My home aquaponic system is a very simple one! It is squeezed into the back of the kitchen right next to the back door and is made up of a surprisingly small number of things. The bottom tank for the fish is a really useful storage box and the grow bed is a shallower storage box that was already around the house. All the plumping bits and fittings were easy to find once I knew what I was looking for.
The basic premise for my system was to have the fish tank on the floor under a very cheap coffee table and the grow bed on top of the table directly draining into the tank from the grow bed via a pipe going straight down through a whole drilled into the table. This set up so far is running quite nicely but not without a few hiccups along the way. Like Alice, I started with a bell siphon to automatically drain the grow bed when it flooded but the siphon I had made just wasn’t reliable enough so I went for the pump on a timer method. (More on siphons, pumps, timers and standpipes on a later blog post). I had it going for 15 minutes every hour which was way too much flooding! Due to this and some over eager cats trampling my plants as well as some issues with mould I’ve had to pull out my plants and a have a bit of a rethink and a refresh. This system is so small I’m not sure I’ve got the balance quite right yet. To protect my little fishes since their grow bed filter is no longer running, I’ve got the hose pipe that initially flooded the grow bed going through a DIY sponge filter to keep the bacteria colony I worked so hard to cultivate going and converting ammonia into nitrates (more on the nitrogen cycle at a later date). So far my water levels are all stable.
I plan to start some more seedlings and when they are strong enough transplant them into the grow bed to get the system running as it should. I’m very hopeful!