If you are setting up your own DIY aquaponics system at home, the aquaponics fish tank is one of the first and major components to decide on. Some people might think that choosing the right aquaponics tank is a no brainer.
In the next few minutes, I will share with you the major considerations when selecting the right aquaponics fish tank.
It’s easy to find a suitable tank within your budget. You just need to know what to look out for!
Does The Shape of The Aquaponics Tanks Matter?
A square or rectangular shaped tank works fine, and they are space-efficient. However, if you have sufficient space, a circular tank would be preferable.
Based on my observations, my aquaponics fish seemed to be more lively and ‘happier’ after I switched from a rectangular aquaponics tank to a round one.
This stems largely from the fact that a round aquaponics fish tank encourages better water circulation and flow in the tank, resulting in better water quality and improved well-being of the fish.
Benefits of good water circulation in round aquaponics tanks include:
- Prevents the formation of ‘layers’ of different water temperature bands as what would happen in a still water tank.
- Provides a current for the fish to swim against, which they naturally enjoy. This also improves the health and quality of their meat, if you are rearing the fish for consumption.
- Helps to increase the rate of gaseous exchange between the air and water. Increased dissolved oxygen content in the water is not just good for health of the fish, but also favourable to the aerobic de-nitriying bacteria in the aquponics system
In a round aquaponics tank, the fish’s solid waste tend to settle to the bottom centre which is the ideal place to position your pump so that almost all the solid waste can be removed quickly.
Moreover, a round tank is structurally stronger so it tends to be manufactured from less bulky materials with less reinforcement.
TIP: if you are using a rectangular aquaponics tank, you have to take extra care to ensure that there is sufficient water flow. Look out for tanks that have rounded corners as that helps increase water movement. Without sufficient water flow, solid fish waste tends to build up at the corners, hence creating an anaerobic environment for harmful bacteria to thrive.
What Are Some of The Suitable Aquaponics Tanks Material?
Most commonly available and cost-effective aquaponics tanks are made from food-grade plastic. There are also fiberglass aquaponics fish tank available. You can get them from most Homestores, DIY or Aquaculture stores.
Features that you need to look out for when choosing the type of aquaponics tanks:
- The material must be durable as the tanks will be under the sun every day. This is especially important if you are serious about running your backyard aquaponics system for years.
- The material of the tank has to be chemically inert so that we do not have chemicals leaching from the aquaponics tank into the system. Afterall, we are growing food for consumption. Furthermore, some chemicals might affect the pH of the water, hence the water quality and health of the fish.
- Structurally strong to withstand the weight of water
- Made of opaque material to block off sunlight. Direct sunlight promotes the proliferation of algae which will deprive the fish, plants and beneficial aerobic bacteria of dissolved oxygen.
If you are setting up a small scale indoor aquaponics system where the fish tank is not in direct sunlight, it is possible to use normal glass aquarium.
What Should You NOT Use?
Copper, zinc or galvanised tanks are not good for fish, so should never be used.
What Can I Use To Make A DIY Aquaponics Fish Tank Instead of Purchasing One?
If you want to make use of recycled materials to construct your own DIY aquaponics fish tank, you can use IBC or tote tank. It’s easy to find them, but be careful that they have not been used to transport toxic chemicals.
Avoid containers that have been used to transport agricultural chemicals. Acid and pool chlorine are fine as they are easy to wash out with water. High quality food grade bulk shipping containers used to transport bulk food, such as juice concentrate, would be great.
IBC tanks may be an economical way to get started with DIY fish tank aquaponics. However, it might not be a long-term solution as IBC plastic will ultimately break down under sunlight, unless you paint it and make sure that they are not under direct sunlight.
Alternatively, you can construct a wooden structure and cover it with a food-grade plastic pond liner to make it water-proof. Most of such commercially available pond liner have an estimated lifespan of 10 years, provided you take good care to ensure that they do not get punctured.
The key thing to note about building a wooden aquaponics tank is the structural design. It has to be able to withstand the weight and pressure of the water it will be holding.
There are also people who make an aquaponics fish tank out of concrete. But in this case, it needs to be handled with great care. The concrete tank needs to be sealed with a food-safe sealant. If not it may cause imbalances in the pH of the water, hence de-stabilizing the aquaponics system.
Any Recommendations on The Size of The Aquaponics Fish Tank?
The tank size really depends on your space constraints and the type of fish you are rearing.
If you intend to rear plate-size fish, the recommended size would be at least 90-100 gallons. A larger tank tends to give a more stable system, in terms of pH and temperature.
But of course, you can even setup a mini indoor aquaponics system that can be placed on your desktop. The aquaponics fish tank in this case can be as small as a 3 gallons glass aquarium. But you will only be able to rear small aquarium fish for ornamental purposes.
DIY or Purchase?
The choice is yours.
You can buy a ready-made aquaponics kit which comes complete with almost everything you need to get started right away, including the grow bed and aquaponics fish tank.
Nevertheless, it is important for you to understand the functions and requirements of the various components so that you can make informed decisions when choosing between the wide range of models commercially available. It is, however, often more pricey.
Or you can build your own DIY aquaponics system from the scratch by making use of recycled materials.
Alternatively, you can also go somewhere in between of the former 2. Plan and design your own aquaponics system, but you do not have to build everything from scratch.
You can purchase individual components, such as the aquaponics fish tank, from stores and assemble them together into your own DIY aquaponics system that meets your specific needs.
Finally, it’s always important to bear in mind that you are building the aquaponics system to grow fresh, organic, healthy vegetables and fish to nourish you and your family. So, do not compromise with cost by not getting good quality materials for your aquaponics fish tank.
Using cheap low-grade aquaponics tanks may end up with you having food tainted with chemicals, hence putting you in a worse-off position in the end.