The materials necessary to start an aquaponics system include plant growing boxes (with hose connection), one water pump, light expanded clay, and one air pump with hose and diffuser. A 50-to-100-liter aquarium and pea-sized gravel are also necessary.
The first and most important step in starting an aquaponics system is developing grow beds. To do this, add grow media, such as pea-sized gravel or light expanded clay, to plant boxes, and distribute it evenly.
Add water to the aquarium. When using tap water, use an aerator and pump to aid in removing any chemicals, such as chlorine. Typically, it takes three to seven days for complete removal of any lingering chemicals. Using a chlorine remover produces a quicker result.
Next, add plants to the grow beds by digging a small hole 2 inches deep in the grow media. Place the plant gently in the hole, and cover it back up at the root or stem. Test to measure the Ph balance.
Add a small amount of ammonia to the aquarium water. Perform a test every few days to measure the level of ammonia and nitrate. One to two weeks later, the ammonia and nitrate should no longer be present in the system, and the tank is ready for the addition of fish.