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.I built an aquaponic wall above my ten gallon fish tank.

Aquaponics use shared water between fish and terrestrial plants. This allows the plants to remove fish poop from the water and be fertilized by it. In any fish tank the ammonia in fish waste converts into nitrite and then nitrate by bacteria. This nitrate builds up over time and will become toxic to fish, which is why you have to do periodic water changes. But plants growing in the water feed on that nitrate and help keep the water clean. I barely have to do water changes at all now. In this blog I tell you how to build your aquaponic wall.

My aquaponic wallThere are several types of aquaponic setups: flood and drain, deep water raft, nutrient film technique. I’ve built a drip system, where water is pumped up to the plants and drips through several pots before returning to the tank by gravity. It’s a very simple design but probably not nearly productive as some other methods, especially if you want to scale it up. But it looks cool!

Step 1 

Hopefully before you start this project you already have a healthy established fish tank. You can do this with just about any freshwater setup – growing plants in the fish water will mean fewer water changes, but otherwise everything is the same regarding taking care of your fish.

I used my small 10 gallon fish tank for this project. Now I wish I used my bigger 29 gallon tank of native stream fish because they produce more waste which could be used to grow more plants. The nice thing about my 10gal is that it is on a little wheeled kitchen cart. So the whole setup can move around anywhere.

The tank is filtered with a little sponge filter, which runs off the same air pump that I use to pump water up to the plants. It both provides aeration and hosts a bacteria colony that filters the water moving past it.

Aquarium inhabitants.

In the tank I have 5 zebra danios and about 6 mosquitofish (gambusia). The danios are very common, small aquarium fish. Genetics labs use them everywhere. The mosquitofish are even smaller and found in the wild all over the US. They are tossed into ponds to eat mosquito larvae. Apparently there are programs in CA that give away free mosquitofish for your pond. On other continents like Australia they are terrible invasive species that wipe out native fish. I found some in a lake near town and brought them home. The nice thing about both these species of fish is that they like cool water, unlike nearly every other fish sold in the pet store, so I don’t need a water heater.

Another fish that likes cool water and are popular in small-scale aquaponics setups are goldfish. They are dirt cheap and produce a lot of waste (which is good for once). But a lot of people don’t realize how big goldfish get. They need a lot of space when they grow up and it would definitely be cruel to keep one in my little 10 gallon tank.

I also have a bunch of aquatic plants growing in my tank. They are not necessary and might compete a little bit with the rest of the plants for nutrients, but they look nice and the fish appreciate having cover to hide behind.

Step 2 and further building an aquaponic wall: Blog

About aqua scaping: Blog