Aquaponics 101 – Strawberry Towers

I promised some time back to demonstrate how to make strawberry towers. These are made of 80mm gutter downpipes and are very space-efficient as they hang vertically and hold a surprising amount of gravel. The only problem when working with vertical structures in Aquaponics, is that one cannot use gravity as with normal growbeds and a pump is thus needed to pump the water to the top of the towers.

They are ideally suited to hanging inside of the greenhouse and one can grow numerous types of plants and flowers in them. My design involved a small submersible pond pump in one of my ponds, piping up into the rafters of the greenhouse, valves to regulate water flow to each of the towers individually, six hanging towers with offset notches and a drain system to carry the water to the sump. I also built in a seventh valve as a bypass in case the water flow was too much.

The bottom of the downpipe has to be stopped. I used a 75mm stopper and a clamp on connector.


I then drilled a hole in the stopper and screwed in the connector.

The easiest way to make the notches is to cut the pipe half way, heat with a hairdryer and then quickly push it in as follows;

I then made a drain out of 50mm t-pieces and elbows.

The whole unit was then assembled and this is what it looks like. Note the six individual valves above the towers. This is great for regulating the water.

Each of the notches will now be planted with individual little strawberry plants.

Just comment below if anything is unclear.

Be Good

Synaptoman

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27 thoughts on “Aquaponics 101 – Strawberry Towers”

  1. Thanks Jane. I am currently working on a commercial strawberry site and we’ll have bigger (110mm – 150mm pipes) I will post an entry on their construction.

    1. Hi Shane,

      No, the standard Tilapia feed seems to have enough P and K for the strawberries. A trick used in Aquaponics if plants don’t flower is to bury a banana in the growbed. I’ve used this method before and the plant flowered soon thereafter.

  2. OHHH!!!!! i got it… the seventh valve is on the bottom of the Drain!!!!!! or else the excess water wouldn’t be able to get out!!!! It’s not on top, because you only made 6 Strawberry Towers….

    so, now that we’ve cleared that up—i want your opinion…how many Strawberry Towers do you think you could run 24/7??? And this means the harvested fruit is Divine and the production rate is excessive–how many Organic Strawberry Towers can one maintain to make a living???

  3. as far as the sump pump…if my green house uses one, I burry it underneath the ground, and the piping runs through it and circulates back to the well, or in your case the “pond,” and from their more piping goes back to the towers. If I use this kind of set up, do I need two sump tanks??? one to pump clean, filterd water to the towers, and one to clean and filter the excess water and bring it back to the “well,” and continue the cycling?

  4. nevermind. I’ve got it…the sump is in the “pond” or well…gravity takes water to the well, and the sump circulates filtered water back to greenhouse and towers….beginning the blueprint now 😉

    1. Hi Allysum,

      Yes, the there is no valve on the last fitting. In that configuration there were only 6 towers. The 7th runs through to the sump. You can see a “strawberry forest” here;

      https://synaptoman.wordpress.com/2009/01/16/aquaponics-101-summer-days/

      This setup consists of almost 120 towers. There is no limit to the number of towers used. I suppose it just depoends on your budget. Factors to take into account are the flood cycle, clogging and shade issues for big layouts.

      As far as the sump. In my smaller setups the pump is actually in the fish pond and gravity takes the water back there. All my other systems have seperate fish ponds and dedicated sumps.

      Yes 80mm downpipe would work just fine. I’m starting to favour bigger pipes though to prevent clogging. (120mm – 150mm).

  5. Does the nutrient solution flow continuously 24/7?
    How do you determine how fast the solution flows through the towers?
    Thanks,

    1. Hi Carl,

      No, the nutrient flows 1/2 hr on and 1 hr off like the rest of the growbeds. Too much moisture will cause root rot (without additional oxygenation) and too little flow will dry out and stress the roots. Every site is different.

      Cheers

      Synaptoman

  6. How sturdy is the drainpipe when its hanging like that? It seems the weight of the gravel and the depth of your perpendicular cuts would rip the drain pipe or at least make it bow if all the cuts were on one side. Is that why you rotated your cuts, to prevent bowing? I was going to start work on a window unit that faces one way all the time so my cuts would all have to be on one side.

    1. I’ve never had one bow or break yet. If you have to have cuts on one side only space them further apart and don’t cut them as deep as you would normally. This should give you more structural strength.

      Cheers

      Synaptoman

  7. Greetings Synaptoman, have you had a chance to fabricate any towers with the larger diameter pipes?
    If so how are they working out?
    Jim

  8. Howdy,
    I am setting up a Strawberry wall, with a 50 Gallon Tank. Can you give me a Fish per Gal. Rate. How many 2 inch gold fish?
    Thanks for your time.
    Wayne

    1. Hi Wayne,

      A ball park number would be 5 x 2 inch goldfish per gallon to start, but monitoring your Ammonia levels very carefully. Being a cold water species you could probably stock higher (even up to 10) but take it slowly. Just a tip regarding strawberries. Make sure you have decent inline solids filter because a strawberry wall clogs easily.

      Cheers

      Synaptoman

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