An Ultimate Guide to Growing Your Own Food with an Indoor Aquaponic System

Ever thought of setting up an indoor aquaponic system to harvest your own food?

Among all the concepts of organic cultivation, aquaponics remains the best-integrated system. Due to the utmost sustainability and eco-friendliness, aquaponics is finding enormous popularity among the masses. You must have seen and heard of aquaponics on an industrial and commercial level. But did you know? You can grow, cultivate, and consume plants in your own home via indoor aquaponics!

The primary working procedure of indoor aquaponics is the same as the ones used on industrial level; the combination of growing plants and raising fish. The nutrients are extracted from the waste products of fish and are fed to the plants. The plants, absorbing those nutrients, purify the water and it recirculates back to the fish tank. This entire cycle repeats consistently, and eventually fresh, organic, and home-grown vegetables and fruits are delivered.

aquaponics

Can Aquaponics be Grown Inside?

Aquaponics comes in a variety of designs. They include Deep Water Culture, Nutrient Film Technique, and Media Bed aquaponic systems. The media bed aquaponic system is the most commonly used type. It is an ideal system if you’re to grow plants within the premises of your home. It allows you to build an entire system with all ease and fewer hassles. Let us have a look at the components of an indoor aquaponic system:

Basic Components of the Media Bed Aquaponic System

Indoor media bed aquaponic systems are composed of three major components; Fish, Plants, and Microbes.

Fish and Tank

  • Fish are the natural habitants of a variable and open aquatic environment; therefore, your choice of fish depends on the area you live in. It is, however, recommended to raise a fish that is accustomed to a warmer environment. This is because if you’re a dweller of a colder area, you can tackle their sensitivity by providing them adequate sunlight, using a water heater, or building a dedicated greenhouse.
  • The Fish tank depends on the design or type of the system. As for the indoor one, the media bed is the ideal system for home aquaponics. It typically incorporates a glass aquarium as a tank. Regardless of what sort of tank you’re using, make sure to keep it clean and hygienic to make it catchy and aesthetically pleasing.

Plants and Grow Bed

  • With aquaponics, you can grow a wide range of plants. They involve basils, mint, tomatoes, cucumber, and berries. The type of plant may also depend on your setup. If you’ve installed a rather small-sized system, growing bigger vegetables may not be a great idea. So, keep the plant type at par with the productivity of the aquaponics system.
  • The Grow bed carries a certain type of media (usually clay pebbles) to maintain the moisture within the roots of the plants. Typically, water is drawn using the pump into the grow bed where plants extract the nitrates and pass on the purified water.

Microbes

  • Microbes, essentially the beneficial bacteria in this context, have a pivotal role in aquaponics as they break down the toxic ammonia into nitrates. Therefore, it is crucial to keep a constant check on the concentration of nitrifying bacteria to help the plants grow efficiently.

Importance of Indoor Aquaponics – Why is It Recommended?

Indoor aquaponics holds a major importance in terms of being eco-friendly, easy to maintain, and adding to the aesthetics of your house. Here are some points depicting the importance of home aquaponic system:

aquaponics system

Eco-Friendly

The closed-loop system in a dedicated and controlled environment makes indoor aquaponics eco-friendly to a great extent. Water reclaims its purified form when the entire ammonia matter is broken down and nitrified to feed the plants. Hence, the production of waste remains zero, which means the hygiene of your house is not only maintained but improved.

Lower Usage of Water

In the current times when the water shortage in the world is at large, it is prudent to imply the farming options which require least water consumption. This is exactly where aquaponics stands out in the crowd as it uses 90% less water than traditional soil cultivation systems.

Adds to the Aesthetics

You must have been fascinated by large aquariums in the households. Think of your aquaponics as one. Among all other aspects, an indoor aquaponic system holds major importance in terms of enhancing the beauty of your house. A transparent tank with those alluring aquatic creatures would certainly enhance the beauty of your house.

Efficient and Inexpensive

The media bed aquaponic system for households is cost-effective and easily manageable if set up correctly. It requires no larger areas to thrive, no huge fish tanks, no complicated maintenance problems, which make aquaponics fish tanks the best option for the indoor growth of plants.

No Chemicals Required

The plants on grow beds in indoor aquaponics acquire the broken-down nitrates from water to sustain and grow. It is pretty evident that there’s no requirement for chemical fertilizers whatsoever. Subsequently, the emission of harmful gases is negated.

Grow Your Own Food: 4 Easy Steps to Install an Indoor Aquaponic System

When we talk about indoor aquaponics, media bed aquaponics remains the ideal option due to plenty of benefits it offers. Let’s get straight into DIY building of an efficient home aquaponic system:

1. Assembling the Fish Tank

A fish tank necessarily depends on the design of aquaponics. The ideal option is the traditional glass aquarium. Make sure that the tank you incorporate provides enough space for the fish and other species to move freely.

You may also use containers or barrels to serve the very purpose. We suggest using glass containers as they add a lot to the aesthetic factor of your home.

Moreover, a water pump is a major installation in the aquaponics fish tank. It pumps the water to the grow bed and assists in drawing it back inside the tank afterward. The pipes being used to carry the water should be non-toxic so as to ensure purification in the process.

2. Adding the Fish

Once you’re done installing the tank, it’s time to add the fish. The most commonly used fish is Tilapia. Since they’re readily available and adaptive to the varying environment, it is considered as the ideal fish for aquaponics. In addition to that, Koi, Karp, Trout, and Goldfish are also widely used in home aquaponics.

Before adding the fish, be mindful of the fact that choosing the fish that is sensitive to climate change can catch a disease or may die over a certain period of time. Therefore, it is ideal to go for the common choices mentioned above.

Indoor Aquaponics

3. Placing the Grow Bed

Your grow bed is essentially a tray or a container employed to grow plants. It is also termed a “media bed” as it carries the appropriate media to maintain moisture. Typically, plastic trays or wooden boxes work pretty well with a home aquaponics system.

Grow bed should be strong enough to endure the load of the media and grown plants. As for the growing media, clay pebbles or gravel make a perfect medium for indoor aquaponics.

4. Planting the Seeds

There are certain plants, fruits, and vegetables to grow with aquaponics. As we mentioned in the previous section, plants’ capacity and size depend on the magnitude and productivity of the system.

However, if there is a considerable density of fish with a heavy-duty grow bed for load endurance, you may grow bigger vegetables (such as melon and cauliflower) even with small-scale home aquaponics.

Tips to Maintain Your Indoor Aquaponics System

There are certain plants, fruits, and vegetables to grow with aquaponics. As we mentioned in the previous section, plants’ capacity and size depend on the magnitude and productivity of the system.

However, if there is a considerable density of fish with a heavy-duty grow bed for load endurance, you may grow bigger vegetables (such as melon and cauliflower) even with small-scale home aquaponics.

pH Levels

Once the aquaponics system is functional, ensure you regularly check the pH levels. The ideal pH level tends to be 6.8 – 7.0; keeping this level intact makes all the components work efficiently.

Feeding

The nutrients extracted from fish waste somewhat depend on what you feed them. Keeping it simple, typical aquarium fish feed sits right with the aquaponics fish. Refrain from feeding them too much (no more than three times a day).

Sunlight

Prioritize building a home aquaponics where it gets ample sunlight. This is crucial, as it provides adequate heat to the fish sensitive to colder temperatures.

The Challenges of Aquaponics

With all these benefits and utility, aquaponics comes with its fair share of challenges. However, they’re equally easier to overcome. Below, we’ve provided the solution to each of its potential problems:

Plants and/or Fish Keep Dying

The problem with the dying plants may arise due to the drop in pH level. Ensure that the pH of all major components remains in between the said range.

As far as fish are concerned, a dead fish can be a sign of a disease or inadequate water supply. Check the water levels at least once a week to assure the optimal supply of water and oxygen to fish and plants. Also, refrain from live feeding to keep the diseases at bay.

Contamination in Water

Raised level of ammonia might contaminate the water which may prove detrimental to the fish, bacteria, and plants. Be quick to check, dechlorinate, or (if necessary) replace the water if you sense any contamination or toxicity in there.

Pest Problems

Although issues with pests are rare in aquaponics, implement a natural pest control strategy if anything problematic occurs. You may also use organic pesticides to remove the harmful pests if necessary.

Concluding Remarks

Home aquaponics is an incredibly useful technique to cultivate and consume organic foods. Aquaponics makes the best possible use of hydroponic and aquaculture with a fitting combination of both. Aside from the edible utility of this system, home aquaponics tends to adorn the aesthetics of your space as well.

aquaponics experts

Welcome to The Aquaponics Guide

Hello! We are the Johnsons and the faces of The Aquaponics Guide. We have been avid gardeners for many years and growing our own food is one of our key priorities. We have found sustainable Aquaponics farming to be a life changer, which is the reason we have created The Aquaponics Guide.