When we became interested in Aquaponics we realized that there were not many resources out there on building an indoor DIY aquaponic system that would look nice and be safe for around small children.

This led to my husband having to rig something up on his own based on what he had been learning on various aquaponics guides and sites, and customizing something that would suit us.

We used an EZ T Siphon system which was designed by Aquaponics NYC, his YouTube channel is seriously amazing and has fantastic tutorials. For info on how to put together the EZ T Siphon please check out the pages linked above.

Materials

    • Industrial grade heavy duty shelving- we chose this so that the glass fish tank would not be on floor level of the kids. Also we were extra worried about the ability of the shelf to hold the weight of the tank when filled with water and the grow bed.
    • 20 gallon Aquarium- Ours we found on clearance just so happened to fit on the shelf EXACTLY. It was amazing
    • Plastic Storage tote which would fit in the shelving unit and be approximately 9 inches tall (Sadly I cannot remember the exact brand and size we used)- Ours was #3 plastic so it is food grade storage.
    •  A water pump with the capacity to lift the water up the pipe to the next shelf (we chose this one: VicTsing 400 GPH Submersible Pump, Water Pumps For Fish Aquarium, Fountains, Spout and Hydroponic Systems(25W, 5.9ft Power Cord, Two Nozzles)
    • 4 feet of 1/2 inch clear silicone tubing to attach to the pump
    • 1/2 inch ball valve to attach to the silicone tube
    • 10 feet of 1/2 inch inch PVC pipe
    • Four 1/2 inch PVC T’s
    • Three 1/2 inch PVC L’s
    • Three 1/2 inch PVC end caps
    • Two 1/2 inch PVC threaded female ends with male plugs
    • Two 1/2 inch “Bulkhead fittings”
    • A tube of Clear silicon caulking (Something waterproof that specifically says aquarium grade)
    • A few zap straps

EopZol™ 100 PCS 8″ inch 40 lbs Black Zip Cable Hose Plastic Nylon Ties Zap-Strap

    • Fish (We are using Comet Goldfish)
    • Aquarium Rocks with a neutral Ph
    • Expanded clay pebbles for the grow bed media- We got something very similar to this:

GROW!T GMC10L Clay Pebbles 10 Liter Bag, 4mm-16mm

    • Optional- Aquarium background and decorations.

DIY INDOOR AQUAPONICS PLAN:

Indoor Aquaponics Plan
Cut holes in your grow bed to add the bulkhead fittings

 

PVC Pieces

 

Testing the Siphon Outside

 

Assembled EZ T Siphon

 So one of the most important things to remember is to test your pump as to whether it works and can pump at the height you need when you are somewhere that can get a little wet (ie: probably not your living room). Another thing is to make sure that you have the right size fittings that all fit together. 

Using the directions for the EZ T Siphon and keeping in line with the height of our grow bed etc., We cut down the pipe pieces and drilled holes into the end caps to assemble the siphon (see diagram above). We drilled holes into the bottom of the grow bed container so that we could fit the bulkhead fittings and the PVC pipes through.

Prior to using the aquarium gravel OR the grow bed media, everything has to be rinsed very very well. This was very time consuming, but necessary.

Initially, we set up the tank (without water) and then got to work on the grow bed. The tubing that comes up from the aquarium pump should go into the grow bed media about 1-2 inches under the top layer of grow media. You want the top layer of grow media to be a dry layer.

As you can see in the picture above, the siphon will kick in when the water rises to its level, which will suck it down the outflow pipe back into the aquarium. We had to put some bend PVC at the end of this pipe to increase suction. We are still tinkering with what does the best job and makes the east amount of noise (At the moment ours sounds a bit like a creek with a little suction noise at the end). The water then will be brought up again by the pump and so on and so on. This is your cycle. 

Our system does a full cycle about every 5 minutes. 

The ball valve on the tubing is to control the pump speed (there is also a dial on the pump that we used). If the water goes too fast then the siphon won’t stop siphoning and the grow bed won’t fill with water. This might take some adjustments to get right.

Moving Forward

So this is basically what we have used to create our system. We are still tinkering with it a bit and are very excited to see how it will grow things. We put some green onion stumps in to begin the system cycling and they grew in record time.
We might cover the grow bed because it is clear and as someone on Reddit pointed out we may get unwanted algae. At the moment we were just so interested to see the inner workings of it!
Additionally, because it is in our living room we do plan on dressing up the stand a bit, as it is very indstrial looking. Hopefully having an abundance of leafy green veggies will help this as well.

I hope that this has been helpful. If you have any feedback or questions please feel free to email bigtinysteps@gmail.com, or comment below.

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2 Comments

  1. Unknown May 23, 2017 at 12:44 am

    Nice setup! You'll have a leg up on everyone else when the food wars start! 😉

    Reply
  2. Mandi May 23, 2017 at 3:17 am

    Good point! Learning how to be more self sufficient has many rewards haha 🙂

    Reply

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