I am a fish tank hobbyist, this is great fun but unfortunately it does not mix well with living in apartments or moving. Because of my living situation, I am forced to limit the number and size of the fish tanks I can have. So, one way to keep my hands wet it to design and build more complex or interesting tanks. This is one of those experiments.
Aquaponics is nothing new. There are a great many DIY set ups with all kinds of wonderful results. My personal challenge was two fold. First I wanted to make a functional system that was clean enough to support tropical fresh water fish and second, I needed it to be small.
First Aquaponis is a food production system that combines conventional aquaculture, (raising aquatic animals), with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. In normal aquaculture, excretions from the animals being raised can accumulate in the water, increasing toxicity. In an aquaponic system, water from an aquaculture system is fed to a hydroponic system where the by-products are broken down by nitrogen-fixing bacteria into nitrates and nitrites, which are utilized by the plants as nutrients. The water is then recirculated back to the aquaculture system.
Most aquaponic systems I have seen mostly focus on the plant side of the system because the crop turn around is much higher (and usually has a higher finicial gain.) Because of this most systems harbor larger, easy to care for farm cichlid such as tilapia or some thing that could be sold at market. This makes complete since considering most people were using such a system for sustainable food sources or finical gain. But this means that the fish are often kept is dark or cloudy/dirty water. Nothing that would hurt the fish but nothing that is by any means pretty. But I wanted my tank to be pretty, which means that my focus was more on the fish then it is the plants.
Also, most aquaponic systems are pretty large, about the size of a suburban drive way or two car garage. There are a great many DIY projects that use smaller tanks but rarely under 20 – 30 gallons. My tank in contrast is only one and a half gallons. Challenge accepted.
This is the basic set up, one and a half gallon tank. The tank has a built in overflow where after a mechanical filter the water is pumped out of the tank through a hydroponic shower head in the larger plastic container filled with small rocks that is acting as a wet dry filter. The water is then gravity drained back into the tank.
I then use the over sized wet dry filter as hybrid DW (Deep Water) Hydroponic growing chamber. I do have a air stone bar buried in the base of the rocks to keep away root rot as well as a small heater so the water returning to the tank is worm enough for the fish. I have a second container on top to help decrease water evaporation and help control the environment. In this picture I am growing Mint, I did grow it from a seed and it seems I am pleased to say that it is doing well enough to supply all my mint julep needs.
I have had the system set up for a few months now and In the fish tank I have three fancy guppies, one male and two females. I have not yet needed to do a water change due to toxic chemical levels. But I have done a few cleanings due to algae and what not. I am also proud to say that the guppies have already bread twice.
In regard to photo quality:
When I am engrossed in a project documentation is never in the fore front of my mind. So I could apologize for the quality of the pictures or you could just get over it.