Simple Backyard Aquaponics: How to Set Up a Garden Fish Tank


You may have recognized by now that it will cost you a lot to buy an aquaponics system. For people who are on a tight budget, they may not afford thousands of dollars. But, you do not need to worry. Luckily, assembling a garden fish tank is easy.

All you need to do is to copy an ecosystem and find the nano skimmers for the tank. Then, build an affordable aquaponics that will work well in your backyard.

Overview of Aquaponics

Aquaponics system

It is a merge of hydroponics or growing plants in water and aquaculture or raising fish in a system. The waste of the fish will offer the organic food for the plants. Then, they will filter the water in the tank for the fishes naturally. But, for the aquaponics to work, you need the symbiotic system of essential bacteria and red worms that are composting. They somewhat work as the conversion group.

The bacteria live in moist areas of the aquaponics system. They make sure that they can convert ammonia from the waste into nitrites and nitrates. Often, it could even harm the fish, and they are unnecessary for the plants. The nitrates are non-toxic to the fish, and they serve as an excellent plant food. Also, the worms can transform the decaying matter and solid waste in your aquaponics into vermicompost.

What You Need to Prepare

Aeroponic and hydroponic systems

Here are some of the things you need to make to build your backyard aquaponics:

  • A fish tank: at least 3 to 20 gallons, glass or plastic
  • Gravel: around 2.5 pounds for each 5 gallons of water in the aquarium
  • Water Pump: 3 to 4 watts of pump, which can lift 18 to 54 inches at 30 to 100 gallons per hour
  • Plastic Tubing: at least 3 feet that may fit the outlet of your water pump
  • Air Pump: as the size of the gallons of your aquarium
  • Airstone: up to 3 inches
  • Air Tubing: at least 3 feet to link the airstone and air pump
  • Grow Bed: you can place atop the aquarium, depth should be 3 to 8 inches
  • Growing Medium: pea gravel, clay peddles, coconut coir, peat moss
  • H Test Kit: depends on the pH of the water (maybe up or down)
  • Plants and Fishes

The Tools You’ll Need

Driller dowel and screw

Here is a list of tools you are going to use:

  • A pair of scissors
  • Drill with ¼ inches, 3/16 inches, or ½ inches bit
  • Electrical Tape

How to Assemble the Aquaponics

Backyard Aquaponics

Here are the steps to set up the garden fish tank:

1. Washing the Gravel

The first thing you have to do is to clean the gravel thoroughly. Then, put them at the bottom of the aquarium.

2. Set Up the Grow Bed

You have to drill at least 1/8 inches, or 3/16 inches below the grow bed each 2 square inches. That way, the water may drain into the reservoir. On each of the back sections of the grow bed, put a hole at least ½ inches for the tubing. So, the water pump can pass through it.

3. Put the Water Pump in Place

You have to assemble the water pump in the tank. Then, place the grow bed over the aquarium. Next, you have to put the tubing from the water pump through the ½ inches of the hole. You have to leave more pipe to expand around ¾ of the height of the grow bed. By doing so, you can loop around the internal grow bed. Slice off the spare tube and fold it at the end. You have to seal the folded area using an electrical tape.

4. Incorporate the Growing Medium

Fill the grow bed with your chosen growing medium just below the top of the tubing. Then, put small holes per 2 inches in the area of the pipe that circles in the grow bed. You have to protect the loop of the tube with an inch or more of the growing medium.

5. Add the Water in Your Fish Tank

Fill the aquarium with water. Then, plug in the pump to make sure that the water can pump into the grow bed. Also, it can go through the growing medium and back to the aquarium. You may adjust the flow of your water. But, it still depends on the size of your reservoir, pump, and grow bed.

6. Link the Air Pump to the Airstone and the Air Tubing

You have to assemble the airstone in the aquarium. Next, set up the air pump. You should observe a steady flow of bubbles through the water. It will provide the fresh air.

7. Assess the pH of the Water

For you to do that, you have to use a litmus paper and a test kit. The standard pH level is 7.0 for aquaponics. When it gets higher, then you should decrease it, or vice versa. You should use a pH up or low product.

8. Get Rid of Chlorine

You need the unit to stay put for at least 24 hours to make sure that you remove the chlorine from the water. If you require placing your fish directly, then you need to purchase a chlorine remover.

9. Put the Fish to the Aquarium

Then, you can stock your fish to the tank. You need ½ inches or less of fish each gallon of water. Once you establish your system more than a month, you may boost the density of the fish to 1 inch each gallon of water.

10. Add the Plants

You need to wait at least four weeks before you put the plants into the system.


Aquaponics system is a straightforward approach to assembling a garden and a fish tank in your backyard. You may think that this is hard to fulfill, but what you need to do is to follow the guidelines suggested above. One needs not spend too much for this home project. You can always use recycled materials in the process. That way, your backyard will become as healthy and as beautiful as possible.


Simple Backyard Aquaponics: How to Set Up a Garden Fish Tank
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Jonathan E. Bass

Graduated from Middle Tennessee State University. I am currently a gardener. I have a small garden behind my house. I love it.

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