Backyard Aquaponics (Barrel Systems)


Many definitions of aquaponics recognize the ‘ponics’ part of this word for hydroponics which is growing plants in water with a soil-less media.  Hydroponics is its own growing method with pros and cons (discussed later).

Literally speaking, Aquaponics is putting fish to work. It just so happens that the work those fish do (eating and producing waste), is the perfect fertilizer for growing plants. And man,  fish can grow a lot of plants when they get to work!

One of the coolest things about Aquaponics is that it mimics a natural ecosystem. Aquaponics represents the relationship between water, aquatic life, bacteria, nutrient dynamics, and plants which grow together in waterways all over the world. Taking cues from nature, aquaponics harnesses the power of bio-integrating these individual components:  Exchanging the waste by-product from the fish as a food for the bacteria, to be converted into a perfect fertilizer for the plants, to return the water in a clean and safe form to the fish. Just like mother nature does in every aquatic ecosystem.


Have you been interested in aquaponics but were hesitant to invest a lot of money? Did you want to explore aquaponics but only lacked the yard space to install a sizable system? This is the ideal chance to try out aquaponics for very little money thanks to a simple barrel system that you can build yourself.

At Backyard Aquaponics, we’ve always aimed to offer as much information as we can to encourage individuals to start aquaponic gardens of their own. Someone recently stated that he was building a barrel system while visiting our display center, but he made it clear that it wasn’t an identical replica of one of our systems. Sue emphasized to him that whether you purchase a system or kit from us or create one that is a replica, we want people to construct simple systems that operate and can fit into their lifestyles, budgets, and available spaces. Excellent; it’s always encouraging to see people embrace aquaponics in any way they can.

Backyard Aquaponics (Barrel Systems)


Under the system were half barrels to grow worms, that would help to substitute the fish feed. The plan being that the duckweed from the yabby tanks would be feed for the fish in the buried IBC, along with worms from the worm bins. I’d still need to supplement the feed with pellets because as I take food out of the system to eat, the minerals and nutrients need to be replaced. The system was starting to do reasonably well, however it was about this time that I opened the Backyard Aquaponics display centre and when you’re open 6-7 days a week there’s just no time to keep all of your systems at home going.

This brings us to more recent events at Backyard Aquaponics. Nat works for us here at the display center, and because he only has a little balcony at his apartment, he is limited to extremely small aquaponic systems, which is how he got started with barrels. The ideal recipe for coming up with brilliant ideas. We have an abundance of barrels, fittings, tools, and space, and he has a creative mind and an interest in barrel systems, so let the games begin.



These are only a handful of the attempts to see what can be done with only barrels to construct a system. We want to test things thoroughly before recommending them to anyone else, therefore this is the back section where Nat may test various parts to ensure the designs are up to the task.

We currently sell two distinct barrel kit systems, the i-barrel and the T-barrel, and they’ve proven unexpectedly popular; we’ve sold over a dozen T-barrel systems in less than 6 months. So, in keeping with our goal in sharing as much knowledge as possible and assisting people to get into aquaponics in any way they can, we’ve created a set of instructions for building the modest single barrel aquaponics system.


Soon, we’ll add T-barrel instructions to the website, but for now, check out our step-by-step directions on how to build the single barrel system; it’s a terrific weekend project that takes up very little room and costs very little.