quick and easy ways to try your first hydroponic garden
This is a guide to DIY 10 gallon aquaponic garden. The same principles will work on any size home tank.
You can grow almost anything with aquaponics. And you can turn any fish tank into a garden.
Fish tank water provides a great environment for your plants to thrive. The plants clean the water for the fish to thrive. Plus the best part is you don’t have to do anything to make it work.
Now that’s a win/win/win that I can’t resist.
How does aquaponics work?
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So how it works:
When fish “poop” they release ammonia, nitrites and nitrates into the water. This poop filled water typically needs to be filtered so your fish have clean water.
A standard fish tank filter is designed to take care of this job.
The poop water containers great nutrients for plants.
Get this poop water to your plants and the plants will convert this nutrient rich water into what they need to grow.
To turn any fish tank into a garden all you need to do is feed your fish as you would normally. Then provide a way for the fish water to get to the plants.
Plants will clean the water making it healthy for your fish.
This is a true natural way to provide for healthy plants and fish.
A 10 gallon Aquaponic garden is better than mason jars
There are many places where you can read about growing herbs and vegetables in mason jars or vases of water. It is a great idea BUT there is a problem
My concern is how do you get nutrients and monitor level of nutrients? There is no easy way to ensure a healthy environment for your plants
An Aquaponic garden is a healthy environment without the worry
Aquaponics makes that easy to know your plants have what they needs. Just hang the roots in the fish tank and let the fish feed them.
DIY 10 gallon Aquaponic garden
I am showing this on a 10 gallon tank however you can use the same method on any size home tank.
Take a piece of acrylic plastic or you can use foam board. Foam board is easy to work with but will not last for more than a few months but it can be an easier way to try it out.
If you prefer
- Measure and cut the piece to fit the top of your tank.
- Cut an opening for the filter.
It will be easy to cut the new top if you place the old top over the new material. Use a marker to trace the old top. Cut the new top out.
- Then cut holes for your plants.
I like to use a 3″ net cup. 3 or 4 plants will work out well across most tanks. If you are using acrylic, a 2 1/2 hole drill works well. For foam board a utility knife is useful.
- Add an additional hole and save the piece you cut out. Cut this hole in the back corner.
- Cut two small strips and glue them on the underside of top slightly blocking the hole.
- Put a knob in the center of the circle saved from the cut out.
This will be a feeding hole.
Put the top on the tank. Place the prepared plants in the net cups and put them in the holds.
To get tips on how to easily change a soil plant to a hydroponic/aquaponic plant check out how here
Lighting your DIY 10 gallon aquaponic garden
There are a few different ways to light your tank.
You can place your current light on top of the acrylic if there is room.
If you have a LED water proof snap on light with your current top, you can glue the light to the underside of either the acrylic top or the foam top.
Or you can buy a submersible LED light. I love the ones the suction to the tank or top. They are inexpensive and versatile.
How to run your DIY 10 gallon aquaponic system
- Feed your fish as normal.
- Keep the light on in the tank as you normally would to keep you fish happy
- Make sure to keep the filter on and running normally. A small system with direct planting will function better with the filter running.
- You do not need any additional aeration for the plants. Just use what your fish like.
- Your plants will grow without any help or attention from you.
Why do you need to keep the filter on?
You may not need to. This is a case where you will have to make the call. The plants will clean the water but there needs to be a balance.
3 mollies in a 10 gallon aquaponic garden with 4 plants typically is a great balance. But put 3 gold fish or other big poopers in a system with only 4 plants you may have to put an additional filter to keep up.
Find the balance between your favorite plants and favorite fish.
Aquaponic trouble shooting
There should be little to do. However there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
- Your plants will take a few days to get accustom to the tank
- The fish many nibble on the roots. This almost never any problem for the health of you plants. However, if you see much more eating then growing of roots, you may need to change either fish or plants
- Plants love aquaponics so the roots will grow in a much large mass than in soil. The roots may take over the tank. If you see that the fish don’t have a comfortable amount of space to swim move the system to a bigger tank.
- You can also take the plants out and soil plant them anytime.
- Switching to a new plant is as simple as removing one net cup and putting a new one in the hole.
Aquaponic source did a great explanation of the more science details about how systems work
Aquaponics is one of the easiest ways to grow herbs, small plants and vegetables.
Try this DIY 10 gallon aquaponic garden and let me know how you like it!