In this Q & A, Brett Nissley discusses the build process and materials used in his DIY aquaponics project, made entirely at Vocademy – The Makerspace. He also shares why he sees aquaponics as being an important farming method for the future.What is your project?
Aquaponics is an idea that has been around for a while and I am not sure why it has not generated more interest. I am always on a quest for synergy, the idea that sum of a systems parts can be greater than its individual product has fascinated me for years. Aquaponics takes two highly efficient disciplines, hydroponics and aqua culture, and combines them to leverage the benefits of both.
As you can imagine, this type of system could have a tremendous impact in its ability to generate lots of clean high quality produce and protein, perfect for areas of the planet that lack soil resources or have extreme environments. My idea is this would be great to help decentralize our food system by helping to put production back in the local communities instead of trucking it from centralized corporate farms.
What were some of the materials that you used, and what was your approximate cost for the final product?
Of course, as you know, everything costs twice of your best estimate and takes four times as long as you thought to complete!
Cart was around $100.00 for square tube, caster mounting plates, plywood, casters, paint and misc hardware.
Fish tank is a Rough Tote 27 gal bin from Costco, around $9 and grow bed is a large material mixing pan from Home Depot, around 12 dollars. I used Hydroton grow media. Its a special kind of fired clay pellets that work really well for hydroponics applications, but it is kind of pricy, running around 40 dollars for the amount needed on this small system. Lots of people are using Lava rock or crushed granite with good results. Water and air pump along with timers, pipe, tubing, pipe fittings, grow light, and fish light around a 100 dollars. Plants, 30 dollars. water test and conditioning supplies along with fish food, 40 dollars. Five Gold Fish, 98 cents. The only thing cheap about this project.
In retrospect, what are some things that you would have done differently with your project?
A few of the things that I would do differently next time would be using solid casters, the urethane ones that I used tend to flat spot and make moving the water filled system difficult. The grow light would be mounted on some type of adjustable height bracket to allow me to raise it as the plants grow. I have switched from a bell siphon constant flood / drain system to one that uses a standpipe with the pump on a timer system. I think this will improve plant health.
It’s been several months since you finished building, but its an ongoing project that will continue to grow. Have you had any issues with the project since you finished? What have you learned from the project as a whole?