Aquaponics is very interesting to me because we are always, or almost always, under, or going to be under, water restrictions. We were having a severe drought and at one point Death Valley received more rain than we did here.
I'm not going to get into all the scientific information because it would probably put us both to sleep. Let's just suffice to say that aquaponics is recycling water. If you are recycling water, then you are using less water.
This was the beginning set-up. See the fish that are still alive? I've changed a few things. First, the plants on top are not there now. I had them in dirt and dirt is not to be used. You can use things like pebbles, aquarium gravel, or vermiculite. I also added a longer hose to the pump.
I decided I needed to build a structure out of PVC to hold the plant light. These are the two things you need to glue PVC together. Easy to use, wear some rubber kitchen gloves, and do this outside.
This is what I built. If the experiment fails, I now have a stand alone clothes rack or a walker if I put a couple of wheels on the bottom. That's pathetically awesome that I can make my own elderly/disabled equipment.
Now here it is in action. The plant light is attached securely with 22 gauge wire. There's a screen over the tank so no problems with the light falling into the tank and making fish fingers.
This is the final product so far. Let me take you through the process. Fish get fed and then they poop. Ammonia builds up in the water and (good) bacteria hanging around the gravel on the bottom convert it to nutrient rich water, which is also toxic to the fish. The water is pumped out through the tubing attached to the pump into the plant pot, or grow bed. The plant filters the water and then the water drains back into the tank as clean water.
So you've lost a minimal amount of water and you don't have to dig around in dirt. Win win.
Backyard Aquaponics is a good place to see some bigger set-ups. If mine works then I'll be either moving to a big one outside or have several small ones inside to produce vegetables year round.
All supplies were obtained at Walmart and Lowe's for around $50. I think it could work for one of those science fair projects, too. I'll post updates.