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Deep Water Culture and Aquaponics Combined

Deep Water Culture and Aquaponics Compbined

I just stumbled across this absolutely amazing system that has both deep water culture and aquaponics combined! The Biogarden is a novel hydroponics growing system. It is a durable, modifiable and supports a variety of soilless growing techniques including DWC deep water culture, aquaponics, vertical farming and soilless aggregate growing.How dwc aquaculture works

Deep Water Culture and Aquaponics

For a detailed explanation of how deep water culture works, please refer to my article on DWC Techniques. Basically, DWC systems are one of the simplest and most popular methods of hydroponic gardening today. In DWC, the plants’ roots literally dangle straight into the nutrient rich water. This water is kept aerated using an air stone to bubble plenty of oxygen into the water to keep the roots well aerated.

I’ve also discussed Aquaponics in depth in Indoor Aquaponics Systems. Aquaponics is a sustainable method of raising both fish and vegetables. Aquaponics is a form of agriculture (aquaculture) that combines raising fish in tanks with soilless plant culture (hydroponics). In aquaponics, the nutrient-rich water from raising fish provides a natural fertilizer for the plants and the plants help to purify the water for the fish. Aquaponics can be used to sustainably raise fresh fish and vegetables for a family, to feed a village or to generate profit in a commercial farming venture, year around, in any climate.

But what if you had a system that could do both? Wouldn’t it be perfect? I think it would be! Enter the Biogarden.

The Biogarden is a novel hydroponics growing system. It is a durable, modifiable and supports a variety of soilless growing techniques including DWC deep water culture, aquaponics, vertical farming and soilless aggregate growing. You set it up and grow as you wish using one or a combination of methods for spectacular growth.

How the Biogarden Works

Two layer biogarden
The concave shaped trough wedges the raft into place so that as the water level rises and falls when using the module for deep water culture. An air layer is created at the upper root zone. With each rise and fall in water level nutrients, oxygen and hydration are provided to the microbes on the roots. With aggregate beds, the concavity assures full drainage of media between flooding cycles.

When using these deep water systems for plants, fish or both, vertical stacking is a practical way to double space utilization indoors or in a greenhouse. With the Biogarden, canopy frames support stacking beds, adding shade cloth and light fixtures. Lights can even be placed between levels of grow beds.

When growing plants and fish together, tanks below the beds optimize space use and adds the benefit of modularity which means that varying plants, nutrients and techniques may all be featured within one greenhouse growing area. The Biogarden supports all growing methods and is customizable in height and length. This gives indoor growing and greenhouse operations more options for optimization. You can put fish in the bottom tanks for aquaponics or just nutrient rich water for hydroponics. The top units are for the plants. You can use a variety of methods here – fill them with hydroton for an ebb and flow system or float rafts of Styrofoam for deep water culture.DWC Aquaponics close-up with roots

Sustainability in agriculture means that the systems are accessible to everyone, affordable, scalable and good for the environment. Biogarden ranges in sizes from 3′ in width to as long as 100′ in length. With DIY BIogarden options growers can choose any range of size and configuration possible

Pro’s:

  1. Supports organic environment
  2. No mechanical aeration costs
  3. On off pump and gravity flow reduces water movement costs
  4. No salt buildup from minerals
  5. Supports variety of small or large plants.
  6. Water transfer from one end to the other with each cycle ensures steady water exchanged.
  7. May be used to raise other aquatics including spirulina, duckweed, filter feeding fish and crustaceans.
  8. Supports organic hydroponics (and inorganic chem based) growing
  9. Waist height grow beds for easy handling
  10. Stackable for multiple vertical grow levels
  11. Optional tank below for fish or closed modular nutrient cycling
  12. HDPE food grade, carbon black troughs are stable and have minimal plastic leaching

Con’s:

  1. More water must be maintained will require higher amount of nutrient inputs to reach appropriate nutrient concentrations. To me, this may be a con if you are using the lower tanks for nutrients but it also means you don’t have to refill them as often. Also, if you are going for aquaponics, it allows you to grow larger food fish – Yummy!

What can be grown?

Lettuces, herbs and other fast growing plants do well in deep water trays. Trays holding 2″ net cups are suspended over the water which ebbs and flows below. This is a very low energy process with no bubblers or mechanical aeration required.

Tomatoes, cucumbers and hemp farming are becoming more and more mainstream. The Biogarden aggregate beds are stable, never require soil replacement and support heavy feeding vegetation, flowering and fruiting.Salad greens growing in Deep Water Culture/Aquaponics System

Flowers and seedlings are a big business in small and large scale agriculture. Direct sow seeds in aggregate beds and enjoy a bouquet of flowers throughout the growing season.

Microgreens are a favorite among chef’s and restaurants with specialty menus. They are fast growing (12-45 days) and valuable. They are simply sheered from the base of the grow trays and sold in clam trays or in bulk bags. Growers can earn 10-$30/sf per month with most microgreens. Microgreens are nutritious, herbaceous and delicious.

Crawfish and shrimp are filter feeders. They thrive on duckweed and suspended nutrients within organic liquid feeds. Giant Australian Red Claw crawfish grow fast, reproduce steadily and are fun to raise and also profitable. The large aquaponics tanks can also grow whatever kind of food fish that sell well in your area.

Three of their systems are available through Amazon in different sizes to fit your space and needs. Please note that all of these are the main systems and it is up to you to customize as per your growing preference so there will be other things you will need to buy as per your preference.

Please note that this site is supported by affiliate marketing which means that a small portion will be paid to maintain this site from any purchases made through it. This in no way affects the price of the products on this page.

Biogarden 3/2 Single – Hydroponics System/Aquaponics System | A DWC Hydroponics Kit with Aquaponics Fish Tank | Use as DWC with Trays or Hydroponic Grow | Tank Vol 22 Gal; Grow Area 4.5 SQ FT | Wide

Biogarden 3/2 Single - Hydroponics System/Aquaponics System

This is the baby of the family!

  • Biogarden 3′ contains 4.5 SF x 9″ deep Growing area using 18″ Wide HDPE trough grow bed with 2′ (22 gallon Tank). The grow bed is supported by 2-aluminum frames with connecting cast aluminum slip-on fittings braced by corrugate trough structure. Includes a pump plus timer for ebb and flow as well as a uniquely designed “Trickle Valve” that replaces need for bell siphon or bulk head water level regulators.
  • All plumbing is internal to the structure. May use as aquaponics with fish in tank below (recommend 20-30 gallon barrel). May also use as bioponic (organic hydroponics) or hydroponic (chemical nutrients) setup. Recommended add-ons include Biomass Organix – Green Up nutrient blends, extraction bags, microgreen/wheatgrass trays and burlap, Plant Grow Rafts, Growstone aggregate, biofilter 1 CF bags for in-tank organic fertilizer biofiltration.
  • Biogarden 3′ contains 4.5 SF of Growing area with 22 gal tank below. The HDPE grow bed is quickly assembled using Alan Wrench to connect slip on fittings to precut aluminum pipe. Water level is controlled using uniquely designed “Trickle Valve” in lieu of complicated siphon type devices. All plumbing is internal to the structure. May use as aquaponics with fish in tank below or as bioponic (organic hydroponics) or hydroponic (chemical nutrients) setup.
  • Durable designed grow system for home and school soilless grow system for hydroponics, aquaponics and bioponics. Biogarden is modular and easily disassembled with simple hand tools and moved to another location. All components are suitable for exterior installation.
  • Complete Installation and Operating Instructions are provided with purchase.

Darlene’s Note: With this size of tank, the largest fish you could have if you choose aquaponics would be goldfish or Koi.

Click HERE to see on Amazon.

Biogarden 10′ Single Hydroponics System/Aquaponics System | A DWC Hydroponics Kit with Aquaponics Fish Tank | Use as DWC with Trays or Hydroponic Grow | Tank Volume 110 Gal; Grow Area 15 SQ Ft.

Here is the medium-sized unit.

Biogarden 10' Single Hydroponics System/Aquaponics System

  • Biogarden 10′ contains 15 SF x 9″ deep Growing area using 18″ Wide HDPE trough grow bed with 10′ (110 gal tank) below. The grow bed is supported by 3-aluminum frames with connecting cast aluminum slip-on fittings braced by corrugate trough structure. Includes a pump plus timer for ebb and flow as well as a uniquely designed “Trickle Valve” that replaces need for bell siphon or bulk head water level regulators.
  • All plumbing is internal to the structure. May use as aquaponics with fish in tank below (recommend 110-120 gallon ). May also use as bioponic (organic hydroponics) or hydroponic (chemical nutrients) setup. Recommended add-ons include Biomass Organix – Green Up nutrient blends, extraction bags, microgreen/wheatgrass trays and burlap, Plant Grow Rafts, Growstone aggregate, biofilter 1 CF bags for in-tank organic fertilizer biofiltration.
  • Biogarden 10′ contains 15 SF Growing area with 10′ (110 gal tank) below. The HDPE grow bed is quickly assembled using Alan Wrench to connect slip on fittings to precut aluminum pipe. Water level is controlled using uniquely designed “Trickle Valve” in lieu of complicated siphon type devices. All plumbing is internal to the structure. May use as aquaponics with fish in tank below or as bioponic (organic hydroponics) or hydroponic (chemical nutrients) setup.
  • Biogarden is modular and easily disassembled with simple hand tools and moved to another location. All components are suitable for exterior installation.
  • Complete Installation and Operating Instructions are provided with purchase.

Darlene’s Note: You would have no problem here growing food fish in this unit if used for aquaponics.

Click HERE to see on Amazon.

Biogarden 10′ Dual – Hydroponics System/Aquaponics System | A DWC Hydroponics Kit with Aquaponics Fish Tank | Use as DWC w Trays or Hydroponic Grow Media | Tank Volume 220 Gal; Grow Area 30 SQ Ft.

Here is the Big Daddy of the systems!

Biogarden 10' Dual - Hydroponics System/Aquaponics System

  • Biogarden 10′ Dual contains 30 SF 9″ deep Growing area using 18″ Wide HDPE trough grow bed with 20′ (220 gal tank) below. The grow bed is supported by 5-aluminum frames with connecting cast aluminum slip-on fittings braced by corrugate trough structure. Includes a pump plus timer for ebb and flow as well as a uniquely designed “Trickle Valve” that replaces need for bell siphon or bulk head water level regulators.
  • All plumbing is internal to the structure. May use as aquaponics with fish in tank below. May also use as bioponic (organic hydroponics) or hydroponic (chemical nutrients) setup. Recommended add-ons include Biomass Organix – Green Up nutrient blends, extraction bags, microgreen/wheatgrass trays and burlap, Plant Grow Rafts, Growstone aggregate, biofilter 1 CF bags for in-tank organic fertilizer biofiltration.
  • Biogarden 10′ Dual contains 30 SF Growing area with 2-10′ (110 gal tanks) below. The HDPE grow beds are quickly assembled using Alan Wrench to connect slip on fittings to precut aluminum pipe. Water level is controlled using uniquely designed “Trickle Valve” in lieu of complicated siphon type devices. All plumbing is internal to the structure. May use as aquaponics with fish in tank below or as bioponic (organic hydroponics) or hydroponic (chemical nutrients) setup.Biogarden 10' Dual - Hydroponics System/Aquaponics System Sketch
  • Biogarden is modular and easily disassembled with simple hand tools and moved to another location. All components are suitable for exterior installation.
  • Complete Installation and Operating Instructions are provided with purchase.

Darlene’s Note: This is the unit of my dreams! The largest of plants can be grown and there are TONS of room for the fish of your choice!.

Click HERE to see on Amazon.

Conclusion

  1. Bioponics is soilless, utilizing one or more of the following techniques; FD -flood and drain or EF ebb and flow with media beds, NFT-nutrient film technique in trickling troughs, DWC-deep water culture on floating rafts and the ALT air layer technique on stationary rafts with EF ebbing and flowing water levels.
  2. Bioponics is 100% organic. No manufactured petrochemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides.
  3. With bioponics, fish are optional. Herbivore fish such as tilapia and crawfish do particularly well in bioponic systems, as they are treated more like pond fish, deriving nutrients from biomass teas and aquatic organisms including algae, microbes and duckweed. Raising fish is encouraged but dependency on fish waste is an aquaponics approach, not bioponics.

This is the ultimate system that allows you multiple ways to grow your plants and/or fish. You will never run out of space and the scalablility allows for many commercial ventures. This is the most exciting system I have seen to date!

Please make sure you leave your comments below and follow to be kept up to date on more new techniques. I would love to hear your opinion on this innovative new approach!

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Darlene Thompson

After having lived in Canada's most northerly territory of Nunavut where outdoor gardening is nigh impossible, I started down my adventure of indoor gardening. I hope you find the various methods as exciting as I do!

34 Comments

  1. It is seemingly becoming a constant normal update in the gardening world to witness new innovations and this is great of all the innovations I have seen. This deep water culture and aquaponics seems to be an excellent combo and surely would be interesting to try out. I like the fact that it has smaller versions and it might not be too costly to maintain. I will share out to more people to let people get updated concerning this.

    • Awwwww – thank you so much for sharing this out to more people!  Personally, I had never seen anything like this and I definitely want one!

  2. Thanks for your lovely article!  I had no idea you could combine hydroponics with fish!  Like, no freaking clue at all!  That would be awesome!  I’m not so sure about crawfish as being from Montana and living in Louisiana, I am totally over crawfish, but it would be interesting to see what other types of fish you could use these systems with.  Thanks so much for the valuable information!

    • Hiya Selenity!  If you check out my article on aquaponics you can use trout, tilapia, big mouth bass, catfish and all kinds of fish – just as long as the tank is big enough!

  3. Hello

    I come from a family of farmers and I fully understand the economy that such a system can bring to the young.It combines in a unique way the fish with the plants, which help each other grow safelyThe Earth is infected we must find the right ways and not swallow the earth anymore … such systems must be taken seriously by all of us

    • I couldn’t agree more!  We need to reduce our carbon imprint on this planet and start becoming more self sustaining.

  4. Wow! This is really amazing. Day after day one gets to find out that there are lots of developments in every section in life. As these changes occur, agriculture is not behind. This is an amazing way to boost the whole agricultural sector of a nation. The deep water culture and acquaponics combined is really a great way to improve agriculture and place it on a better platform. You don’t have to soil your hands,go back and wash them just because you need to go attend to the fishes… You can do these 2things at a time and at a position. This is really amazing and I must commend you for putting such a great review together. Its educative and enlightening. 

    • Thank you so much, Willy!  I feel the same way.  There is just something so synergistic about feeding your fish which in turn feed your plants and then being able to eat both!  Great for the family and a great business, too/

  5. Well this is somewhat complicated for a beginner like me to understand but you explained it very well. I like that the grow beds are waist-height because that will definitely make for easy handling. It would be really nice to have some fresh lettuce and other vegetables growing from these right at home. Especially because it would be organic too. That would be really cool to make 10 to $30 per square foot for this kind of farming. After reading your articles now I know a lot about Hydroponics, aquaponics and bioponics.

    • I’m so glad I could be of help, Jen!  There’s no reason you can’t feed your family with fresh, healthy food all year around from your own home these days.

  6. Innovative, very innovative. It’s so cool how gardening is now able to be taken indoors and thrive these days without the need of a greenhouse or even the elements. While I’ve never met anyone who does this, I’m sure this will become even more of a thing as time progresses, as those who love to garden can now take their work indoors during the winter months and that is really cool. I’m glad to see this come to the forefront and look forward to learning more about it. 

    • Thank you Todd!  The beauty of bringing this inside is that instead of getting one harvest per year, you can get 3-4.  Gardening all year around indoors makes just so much sense!

  7. Thank you for this very interesting read.  I love using sustainable solutions when I can.

    I have to say, I’m intrigued by this concept.  And I like the idea of potentially profiting from it too.

    I actually have a lot of space in my back yard for setting up one ore more of these systems.

    I have a couple of questions:

    1) How difficult is getting started and maintaining the systems (especially for someone who’s never done it)?

    2) Is it relatively simple to sell your goods?  I’m interested in marketing the microgreens.

    Thanks again,

    Scott

    • Hi Scott – thank you for your questions!  To do this outdoors would require some kind of greenhouse to shelter the systems.  There are even larger systems if you go right to their website where you can stack them three high and grow TONS of food.

      1)  I would read a book or two if you are really serious about this and want to make money off of it.  It would also depend on where you live as to how long your growing season is.  Of course, you can always use heaters and such but then your profits would be decreased.

      2)  Restaurants love microgreens.  I would go straight into your local restaurants with samples of your microgreens and have the chefs try them.  I think you will make instant converts as fresh is so much better than whatever they can get trucked in from goodness knows where.  Profit margins would depend on the size of your community and how many restaurants there are around there.  Check out Youtube on doing this – I’ve seen a couple of videos of people doing this and having very good success.  The higher end the restaurant, the more they are willing to pay for quality.

      Best of luck!

  8. Hi Darlene, great article on aquaponics and deep water culture! I live in the city, don’t have a garden or a backyard and been thinking for a while not how I can start growing my own lettuce and herbs. I think aquaponics might actually work in my scenario. I know you have an indoor grower setup, but would you reckon an outdoor would work as well?

    Thanks,

    Katya

    • Hi Katya!  Absolutely this would work outdoors but you would need some kind of greenhouse.  It would also depend on how long your growing season is.  Still, with hydroponics the plants grow so much faster that you will be able to get many more harvests over those growing in soil.

  9. I love the innovative aspect of this combo. I love the idea that these plants gets natural source of fertilizer and inturn purify the water for the aqua lives. Although it very different from my line of business I know lots of people who would benefit from such innovation, rather than buying fertilizer you get to use what you already have and can save money in the process. Its indeed a really nice idea. 

    • Thank you Dane and you are so right.  All you need to do is feed the fish and make sure their pH is right!

  10. Hi Darlene and Wow. I agree with you that Biogarden is one of the most amazing things I’ve seen (and learned about, thanks to you), in a long time. I guess I’ve missed some major breakthroughs in the advancement of indoor growing systems in the last few years. The last system I remember learning about was hydroponics, and that was quite awhile ago.

    Thank you for including a link to Deep Water Culture Techniques and Aquaponics Systems so I can catch up on what I’ve been missing in modern growing systems. 

    I also wondered if the fish grown in aquaponics would strictly be food fish or could they be decorative pet fish but you answered that question when you showed the first 3/2 single Biogarden. How would that work? would you be able to actually see the koi or goldfish?

    Thanks for a fascinating read!

    Sue

  11. Hello Darlene,

    I like the concept of the soil less Deep Water Culture indoor hydroponics. My only concern is apart from all of the parts and accessories; building and space for putting a project like this together is the water supply.

    Anything that is in the water will be absorbed into the roots and subsequently the plants and fish. How would you supply water to a system? …. Filtered tap water?

    On another note, I worked at a diamond mine in Canada’s NWT not quite Nunavut but close to the Artic circle for 2 months. In June where the temperature was surprisingly a balmy 76 F. and then in October where it was just starting to get cold at a balmy – 13 F.

    Anyway the barracks were heavy duty and could accommodate 600 people at any given time. So my point is you could easily run an indoor hydroponic system here if you wanted too. A place like this is very dependent on incoming supplies. Set up a station and you could have year round fresh vegetables.

    Cheers.

    Jimmy.

    • Hi there, Jimmy!  Yes you are 100% correct about the water supply.  If you are on a city supply you would need to de-chlorinate it first.  This can be accomplished with a water purifier.  I’m lucky as I have well water with no chlorine in it.

      That is TOO COOL that you were in the remote north as I was.  Yes, setting up a system like this or another of the hydroponic systems would be a huge help.  I mean, if NASA could do it on the space station, surely we can do it in the remote north.

  12. These are some very cool looking deep water culture and aquaponics systems! I am in a new home this year and had hoped to grow plants outside, but have found that with all the beautiful trees around us, that we simply don’t get enough light to support much yield at all. These looks like really cool solutions that would utilize lights with the aquaponics systems in order to ensure a good crop!

    • Thank you Aly.  Yes, for indoor grows you would definitely want to invest in some decent LED lights but they are easily found on Amazon.

  13. Hello Thompson 🙂

    This is an interesting and well detailed post on Deep Water Culture and Aquaponics. Highly informative and educative.

    I am Used to either Deep Water Culture or Aquaponics but this is the first time i am reading on them being combined.

    with how detailed this article is, i would use it as a guide.

    My gardener friends would gain a lot from this post and i would make sue to share it.

    Thanks

    • Thank you very much for your comments and for sharing with your friends.  I certainly appreciate that!

  14. What a fabulous way to garden.  I  like how you can also raise fish at the same time and the roots filter the water for fish. That is really quite a combination. Looking at the picture the plants are quite healthy growing like this. If a person had the space they could make a nice living with this type of business.

    • Hi Terri!  Yes, these would be great to start a business.  If a person had a room or basement area they weren’t using it would be the perfect solution.

  15. Hi there,

    Awesome article! I loved the reading!

    I am a fan of plants and fishes, and it would be a great idea to grow some lettuces and cucumbers for my personal needs. 

    I went on Amazon through your link, but the price is not indicated. Can you tell me how much it cost?

    I would like to know if it’s easy to get parts of this Biogarden Hydroponic kit? I want to be able to repair it if something goes wrong. Not only I plan on buying one for me, but also for my sister as she always dreamed of growing her own fishes and plants. 

    Thank you for this excellent post and looking forward to hearing from you soo!

    • Hi Daniella,

      Yes, its easy to buy the extra parts to set the system up the way you want it right on Amazon.  As this product is sold by various sellers, you will see a line at the top that says “Available from these sellers.”.  Just click on the words “these sellers” and you will see various sellers and their prices.  Happy growing!

  16. Hi there,

    It is truly a high-quality review of a novel system (per me) and mankind will greatly benefit from this.

    I simply loved the ways you have explained this system. It can be used at home and in a commercial setting.

    I have a few queries for you in case I have missed it during reading this post.

    1. Are the products coming out from organic hydroponics can be certified as organic from agencies?

    2. Can this be profitable in commercial scale?

    3. Where do I get training to have practical learning?- this is not part of the post.  But maybe you will be able to recommend. You can ignore this question if you think it is outside the scope of this post 

    • Thank you very much, Anasuya and great questions.  I will do my best to answer them.

      1.  Agencies differ from place to place as to what their requirements are so I would recommend that you check with yours.  Having said that, there is absolutely no reason why this could not be certified as long as you used absolutely no chemicals that are not allowed by your agencies.  Frankly, if you are going aquaponics, all you are using is fish food and natural substances to ensure the pH of the water is good for the fish.  If you start spraying chemicals on your plants, you’ll kill your fish so you should have no problems unless you introduce something to the system (that likely wouldn’t work anyways),

      2,  Absolutely and there are those that do.  Amazon sells for the home market but these unites come in MUCH larger sizes as well.  Check out:  https://bioponica.net/2019/01/08/principals-of-bioponics/ for a full run down on commercial systems and set ups.

      3.  Check out the web site that I just mentioned for some information but if you are really new at this, buying a few books from Amazon on aquaponics sure wouldn’t hurt.  If I was going to do commercial production, that is what I would do.  Also, you could contact the company above directly for information.  I would also recommend researching your market.  Are there restaurants/chefs that will buy your product?  What kind of product sells best and at the highest profit margin per square foot in your area?  Basic supply and demand, really.  Personally, I would troop into your high end restaurants after you have a good basic idea and see what the chefs want and are willing to pay for in your area.  Do your market research as each city/area will be different as to what restaurant patrons want and what the chefs (who make the ultimate buying decisions for the restaurants) want.

      I hope this helps and wish you the best of success!   Also, if you do this, I DO expect pictures!!!  LOL

  17. Hello Darlene,
    I enjoyed this article. It was both informative and well written. I am a follower of your blogs. I always look forward to another new one.

    I have a question. I am seriously considering trying to have a small indoor garden with maybe a few tomatoes plants just enough for one person and to share with friends and family. I have read all your blogs with the different indoor growing systems. Which system would you recommend to me to be the one that takes up the least space?

    The other day I was at a local grocery store and I paid a lot of extra money for some tomatoes that said they were “purchased from a local farmer”. I was really looking forward to those home-grown tomatoes. My mom always had a garden when I was growing up and I enjoyed the tomatoes so much. Well, what a disappointment those tomatoes turned out to be. The tomatoes had no taste at all and hardly any juice. If I could just have a small system for a few tomato plants that would be great.

    Thank you very much for all your wonderful enlightening post. I look forward to hearing from you.

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