Building an Indoor Plant Tank for Aquaponics

Aquaponic systems need a fish tank and a separate plant tank. I had to choose between buying an existing, prefabricated tank or building my own custom tank. I couldn’t find an existing one that would fit into the space available for the system so I’m building my own. If the plant tank has the same dimensions as the aquarium the whole system will fit nicely into the corner, where it’s supposed to be installed. This means that the plant tank will be 130 cm (4′ 3″) x 50 cm (20″) and only the half the depth of the aquarium or fish tank, namely 20 cm (8″).

I went to the local DIY shop and was pleasantly surprised to find out that they would cut wooden boards into any dimensions that I wanted. I chose 16 mm (0.62″) MDF boards for the plant tank:

The plan is to assemble a box from these pieces and line it with plastic to form a tank.

The plant tank needs to be placed above the fish tank in order to have a natural flow of water from the plant tank back into the fish tank. The top of the fish tank is already 110 cm (3’7″) above ground so I’ll have to install the plant tank even higher. In a larger system you could use a garden pond as fish tank and the plant tank would be closer to the ground, almost like a raised bed, but since we’re using an indoor aquarium as fish tank I’m going to build a kind of table to put the plant tank on. For that I’ll need some studs and planks:

Hopefully the studs are thick enough to hold up the weight of 163 liters (43 gallons) of water. The dimension are 94 mm x 44 mm (3.7″ x 1.7″) for studs and 95 mm x 19 mm (3.7″ x 0.7″) for planks. The planks will be mounted on the sides to reinforce the table so that it won’t collapse under the weight.

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