Aquaponics – Fish tank and grow bed container options

I have made a lot of progress on my aquaponics project over the last few weeks, but didn’t get time to blog. So a few backdated blogs are on the way… 🙂

My first challenge is to find appropriate containers that can be used as the fish tank and vegetable grow bed. I have no plans to invest too much money into this project, so need to find cost effective options. I did quite a bit of reading on this and here is a summary of what I learned. Vast majority of home aquaponic setups use IBC tanks or barrels.

IBC Tank (used ones usually don't look nearly as nice) :-)

IBC Tank – used ones are not as nice! 🙂

IBC stands for Intermediary Bulk Container, which is a plastic rectangular tank that typically measures about 3.5-4 Ft. in all three dimensions. It can hold about 1000 liters of water. The plastic is fairly thin, but there is an outer metallic frame that supports the weight and keeps the tank in shape. IBC tanks are used for transporting liquids, mostly chemicals or bulk food ingredients. Used IBC tanks are usually sold fairly cheaply.

Aquaponics in IBC Tank

Aquaponics in IBC Tank (hopefully I’ll replace this picture with my own soon!)

Typically, the top portion (about a foot or foot and a half) of IBC tanks are cut and used as the grow bed container. So, if we buy one tank, that can serve as the fish tank as well as grow bed container.

I never actually have heard about or seen an IBC tank until I started reading about aquaponics. So I presumed it is unlikely to find anything like this in our region, Kochi / Kerala / India.


Blue Barrel

Another common type of container used for aquaponics is barrel. Barrels are generally 3 Ft in height and 2 Ft in diameter, and are mostly seen in blue color. A typical barrel can hold about 200 litres of water.


Growbeds made out of barrels

Barrel can be converted into fish tank by horizontally placing the barrel with an opening on the top facing side. If we cut a barrel vertically (like splitting it), it can be used as two grow beds. We see blue barrels everywhere in our area, used for all kinds of different purposes.

Concrete tank

Concrete fish tanks

Pond with polyethylene liner

Pond with polyethylene lining

In Kerala, backyard fish farmers generally use small ponds with polyethylene lining. Normal concrete tanks and cylindrical concrete tanks (which is a reuse of concrete rings made for constructing wells) are also popular.

I need to find something that is cost effective at the same time not too heavy. I am going to speak with a few fish farmers and agriculture offices in town over the next few days.

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