Indoor Aquaponics System Plans

Aquaponics is becoming more and more popular and many people want to build their own system. Aquaponics integrates fish, plants and microbes into a sustainable and ecologically balanced food production system.


This project will show you how to build your very own system using commonly available components from IKEA and your local hardware store. Anyone can set up their own system in an afternoon and start experiencing the pleasure of building their own little ecosystem!


This is a basic set-up so please do make sure that you follow up with learning how to manage your new system and to look after the fish, the plants and the bacteria.

Japan Aquaponics offers a growing amount of informational guides for anyone who is interested in aquaponics.  Please feel free to read this, and our other guides, and we welcome any questions that you may have.


Japan Aquaponics is a social enterprise set up to develop aquaponics, and particularly to promote its use in Tohoku - one of the areas worst affected by the earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan in March of 2011.


All information and our guides are offered freely - but please consider a donation if you are able.  All donations, and all profits of Japan Aquaponics, are used in projects in Tohoku.

DIY Aquaponics Guides

Step 1


The main frame that you are going to use will be the Antonius frame from IKEA combined with one or two wire baskets and two of the plastic containers. You will use the 50l container for the fish tank at the bottom, and the 25l container for the growbed at the top.


Assemble all Antonius parts based on the accompanying instructions.


Use the wire basket as support for the 25l plastic container for the growbed. It is not strictly necessary for the 50l plastic container fish tank at the bottom if you just put the container on the floor.


The 25 litre plastic container does not fit neatly into the wire basket so it is best to use a pair of pliers to cut out a small section of the wire mesh at each end of the wire basket, as shown here.  The container will then fit snugly (with a little effort!) into the wire basket.


You can also decorate your containers by adding stickers, decals or painting them the colour of your choice. A good UV resistant paint is helpful but make sure that it is only on the outside of the container.



The plumbing for the aquaponics system is not too complicated but we have used a few basic principles to help make the system as efficient as possible. We use a small 600 lph electric submersible pump in one corner of the fish tank which takes the water up to the growbed.


The water then flows through the growbed and exits in the opposite corner to which it entered. As the water then flows back to the fish tank it pushes any solid waste over towards the pump, ready to pulled up into the growbed.



We also use something called a bypass ball valve on this system. This diverts some of the water from the pump straight back into the fish tank. This is so that we can control the amount of water going into the growbed, and the diverted water also creates some water movement in the fish tank as well as additional aeration.


You can see here the red ball-valve which we use to control how much water flows back into the fish tank - and so equally, how much water flows into the growbed above.


In this system we are using 13mm PVC pipes and 16mm PVC pipes. Initially we will start with the growbed.

Step 2 - Preparing the Growbed


First, drill two 21mm holes (or whichever size fits your connectors) in opposite corners in the growbed as shown in the picture.  The holes should be about 6 or 7cm from the edge of the container in each direction.


The bottom of the growbed is slightly ridged - we put the inflow from the fish tank in one of the grooves - and the outflow back to the fish tank is on one of the ridges.  Remember to leave space for the media guard on the outflow.


You may also need to cut the wire mesh basket in order for the plumbing pieces to fit neatly - as shown here.


Place the male adapter through the top of the growbed and then fit a rubber O-ring onto the threads. Then screw the female adapter onto the male adapter until you have a nice snug (and waterproof) fit. You can add some silicone to the bottom if you want to, but it's not strictly necessary. We then use a reducer on top of the male adapter.


This assembly is called the standpipe and this is how the water will exit the growbed. We want the overall height to be about 1 inch under the top of your growbed media, so you will need to cut the pipe down so that it is the right height for you.  You should now let the silicone dry if you have used it.

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