Aquaponics 101 – It’s so easy

To prove that Aquaponics (AP) is not rocket science, I decided to try and build a fully-functional home AP system in just a couple of hours.

Here’s how I did it (in pictures).

Cut the top off of an old IBC container. Use 40mm black irrigation pipe to make a neat rim.


Place 2 sturdy pieces of timber on the sunny side to support the growbed.


Cut a 210L plastic barrel in half and fill with gravel. I have discussed the drain in previous posts.


Plant with some excess plants from your garden (I’ve used strawberries from my home AP system)


I have a pond pump on a timer, pumping for 1/2 an hour and draining for 1 hour in a flood and drain system I introduced a couple of earthworms to take up excess solids and will add a couple of small fish (Tilapia) per day to the system. Total time to build -about 3 hours.

Now for a beer.



12 Responses

  1. I monitor your blog for inspiration, I think I’ll start off simple like this when I do finally move forward. …now I’m off to look for your drain design. I didn’t know worms would live in an environment of gravel.

  2. You can get it here;

    Yes, earthworms work really well in gravel grow beds and I now use them even in our commercial systems. When you first introduce them they HATE it but once they realize how much food is available and how damp it gets they settle in nicely and multiply like crazy.



  3. So the drain is just a drain! (except that it has a high flow rate at overflow level and low flow rate at the base) I like it, I’ve seen other designs that involve moving parts, siphons, etc… I like the simple approach you did, just get your flows right to match the flood/drain times you want and be done with it!

    I just started my worm farm, so I’ll have a supply of “red worms” that I could use, I never would have thought to add worms to the system though.

    Thanks for posting all your information!

  4. The stand pipe is also loose in the sleeve, so what you can do is drill the hole through sleeve and pipe bigger than you need and by turning the pipe in the sleeve create a smaller half-moon hole. You can thus adjust the drain to any flood-drain cycle you require.

  5. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. I subscribe to your blog and will be buying your book. I’m really hoping I can get a simple set-up started this summer.
    Thank you again Synaptoman!

  6. […] Now to a “newish” system. I featured the building of this system on the 11th of March and you can see it here […]

  7. Where can I find an old IBC container. Thanks Joe

    • Hi Joe,

      It really depends on where you live. Try any chemical distribution company or laundry supply company. Be sure to know exactly what the container held before. Clean and sterilize VERY well before using. The rule is, if you wouldn’t store drinking water in it for your family then don’t use it for Aquaponics.

  8. […] time back I showed you how to build a small home AP system using an IBC.  This week we decided to design and build an oyster display tank to stock these succulent […]

  9. I am currently in Knysna and reurning to PE on Monday 28th June. I know time is short and the cheek high but could I pop in on the way back to chat I am interested to set up an AP and with worms as well. Currently run a small worm farm and was looking to use it to feed the plants in a small back yard tunnel. Phase 1 is 6m X 1m buy 2m.

    Cell 0828507122

  10. thanks for the simple but great breakdown. I wonder if you have tried any wick style systems for aquaponics? If they work?

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