Owens Aquaponics – Large Backyard system

Author: Owen   Date Posted:3 September 2017 

Hi all.

I would like to share my fifth and largest aquaponics setup. This system started off as a mid size system, and has quickly gotten to be quite large, well for a backyard system anyways. After my previous systems were built and running, I started to look at my yard, and how I could put it to better use. I figured that the back left hand corner would be perfect for the lighting requirements and space needed.


All fish were dispatched in a quick, ethical manner.

I purchased some IBC’s to use as sumps and growbeds, and was originally going to use the IBC fish tank from my patio system, until I manged to score a secondhand aquaculture tank at a fraction of the cost of a new one. The tank is 2000L.  A simple overhead power supply was run from my shed to supply power to the area. I also once again covered the system in builders sarking, but this time round I decided to have the reflective layer outwards as I figured that summer would be a killer for heat. Little did I realise it would also be a problem come winter, but hey,  we live and learn.

I also wanted to filter this system so as to not deposit wastes into the growbeds and started building a home made radial flow filter.

As soon as I had a few beds setup and ready, I started planting. I soon realised that It wasnt the most pleasant thing to look at from my back patio, so I started to plan to make it a little better looking, and added a fourth growbed and sump. I also realised all the sun in the tank was about to give me a major algae problem, so began working on a tank lid also.

At this stage is when the fish went in, I used a combo of my fish from other systems and bacteria established expanded clay to fast cycle the system. As you can see, the algae was starting to take hold.

One of my chop and flips was then added into the system to be used as a fingerling tank to start on a second batch of fish while the larger tank was to be used as a grow out tank. The beds were then upgraded to be 400mm (40cm) deep to provide a bit more filtration to deal with the extra fish load.

The little box on the side of the chop and flip/fingerling tank was first put in to house my backup air pump, but now also holds my supplements for easy access, PH tester and a few useful tools I use for system maintenance.

I soon found that the setup I had around the back of the system was starting to be a hindrance to growbedbed access.

The box in the above left hand picture was where my air supply for the system was housed.

By this stage the fish were powering on in the bigger tank. It currently is home to Jade Perch, Silver Perch, Goldfish and a Pleco.

By this stage I had calculated that with my growbed filtration capacity, I could raise roughly 72 fish to 500g……. For some reason I thought while I am redesigning the back end, why not add some extra filtration to bump up the fish payload so to speak. This came in the form of a MBBR.

I still wasn’t happy with the back layout of the system, so I decided to change it again, and thought why not add another MBBR for a bit more filtration…










Now I was a bit happier with he layout and access, I started on building the hoop house in preparation for summer. I will be using 70% shadecloth during the hotter months. I did this with start pickets and 2 inch irrigation piping.

By this stage I had grown herbs, leafy greens, marrow, garlic, cucumber and corn. Here’s a few small harvest pics.

Also by this stage a few fish were at a harvestable size so I had them also. These fish are Jade Perch, also known as Barcoo Grunter and were approximately 9 months old from fingerling.

I now was pretty happy with the layout, and set about making it look presentable from the front, but still keep it so everything was accessible from the back in case I needed to change anything. 25mm flexible pipe distributes water around the system, all beds are flood and drain utilising bell siphons, and a 10,000LPH pumps water around the system. A supplementary 5000LPH pump is also in the system, but that is for added water distribution when the fingerling tank is in use. The main tank has a external 50mm SLO, and the fingerling tank has a internal 50mm one. More air was added due to the dual MBBR setup and the higher fish stocking density. As it sits now it has the filtration capacity to grow out 136 fish to 1kg, but as of yet, I haven’t tried pushing it that far, nor do I intend to. Also at this stage my Aquapondics system came to live next to it.

A brief look around the back of the system now.

The garlic, cabbage, snow peas and herbs in the system.

Some shots of the fish along the way.

Over winter a heater was added…. Please note that the Titan heaters aren’t totally waterproof in the control box… Mine was water affected out so I had to purchase another and rewired it to control the 2 heater elements and put it in a weatherproof enclosure.

And to finish, a few pics of the plants over time. It is coming into springtime now, so more attention will be on the plants… It got a little neglected over winter.

I have a few ideas for future expansion coming up, I will keep you posted.