Aquaponics Update – January 2014

Aquaponics Update Jan2014 title

We are trying something new this year – Aquaponics. It seems like such a great way to grow food. Not only do we get to grow veggies, but also fish!

I’m excited to try this for so many reasons. Aquaponics systems cycle & reuse their own water, so water usage will be much less than in a traditional garden. Since there’s no dirt involved, the lettuce grown should be clean. Our grow beds are at waist height, so no bending over to collect the produce. Unless the door is left open, the deer should leave these greens alone. And, of course, fish. We will raise our own fish for dinner. I’m most excited about the fish!


There are many methods for setting up an aquaponics system. The method we thought would work best for us is the CHOP system. CHOP = Constant Height, One Pump. This means the fish tank water level will stay constant. It can stay constant because we will have a sump tank. This sump tank will be placed lower than the fish tank & grow beds. The water from the grow beds will gravity feed into the sump tank. Then the water will be pumped out of the sump tank into the fish tank. The fish tank will continuously overflow & that water will be piped to the grow beds. In this way, any water level fluctuation will be in the sump tank.


Aquaponics Update Jan2014 275 Gallon IBC totes
The first thing Farmer John did was bring home 3 of these 275 gallon IBC totes. He found them on Craigslist. They are food grade & will be used as our grow beds, fish tank & sump tank.


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Using a sawzall & jigsaw, Farmer John cut 2 of the totes in half. Now we have 4 half size & 1 full size tote. The full 275 gallon tote will be used for the fish tank. Three of the cut totes will be used as our grow beds & 1 will be for the sump tank.


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Top: Farmer John & our oldest son dug this 18″ deep hole to set the sump tank into. Bottom: This photo was taken before the sump tank was cut. It shows the road fabric we set in the hole. We are using the fabric to hold back any weeds & rocks. This step is probably not necessary. But, we had leftover road fabric from when we put in our driveway, so we put it to use.


We’re so excited about this new way to grow food for our family!