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First system plan - C&C please

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Hi guys,

Just putting together a list of parts I might need for my first smallscale aquaponics system. A bit of background on my scenario:

- live in an apartment (location: sydney)

- have 3 growbeds (fake terracotta pots I'm willing to hack up). Two are 60x20x30cm (LxWxH) and one 20x20x30cm (LxWxH) for a total of 0.084 cubic metres

- verandah location for pots gets about 6-7 hours sunlight each day

- verandah is north-facing

- i can locate the water tank in a position where it gets some morning sun or no sun at all

- do not require edible fish, just any fish is fine with me

- plan to grow lettuce, tomatoes, basil and parsley

Can someone help with the following?

- what fish would you recommend?

- is the 1:1 ratio of growbed:water volume good? If so then I'd need 85-90L tank (to match the 0.084 cubic metre growbed volume)

- should I put the fish tank in the sun or out of direct sunlight?

- what width pipe should I use for the system?

- how many input pipes do I need for the 60cm long pots? Just the one?

- I know nothing about pumps (or much else to do with aquaponics!). Can anyone suggest what sort of pump to go for? (L/hr and all that)

- I was considering letting the return water just trickle into the water to help aerate the tank. Good idea, or no?

I've attached a diagram of my proposed plan. the bottom of the pots are to be about 80cm off the ground, for what it's worth (in case it helps pump calculations).

Also, anyone in Sydney able to recommend a good shop to drop by and pick up some supplies from?

Comments and criticism most welcome!



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I don't have enough experience yet to offer much (though perhaps my comment will bump your thread so others see it).

My thoughts (with full disclaimers again about my newness):

1) Yes, the return water can help aerate the tank. I think the usual method is to allow a full-force return, but use some form of baffle or venturi so that the water gains more air as it goes into the tank. The baffle can be as simple as a solid object that forces the water to bounce off in multiple directions, like a hose spraying on a table. Or it can be a capped end poked full of holes like a shower head.

2) My understanding is that fish don't really need or want direct sunlight.

3) I believe the standard pump recommendation is that it can do a complete volume turnover per hour. So if you're running 200 L of water, you should have a pump that can move 200L/hr. Will you actually move that much water? Probably not, but pumps have volume control and it's better to throttle it down than run out of power.

I hope my response here encourages others to respond, even if only to correct any mistakes I've made.

Good luck with your system!

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I'm new too, built my first system back in July.

For fish, I'd look at cheap goldfish. They are dirty little fish, producing lots of waste to feed your plants, plus they are cheap and durable. Can't beat the goldfish.

As far as tank to growbed space, from what I've read you can do more with a heavier amount of fish, but your basic systems try to balance a 1:1 ratio of water to growbed.

I bought a small fountain pump at the local hardware store, it does 370 ltrs an hour up to 560 ltrs. It can do more than the volume I have in my tank. Being in the US the pump is set for 1/4 or 1/2 inch pipe, I think the smaller would be better. Then just run it the length of your pots. Drill multiple holes in the pipe where it runs over each pot and cap the end of it. When buying a pump make sure it can pump the water up to your desired height, mine maxes out at 4 ft or 121 cm.

Mine is on a timer, water runs out 2 overflow tubes which cause a waterfall effect to aerate the water. Its on a timer, so it last 15 minutes each hour. You don't have to aerate the water for goldfish, but in the event that you decide to raise something else, its always good.

Hope that helps. I'm a newbie too, but so far I'm able to grow lettuce and peppers just fine in my system. Wish you the best of luck.

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