I have the perfect solution for you – indoor aquaponics.
With aquaponics, you can now enjoy indoor vegetable gardening in the comforts of your own home. You can do so easily in your garage or right inside your house.
Depending on your space constraints, I’m sure you can design and build a DIY indoor aquaponics system or even purchase an indoor aquaponics kit that suits your specific needs.
If You Have A Big Garage…
It’s time to de-clutter your garage!
Rather than using your garage as a storage space, why not transform your garage into an indoor aquaponics garden at low cost and effort?
And the best part of growing vegetables indoors is that you won’t have to worry about the changing weather or climate. Just imagine harvesting fresh organic vegetables all year round…
Due to space constraint, your indoor aquaponics system is likely to be a smaller setup than a typical backyard system.
Nevertheless, it is still possible to rear tasty fish for food. If you intend to grow plate-size fish for food, tilapia is a good choice as it can survive well in crowded tanks.
For a stable system, I would recommend at least a tank size of 90-100 gallons. Is your garage is big enough to accommodate an indoor aquaponics setup of such scale?
Alternatively, you can also grow ornamental fish, such as koi, which you can re-sell to the local pet shops.
What Else Do You Need When Rearing Fish and Growing Vegetables Indoors?
- Grow lights
Growing plants indoors require additional lighting as they are not exposed to direct sunlight, which is needed for photosynthesis. There is a wide range of grow lights available commercially. I’ll go into the details on the types of grow lights for the plants in a later post.
As grow lights do generate quite a bit of heat, do ensure that there is sufficient space between the plants and grow light to avoid overheating.
If you are staying in a temperate climate, the temperatures in the garage may fluctuate. In order to maintain a fairly regulated environment for both the crops and fish all year round, you will need to ensure that heating is installed. This is especially so if you are rearing tropical fish.
TIP: Fish, in general, prefer a constant temperature within their optimal temperature range.
- Access to electricity
Grow lights, heaters, pumps… all these require access to electricity.
- Sufficient space around the aquaponics setup
While an indoor aquaponics setup is space-efficient, you will still need to ensure that there is sufficient space around it for you to move around for harvesting and regular maintenance.
TIP: When growing plants in an enclosed room, do remember to leave a window slightly open to allow for air circulation.
If You Do Not Have A Garage…
It is possible to set up a small-scale indoor aquaponics right in your house, but it will probably be smaller than a garage aquaponics.
It can be as mini as a desktop aquaponics system. It is also often called aquarium aquaponics as the aquaponics fish tank can be a simple glass or plastic aquarium tank typically ranging from 3 to 10 gallons.
You can rear ornamental aquarium-size fish such as goldfish, which you can re-sell them to local pet shop when the population grows.
As for the plants, you can choose to grow ornamental home plants or smaller crops like lettuce, cherry tomatoes, basil, mint, spinach, baby greens… the list of possibilities continue.
Desktop aquaponics systems can be easily purchased off the shelf and it’s not as expensive as the larger backyard aquaponics kit since it’s a mirco setup. Alternatively, you can build your very own aquarium aquaponics system with the help of some good quality plans.
If you have the luxury of more space than just a tabletop, you can opt for a bigger indoor aquaponics system.
A typical style would be to make use of an open wired rack or shelf as the basic framework, whereby the grow bed is placed on the level above the fish tank. As for the grow bed and fish tank of such scale, you make use of 25-50 litres food-safe plastic containers.
All these basic components can be easily sourced from the local hardware or homestores like IKEA.
TIP: If you are using a large fish tank, you might want to consider placing the fish tank directly on the floor instead of on the lower level of the shelf as the tank will be very heavy when filled with water. This depends on the structural strength of the rack or shelf that you are using.
It would be great if the aquaponics setup can be placed by the window. You will probably still need to install grow lights if the plants are not under direct sunlight.
Try experimenting to find out how many hours to expose the crops to the grow light per day for best growth.
Getting Started With Indoor Vegetable Gardening…
To get started with indoor aquaponics, you will need to first decide on the type and scale of system to set up.
Look around your home now… How much space is available? Where is the best location to place your setup? What is the purpose of your aquaponics setup – ornamental or food?
With these answers in mind, you can start looking out for DIY plans to help you design and build one yourself or to purchase an indoor aquaponics kit that suits your specifications.