How to Build a solar powered IBC tote Aquaponics System CHEAP and EASY!

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Transcription of: Solar Powered Aquaponics YouTube video… by: The Urban Farming Guys


That’s how goats love each other! Give him a bonk.

He’s been bonked enough where he knows..

Baby dotes!

Urban farmer since day one!

Today, we’re going to show you how to go off-grid with your aquaponics, to make an IBC tote aquaponics system, powered by the sun for under $400. This is scalable. This one will at least be 200-gallons when we’re done with it.

We’re here with Alex, who’s going to help us demonstrate just how easy this is. First, you’ll need to obtain a food-grade, 275-gallon IBC tote. Get this off Craig’s list, anywhere between $25-100, food-grade being very important. You’ll need to find out what was in it. Next, you’ll need to remove that top bracket on the top of your IBC tote.

So, what are we doing next? Alright, we’re going to flip this over and we’re going to pull out the plastic so we can measure and cut out how deep we want our grow bed and then the outer rack to support that grow bed. Now that we have the plastic and the metal cage separated, we can cut the metal without cutting the plastic and we’ll have a better product in the end.

Alright, we are going to take this bottom bracket and we’re going to cut right above this bottom rung. So, that will be the top and we’ll flip the cage over and that will be the frame for the bottom to sit on. Okay, so, after you make your cuts, take your rack off and 180 degrees you take your bottom and now that is your top for your grow bed.

So, what are we doing here? Alright, since our grow bed doesn’t need to be that deep, we only need eight inches or so. We’re using our frame as a jig and we’re just going to make our cut line all the way across. So, we’re just going to cut the top off right now and then flip it over for the grow bed. Like a glove. That’s it, right there, stackable aquaponics.

Alright, we’re going to be using a flood and drain system on this IBC tote, where the pump is going to be pumping in more water than this drain can drain. So, it’s going to be draining slower than it fills on the low side. So, the water will fill up over the top of this drain and then there’s going to be another stand pipe next to it that goes up to this level. But, once it hits this level, it starts draining faster then. So, we have to install these two pipes into our grow bed. We’re going to cut through the metal and then use a hole saw to cut through the plastic.

Um, can I get up here for a minute? Why? So, I can see your plants. Can I screw these together now? Can I screw these all the way together?

First thing we’re going to do, is drill two holes with this hole saw, which is just a little bit bigger than this drain pipe. We drilled two holes here with the hole saw. We just did that here and here. Then, there’s a little rubber gasket here. These are $5 fittings, $10 for the set. You get them at a local hydroponic shop or online somewhere. So, you just slide this in here and go down underneath, tighten that up, tight as you can get it with your hands. And, you notice, you have two drains. One drains at the floor, the other one drains up high. And you can make these even taller: you can unscrew this, add a link, and then screw these in up top here.

This is perfect aquaponics music. Right? You like it? Yeah.

Hey, buddy! You going swimming? Yes! You are!

Alright, our solar-powered aquaponics system is being powered by this solar panel unit right here. We have it turned away from the sun for demonstration purposes. I’m going to show you just how simple this is. The solar unit is this. This plugs into a charge controller, this controls your charge. This is hooked to the battery right here. Now, this, is hooked to your inverter. Here is the inverter. I have the timer for the aquaponics to fill and drain and the inverter. Now, you’re plugged in just like regular electricity. This turns the DC to AC and powers the whole thing. And these are your solar panels right here.

We were able to power this all day and all night. We have more than double the amount of solar capacity, in comparison to the wattage of our pump. We have a small pump in here.
What are you doing, Titus? I’m trying to get a fish. Good job! Can I put it up there? Okay, you get it. Thank you. My new one, ha! You got one! Good job! He’s getting better at this. Look at that-first try!

Tell me about your invention. You hold the apple with a zip tie and a rubber band and if you want a bite, what do you do–Swing it up to your face? Just like that? Let’s walk around with it.

19 Responses to “SOLAR AQUAPONICS DIY”

  1. Aaron Wellendorf says:

    What pump did you use?

  2. Don says:

    I like what you guys and girls are trying to do with sustainability but you are promoting animal (fish) torture by putting so many fish in a confined space living on top of one another. That is not cool or good karma.  

    • Addum Cable says:

      how is it torture?  have you sworn off eating eggs, chicken, beef etc?

      • seriously… also, I’m trying to figure out which is a bigger problem: a crowded fish tank or a starving lower class?

        • Tamar Alexis Minatta says:

          Ultimately we shouldn’t HAVE to crowd fish tanks to feed starving families, and eventually we should find a way to mediate, but I definitely understand the elevated importance of feeding the starving people. Both sides are right, and we should work to make a resolution where both sides are happy. :3

  3. Ian Cowie says:

    Thank you guys for your website.  I am very excited about my aquaponic project!  I have found a seller on Craiglist for 275 gallon food grade Totes.  One question.  He is selling two types of of containers.  1 for $120 that had Liquid Organic Fertilizer.  The second for $200 that he calms is food grade tank.  Should i go with the $120 container?  Can i clean the container so it is safe for my fish and plants?

    • markthebrusher says:

      there are distributors for used totes that are far cheaper than those.  60 dollars for large totes in Russell springs Ky. ph. # 270 566 8730 and they deliver and have barrels also for 8 and 10 dollars.  quantity discounts also on large orders.

  4. John-David Longwell says:

    Looks like a great system.  Wondering if you operate it in the winter time and what special procedures/process you use when the temperatures drop.  Thx!

  5. Tolderian says:

     I got my totes here in GA for $35 a piece. I don’t know what they’d cost to ship but they don’t seem terribly heavy. If that’s helpful. Food grade. Had sunflower oil in it.

  6. psalm24_8 says:

    After asking local farmers and at the co-op, I found food grade 275’s at the closest chicken feed co-op for free. It’s actually a chore for them to get rid of them, and only carried ingredients for the feed so I hauled away four for my project. Also, using Travis Hughey’s recommendations (barrel-ponics designer) I found direct drive, centrifugal marine pumps by Cal-Marine that were used for commercial fountains. They’re 115 or 230 volt but they start at 140 gph @ 9′ for $119.95 on flagshipmarine.com/marinepumps.html. Hope that helps someone.

  7. Rory Kennedy says:

    I don’t understand how this is scale-able. If I made one of these and one day decided to add another 100 gallons of plant beds what would I do? I’ve looked into adding 55 gallon barrels but when the first bed starts to siphon into the barrels it would flush them out. Any suggestions?

  8. Chia Olin says:

    awesome video, thanks for sharing. I reccomend looking into the 5 watt solar powered air lift pump for LEAP low energy aquaponics.

  9. Keith Jones says:

    everybody okay over there… I haven’t seen a post in a while… or like, this year. 🙂

    I hope everybody is doing well. God bless.

  10. Love it fellas!! I had given up on you guys about a year ago or so, but just checked back and a few new posts!! Great stuff!

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