Aquaponics Basics Fish Keeping

Starting Over with my IBC Aquaponics System

After a few months of good rainfall (which filled up my IBC tank with rainwater), I decided it was time to start up my aquaponics system.

A few months before writing this, I came home from work to eat lunch and decided to turn on the water to top off my IBC aquaponics tank. Unfortunately, I forgot to turn it off and left it running.

The following day when I came home during lunch, I noticed that there was a water stream running from my backyard to the street. I ran back there as quickly as I could only to find my IBC tank filled with deadly tap water and my tilapia fish motionless at the bottom.

I was heartbroken.

These tilapia, that I had raised since they were fry, were supposed to one day end up on my dinner plate, not dead at the bottom of their home.

After burying my dead tilapia fishes, I scrapped the garden at the top of my IBC tank and let the entire thing sit there for the next couple of months while I decided if I wanna sell the system to a less clumsy owner or to simply try again when I’m ready.


R.I.P. to my tilapia fishes

Well, I’m ready to do this again.

In April of 2020, during the coronavirus lockdown, and after a few months of good rainfall (which filled up my IBC tank with rainwater), I decided it was time to try again.

I started by building a new swirl filter out of a new 5-gallon bucket from Home Depot (the old one was beaten up and cracked after years of being in the sun) and cleaning out the entire IBC set up. I took the pond pump apart and scrubbed all the debris that managed to make its way in.


Thanks to all of the warm weather that Spring brings, the rain water became green. Yup. I have an algae problem building up in that stagnant water.

I plugged in a UV light into my swirl filter and ran it for a few days.

A few years ago, I decided to put the media into plastic baskets so that I could easily rotate my plants around if I needed. It made cleaning and maintenance a little bit easier as well.


I found these plastic baskets at the 99 Cents Only Store. It allows me to easily rotate my plants around if needed.

Tilapia or Koi fish?

Currently, I’m questioning whether I want to do Tilapia again. The reason being, I hated running the aquarium heater during the winter months for the fish. Sure we don’t really get REAL winters here in Southern California, but the temperatures still sometimes drop to about 25 degrees Fahrenheit at night. I hated walking out to feed the fishes each morning only to find them huddled in the corner next to the heater and not eating.

At least with Koi fish, I wouldn’t have to worry about those colder temps. (Plus, some of them could fetch a pretty penny with collectors and enthusiasts.)

So many choices.

I’ll update everyone on my progress as I go into round 2 of my IBC aquaponics tank setup.


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