An important question that I often receive from students is where to get the products to build their aquaponics system. Typically, those getting into aquaponics would attempt to build all of their components, but the times have changed and now more effective and reliable products have been introduced to the marketplace to give a better experience to the grower.
This article will provide websites, locations, and sources to those looking to build an effective aquaponics system that will enable them to grow at the highest level using aquaponics.
The first component that I will discuss is the fish tanks. Fish tanks are the home for your aquatic species and should be suitable to maintain a healthy environment by adequately removing fish waste from the culture vessel. As the primary option I recommend using round tanks that are specifically designed for aquaculture purposes.
Fiberglass material is most widely for aquaculture tanks because it can be easily cut, modified, and molded to nearly any size tank to fit the grower's needs. Fiberglass tanks can be purchased from a company called Hydro Composites by calling and placing an order with a representative.
A secondary option for round tanks is to purchase the less expensive tanks made from polyethylene material. Polyethylene tanks are sturdy, reliable, and come in a variety of sizes to match the growers needs. These tanks can be purchased from Poly Tank, Inc.
Note On The Ordering Process
The ordering process is typically 4-8 weeks so you will need to have a bit of patience when dealing with these companies. Their ordering processes are a bit behind, and not quite up to date with the likes of Amazon or Ebay, so you must understand this in advance to prevent frustration during the ordering process. These companies manufacture the tanks upon order, and do not carry a stocked inventory of their items.
My secondary recommendation for tanks to be used for aquaponics is traditional glass aquariums. Aquariums have been used successfully for a number of years to raise fish, and I’ve used them with success as well. If you’re planning to drill holes in the tank for drainage then you must ensure that the tank is made of non-tempered glass to prevent it from shattering during the process of drilling.
Growers can purchase glass aquariums from a local Petsmart or from community sales websites such as Craigslist or OfferUp.
The hydroponics subunit is what houses the vegetables in the aquaponics system, and can come in a variety of options to include Floating Raft, NFT, and Vertical units. All of the named subunits can be crafted by hand for effective performance, but for those that do not have the time, skill, nor energy to manual build them I will provide a source where they can be purchased from a manufacturer.
Floating Raft & NFT
The company Growers supply manufactures both NFT and Floating raft components. Their raft and NFT units can be found under the label “HydroCyle.” Their rafts come is width to length ratios as small as 8 ft x 8 ft to as large as 8 ft x 48 ft. These units come with all required parts and instructions for proper assembly by the grower.
The NFT subunits come in width to length ratios as small as 4 in x 8ft for leafy greens and herbs to as large as 9 in x 20 ft for fruiting crops such as cucumbers, tomatoes, squash etc. An important factor that the growers must be mindful of when purchasing NFT from this company is that they sell the channels, lids, and end caps separately. All 3 of these pieces are required to complete the NFT subunits, so the grower must be cognizant of this before checking out and paying to ensure that they are getting what they think they are paying for.
Filtration technology has drastically improved for aquaponics from what it once was In the earlier days. The technology is much more hands-free and involves less physical labor to effectively do the job.
The filter technology that I use on all of my aquaponics systems is bead filtration. I’ll talk more about these on a later article but for those interested in purchasing one for an upcoming project I recommend using a company called Aquaculture Systems Technology (AST), who are the world’s leading exerts in bead filter technology.
We have worked out a deal with this company to give special discounts to students enrolled at The School of Aquaponics.
Another company that has been producing bead filters for a number of years is Aquadyne. They have a variety of bead filters that are suitable for aquaponics and may be a good selection although I cannot personally vouch for them since I have not owned nor used any of their filters.
The water pump is the driving force for all water and nutrients within the aquaponic system. It’s important to select a water pump that both meets the needs of your project and is efficient when it comes to energy usage. Typically, the more cost efficient a water pump is during operation the more the water pump will cost upfront.
Paying an heavier upfront cost or paying a high cost overtime using cheaper pumps is a decision that the grower must make on his/her own. I personally choose to pay upfront and save in the long run so the pumps I select are typically going to have a higher price tag upfront.
For my floating raft system I use a Cascade pump. These pumps are quite efficient when it comes to energy and quite effective at moving water to meet the needs of my system. For small systems that do not require much water to be moved you can search on Amazon or Ebay for EcoPlus pumps or others similar pump to get the job done.
Regenerative Blower & Air Stones
In most circumstances an aquaponics system requires additional oxygen supplementation to meet the demands of fish, plants, and bacterial consumption rates. Supplemental dissolved oxygen typically is provided by the use of an air pump or regenerative blower that is coupled with air diffusers.
Pentair is a highly reputable company that sells air pumps, regenerative blowers, and air diffusers. They are located in Apopka, FL and provide above average customer service.
Hopefully this article is helpful to you and provides you with at least a good foundation as to where you can get your essential components for aquaponics.
If you have any questions then put them in the comments below.