Make A Mini Aquaponic System | Homesteading Guide To Hydroponics

Want to learn how to make an aquaponic system? Aquaponics is proving to be a popular trend so get your feet wet with aquaculture with this easy tutorial.

Make Your Own Indoor Garden Using Aquaponics

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Want a quick afternoon project that’s both fun and productive? This little uses stuff you probably already have lying around, and it’s a fantastic, green way to make sure you always have around for cooking. Or you can do what I did, and just use it to grow ornamental ivy for a classy (and slightly nerdy) conversation starter.

And if you’re the kind of person who gets nervous about keeping a thirsty plant alive, don’t worry. This is, and it’s about as close as you can get to a self-sufficient garden for less than ten bucks. Aquaponics is like Hydroponics, but with a symbiotic twist! It’s basically a closed loop between a small fish tank and a living plant. That means this project is also a perfect way to teach your kids about ecosystems—without the mosquitoes!

One more quick note about this project before we get started: My supplies were basically what I had lying around the house or what I picked up at a thrift store (for example, the water pump came from a $3 fountain at Goodwill). Nearly everything can be switched out with something else, so get creative! Isn’t that what makes it fun?

Here’s What You’ll Need To Make Your Own Mini Aquaponic Unit:


  • Flower pot (about 6 1/4” tall)
  • Coffee pot
  • Small water pump
  • Aquarium tubing
  • Wooden box (for the base)
  • 14” knitting needle
  • 7” length of ½” PCV
  • 2 ½” length of ½” PVC
  • ½” PVC elbow attachment
  • Block of wood
  • Bits and pieces


  • Hacksaw
  • Drill
  • Superglue
  • PVC cement (optional)

Step 1:

Step 1: Unscrew The Coffee Pot Handle | Make A Mini Aquaponic System | Homesteading Guide To Hydroponics

Take the handle off the coffee pot by looking for a screw near the base. Unscrewing that should loosen the metal ring that goes around the pot, allowing you to slide the whole assembly off. Keep the metal ring.

Step 1: Squeeze The Wide End Of The Knitting Needle | Make A Mini Aquaponic System | Homesteading Guide To Hydroponics

Step 1: Squeeze The Wide End Of The Knitting Needle | Make A Mini Aquaponic System | Homesteading Guide To Hydroponics Want more homesteading tricks, tips and tidbits? Click here to sign up NOW! We'll even throw in some FREE Survival Seeds Playing Cards!

Now take a pair of pliers and jimmy off the end cap on the knitting needle. Once it’s off, squeeze the wide end of the knitting needle flat with the pliers.

Step 2:

Step 2: Brace The Pot | Make A Mini Aquaponic System | Homesteading Guide To Hydroponics

Step 2: Brace The Pot | Make A Mini Aquaponic System | Homesteading Guide To Hydroponics

We’re going to use the metal ring from the coffee pot as a brace for the flower pot. Depending on the size of the flower pot, it should sit just a little bit under the rim of the pot when you slide it up from the bottom.

With the flattened end up, slide the knitting needle between the flower pot and the metal brace. Tighten the screw just enough to see where it sits on the needle. Using either an electric drill or a hammer and nail, put a small hole in the knitting needle. It should be large enough for the tip of the screw to go in, but not big enough that the screw slides freely in and out. When you tighten the screw, it should press the knitting needle to the flower pot and give you a relatively secure “handle” for the pot.

Step 3:

Step 3: Drill A Hole | Make A Mini Aquaponic System | Homesteading Guide To Hydroponics

Step 3: Drill A Hole | Make A Mini Aquaponic System | Homesteading Guide To Hydroponics

Drill a hole in the wooden box that’s large enough for the knitting needle to easily slide through. I messed up the first one, which is why there are two holes in the picture, but you only need one. The box I’m using is one of those old file card storage things with the drawers removed ($1 at Goodwill). You can use anything similar, and something that’s a bit smaller might actually look nicer.

Now slide the bottom of the knitting needle into the hole, and place the coffee pot underneath the flower pot, which should be held in the air by the knitting needle. Look at the picture below for a better reference. This is how the main parts are going to fit together, so make sure everything’s where you want it to be.

The knitting needle should be pretty much straight up and down, which is going to give the flower pot a slight forward lean. That’s what we want. Make sure the hole in the bottom of the flower pot is completely above the coffee pot—that’s where water will drip down. Also, the flower pot should touch the rim of the coffee pot, but it shouldn’t rest too heavily on it….

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It will cost you thousands to purchase a pre-made aquaponics system, and to many people including myself, that is a serious amount of cash to spend. Luckily, since aquaponics is an easy-to-imitate ecosystem, making your own will allow you save money and worry less about it working, because it will. So make your mini aquaponic system and enjoy aquaculture in your homestead now!

Are you an aquaponic gardening fan too? It is seriously such an awesome way to save water and time! How do you use aquaponics or hydroponics systems in your life? We’d love to know! Let us know in the comments section below.

Want another great DIY for your homestead? Check out this DIY Rainwater Collection System For Homesteaders. No more rainwater going to waste ever again!


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This post was originally published in May 2015 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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