Want to Build Your Own Backyard Aquaponic System?
Building your first aquaponic system can appear to be a bit of a daunting process to some, something I know all too well myself.
It took almost two years of procrastination before I had a crack at building our first aquaponics system.
What we ended up with was a system with hoses running everywhere that looked more like a Kraken from the deep sea than the efficient growing system I had built in my mind's eye.
These hoses and pipe were replaced very quickly once I was popped on to the right path from some helpful locals and online friends.
I’ve learned a lot more about aquaponics and building backyard systems over the past decade or so and am only too happy to share this information with those that would like to grow some fish powered veggies in their backyard farm.
Below you’ll find a couple of videos that run through how to build two small DIY systems using recycled materials and commonly available plumbing supplies that most local hardware stores will stock.
Barrelponic System | Chop & Flip Style
The first build is a small 100L/22gal drum based "Cop & Flip" aquaponic system that is based on the standard 200L/50gal blue barrels that can be purchased from online sale sites such as Craigslist and Gumtree or your local rural supply store.
They're a great way for you to cut your teeth growing your own Aquaponic produce in a small system run by a few ornamental fish and the compact nature of this system means that it would easily fit in small courtyards and most balconies/decks.
The cost for this barrel build was around AUD $145.00 buying all components from local retail stores.
With this build, I’d recommend using the lighter clay or scoria (volcanic rock) media as rock may prove to be too heavy for the plastic drum base.
Chop & Flip IBC System
The "Chop & Flip" IBC Aquaponic System now has its own page that includes a parts list for the pump plumbing, bell siphon & Canister filter.
The beauty of this Chop & Flip system is that it can be used as the starting point for you to build a much larger backyard aquaponic system once you feel you're ready to expand once you've gotten the aquaponic bug.
The cost for this build was just under AUD $240 for the tank, pump and all the required plumbing which was bought from retail stores. The plumbing parts would work out a fair bit cheaper if bought from wholesalers.
The clay cost another AUD $150 but rock or other media like scoria/volcanic rock or expanded shale would be a lot cheaper.
DIY Aquaponic Component Tutorials
Aquaponic systems require more than just pumps, tanks and grow beds to run. There are some basic drainage and filters that you can add to a system to help improve its overall efficiency.
The below playlist contains DIY videos on making bell siphons, assembling grow beds, making filters and other useful aquaponics components.
The aquaponic system builds from above as well as another by the fantastic folks at Backyard Aquaponics can be found on the same playlist.
Where To Buy Aquaponics Fish In Australia
Once you have the system built, you will need to find somewhere to buy the fish. One of the best hatcheries around is AusyFish up in Childers, Queensland. It was founded by the very knowledgeable “Perch Man”, AKA Bruce Sambell.
They stock a number of Aussie native species that are great to run in aquaponics systems.
The ship Australia wide with the minimum order being 50 fish so it might pay to go halves with a mate if you’re looking to stock smaller systems.
The aquaponics species they raise include the ever-popular Silver & Jade perch, Ell-tailed catfish, Murray & Sleepy cod with other species available at certain times of the year.
I paid a visit to Bruce & the lads at AusyFish last year & they were kind enough to let me see the procedure used to spawn the Jade perch, the same variety that I prefer to grow out in our aquaponics system here.
If you’re after smaller numbers of fish I would suggest you check out LiveFish. These folks also stock a number of Aussie natives suitable for aquaponics & will ship Australia wide.