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How to build an aquaponic pond system

Do you have less space in your garden or yard for incorporating a pond and a vegetable garden? Or, are you interested in setting up an aquaponic system with your fishpond?

Whatever the reason, here I am going to provide some solid information about how to build an aquaponic pond system in some easily manageable steps.

Without further delay, let’s begin crafting a cost-effective aquaponic pond system which is also known as the AP pond system.

Actually, I am going to discuss a system that is a combination of 3 different aquaponic systems. The three systems are- Nutrient Film transfer (NFT), growbed system, and raft system.

Can’t wait to learn everything about this amazing setup? Well, who stops you. Let’s go…

How to build an aquaponic pond system: step-by-step procedure

  1. Getting different-sized PVC pipes

    You need to make the water flowing cycle to complete the whole process of the aquaponic system and the pipes will play a big role in this process. You need 1- inch diameter pipes to connect the Swirl Filter to the submersible pump and other short length water connections like NFT to growbed, growbed to raft system, etc.

    For draining out water from the raft system, you should use 2-inch or 1.5-inch PVC pipes. Also, you need to use 4-inch diameter Big PVC pipes for the Nutrient Film Technique. And, depending on your Net-cup types, you have to drill holes on the 4-inch wide pipes to fit them properly.

  2. Preparing the growbed

    You can use a plastic container, concrete build mini-pool, or an unused bathtub (I’ve mentioned earlier) to make a growbed. As the growbed will have a lot of weight and it should stay at a higher position compared to the raft system, it should be upheld by the support of the concrete blocks.

    Now, fill the growbed with small to medium-sized gravels and add plants on the top parts of the growbed. You must ensure that the growbed gets fed from the top and drains at the bottom. The depth of the growbed should be at least 40-30 cm.

    Finally, place the bell siphon properly in the growbed. A Bell siphon will drain your growbed efficiently without using a timer to run the pump. It also helps the growbed to drain faster resulting in more aeration.

  3. Preparing the raft system

    As the raft system will always remain filled with water and plant roots will always stay in the water, you need to have the air pump connected with the raft system. The pump will supply oxygen into the water all the time to prevent root-rot issues.

    Take the container that you are going to use as a raft container and make three holes inside it to let the air and water come in and water goes out. Make sure that you have drill holes on the top part of the container.

    Cut the polystyrene board and make it suitable to fit inside the raft container and maintain easy water flow. Now, get a 2-inch drill bit hole saw and make some evenly spaced 2-inch holes in the foam board. Keep at least 4-6 inches of gap between each hole and keep the holes at least 5-inch far from each corner.

    At last, insert the Net-cups into the holes and install all the pipes in the drilled holes.

  4. Structure and mechanism of the swirl filter

    The swirl filter is an essential part of the aquaponic system which is attached to the submersible pump and efficiently filters the pond’s waste for supplying nutrients rich freshwater. It ensures that the plants placed in the growbed and raft system get the maximum benefit from the pond water.

    The Swirl filter is built using 2 barrels where a small barrel is fixed inside the large barrel. In this setting, the 1-inch PVC pipe that comes from the submersible filter is attached to the big barrel and the outgoing pipe is connected to the small barrel.

    As a result, fish and pond waste stay at the bottom of the big barrel, and nutrients rich water goes out to feed the plants.

  5. Securely connect every compartment

    It’s time to connect all 3 three aquaponics models and complete the cycle to begin this innovative system. Insert PVC pipes securely inside their pre-drilled holes and attach them perfectly with glue or connectors.

    After that, add suitable plants in every system and turn the pumps on.

    In a few minutes, you will notice that water starts moving. Check the PVC pipe that comes from the raft system into the pond to ensure that water is flowing flawlessly.

    Congratulations! Now, you have successfully learned to install a fantastic aquaponic pond system.


  • Vegetable plants — leafy lettuce, pak Choi, Swiss chard, kale, radishes, etc. work well in this system
  • Fish — koi, catfish and tilapia work well in this system
  • Water
  • Gravel


  • Drill
  • 2-inch hole-saw drill bit

Materials: PVC pipes (having different diameter), a growbed (you can use an unused bathtub), a water container for the raft system, polystyrene or foam board, Net-cups, an air pump, a submersible pump, a swirl filter, and a bell siphon.

Handy Tips

  1. More water in the system will make it more stable
  2. It is best to start the building process from the drain of the raft system and go backward.
  3. Make sure that you have purchased the best quality PVC pipes, or you may face water leakage problems after a few months.
  4. The minimum height of the growbed and raft system should be 30 cm.
  5. Koi, catfish, Tilapia works well with this kind of system
  6. Leafy lettuce, pak choi, swiss chard, kale, radish plants, etc plants are good for this kind of system

Final words

An aquaponic system makes your pond more productive and helps you to enjoy a fast-growing vegetable garden.

I believe, this step-by-step process of how to build an aquaponic pond will assist you in designing a simple system with less effort. If you find any problems during the installation, feel free to ask questions in the comment section.

Good luck!

About the author

Hi, this is Anne Thynne. Not the famous marine biologist but I love the fact that we both share a common interest. I have been keeping fish in aquariums since my childhood. Back in 2007, I was introduced with the amazing world of aquascaping and reef keeping. Underwater ecosystem fascinates me.


Dr Kelly Wade

Hi! I’m a full-funnel marketing specialist and my mission is to build a better tomorrow by helping organisations that solve crucial problems, efficiently generate sustainable growth with strategic marketing assets that attract, nurture, convert and retain the target market.

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