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Aquaponic Process—Construction: Indoor Considerations

Have you thought of putting your aquaponic system in your house? Not only have I thought about it, but I did it; and that’s why I want to share some things to consider before you take the leap and move in with your system

You’re listening to Fish Grow Plants—A podcast all about practicing and sharing the love of aquaponics; hosted by Logan Schoolcraft.

Hello, and welcome to Fish Grow Plants! In today’s episode I’ll be sharing my experience with the Aquaponic Process of Construction, specifically, looking at indoor considerations.

Aquaponics indoors? Really? Yeah!

At least I made a go of it.

The short story is that when I had to change jobs, there was no way the big system I had would be able to go with me, so I started to ponder, plot, plan, and devise ways to get a new setup going in my new location.

Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that I was either going to have to build a greenhouse, or an outbuilding, or just put a small system inside my rental.

Hmmmm….

Since the overhead for all the extra building was something I didn’t want to do while renting, I figured I would just start looking at ways to make a small indoor system work. Needless to say, that meant a whole lot of measuring, pacing, and looking at every room, and doorway with a long, and probably awkward, stare!

But it worked! I was able to get a small system set up that didn’t break the bank, my back, the floor, or anything else in the house! It seemed to being doing so good that I added a second one nearby—and it grew watercress like crazy!

I’ll wrap this story up in a bit, but this feels like a good place to start pointing out some of the key issues you might want to take a look at before you bring aquaponics in your house.

Just like I did, you’ll want to figure out how much space you have available and in what rooms. Also figure in how accessible each possible area is. Tight turns up or down a staircase might not be ideal, but the open end of the sunroom on the sunny side of the house may be. Regardless of where you think an aquaponic system would look good, make sure it functions good. And in this case, that means being able to get all the parts and pieces, especially the big ones, through all the doors and around all the furniture and built-in structures.

As you’re looking for accessibility, also picture the space all lit up; be it sunshine, or artificial light. Sunshine is really hard to beat—and depending on what you grow, you may actually need that direct sunlight. And if that is not possible, you’ll have to figure in not only space for hanging or mounting a light, but also electricity and room to maneuver around it. My best advice is to shoot for sunlight for the sole reason that a hanging light will eventually get in your way, if it doesn’t do it all the time. Don’t get me wrong, artificial light is nice, but sometimes it seems to be more in my way than anything else.

Alright, assuming you have a spot or two picked out for space and lighting, now you need to consider the floor support. Why? Well, remember that water weighs about 8.5 pounds for every gallon! That means if you simply had a 20 gallon fish tank sitting on the floor, it would be holding roughly 170 pounds of water alone! And the kicker is the floor space. Let’s say that aquarium base is 10”x20” on four legs…I’m assuming it’s on a small table. Then each of those legs is holding around 50 pounds, by the time you factor in the table, water, and all the other aquarium parts for a total weight! Those legs will have a very small surface area, so the floor must be strong to hold it up.

Now, there are several ways to make sure your aquarium and/or aquaponic system don’t overload your floor. First is to figure out what type of floor you have, and if possible, learn how much it can support. If your floor is concrete, you probably didn’t have to hear any of this!

Next, is to figure out the total weight of your system and where the weight will be distributed. If your system is a small table top style, you may be fine. But if you’re going with an in-between size, you may want to look at ways to spread the load. That is, maybe layout some bricks or boards to allow your floor to share the load more evenly. This will ensure you don’t put a lot of weight on just a few small points—you wouldn’t want to overload a table by placing several hundred pounds on it knowing that in reality most of the weight is on four small feet. That would be like someone pushing on you with their finger instead of their hand. The pressure matters!

Ok, the last big item to consider and figure out for your possible indoor system is water. First and foremost is the source and quality of your water. This is important regardless of where your system is. Having a good clean source of water doesn’t just mean your fish are happy; it will translate all the way through your crops and into you—so make sure you have the best you can get! There’s specifics to water quality I won’t get into right now, but remember that you want the best quality you can get.

Next, you want to try to budget or account for humidity. An outside system doesn’t even think of this, but it will make a huge difference indoors. I’m not a big wall paper fan, for various reasons, but I’d venture a guess that wall paper might not hold up too well sharing a room with an aquaponic system. I’m in a very dry environment, so the extra humidity was actually quite pleasant in the room. However, this could easily be a problem in a more naturally humid location. So take the time to figure out if this could be an issue.

Extra moisture in the air is hard to account for, but water on the floor is easy. Yep, leaks are the critical water problem for an indoor aquaponic system. This includes overflows, splashes, seeps, and any other action that creates wet spots on the floor. I’ll be honest: this is the reason I removed my system from the spare bedroom—I had a leak! There are a myriad of ways to guard against this, but here are a few of my recommendations:

  • Don’t put your system over carpet
  • Do your best to have a secondary layer of catchment (even if it’s just a sheet of plastic)
  • Stay away from corners in the room
  • Ensure any moving or bubbling water is at least two feet from a wall or window
  • And lastly, be vigilant about how much water you are adding to your system—i.e. you’re not feeding a leak are you?…

As you can guess, water leaks in the house are not a fun thing, so please take plenty of time to really assess how you can mitigate any water issues from turning into water damage.

Ok, what can you do as a take away from this episode?

Easy!

When you get home, take a look around your house, apartment, garage, or any area you feel might be a potential candidate for a nice indoor system. Then ask four questions regarding the topics we just discussed: space, light, weight, and water.

Do I have the appropriate space for an indoor system?

Do I have adequate sunshine, or the ability to supplement with artificial light?

Is my floor strong enough to support the size of system I’m looking into?

And lastly, can I address all water issues, especially leaks, in this location?

That’s it. If you can handle those questions honestly, you’ll know pretty quickly if an indoor aquaponic system is right for you!

Take care and happy aquaponicing!

This has been another episode of Fish Grow Plants—the podcast all about practicing and sharing the love of aquaponics; hosted by Logan Schoolcraft.

https://fishgrowplants.libsyn.com/aquaponic-processconstruction-indoor-considerations