“How IBC tanks make tomatoes from the aquarium possible”
Tomatoes from the DIY Aquaponics Fish Fank – this topic is likely to raise questioning glances from many people. The thought is not that far-fetched. The aquaponics process, developed in the United States in 1985, makes it possible and combines tomato and fish farming. Within a circulatory system, fish ensure that the plants have an optimal nutrient content and, conversely, receive good water quality. The technology behind it is simple and with the help of an IBC tank (Intermediate Bulk Container) you can build an aquaponics system yourself.
Briefly explained: The basic principle of an aquaponics system
Tomatoes and fish do not only go well together on the menu. A symbiosis can already be created during rearing. The composition aquaponics is derived from the terms aquaculture and hydroponics. While the latter refers to the cultivation of plants in inorganic substrates, aquaculture is the cultivation of fish in open containers. Thanks to their design and their large capacity, IBCs are suitable for giving fish sufficient living space. The movement of water, which supplies oxygen and removes excretions, is particularly important for living beings.
The basic principle of the system is that algae and fish deposits are fed to plants that use bacterial cultures to clean the returning water. The fish farm receives excrement-free water.
Do-it-yourself construction offers these advantages
- productive fish and plant breeding in a circulatory system
- cost-effective building with IBCs
- low water requirement
- no additional fertilizer
- The system is always expandable
Natural cycle promotes plant growth
If you are now thinking of building an aquaponics system yourself, you are choosing an ecologically valuable route. Tomatoes, cucumbers, salads and fish are available in almost every supermarket. However, if you question the path from rearing to the end product on the shelf, one thing quickly becomes clear: production and transport require a high level of logistical effort, which has a strong impact on the environment. This business is only profitable if as many products as possible reach the consumer.
While seas and lakes all over the world are being fished for nothing, a number of tools are required for successful vegetable cultivation. This includes enormous water consumption. The use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides also increase the yield.
The procedures also influence the subsequent quality and taste.
Owners of one or more IBC tanks can counteract these developments and create a natural cycle. This not only saves resources, but also promotes the quality of the products. How such a system can be built with simple means is explained below.
For beginners: How to DIY Aquaponics Fish Fank
Since IBC containers have been used in the industrial sector for many years, there is a high inventory. Used IBC tanks are already available at a low entry-level price and can be functionally expanded with the appropriate IBC container accessories . Anyone who buys used should ensure the suitability of the tank.
The fish and vegetable farmer is playing it safe with new IBC containers . This way you can build a self-made aquaponics system with medium effort and a few accessories. The ideal location is a greenhouse, as tomatoes and other plants receive the best conditions here.
A planting bed and the water tank required for the fish can be created from a single tank.
There are numerous possibilities to build the desired system with it. The following method is certainly not a step-by-step guide, it only illustrates a basic entry-level method for plant construction.
IBC lid as a plant bed
To get the two required parts, the upper part of the water tank must be cut off with a jigsaw or similar. For hydroponics (e.g. expanded clay), a height of around 25 centimeters is sufficient. The filling opening pointing downwards should ideally be provided with a lid filter so that the substrate is not rinsed out. From there, after completion, a suitable pipe runs back to the lower tank or into further beds or containers, where the circulation pump is located.
A separately used base provides the plant bed with a raised stand with the comfort of a raised bed; which at the same time promotes water drainage. Another alternative is to install a suction set for an external pump.
Raise fish in the container
The heart of the self-made aquaponics is the IBC container, which as a standard version still holds a good 1000 liters for irrigation technology including fish farming. The stopcock can be replaced by a hose adapter that ensures the water return.
Threaded and compression fittings round off the portfolio, which enables the installation of additional inlets and outlets. Here, too, the installation of filters ensures the necessary water quality and holds back larger particles.
The right fish
The type of fish has a considerable influence on the later yield. Tilapia, which belong to the cichlid family, are suitable for rearing. The colloquial name “tomato fish” arose from research, as it has ideal conditions for unproblematic breeding in an aquaponics system. Tilapia are robust and mature after a short time. They spawn comparatively frequently and thus secure their own population. In addition, they get by without separately fed feed, because plant residues are sufficient for them to eat.
Alternatively, African predatory catfish are also suitable for breeding in IBC containers. Due to their high content of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, they are, like tomato fish, suitable for use as food fish. The biggest challenge in fish farming is the water temperature, because both types are warm water fish.
Temper the water correctly
The temperatures in the tank should always be adapted to the habits of the fish. For the rearing of warm water fish, these are between 25 ° and 34 ° Celsius. In the summer months, if the right location in the greenhouse is chosen, a water tank heats up quickly and reaches ideal temperatures.
However, this should be guaranteed all year round so that fish farming is successful in the long term. In addition, fish and plants benefit from constant water temperatures. In view of the filling volume, conventional aquarium heaters are usually not sufficient for this.
A container heater specially developed for IBC tanks can help solve the problem. It ensures tropical water temperatures even on cold winter days, so that the operation of the system is not seasonally limited. Alternatively, there is still the option to cultivate the fish indoors between October and April. However, care should be taken to lower the water level of the aquaponics system so that frost cannot cause any damage. IBC tanks are relatively resistant to weather influences, but this does not necessarily apply to all components of the irrigation system.
Conclusion: Do-it-yourself aquaponics
It is always worth trying to combine aqua and hydroponics. Such systems have been running successfully in many countries for years. However, Germany is still in its infancy in aquaponics.
For those who like to grow tomatoes, chilli, salads or peppers and who also appreciate a healthy diet with edible fish, the aquaponics process offers an extremely efficient alternative to conventional cultivation.
Cultivation, maintenance and, above all, the control of the system are part of the daily routine and should of course give pleasure to the hobby aquaponist. Anyone who builds with fun, continues their education and has a little feeling for vegetables and fish can look forward to a high yield density in the long term and save costs and travel in the process.
Best List Aquarium Size for Freshwater
Below is our list of recommended Best Freshwater Aquariums, you can refer to the largest samples for fish to grow and develop well.