My Backyard Aquaponics System

It’s been six months since I added the rainbow trout fingerlings to my backyard aquaponics system. You can check out previous instalments here, here and here.

We’ve been picking veggies from the grow beds since mid July and have now begun harvesting trout. It really is awesome to be able to catch fresh fish right in your own backyard.

Overall, I’ve been very happy with our system, which is based on 2 x 1000 litre IBC tanks, scoria growing media and a small water pump. The system does require some work to keep it functioning properly, but it is well worth the effort when you consider what you get back in terms of fresh veggies and fish – and less than a minutes walk from the kitchen too!

Considering the system covers only 2.5 square metres in area, it’s extremely productive; growing lush green veggies and fresh trout. Crops grown include:

Δ   Butter lettuce

Δ   Bok choy

Δ   Broccoli

Δ   Parsley

Δ   Coriander

Δ   Tuscan kale, and

Δ   Rocket.

In terms of fish – so far, we’ve harvested 5 trout weighing on average 260 grams and up to 30cm in length. Plenty more fresh fish to follow!

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30cm Rainbow Trout from my Backyard Aquaponics System

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Broccoli – part of my Backyard Aquapnoics System

Daily Management Routine:

I have a daily routine with the system, which includes:
  • Feeding the fish twice per day, and
  • Testing the water temperature and pH (acidity level)

During winter, water temperature was not an issue for the trout, but as the weather warms up here in Melbourne, I need to keep an eye on it. Water temperatures above 22 degrees are not good for trout because the oxygen levels in the water fall too low for them. If we get a real hot spell which stresses the fish, I’ll have to harvest more and freeze them (no wastage!) I am currently considering my options for running the system over the coming summer. You can see from my Temperature Graph below that temperatures have been increasing from around September this year.

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Water Temperature Graph

Weekly Management Routine:

Weekly, my maintenance includes:
  • A pump and siphons check and clean,
  • Full chemical check on the water in the tank for ammonia, nitrites and nitrates. This is to monitor water quality and alert me to any adverse changes which could harm the fish.
  • If any problems are detected, I may need to adjust the pH higher with buffer, add some fresh water to the tank, or reduce the amount of feed given to the fish until the system gets back into balance.

It has been an amazing experience to set up and run our own small scale backyard aquaponics system.

And, for a little insight into how the produce is being used in the kitchen – my favourite way to cook the trout at present is to pan fry it in ghee with mushrooms and sage. Super tasty!

Cheers, Pete

Do you have your own backyard aquaponics system? It’d be great if you could share the produce you grow, or the fish you use in your aquaponics system in the comments below.