisture well. Click here to check out suitable grow media.
- Bell Siphon: You can pick this up for very little cost or you can just easily build your own with some PVC pipes, slip caps and tubing. Click here to check out various pre-made bell siphons.
- Plumbing: The last part is connecting the system together to bring it to life. You would need to build a water feed line and drain line. The parts needed to assemble these consist of various size and shape pipes, tubes, threads and valves. Click here to check out a large and varied range of plumbing parts for your aquaponics system.
All of these components are common items that can be easily found at your local hardware, gardening and DIY stores. You can also pick them up even cheaper by buying second hand from places like Craigslist, Gumtree and eBay. I can personally recommend www.amazon.com/aquaponics to supply all these items.
The above information tells you everything you need to build a fully functional, basic yet effective and cheap aquaponics system. If you want to learn how to put it all together and maintain it, then I highly recommend you to check out Easy! DIY Aquaponics where you can learn everything from start to finish in simple steps.
To get the most out of your aquaponics system, I highly recommend the following articles, where you can decide from the highest rated and bestselling products for aquaponics.