With a backyard aquaponics system, you have the ability to raise and breed fish, grow plants, and reduce the amount of water, fertilizer, and upkeep required for both. With those benefits, it is no wonder that backyard aquaponics is growing in popularity around the globe. Numerous types of setups can be used for aquaponics, but finding one that will fit in your backyard requires focusing on systems that make the most of limited space. Whether you want something that is pleasing to look at, offers a lot of space in a compact design, or has a wide variety of options that is sure to be a backyard aquaponics system that works for you.
Using a koi pond as a backyard aquaponics system is a beautiful way to grow hydroponic plants. The pond structure, filled with ornamental koi fish, creates a scenic focal point for any backyard. Hydroponic plants can be grown in almost any setup on top of it. A koi pond works well with floating plant beds like those used in deep water culture systems, but can also be built to support vertical farming as long as a pump is used. Additionally, the hydroponic bed can be built beside the pond so that the koi are visible at all times. An ebb and flow setup between the bed and the pond allows this style of aquaponic setup to work.
These ponds can be custom built. An in-ground set up will allow you to determine the exact width and depth you need for the number of fish and plants you want to grow. Before breaking ground, ensure that you know where all utility lines are. You may also need a permit depending on your local ordinances. An above ground setup will also work. Prefabricated ponds are available for sale, or you can build your own. Regardless of which setup you use, the open structure of the pond prevents the need for additional oxygenation. If floating beds are used no additional piping or pumping is necessary, making this an easy way to get started with aquaponics.
An International Bulk Container or IBC tote is a large, steel and plastic container that can hold 275-300 gallons. Their sturdy steel frame and heavy duty plastic tank along with their large size make them an ideal container for aquaponic growers. They are rapidly growing in popularity for use as a standalone unit, as a fish tank, or as a hydroponic bed for the plants. These containers are available for purchase in both new and used versions, making them especially popular with backyard aquaponics gardeners. When purchasing an IBC tote for use in your system, be sure to find one that is food grade in order to ensure the safety of the fish, plants, and people who consume them.
A few options exist for using this type of container in an aquaponic setup. Regardless of which setup method you prefer, begin by installing a drain in the bottom of the tank. Once the tank is filled, its weight will make it extremely difficult to move or tip. Once the drain and plug are in place, you can use the tank as is for the fish. A floating hydroponic bed like those used in deep water culture can be used, or a vertical farming structure can be built above the tank. Another popular method involves cutting the top portion of the tank into a separate piece and turning that into the plant bed. Either method still provides you with a tank large enough to grow somewhere between 40 and 60 fish annually with ample room on top for plants.
Aquaponic Barrel System
Another excellent option for a backyard setup involves using barrels. An aquaponic barrel system can easily be scaled to almost any size and is only limited by the available space you have to put it in. You can begin with a single barrel or expand to a larger, multi-barrel system. This system is very useful for growers looking to use a smaller setup than is possible with the larger IBC systems. A barrel system works with floating hydroponic beds, vertical farms, or ebb and flow systems. This variability makes them an ideal choice for aquaponic growers. Food grade containers should be used to ensure the safety of the fish, plants, and people who eat them.
Building an aquaponic barrel system can begin as simply as filling a barrel with fish and water and floating a plant bed on top of it. For larger systems, the barrels can be connected with piping that can circulate the water between fish tanks and the hydroponic beds or vertical setups. Another popular option uses barrels as fish tanks along with barrels that have been cut in half length-wise as plant beds. When setting up multiple beds and tanks, a pump is a beneficial addition to ensure that the water circulates through the system for proper filtration from the plants.
Each of the above versions of backyard aquaponics setups is easy to construct, simple to maintain, and should yield the fish and plants you want to grow. Koi systems offer the ability to enjoy beautiful, ornamental fish while growing plants that you can eat or enjoy. An IBC setup provides a large amount of space for both fish and plants. Barrel systems offer a greater degree of customization. All methods let you harness the benefits of aquaponics right in your own backyard.