Aquaponics Fish Tank – Take Your Hobby to the Next Level

. in Fish Tanks

Little fish in fish tank or aquarium, gold fish, guppy and red fish, fancy carp with green plant, underwater life concept.

Take your reefing to the next level with an aquaponics fish tank, extending the beauty of your fish tank by combining it with a garden.  Why should you do this?  A hybrid tank helps you keep your fish tank clean and algae free and can be used as an extension of your aquatic plants.

An aquaponics tank creates a symbiotic relationship between your garden and fish the tank.  This relationship uses the natural nitrogen cycle of the fish tank to feed the plants that draw out all the impurities to clean the water.  The closed system reduces your water consumption and saves you money and time on cleaning

Even though aquaponics fish tanks can take on many different forms, from a decorative piece to a large commercial farm, there are two types of systems, direct or indirect. Still, you can set up an aquaponics system in many ways.

You can create any picture you want from a pretty garden to an organic one.  All you need is a few inexpensive tools and an afternoon to spare with a few modifications you can turn your existing aquarium into an aquaponics system, no matter which type you decide to use.

Now that we have explained why let us give you the how.  This article will explain what aquaponics fish tanks are, how to modify a fish tank to create an aquaponics system.

We will recommend different aquaponics kits you can use if you don’t want to use it with your display tank but create smaller tanks to separate fish or teach your children about fish keeping.

What Is Aquaponics?

The first question most people ask is, what is aquaponics? It is a combination of a garden and a fish tank to create a symbiotic relationship between the aquaponics plants and fish in your aquarium. 

The fish create waste as in the nitrogen cycle, and your plants clean the water using the waste by-products as food.  Aquaponics will extend the time between cleanings, and you will save money on Fertilizers and such.

This garden uses less water and space to create a green and sustainable solution for herbs and other vegetables you want.  Aquaponics is a broad hobby that can be as simple as a decorative ornament or as complex as a mini-farm, growing both fish and plants for consumption.

Type of Aquaponic Fish Tanks

Before you make your selection of an aquaponic fish tank, you need to consider different types and which one is best not only for your lifestyle but the fish and plants you choose too. The primary purpose of this hobby is to provide a safe home for both your fish and your plants.

The first aspect to consider is the material of the aquaponic fish tank.  Fish tanks are made from different materials glass, acrylic, plastic fiberglass, and polyethylene.  The material you choose has different benefits; glass and acrylic are more transparent and more popular, whereas fiberglass and polyethylene are more durable.  Plastic is lighter but will scratch and crack over time. Round tanks allow for better water flow.

The next matter to think about is the space where you want to place the tank and what you want to get out of this aquaponics system.  Most people entering this hobby will include this as a decorative feature, whereas others are looking to create an herb garden.

The aquaponics system has two distinct forms of connections, direct or indirect.  The direct connection means the garden is placed on top of the fish tank, and the plant roots grow into the water.   Whereas the indirect method connects the fish tank and planter using pipes and pumps to move the water between them in a closed system.

Although aquaponics can be as small as a single flower decorative piece or as large as a commercial farm, they are based on either the direct or indirect methods of connecting the two.  Any of these types can be used in your home no matter how small or big your system is you can create an aquaponics fish garden.  With smart planning, you can grow a lot of different vegetables.

Ways in Which Aquaponics Gardens Are Connected

Direct method connections are suitable for smaller, durable fish tanks.  This method is easy; you can probably use items around the house to set it up.  For a direct attachment place, a flower box, with holes on top of your aquarium, the roots will extend into your tank. 

Larger fish tanks should have separate units and a pipe system to allow water to flow between them.  The independent system gives you the added benefit of keeping your fish tank in a darker area and your plants in sunlight.

These are three ways aquaponics gardens are indirectly connected by water flow to create a closed water cycle.  Depending on the type of garden you want will determine which of the three variables you want to select.

Deep Water Culture Fish Tank:

Deepwater culture fish tanks are primarily used by commercial farmers in a greenhouse aquaponics system.  Plants float in foam rafts along troughs in a greenhouse.  The fish tanks are set up nearby with organic filters that remove the solid waste from the water.  The fish tanks empty into these troughs.  As the water moves through the plants, it is cleaned before re-entering the fish tanks.

Aquaponics is farming of the future, yielding a quality product using fewer resources.  By building a closed water circuit, it can save up to 95% of water to produce double the amount of food of traditional agriculture.  These are organic farms that protect the plants, fish, end-user, and is gentle on the environment.  By adding this to your home, you can have all these benefits too.

This type of aquaponics system is suitable for bulky, leafy plants like lettuce or spinach.  If you have enough fish tanks and space, you can create a sizeable indoor aquaponics garden using this method. 

Nutrient Film Technique:

This system is a modified version of the Deep Water Culture Fishtank, but instead of using troughs, water is emptied into PVC pipes.  It is easy to do by attaching kits like the DreamJoy Hydroponic Grow kit.  These kits are based on the same principle but come in larger and smaller variants; you can create an aquaponics garden.

Even if you have limited space, creating a wall of garden will give you loads of vegetables in a vertical aquaponics structure.  Pump the water from your fish tank into your garden and back again.  You can include different plants as the fish tank will not have to carry the additional weight of the plants and water.

Media-Based Aquaponics Fish Tank:

Media-based aquaponics fish tanks are suitable for most hobbyists.  This system is versatile, and you can create any size aquaponics herb garden or other leafy veggies depending on your needs.

If you want to keep the two together, you can place it on top of your fish tank and join the inflow and outflow pipes between the planter on top and the fish tank below.  The method to join them remains the same; only the length of pipe you will need is different and will be covered in the DIY section.

Direct Method of Connecting Your Garden and Fish Tank

A direct method of connection is by far the easiest aquaponics system to create.  Add holes to the standard planter and placing it on top of your aquarium.  Or use a hydroponic planter with ready-made holes.  This system is easy to set up, but there are a few problems with this method, but these can be sidestepped.

When you are creating your aquaponics fish tank, you can purchase a kit, or if you are feeling adventurous, you can create your own.  Either way with a few quick tips you will be well on your way to creating a neat looking piece for your home

Now you understand the types of connection you need to understand what is available before you plan what type of aquaponics garden you want to create. 

DIY Aquaponics Systems

Before you decide to use either the direct or indirect connection method, it is essential to consider:

  • The weight and type of plants you are planning to have
  • How much weight the stand and fish tank can hold
  • The rout your pipes will need to take to and from the fish tank
  • How much waste your fish produce
  • Where you are planning to keep your plants and fish tank
  • How to access your fish for cleaning and to run tests

We will take you through the different products you can use to create this system, including hydroponic kits you can customize.  After we list additional items, you will need to convert your aquarium into an aquaponics fish tank.

Top 5 Hydroponic Kits to Create an Aquaponics System

Using Hydroponic kits will eliminate 50% of the work to create an aquaponics system.  All kits can be used in the indirect connection method, but you will only need one of the planter holders if you are using the direct connection method.

#1 – DreamJoy Hydroponic Grow Kit

 

You attach the DreamJoy Hydroponic Grow Kit to your existing PVC piping and pump to create an aquaponics fish tank.  The plants will clean your fish tank, and the fish will feed your plants, creating less work for you and saving you time and money on your hobbies.  The dream joy hydroponic grow kits can hold a different number of plants, and you have a good number of options to choose from.

Rating
4/5

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Pros

Cons

Our Verdict

This system will create an extensive aquaponics system, and you can grow a large number of vegetables.  Suitable for leafy greens in a home garden, such as lettuce, herbs, celery, cabbage.  If you want a garden and an aquarium, this is perfect for you. 

#2 – SuiteMade PVC Vertical Grow Tower

Rating
4/5

 

The SuiteMade PVC Vertical Grow Tower is the vertical version of the DreamJoy Hydroponic Grow Kit and can be used in smaller spaces.   Add this to your PVC pipe system, and you are good to go with 16 and 20 hole options.  The vertical design will make it an attractive addition to your patio or balcony.  This kit includes net pots and a good quality chain that can hold 20 pounds.

Pros

Cons

Our Verdict

This is a perfect solution for the small size home to create a charming aquaponics tower garden.  You cannot attach it to your aquarium directly, which is not ideal if you did not want to connect additional PVC pipes.  The limited choice concerning color and number of plants you can add.

#3 – Hydroponic Site Grow Kit 90 Site System

Rating
4/5

 

This aquaponics system is for a detached system.  Perfect for large fish tanks with high waste production and for those wanting to grow a large organic garden.  If used with LED lights can be used indoors or outdoors with a longer pipe trail.

Pros

Cons

Our Verdict

This is an excellent choice for you if you have a large number of fish with high waste production because you can have a large number of plants and herbs.  Although you can use this system indoors, it is better to use it outside.

#4 – DWC Household Hydroponic System Growing Kit

Rating
4/5

 

This planter is suitable for either a direct or an indirect connection.  The DWC Household Hydroponic System Growing Kit is perfect for those with less space available for a garden.  This unit is smaller and more compact than the DreamJoy Hydroponic Grow Kit and will fit on a balcony or modify it to attach directly on top of your fish tank to create a soil-free garden.  It can be used indoors or outdoors.

Pros

Cons

Our Verdict

It is easy to change any flower container, and it is cheap with many different colors and sizes that suit the user without modification if you want to use a growth medium.  If you are willing to pay the extra money and want to eliminate your DIY efforts, this product is for you.

#5 – Hydrofarm GCSB Box Kit Hydroponic Salad Garden

Rating
3/5

 

The Hydrofarm GCSB Box Kit Hydroponic Salad Garden is designed to be used as a separate unit and has everything you need for a small aquaponics herb garden.  Including 1 plastic box(flower box), 6 planting baskets, and sponges with pots, in addition to 1 air pump, 1 bubble stone, 1 silicone hose, tweezer, and a direction book.  You can use it as a direct method of connection too.

Pros

Cons

Our Verdict

This product is easy to use and install.  Only choose it if you are using it as a separate piece from your aquarium.  The price and size are worth considering adding it to your existing system if the other bits and bobs suit you.

The Products You Will Need for a DIY Aquaponics System:

No matter which type of aquaponic system you decide to make, it is simple with a few inexpensive tools and an afternoon to spare; you can build it.  Below are the products you need to create a DIY aquaponics system. The PVC piping should match the color of the flower box to create a beautiful finish.

A Pot for Your Flowers

You need a container to hold your flowers like the Countryside Flower Box Planter, which comes in different sizes and colors that you can choose.  This planter is a lightweight, sturdy plastic you can use either inside or outside.

What you need to consider before selecting your flower holder is:

  • You need to match its size to that of your fish tank if you are planning to place it on the top
  • Use plastic that will not leach into the water or fish tank
  • If you are planning to use it inside or outside

To Grow Plants from Seeds

If you are not purchasing seedlings, you will need to grow them from aquaponics seeds.  You will need a specialized growth medium like Rockwool Grow Cubes, an inorganic, sterile growing medium. 

To use this, all you have to do is plant your seeds into it and water. The medium will supply the roots with nutrients and oxygen to stimulate root growth. Once you have stable seedlings, you can add it to your aquaponics system.  Remove the growth medium from around the roots and add it to your flower box.

On a side note, you can use this as a growth medium if you are growing aquatic plants from cuttings.  It will stimulate root development, and you won’t add any harmful chemicals to your aquarium.  

Organic Expanded Clay Pebbles Grow Media

These clay pebbles are an organic growth medium to plant your flower or vegetables.  The Organic Expanded Clay Pebbles Grow Media is perfect for an aquaponic fish tank as they are 100% clay pebbles, are porous, and create aeration for roots, keeping them healthy.  Perfect for either food or decorative plants and safe for your fish.

3 inch Net Pots Super Heavy

The need for Net Pots will depend on the kit you buy; many come with this product.  If you are modifying a standard flowerpot, you may need some of these.  Cheap enough to add to your system.  This one is 3 inches, but there are other options available.  If it is food grade quality, it means it is safe for growing food and your fish.

Submersible Water Pump

You will need an additional pump to create water flow between the fish tank and the flower bed as neither the fish nor the plants appreciate stagnant water.  If you are keeping your fish tank and flower bed separate, you need to adjust the pressure of your water flow. 

The Submersible Water Pump gives you control of the water pressure with three nozzles that vary the amount of water flow into the system.  Strong suction cups and a long power cord gives you more placement options and is perfect as an aquaponics pump.

Spider Farmer Newest SF-1000 LED Grow Light

If you are not planning to keep your plants outside, you need a light source to provide aquaponics grow lights for your plants to grow.  This light has benefits for your fish tank, too; if you see a spike in algae, you can moderate the amount of light you are exposing to your fish tank. 

The Spider Farmer Newest SF-1000 LED Grow Light is a high-quality energy-efficient option. You are creating a canopy of light over your plants.  It has an adjustable dimming switch that will allow you to change the amount of light you are exposing your plants and your fish tank too. 

This LED light has the full spectrum of white, blue, red, and IR lighting as required depending on the size of your plants.  It has additional safety features like reducing the amount of heat output.

PVC Pipes and Joints

You will only need this if you are planning to build an aquaponics system that is not attached to your fish tank. PVC pipes come in a variety of colors, shapes, and lengths with matching joints.  Your choice will depend on the distance between your fish tank and your flowerpot. 

First, plan the route and where you are going to place your pipes.  This distance and direction between the fish tank and the flowerpots will determine the lengths, and direction of the joints you will need.  Select a product that is strong enough to hold water and will not leach elements into it.

PVC Pipe Cutter

If you are using PVC pipes, you need a PVC pipe cutter to adjust the length of the pipe to create the aquaponics system you need.  The DEWILL Ratchet-type Pipe and PVC Cutter has an ergonomic design making it comfortable to hold and easy to use.  Adjustable for pipes with different diameters, and the blade has a rust-proof finish. 

3M Marine Grade Silicone Sealant

The sealant you use is an essential part of your selection.  The silicone sealant needs to be safe and create a waterproof seal on your pipes and your flower potholes.

How to Build a DIY Aquaponics System:

What you need will vary depending on what you are building, but the method only differs between the direct or indirect method.

How to Build a DIY Aquaponics System Using a Direct Connection

For the direct connection method, the dimensions and the strength of your fish tank and stand will create restrictions on the type and number of plants you can add.  This system may cause problems, but you can mitigate them.

If your fish tank is large, you may not be able to add the correct number of plants; you will need to clean it.  Adding aquatic plants will ease the number you will need on top of your aquarium.

Additional plants will add weight to your fish tank and stand.  As your plants grow, they will become heavier and the roots longer.  It is crucial you prune both as often as you need to.

If you are attaching the fish thank and planter directly, all you need is a flower box with holes in it, the same dimensions as your fish tank.  You can drill or cut holes into a standard planter, or use one of the hydroponic ones listed above in section 5 Top Hydroponic Kits to Create an Aquaponics System.

After, place the planter on your aquarium and add plants allowing the roots to enter the fish tank to draw the nutrients directly from the water.  You may have to add lights above your plants to keep them healthy or move your fish tank into the sunlight for a few hours a day.

How to Build a DIY Aquaponics System Using an Indirect Connection:

For larger fish tanks, it is best to keep these units separate.  You can do this by customizing either terrestrial or use hydroponic products and attached them to your aquarium.  Create water flow between the two by adding pipes and pumps.

With this system, you can add another biological filter like carbon to remove solid waste from your fish tank.  Adding this type of filter will keep both your fish tank and flower planters clean.

If you are using the media-based or a nutrient film aquaponics system, then you will have a little more work to do.

  • Build your PVC piping to and from your fish tank (the distance will vary depending on what you want.)
  • Connect the outflow pipe and carbon filter to the pipes taking water from your fish tank to your flowerpots or hydroponic system. The filter will collect solid waste from the running water. 
  • Seal all the joins with a marine-grade silicone sealant
  • Adjust the pressure flow and add lights as you wish
  • Connect the inflow pipe to the pipe pushing the water from your flower box back into your fish tank.
  • Once your tank has cycled, you are ready to farm.

Which Aquaponic Fish Tank Is Right for You?

If you don’t want to create a DIY system, there are different ready-made kits you can use.  The largest kit is only suitable for a 20-gallon tank; this is perfect if you want to remove some fish from your display tank.  Or brighten up a small corner of your home.

Top 5 Small Aquaponics Fish Tanks

Primarily these gardens are used for decorative purposes, but you can use a few herbs or light edible plants. These tanks have different shapes and sizes to suit your taste and style and the place you want to put them.  The plants will grow taller and add color, and this will enhance the appearance of your room. 

You can change the plants to contrast the colors of your fish as long as they are not poisonous.  Add a bold and colorful fish, and even if you only have a few, it will create a statement piece.

#1 – Penn Plax Aquaponic Betta Fish Tank

Rating
3/5

The Penn Plax aquaponic Betta fish tank is a purely decorative aquaponics fish garden. Small and inexpensive, it cannot be described as an indoor garden. With one flower and one fish, it will create a beautiful ornament for any home. 

This fish tank is perfect for a Chinese Fighter, a beautiful fish and one that needs to be separated from others, two in one tank, and you will have a war in your aquarium, and if you add it with different fish, they eat its fins.  It would make a great gift too, although check with the parents before giving children living presents. 

Pros

Cons

Our Verdict

This is a pretty piece and will suit anyone who has trouble either keeping a fish or plant alive.  It will add an interesting talking piece for guests to appreciate.  Although you can’t create a garden, you can add a splash of color to a dull corner.

#2 – Back to the Roots Water Garden

Rating
2.5/5

 

The Back to the Roots Water Garden a stunning fish tank with organic micro greens on top.  Small enough to fit in most corners of your home.  Small, this one is primarily for decoration.  A fun learning activity for your kids, and you can use the microgreens in salads too.

Pros

Cons

Our Verdict

This aquaponics fish tank is perfect if you are looking for an easy pet for your kids to look after or to brighten up a forgotten corner of your home.  Even add it to your table as a centerpiece or and entertaining night light for your kids.  If you are looking to enter this hobby seriously, this would not be the product for you. 

#3 – AquaSprouts Garden

Rating
2/5

 

This aquaponics fish tank is a self-sustaining 10-gallon tank and garden unit. Large enough to create a flower or even an herb garden, including a few large leafy greens.  If you want to keep more fish and have organic herbs ready to use, this one is perfect for you.

Pros

Cons

Our Verdict

This is a pretty piece and will suit anyone looking for the least amount of effort.  It will create a pretty indoor garden.

#4 – ECO-Cycle Aquaponics Indoor Garden

Rating
2.8/5

 

The ECO-Cycle Aquaponics Indoor Garden is a 20-gallon tank, and with the garden above, it requires a sturdy place to stand.  With this size fish tank, you can create a reasonably sized aquaponics system and can sustain a hydro garden.  Neat and easy to set up, you have the freedom to select a good number of fish and different types of plants.  With adjustable, energy-efficient LED lights that you can adjust manually or set a timer is super convenient.

Pros

Cons

Our Verdict

This aquaponics fish tank is the right size and will save you money on maintaining your fish, and you can create a good-sized food garden.  If you would rather add color, switch out the vegetables, and create a colorful indoor garden.  This product is convenient and attractive.

#5 – Gardening Ecosystem Hydroponic/Aquaponic

Rating
4.5/5

 

The Gardening Ecosystem Hydroponic/Aquaponic is a product designed for garden enthusiasts.  For stress-free, easy gardening solutions requiring little effort on the part of the user. This unit can support both a soil-based and hydro based planting system, and it can be converted into an aquaponic fish tank.

Pros

Cons

Our Verdict

This product is perfect for those who want an indoor organic garden.  This system has been designed to be self-sufficient, creating little work for the owner.  This aquaponics system as a garden it is perfect, but as a fish tank, the customer could ask for more.

FAQ’s on Aquaponics Fish Tank

Which Is Better Aquaponics or Hydroponics

If you are starting an organic garden, you may be asking yourself which is better an aquaponics vs. hydroponics.  The answer depends on what you mean by your question.  If you want to make something that is self-sustaining, the aquaponics is a better system.  The fish create food for the plants, and the plants clean the water, and this means less work for you.

If you want to grow an organic garden and do not want to include fish into the system, then hydroponics is better.  You will have to add fertilizer and other food elements into your tank.

How Does Aquaponics Work?

Aquaponics uses the nitrogen cycle of your fish tank.  As your fish eat, they create waste, and this changes the nitrites and nitrates, which are harmful to your fish and result in the stimulation of algae growth and the need to clean your fish tank. Plants use waste products like food; if you add plants to your aquarium, they will clean your fish tank and reduce algae.

How to Make a Grow Bed for Aquaponics

To create aquaponics grow beds is simple.  It depends on what you are trying to grow.

For seeds:  plant them in a specialized growth medium that will stimulate the growth of roots.

For seedlings:  You can add it to the plant clay medium or plant basket.  If you are moving the plants for deep water culture, you will replant them as the seedlings are healthier before removing the medium from it and adding it to the plant basket in the water.

Aquaponics is Eco-Friendly and Sustainable

The combination of a garden and a fish tank may sound unusual. Still, the relationship between the plants and fish is not only decorative, but they work together to create a symbiotic relationship.  The plants use the fish waste as food while creating a clean environment for your fish.  This harmonious relationship saves you money and time.

Aquaponics is a fun way to combine two hobbies and bring them into your home.  With all the different options, you can create any type of aquaponics system you want.  Depending on how many plants you need or fish you want to keep. 

Indoor aquaponics systems are available in many different sizes; no matter what your needs are, you will find the perfect one for you. With different color fish and plants, you can create a purely decorative piece or grow functional greens for your organic kitchen.

Whether you are looking to take your fish keeping (or even gardening) hobby to the next level, there are different types of aquaponics fish tanks, each with a unique purpose and different benefits.

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