Aquaponics is the most sustainable form of form food production. With a small Aquaponics set up, you can easily generate enough food to feed your family. No special equipment is needed, and indeed practically all of it can be bought cheaply at your local hardware store or even constructed at home. Let's take a look at the Aquaponics equipment you'll need to start this wonderful venture.
We'll first start with the fish tank, and this is the largest component of the system. The larger the tank, the more fish you'll be able to grow and the more nutrients for the plants that will be generated. If this is your first attempt with aquaponics, it is sensible to start small. However, you should get as a minimum a tank that can hold 50 gallons of water (about 190 liters). You can easily construct a tank yourself by using recycled bathtubs, half barrels etc... If they're not water-tight, simply line them with EPDM pond liner. The tank will be heavy to move, so just put it in its intended location from the start. You can locate your aquaponics system anywhere as long as it's shielded from harmful chemicals. In addition, it shouldn't be in direct sunlight, as this would cause an algal bloom.
The next piece of Aquaponics equipment that you'll need to think about is the grow bed. The grow bed is where the plants will be rooted and where the conversion of fish waste to nutrients by bacteria will be taking place. The size of the grow bed you'll use will depend on the size of the fish tank: the more fish you're growing, the more waste that is generated, and the more nutrients that will be available for the plants. Generally, a volume ratio of 1:1 grow bed to fish tank is recommended. The Aquaponics grow beds should be about 12 inches deep, in order to provide sufficient support for the plants and to provide enough space for the bacteria to thrive.
The grow bed should be filled with an appropriate medium, a popular one being gravel. Requirements for a good medium is that it is inert (does not affect the pH of the system) and that it does not decompose. Avoid limestone as this leaches calcium carbonate which increases the pH of the water.
In an Aquaponics system, water is pumped from the fish tank to the grow bed, and then returns to the fish tank via gravity. For this, you will need a water pump and pipes. Many aquaponics farmers use a timer-operated pump, setting it to switch on for 15 minutes every 45 minutes. This helps to oxygenate the water. When buying a pump, get one that can pump the entire volume of the tank in an hour - this will depend on the volume of your tank. Larger tanks need larger pumps.
Learn how to construct your Aquaponics equipment cheaply in Aquaponics 4 Idiots