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 we’re discussing the aquaponic process of construction; specifically, tools and hardware that’ll help you get your system up and running.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only one with that distantly related aunt-type relative who insists upon all her kitchen wares matching. You know, the plates, bowls, and cups all have the same pattern, come from the same company, etc. Wow! It does look nice, but man, does keeping all that stuff the same get old to anyone else but me?
I can laugh, sort of, because when I was a teenager, that’s how I thought about tools! In my head, I was going to have all the same tool brand, like Craftsman, and fill out my toolbox with the same brand. You know—keep the look and have all the functionality as well.
That lasted about two seconds when I actually had to start buying my own tools and the shock I experienced when I found out what complete sets cost and how much matching everything would cost. Needless to say, I’m quite content with a menagerie of types, brands, looks, and even conditions.
What matters most to me now is having the tools that will do the job, and that’s just what I want to share with you today.
So, let’s start with tools. You’ll need tools regardless of how you’re bringing life to your system. If you’re doing a DIY system, then you will definitely need tools. But if you’re buying a kit, you’re still going to need tools. Sorry, I don’t know of any IKEA-type aquaponic kit that does not require tools to assemble or adjust before it works the way you want it too. So, what are the most common, generic, basic set of tools to get you up and going with your system? Well, as a start, I’d list the following off as the basics to get you going:
- Hand saw
- Screw drivers
- Adjustable pliers
- Adjustable wrench (or a wrench set/socket set)
- Razor blade/box cutter
- Sharpie marker
- Drill bits and hole saws
- Tape measure
Ok, for some of you, you might think that list is way too long! And some of you might think it’s not near long enough. Both of you would be right. I mean, what’s the purpose of a hand-saw if you bought a kit with everything already cut to fit? And where is the circular saw listed for those of you doing your own DIY system? All valid points.
The list above is what I would want personally, if I didn’t know what type of system I was going to help someone assemble.
In this list of tools, I have the ability to cut with several tools, mark/indicate on materials, grab, twist, measure, move, and inspect. Not a bad list of abilities from only 12 tools.
Remember, life is like adult diapers in a lot of ways, it depends. And here, your tool set will ultimately depend on the work you are doing. But the list above provides you a starting ground for getting started and having a wide range of capabilities available to you.
Ok, tools aren’t the only thing you’ll need to get your system assembled, so let’s talk a bit about hardware here. The literal nuts, bolts, and screws, if you will. Again, even with a kit, you’re going to need hardware to get things up and running the way you want them. As a bonus, having some of this stuff around comes in handy when you run into issues down the road.
For a basic hardware list, or kit, I would suggest the following:
- Teflon tape/pipe sealant
- Nylon cord
- Tubing and pipe
- Mesh and shade cloth
- Tape, Velcro, cable ties
- Hose clamps
- Vise-type clamps
This short list of materials will allow you to hold, secure, protect, contain, and restrain a wide variety of things. In my head, it allows you to get your pluming assembled, adjust and secure minor attachments and fix tiny leaks, or water related issues. And the paint will help it all have the same look.
A special note on buckets—they are a lifesaver! Do not underestimate the value of these simple containers. They can hold overflow water, provide a temporary fish tank, help move bulky materials, and even provide a place to sit when you forget to bring a chair! Probably my most valuable hardware item (unless I use it as a tool!).
Alright, my preferences aside, here is a concrete action item for you to do today before we go.
When you get a chance, take a look at all the tools and hardware items you already have in your possession. Check any place you might keep them: the house, the car, the garage, or the friends house who last borrowed them.
Tally up what you have. My guess is you won’t have everything, but you’ll probably have at least a few of the critical ones.
If you have them all, or most of them, celebrate!
If you only have one or two, start looking around for ways to get the rest. Like I mentioned, the condition, shape, and color of the parts and pieces don’t really matter. What does matter is how well it does it job. So if you can find a used screwdriver in good shape, take it! If you have to buy a roll of Velcro, great! Just start making progress on these short lists, so you’ll know you at least have the basics covered when you start to get your system up and running.
If you start now, and only do two or three a week, you’ll have everything you need in no time. And constructing or assembling your aquaponic system will be a lot easier!
This has been another episode of Fish Grow Plants—the podcast all about practicing and sharing the love of aquaponics; hosted by Logan Schoolcraft.