We have several aquariums in our house. Two freshwater and one saltwater aquarium. Both of the freshwater aquariums have live plants growing in the tanks. The bigger of the two tanks is a 37 deep rectangle. We’ve had an algae problem in the tank due to overfeeding and probably the LED light. Since the fish don’t seem unhappy with the feeding level I thought we could try an experiment to lower the nutrient levels in the tank. After a lot of research I decided to try my hand at aquaponics.
1 x 5′ section of 3″ PVC pipe
1 x 5′ section of 1 1/2″ PVC pipe
1 x 2′ section of 1″ PVC pipe
(I bought the 5 foot sections to make transport easier)
1 x 3″ end cap
1 x 3″ to 1 1/2″ reducer
2 x 1 1/2″ 90 degree elbows
1 x 1 1/2″ 45 degree elbow
1 x tube of aquarium sealant
1 x Clamp on Work light with reflector
1 x CFL Grow light
An aquarium pump with a 1/2″ output (I had a spare in the cabinet)
I measured the width of the aquarium at 30″ so I cut the 3″ PVC pipe to 35″ to leave a little room for the end caps to fit.
I used a 2″ hole saw to cut 4 holes. A tip I found on Youtube was to run the drill in reverse to cut through the pvc. It is easier on the drill, bit and your wrist.
I drilled a 1″ hole using a 1″ hole saw bit then used an exacto knife to widen the hole for the 1″ piece of PVC. I drilled 2 small holes in the top of the 1″ PVC pipe so could use small cable ties to secure the light.
I drilled a 5/8″ hole to match the outer diameter of the 1/2″ clear tubing.
I assembled on the pieces for fit and to get the drain angle correct.
Using PVC cement a cemented all the pieces together to prevent leaking.
I used the aquarium sealant on the bottom of the 1″ PVC light post then sealed the hole around the post to prevent splashing. Since the water is returning to the aquarium with fish in it I used the aquarium sealant which I knew was fish safe.
I followed direction from the internet check here for germination instructions. My first thought was to try and grow bibb lettuce but i decide to also try growing spinach. The local hardware store had seeds. I think I paid 75 cents for a scoop of seeds. A scoop of lettuce seeds if several hundred seeds. The spinach seeds are a little bigger but you still get hundreds for 75 cents.
The rock wool plugs recommend you soak them in a acidic solution to remove the lime that is used during the manufacturing process. I used the aluminum pie pan with clear lid to soak the plugs them I used the pan for the germination process. We placed one seed in each cube. I started with 6 cubes (3 lettuce and 3 spinach) and place it on the counter. After 3 days, 2 of the lettuce seeds sprouted and one of the spinach seeds sprouted. I transferred these to the aquaponic unit so I could begin to grow. The other seeds never sprouted so we’re trying to germinate 2 additional lettuce seeds. I’m using the heat from the lights on our saltwater aquarium to warm the germinating seeds this time to see if it works better.
Here is the light on the 1″ PVC pipe. The picture is dark since the light is so bright. You can see the wire ties. These will prevent the clamp from slipping on the PVC pipe and the light falling into the tank. (That would be very bad)
Here these pics are 10 days after the seed started germinating.