10 Gallon Aquaponics System

by Theo1001, published

10 Gallon Aquaponics System by Theo1001 Oct 10, 2013
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This thing allows you to use an inexpensive 10 gallon fish tank for an experimental aquaponics growing system.

The goal is to create equilibrium between the fish, the plants, and the water. You feed the fish, the fish feed the plants and the plants clean the water, then you eat the fish and plants. That is the theory. We are testing it now.

I added 2 new grow pot holders using my anti warp panels that should be a lot easier to print.

I added a new grow pot holder with a bigger hatch, This is much better for servicing your fish. Look for v3 parts.

I split the grow pot into two pieces for smaller print beds. I have not printed it so please let me know if it works. You will have to glue them together.


I've attached a PDF file with instructions to help build your aquaponics system. This is a fun and easy project. So far I have been successful growing the fish and the plants.

This is an experimental system so please have fun and be safe and let me know how your garden does.

This was printed on an 8 x 10 inch build platform.

These parts fit a 10 Gallon Standard Aquarium (20L x 10¼W x 12 1/2H)

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I added a grow pot holder with a bigger hatch. This is better for servicing your fish, See v3 parts.

what dimensions did you use to print out the pieces?

The parts are designed in mm. I print them at 100%. Hope that helps.

I added 2 new grow pot holders that use my anti warp panels. This should be easier to print. Just substitute the version 2 (v2) when you print.

I'm trying to modify your .stl files so I can print them on my smaller volume printer (I'm cutting the holders and gravel filters in half). I've been able to cut the gravel filter in half, but I'm not able to do so on any of the grow pot holders. I get errors when my software (OpenSCAD and FreeCAD) attempts to render the .stl. Did you use a different rendering scheme?

Did you ever get this to work?

Yes, I had it running for about 18 months. The system worked well enough, although I suggest that if you are going to split the trays, you don't use superglue to glue the trays together. I killed many guppies before I figured out that the superglue residue was leaching into the water. I reprinted the parts in ABS and welded the tray together, and that fixed the problem. My guppies continued to die for other reasons, but I was no longer poisoning them with superglue.

I finally moved away from the tray/bubble system to an actual water pump and separate grow bed earlier this year. It's much easier to access and maintain the tank this way, and the larger grow bed makes it easier to keep up with the amount of nitrates my guppies produce.

The parts are designed in OpenSCAD and should not present any problems with the STL files. What size printer area are you trying to build for? Perhaps I could do a version for a smaller printer. My printer does 8x10 or so. I have not released the OpenSCAD files yet cause there not cleaned up or anything but I was thinking about making them available. Perhaps they need to be parameterized for printing different sizes.

The grow pot holders are hard to print because of warping, I'm working on a version that is much easier to print. Smaller would be easier to print for sure.

My bed is 7x7 inches. The OpenSCAD error states that there is no top-level geometry to render. So, it is unable to allow me to manipulate the .stl. Every file with the exception of the gravel filter gives me this error.

If you are not ready to publish the OpenSCAD files, would yo be willing to send them to me in a PM?

I would be willing to PM them to you but I'm not sure thingiverse supports that... Do you just want them cut in half so you can print them and then glue them? Perhaps I could release that for you as an stl file?

no top-level geometry? - I get this occasionally when I don't call a module or have parentheses messed up. If you can do the filter you should be able to do the holder. The filter is way more complex and interesting the holder is more of a basic box.

By the way, I purchased another 10 gallon aquarium at Walmart for $13 so I'm printing another unit for our window. The first one is growing great and the fish seem very happy.

I've been looking into doing some sort of small system to experiment with aquaponics before committing to something really big. A few questions:

  1. How long did it take to cycle your system?
  2. Is each grow pot cycled separately from each other?
  3. Would the system work if you were to just skip the grow pots altogether and just use the trays as your grow beds?

I put fish in the tank about two weeks before planting. My water quality is excellent so I rarely have troubles with new tanks. I do think the first seedlings looked like they were not getting enough nutrients.

Each grow pot is in 1/2 inch or so of water, the water bubbles up from the tank continuously and then runs back in to the tank. they are always getting water. The three grow pot holders are supplied by separate air hoses and bubblers.

I can imagine it working without the grow pots. One thing to watch out for is the roots clogging the drain holes. If this happens the grow pot holders will overfill but any overflow should end up back in the tank. I also think with the continuous flow of water the grow pots keep a good portion of the plants root system out of the direct water. It may help keep the stems of some plants from rotting.

So far the plants are thriving and we are going to harvest our first big salad tonight.

Nice concept. I tried aquaponics on a small scale like that without much success at first. I run a 275 gallon system in my backyard now with 4 growbeds. I get decent tomatoes but my fish aren't big enough yet to grow much else yet.

Looking at your photos it seems like you're using drip irrigation or do you have a working auto-syphon?

The water is pumped into the grow pot holder using the bubble tubes so a simple aquarium air pump will do the job. The holder keeps about 1/2 inch of water and the rest drips back into the tank so it effectively recirculates water from the tank to the plants using air. If you let the water get too low in the tank it will not work.

Understood. Simple, basic and probably works better than my original design. I was using auto-syphons on this scale and they are not very reliable when they get too small.

Good luck, post some more pics as your plants grow!