This DIY tiny aquaponics build was shown from design up to completion in an earlier post. The plans for this DIY ornamental aquaponics setup are also available in the Ebooks / Plans section. This tiny aquaponics system has been running for about a month now and we thought it was a good time to show it growing with plants and fish.
The above video from TheHydroCultivator Youtube channel shows a nice quick overview of the fully operational DIY ornamental aquaponics system. Some highlights from the video are the diversity of plants being grown. We have four different types of plants growing successfully and they are keeping the nitrate levels down nicely.
The lighting for this system was also somewhat experimental. We took a chance with an inexpensive LED ufo grow light off of Amazon and so far it seems to be perfect for this size unit. The light is only 90 watts and should produce only the spectrum that the plants need in order to grow which allows it to use less energy while still producing good growing results.
Since this is a small scale DIY aquaponics system meant for a small amount of ornamental fish rather than for supplying food type fish, we decided to stock it with feeder-fish or minnows. This allows a few lucky minnows to avoid their fate as feeder-fish from the pet store.
The fish were struggling lately so the water was tested. Ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates were all very low. It seems that the PH was too high which was bothering the fish. Fortunately we are also growing a dwarf lemon tree. In order to lower the PH in the aquaponics system we just squeezed a few pieces of fresh lemon. After pouring the fresh lemon juice into the tank the PH went down to an acceptable level I have since come to learn that lemon may not be the best choice because of it’s antimicrobial properties. I switched to General Hydroponics PH Down which I understand to be phosphoric acid which I was informed is acceptable to fish but be careful and dose in small amounts if you have to adjust a systems PH.
One of the great things about this system is that it was rather simple to build. Other than the lighting, it only runs off of an air pump which both pumps air through the filter, oxygenates the water, and pumps the water up into the grow bed. This is a perfect beginner system because it allows you to learn the basics of aquaponics before committing to a large-scale food-producing style of setup. It seems about right for a handful of minnows, a goldfish, or an other inexpensive ornamental freshwater fish.
If we were to improve on this design we would consider making the grow bed slightly shorter to allow more room to maneuver inside the tank. It can be somewhat cumbersome to manipulate the grow bed when you need to work inside the aquarium. Other than this issue it has worked out perfectly.
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