Aquaponics: Grow Your Own Vegetables The Backyard

Start your own aquaponics in your own backyard to grow your own green vegetables

How You Would Start An Aquaponics System

Aquaponics System starts with a fish tank and a plant’s growing bed. The size of your fish tank would depend on how big you want your aquaponics system to be. You will need more fish to give you large enough nutrients for you to grow a large variety of plants. This is because the more plants you have, the more nutrients they needed to grow healthily. The fish are reared specifically for their droppings but if you have more than enough fish to fuel the system, you can have fish for your meal. Basically, to keep your aquaponics running, the only input into the system is fish food. Everything else is run on autopilot.

AquaCulture Aquarium 10 Gallon

The fish do not feed on anything else except the fish food you provide. When the fish consume this fish food, specially designed for their diet for healthy growth, the pees and the poos together with the water in the tank, are pumped up into the top grow bed. This contaminated water is a breakdown by the microbes and then filters down and strained back into the fish tank below. AquaCulture Aquarium 10 Gallon Shop at Walmart

What Different Edibles You Can Grow In An Aquaponics System

Everwilde Farms – 1000 Parris Island Cos Romaine Lettuce Seeds

They are so many different edible plants that you can grow in an aquaponics system. There are soybean, kales, mizuna, lettuces, shiso, little tomatoes, chives, strawberry, eggplant, passion fruits, basil, parsley, red Russian kale, green Malabar spinach, taro, beets, rosemary, okra, celery, collards, just to name a few. Everwilde Farms – 1000 Parris Island Cos Romaine Lettuce Seeds Shop at Walmart

Plants growing in growing bed
Plants growing in an aquaponics growing bed

You are encouraged to try an experiment to grow different plants in your aquaponics system to see what they can support. That’s what an aquaponics system is about. To grow healthy leafy vegetables for you and your family and save on your groceries bills and be less dependent on commercially-grown products, which are laced with poisonous chemicals.

You are encouraged to eat lots of leafy greens every day to supplement your diet. Leafy greens are the healthiest food available. They are nutritious and contain the least amount of calories.

Most Americans are fascinated with fast food. These foods contain either too much sugar or too much fat and are very high in calories that make us obese. Green vegetables are very nutritious and they are low in calories.

How Does An Aquaponics System Works?

You can have your aquaponics system as big or small as your want, but how successful it is will depend on how well it’s draining or, how much sunlight it’s getting in order for the whole system to flourish and sustain.

How does an aquaponics system works
How does an aquaponics system work

The most important linchpin in your aquaponics system is none other than the fish that your rear in the water tank for without them providing the poops, the whole system cannot function. The ammonia released from these poops reacts with the air and this form a good environment for microbes to live. These microbes convert the poops into nitrites and later to nitrates which help to fertilize the plant’s bed.

That is why the fishes are so important for the aquaponics ecosystem. I would not recommend eating the fish for you can get a fair amount of protein from your plants. In the meantime, you will keep them as pets and let them do their work.

Different Types Of Aquaponics Systems

There are two different set up for the aquaponics system. There are the “flood and drain” type and the Bell Siphon type.

Flood and Drain System

This type of setting is to flood the growing bed and drains the excess water from it It feeds with water constantly until it reached a preset level, and the excess will automatically drain away. In these ways, the water level is kept constant. This system is suitable for plants that grow well where their roots are constantly submerged in water, like the lettuce and water crest. This type of aquaponics does not require a cinder growing bed. The roots get to the water directly.

Most plants are not suitable in this type of environment where the roots are wet all the time. These plants need to get proper aeration, and water needs to drain away as soon as possible.

Think of your bathtub, for example, if you begin to fill it up with water, the water never gets to overfill the bathtub, why? It is because it has a safety outlet which is usually a few inches below the rim of the bathtub.

Aquaponics Floating Pond Planter Basket Kit – Hydroponic Island Gardens

Once it reached the safety outlet, the extra water will be drained out. Similarly, a flood and drain aquaponics system makes use of this principle of water control. A growing plant, like lettuce, works pretty much the same way. The roots get a constant supply of water yet the bed will never get flooded or overflow and the water remains at a constant height. Aquaponics Floating Pond Planter Basket Kit – Hydroponic Island Gardens Shop at Walmart

Bell Siphon System

This system actually drains out the water from the grow bed fairly fast so as to prevent the roots from constantly being wet. This is suitable for most plants that do not like their roots wet all the time. If the roots are damp they will succumb to root rot and possibly get infected with other diseases. This method of controlling flooding and draining off the excess water by making use of a PVC device called a Bell Siphon. It is a simple ingenious device, shaped like an inverted bell, non-costly, and how it works is very simple.

How the bell siphon works

The growing top bed where the plants are will be continuously filled with water from the fish tank below. The water also raises in the bell siphon cap through the holes in the cover tube and on the bottom of the cap.

A Bell Siphon regulates the amount of water needed in an aquaponics system
A Bell Siphon regulates the amount of water needed in an aquaponics system

The siphon bell has an inner drain pipe which is usually set about 2 inches shorter from the bell’s top cover so that if it is inserted in the bed’s surface, the maximum water level cannot exceed this height.

When the water reaches the drainpipe, water starts to flow down through this pipe, forming a water lock. All the air left in the cap is sucked out. Water from the bed starts to drain out. When the water drops below a certain level, the air is sucked in from a little pipe below. Then, the air is sucked in to break the siphon. At this point, the air in the little pipe helps the water column between the drain and cap to drop.

What’s the purpose of a grow bed?

Grow!t Clay Pebbles

Your grow bed needs to be the right size for your system. It simply means the size of your grow bed is dependent on the number of fish in your tank or vice versa. Grow!t Clay Pebbles Shop at Walmart

The fish produce poop which contains ammonia and bacteria convert them first into nitrites and then into nitrates, which served as nutrients to the plants.

When you have too many fish in the tank, which equates to an excess of ammonia and nitrates, this will be slowing poison the fish if you do have not enough plants to absorb the excess nitrates.

Inversely, if the level of ammonia in the fish tank is low, you can compensate for it by adding more fish. The extra fish will add ammonia to the tank to make up for the differences.

Solid Waste Are Separated

Simple Deluxe 290 GPH UL Listed Submersible Pump with 6′ Cord

What happens when you feed the fish, is the fish poop and then poop is pumped up through the upper bed so that it can filter down there are a few components to this system.

First, you have a simple screen to catch all the solid waste that we don’t want to remain in bed. The solid waste which is filtered is discarded.

Only the non-solids are going through into the cinder bed and what happens is the plant just doesn’t absorb those nutrients directly. Simple Deluxe 290 GPH UL Listed Submersible Pump with 6′ Cord Shop at Walmart

Organic Digester is Added

CaribSea Eco-Complete Planted Aquarium Substrate

From here add some organic digester into the filtered water. this will reduce the ammonia, phosphate, nitrites and nitrates in the water and they do this in a very special way using beneficial microbes, bacteria and enzymes to break down the fish poop and make it bio and make it available for the plants to absorb. CaribSea Eco-Complete Planted Aquarium Substrate Shop at Walmart

Use Of Cinder In The Plant’s Bed

A growing bed
A growing bed

The important media here is the use of cinder in the plant’s bed. It kind of looks like little sponges with different cracks and crevices and this gives the bacteria and the microbes a place to live in this system and enables them to flourish and break down the solids from the fish poop to make it more absorbable for the plants.

What Are The Input Needed In An Aquaponics System?

What are the inputs required in the aquaponics system for you to grow the fish and all the plants? Basically what you need to do is to feed the fish and their poops will create the biosolids needed for the bacteria. to act on them. All these things are pretty much a one-time investment.

So to have the whole aquaponics system working properly you’re going to buy three additional things. You’re going to need the fish food, next is to place oyster shells in the fish tank so that the right pH is in the water. The pH in the water is dependent on the type of fish you rear. While freshwater fish prefer an alkaline pH of 5.5 to 7.5, saltwater fish will thrive at Ph of 8.0 or above,

Another important aspect most people forgot is installing a water heater in the tank. If you are rearing the type of fish that thrives in warm water, they may not be able to survive the cold winter months

Another thing that needs recommending on an aquaponics system is to place some iron chelate to help keep your foliage green. It is a nutrient that is not provided by fish food.

Anatomy of an Aquaponics system.

If you got your own backyard or garden, you can start growing your own plants from seeds. Aquaponics makes it really easy. You don’t have to use any large space or use any kind of soil. What is needed is a standard seed slot. You fill them up with a Rockwool cube which is popular hydroponics growing medium. You put the seeds in the little holes and because this is a flood and drain table, this gets water and then it drains out so they’re not constantly sitting in water the roots never get seed rot and the little seeds can germinate into baby plants.

Once they got those little baby plants started to germinate, you can now transfer them to the little containers. These containers have little holes at the bottom and all you have to do is to bury them down in the aquaponics bed, just deep enough so that it gets enough water.

The plants will get enough water nutrients once the bell siphon is installed. The roots aren’t get constantly flooded using this method. It’s getting enough water and this is literally an automatic watering system for all the baby seedlings. to grow This is a super ingenious way of watering and feeding the baby plants.

Why Grow Your Own Food?

Now you know what aquaponics is, what you can grow, how to grow it and why it works. With this knowledge, everybody should know to grow their own food in this day it’s better to have a backup plan when the food supply chain has been cut off or there’s a financial collapse or you just wanted to eat the healthiest food possible.

Based on the current agriculture system, they are not growing the healthiest food possible. To do that you must do it yourself at home, pick it and eat it fresh for higher levels of nutrition, plus you can add things like trace minerals that are not in our foods today.

So What Is Aquaponics?

Aquaponics is a portmanteau word for AQUAculture (the growing of fish) and hydroPONICS (the growing of vegetables and herbs) which means you can combine the rearing of fish and growing of vegetables of other herbs at the same time. It’s a very popular example system of growing your own food in your home. Aquaponics is a very simple method of sustainable food production and can save on your groceries bills. The food products are organic, nutritious, and of higher quality than the ones you buy at the supermarket.

An Overview Of The System
An Overview Of The System

In an aquaponics system, the water which contains the fish poop when it is done with the conversion in the tanks will be pumped to the hydroponic beds. The microbes take over and convert the fish poop into nitrogen. This nitrogen is what we want and is the perfect food for plants. If too much nitrogen is built up in the tank, it will turn toxic. That’s the reason why there must be enough plants to absorb the nitrogen because any nitrogen left in excess in the growing bed will be returned back to the water in the fish tank and will poison the fish.

Aquaponics is an ingenious way of mutual benefit between the fish and the plant. The fish provides nitrogen as fertilizer to the plant, and the plant absorbs the nitrogen and returns the water to the fish pond squeaky clean. You don’t have to instal any complicated water filtering devices or systems for the fish water, as the plants will be working for you round the clock. Under this system, you don’t even have to buy any fertilizers at all. Fertilizers don’t come cheap and they contain synthetic chemicals that are harmful.

Tradition farming vs Aquaponics system

Aquaponics is a sustainable system to grow foods, and there are many benefits to it. The nutrients both provided by the fish and plants are recycled and any external inputs are kept to a minimum. Whereas in traditional farming soil needs plenty of land space, not forgetting the amount of hard work in watering and adding fertilizer to the plants, aquaponics can produce large amounts of food in the least amount of space. You can even have an aquaponics system in your garden or backyard with the least amount of expense.

You make your aquaponics system as big as you want and scale it according to your needs and you can set it up anywhere. It can be small enough to grow sufficient food just for your family or you can have a big setup to grow and sell for a profit. Foods grown in an aquaponics system are organic, nutritious and tasty whereas vegetables grown in hydroponics are tasteless and bland. And you know that organic foods are of higher quality and they fetch higher prices than non-organic food because no additives are used in organic foods. Many are turned this hobby into a business as a source of income.

Once the basics and concepts of an aquaponics system are understood, you’ll realize that setting up is really simple. It can be easily constructed with materials you can purchase cheaply at your local hardware store. All you need are detailed instructions with diagrams to get you started.

Starting Up Your Aquaponics System

The bacteria are probably the king-maker and the success of your aquaponics system depends on them. It helps to break down fish poo and pees and transforms it into fertilizer for the plant, forming the perfect balance and synergy in the aquaponics ecosystem. When you first started out, make sure you give some time for the bacteria to strive before you introduce the fish to the tank and the seedlings to the growing bed.

You can adjust the nitrate levels in your aquaponics system by simply add more fish if the nitrate level has dropped, and pull out some fish if the nitrate level has exceeded the recommended level.
You can adjust the nitrate levels in your aquaponics system by simply adding more fish if the nitrate level has dropped, and pulling out some fish if the nitrate level has exceeded the recommended level.

When you begin to give fish food to your new fish, they will soon start to excrete. This excretion will start to produce ammonia. The presence of Nitrosomonas bacteria in the air in contact with the water surface will begin to convert the toxic ammonia into nitrites. Nitrites are still toxic though and are not ready to make food for the plants. However, the nitrites attracted the Nitrobacter bacteria who are now colonizing the water tank, They convert the toxic nitrites into nitrates, the nitrates of which are not harmful to the fish but these nitrates make perfect fertilizers for the plants.

First to establish a bacteria population

The system will come at a time when the ammonia is converted to nitrate the instant it is released into the system. There is a constant supply of ammonia to support bacterial growth and nitrite is quickly converted to nitrate to enter the system. This conversion is almost instantaneous once you have established a bacteria population.

Should the system is optimized, the level of ammonia and nitrite should approach zero when the nitrate continues to form. The recommended level of nitrate in an aquaponics system is between 10 and 150 parts per million (ppm), depending on the type and number of fish and the amount of water they’re producing.

Too little or too many nitrates in your system

With too little of the recommended amount of nitrates, the plants may not be getting the nutrients they needed for healthy growth, and with too many nitrates, then the roots could get nutrient burn, which has a counter-effect to healthy growth.

You can adjust the nitrate levels in your aquaponics system by simply adding more fish if the nitrate level has dropped, and pulling out some fish if the nitrate level has exceeded the recommended level. Alternatively, you can add some Nitrosomonas bacteria in the water to allow more ammonia to be converted into nitrite and thus to nitrate.

A fishless start-up aquaponics system

You don’t put fish in initially when you first started an aquaponics system, because the ammonia produced may kill the fish. When you first started, you’ll get yourself an Aquacycle fishless cycling kit (not related to a cycling bike) which contains details on how the nitrification cycling process works. It will teach you how to fully cycle your system before you add in the fish.

It’s increasingly popular now to start fishless, as it is dangerous to expose your fish to the initial high and dangerous levels of ammonia and nitrates.

Kordon Home Grown Ponics 96046 Zym Bac Nitrifying Bacteria

Begin by introducing nitrifying bacteria and adjusting the water pH for fish health, and stable water chemistry to benefit the nitrifying bacteria. It’s all that is required to get started, helping the fish thrive and the plants to grow healthily. Kordon Home Grown Ponics 96046 Zym Bac Nitrifying Bacteria Shop at Walmart

This a safe method to start a system and there is no danger of killing your fish in case there is a spike of initial ammonia. To speed up the process simply increase the water temperatures, as bacteria will multiply more at these temperature ranges (typically around 77 – 86℉).

You can also increase the pH to about 7 to 8 in order to speed up the bacterial growth, and also to oxygenate the water tank as much as possible. Also, you can buy bacterial colonies to speed up the process.

For detailed instructions about how to start up your Aquaponics system, check out here.

Aquaponic vs Hydroponic

Which is better: aquaponics or hydroponics?

Many new beginners who have some knowledge of both systems, are torn between which of the two techniques to use. The living fishes may attract you to the aquaponics system and maybe the precision and control you had over the hydroponics system. However, the main difference that kept them apart is the fish or without it.

You can have catfish in the tank to give nutrients or for food
You can have catfish in the tank to give nutrients or for food

So, the fish provides nutrients in the aquaponics whereas, the use of formulated solutions provides nutrients to the hydroponics system. One of the most compelling attractions for aquaponics is the fun part of raising fish and growing vegetables at the same time. The Aquaponics system is a great way either to supplement your family’s income from the sale of fish but also supply fish like tilapia and catfish for your dinner table. Not forgetting the plants and vegetables that you can grow.

Setting up aquaponics in your garden or backyard need not be too complex, and the initial setup is only a one-off, and thereafter it will run almost auto-pilot with minimal human intervention except for feeding the fish.

There might be a delayed start-up time for a new aquaponics system because, in order to build a healthy microbial community necessary for nutrient cycling, it is required to impose at least 6 weeks of fishless cycling before planting.

It will take another 18 months for the microbial populations to stabilize, and once it is established, you can produce more yields than that of a hydroponics system.

Hydroponic nutrients are formulated

The main difference in a hydroponics system is that it doesn’t have fish to provide nutrients, Hydroponics nutrients are formulated and they don’t have to vary from month to month and the amount of fertilizer used can be estimated from a narrower range than the food and supplements of aquaponics.

Hydroponics gardens are easy to set up and require less plumbing and growers don’t have to overcome a barrage of knowledge it can be quite overwhelming for a beginner, because one fish death, for example, can lead to a chain-reaction and affect the health of other fish, microbes, and plants in the system.

Hydroponics benefits commercial farmers because they can easily scale it. It is more controllable because it does not depend on live fish for its nutrients, which is sometimes hard to upkeep due to weather conditions, temperature and diseases. That’s why hydroponics is a suitable and convenient business model.

Back to the Roots 3 Gal. Self-Cleaning Aquaponic Water Garden Fish Tank 

Aquaponics generally are suited for smaller niches, like a hobby rather than on a commercial basis. You can have aquaponics on the balcony of an apartment or the tiny garden of your backyard. However, if it is properly managed and you have the skills and financial resources it can be scaled and form a business entity. Back to the Roots 3 Gal. Self-Cleaning Aquaponic Water Garden Fish Tank Shop at Walmart


It’s easy, even a novice can do it too. It’s not too complicated to follow some simple instructions, diagrams, and charts to get started. Once you’ve learned it you’re on the way to building your own aquaponics system of your dream, like an experienced green thumb. You will be the envy of your friends and neighbours who would also like to learn from your experiences and build one for themselves.

You can even set it up at your apartment's balcony
You can even set it up on your apartment’s balcony

Many are now switching over to Aquaponics to grow food for their family, in the confined space of the garden and backyard either as a hobby or to make some extra cash.

During this stressful time when everyone is facing uncertainty and unemployment, aquaponics is indeed a life-saver, a healthy supply of nutritious food towards self-sustainability. At least, you save on your food bills and you don’t have to buy it anymore.

For detailed instructions about how to start up your Aquaponics system, check out here.


“Gardeners spend all day in their beds”

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as advice on any subject matter. You should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in this article without seeking professional advice. Reliance on any information provided by this article and others appearing on the article is solely at your own risk. The article and its contents are provided on an “as is” basis.


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