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Current Working System

100 gallon system


Detail view of the tube supports:

over head view

base view

top of support connection

side view of complete support



The bottom tube is 12 inches in diameter. It is 10 feet long with 5 supports.  Empty it holds 40 gallons of water.  With gravel in it holds 30 gallons of water.  To fill this tube with dry gravel it takes 560 pounds of gravel.  Wet weight of gravel and water when filled is 720 pounds.  There is 5 square feet of total growing space in this tube.


Inside tube support placed in middle of tube


gravel around drain outlet


source water plumbing from fish tank


over flow drain


sump return



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rik94566 - January 27, 2012

No problem on being off topic. Always like to help others that are starting out on new things in their lives. I use wordpress and have found it very easy to use and like it a lot. I got my daughter using it also and she has not had any problems either. Good luck with your blog. Let me know once you get it going and I will check it out.

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14. david pinchbeck - July 4, 2013

hi, just wondering what sort of tubes they are? finding it hard to get 12″ tubes at the local DIY store, lol.

rik94566 - July 9, 2013


You will not find it at any of the DIY stores. I do not know where you live, but I purchase mine at Ewing Irrigation. It is use by cities and large requirement delivery projects. It comes in 20 foot lengths. Ewing has outlets throughout the US so check out there location at this link:


15. Alex Osmond - July 6, 2013

I want to get involved. I have been researching aquaponics and automation for about 6 months and was imagining an arduino integrated system. Please, I would love to talk with you about expanding your operation.

rik94566 - July 9, 2013

Love to talk with you also and see what you have in mind. You can reach me at rik@AGponics.com

Look forward to talking with you.

16. catfat112 - July 7, 2013

what are you using for the tubes? what are they made of and where did you get them?

rik94566 - July 9, 2013

@catfat112 – they are pvc and I get them at http://www.ewing1.com

17. Francois - July 20, 2013

Hi Rick.

I was wondering what kind of costs would be involved in a 1000 Gallon system?

Also, Being up north, I need to figure out how to build a system like that for indoor uses. I will need to add lighting components to your system.

I would love to get invoclved.

rik94566 - July 22, 2013

@Francois – I will contact you from my commercial site regarding aquaponics. It will be interesting to hear how you want to get involved. rik

18. Mark Asher - August 13, 2013

Where are you getting your seed starters from?

rik94566 - August 16, 2013

Mark – I posted on my resources page the information you are looking for. Let me know if you need anything else.

19. Jed Anderson H. - August 23, 2013

Dear Rik
my name is Jed Anderseon h. i live in Antofagasta , Chile. for some time i have an idea of create a industrial scale hidroponic farm. about my city at the north on Chile, we are the driest desert in the world but i believe that is posible to achieve this proyect. i have concern about the incial cost of investment , tecnical problems , and i really like to know what you think about this kind of proyects

best regards
Jed Anderson H.

rik94566 - September 4, 2013

Jed – thanks for contacting me regarding aquaponics. I think you are on the right track and for areas that are desert like aquaponics would be a very viable farming opportunity. I have grown some PACU in my systems and wish I had larger space and would be all I would raise. I love that fish! It is hard to give you any kind of idea of what a commercial system would cost for your area. I have some numbers worked out for my area, but I have no idea of where you would buy material or how much they would cost on a local basis. The good news is that once established systems should last for 20 to 25 years, so when you spread the cost out that long return on investment is very high and well worth the cash outlay. Let me know how it goes. rik

20. jonpaulfred - August 28, 2013

Hey Rick,

So glad I stumbled across your blog thanks to that great internet of farming video on youtube.

I am currently designing an indoor system for a nursing home and want to base it off your 100 gallon system. Around how much would it cost to get one running without your advanced automation sensors.

Would you happen to have a materials list that outlines the 100 gallon system that you are willing to share?

If not, I’m really interested in the makeup of the 12 inch tubing, steel?

Great Work


rik94566 - September 4, 2013

Jon – Glad you liked the Internet of Farming video. It has generated a lot of interest from all over the world. As for the cost of the 100 gallon system that is a hard one as I have no idea of where you are located or what local resources you are working with. As for automation the 100 gallon system is totally manual with no automation only mechanical timers purchased off the internet. I did all the building of parts and the electrical work. If you need to hire any of that out there would be additional cost associated with that aspect of the project. As for the tubes they are 12 and 15 inch PVC pipe use in city water projects. I got them from a local irrigation supply house that sells to cities and large construction contractors. Let me know how it goes.

21. Ben - September 16, 2013

Rik. I’m sorry to bother you but I have a question about your setup. I’ve started a really small planter garden with various fruits/vegetables when I saw your video. I’m curious how you can grow things in just gravel. If I understand above you have no dirt. Do the nutrients for the system only come from the “fish poop” or do you add nutrients to the water as well? Do you have any good internet resources that you would recommend that I read? Thanks – Ben

rik94566 - September 16, 2013

Ben – never a bother! I enjoy talking and writing about Aquaponics and my work. You are correct – NO DIRT. That is what aquaponics is all about. All the plant nutrients come from the breakdown of the fish waste. The best starting place is:


Be-careful you might get hooked!

Ben - September 18, 2013

I already am! I’d love to purchase some schematics for your build. Your horizontal setup really intrigues me. It looks simple enough but I’m unsure about the water drainage. Your outlet is the only thing I’m actually curious about. I’ll read that site as I’m sure I’ll find the answer there. Thanks for taking the time. You’ve been an inspiration in my gardening adventure.

22. morkwed - October 16, 2013

Form meets function, nice work!

23. Harry Parkinson - November 27, 2013

Really love this work, I look forward to seeing how this goes in future iterations. I can imagine a plug-n-play system where you say I want to grow x and combine the right hardware and software to do that, perhaps even sunlight sensors to take that into account. I’ve never really taken the plunge with growing plants, but if a computer can simulate the plant growth to some extent, I think that would make growing plants much easier.

rik94566 - December 9, 2013

Harry – thanks for your comments – I agree with you and working hard to make these plug-n-play as quickly as I can so others can enjoy this as much as I have.

24. Marc - December 16, 2013

Hi Rik,

i am so amazed and grateful that someone has looked into automation with aquaponics. you have inspired me to set up a system just like yours. is there any plans or prints that you could kindly email me? marcpora13@gmail.com Would love to keep in touch as i am a tech head myself.

rik94566 - February 2, 2014

Marc – Thanks for the kind comment. Since I am not an electrical engineer or software engineer this has been a big learning opportunity for me. I have no problem with the growing and fish side of things, but needed to learn so much on the automation side of this. As I see it right now Aquaponics 1.0 is all about establishing simple systems and expanding on the basic concepts by a large number of people. Aquaponics 2.0 is all about automation of these systems. Problem is to impalement automation in to a aquaponics system a major mind shift is required. Things practiced in conventional aquaponics do not play well in automated systems. Aquaponics 3.0 is all about SOLAR and integration with the automated technologies employed from 2.0. Just my thoughts on this subjects. So to answer your question about plans? I would love to say that I have them – but I don’t at this time. I just have enough time right now to keep up with returning messages and getting my next design implemented. Then each time I construct a new system I incorporate a number of new features that I have learned from the last construction. So I keep moving forward and don’t have much time to look back and re-construct the past. This is way I try an blog as much as I can so people can get an idea of how to get started.

25. J.C. - February 16, 2014

I love your scale-up process, that’s really coming along. I have a inexpensive and easy suggestion based upon a video I saw mentioning the consequences of stress on lowering fish life. After removing the single nozzle water spout, I’d try to incorporate a multi-holed water bar to maximize natural aeration with many small-stream sources on the one hand while minimizing abrupt flow shock to the fish on the other. A down-side that I see is, if the tank is left uncovered (yours isn’t) that it tends to promote quicker evaporation.

rik94566 - March 1, 2014

J.C. – I have seen and looked at the set-up you are talking about. Being that the system you looked at was my first version and proto-type it works. I will be changing up the design on all systems going forward and have come up with a better water flow strategy with less stress on the fish. Thanks for the input and hope you have a great growing season this coming year.

26. Eddie Welka - March 8, 2014

Could you please give me a link to the arduino software that you talk about in your video. I love what you are doing and it has got my students and I involved in going full out green with our school. I hope you keep it up and please remember how many people you are teaching. Thanks for everything.

rik94566 - March 18, 2014

Eddie – glad you have students interested in automation of all flavors! I wish this technology was around when I was in school and the tools to develop and understand it. As for the arduino software I talked about in the video it was APduino. At the time it was ahead of its time to help over come this issue of having to be a programer or computer engineer to get an arduino connected up to the “Internet of Things”. It was very resource intensive with some major aspects that needed to be managed to accomplish the task to connect up. The first being the requirement for an arduino MEGA 2560 and Ethernet shield. Then on top of that you can only use arduino 1.2 IDE as newer versions were incompatibly with the software that was required to flash the arduino MEGA. Once you worked through the flashing of your arduino then you were ready to attempt to connect up with pachube/cosm/xively which was a trick to begin with and then once xively acquired cosm and started charging this changed the whole dynamic for open source platform for the “Internet of Things”. The good news in all this is that there are some new options in addition to APduino now. One option I have started moving some of my development work to is Carriots (www.carriots.com) it seems to be very straight forward and less resource intensive and combines feature of both APduino and Xively. The other product that is starting to get a lot of traction now is Temboo. The blog “Open Home Automation” has some very good articles and code to demonstrate the use of both Temboo and Carriots. These might be a better starting point for students and beginners with raspberry pi and arduino automation efforts. Hope this helps you in your efforts and thanks for letting me know that you find my blog helpful and educational. Wife is a teacher and will find this good to know that I am helping people as I spent a lot of extra time and money on this endeavor. Thanks again rik

Eddie Welka - March 21, 2014

Thanks so much for the info. After getting the class together we got the school to buy a ran down house. We have one year to install the gardens, and all the home automation. We are going to fully think outside the box on this project. I will be blogging the whole thing. I will keep you updated and I thank you again.

27. Automated Aquaponics for Business or Pleasure: A Scalable Approach | MAKE - May 13, 2014

[…] You can follow Rik Kretzinger’s ongoing research at his project blog. […]

28. Stephanie Ellis - June 2, 2014

Greetings Rik! My name is Stephanie Ellis and I would just like to say thank you so much for pioneering this idea of Aquaponics into society. It is such an amazing concept that you have seemingly mastered. I have learned so much from reading your blog and viewing your videos! Currently, I live in San Diego and a couple colleagues of mine and myself are very interested in the possibility of continuing to bring what we have learned from your blog to people in the San Diego area for a more self-sustaining and organic community and would love to chat with you about this idea, if you have some time? My number is (310)866-0720 and my email is steph.marie.ellis@gmail.com. Thank you very much!! We look forward to hearing from you very soon! Have a wonderful day!

Sincerest Regards,

Stephanie Ellis

rik94566 - June 4, 2014

Stephanie —

Great message !!!!

This is why I do what I do ….

I have sent you a email to take this off line and talk on a more personal level about your efforts.

I always want to support people that want to make a difference in their local areas through out the world.


29. Tavius Southard - January 22, 2015

I just wanted to say – I really appreciate the information on this. I found the video on youtube and included it on my own blog, http://www.taviussouthard.com. My blog is to help others find their freedom from grocery stores and the utility companies… Could you please take a few and share my site, to help others out?


rik94566 - April 21, 2015

Tavius – I will take a look at it …. thanks rik

30. Sean O'Loughlin - April 17, 2015

Hi Rik,
I really admire your designs and commitment to automating your systems. But I am wondering why you have not chosen to use bell siphons for flood & drain growth beds. They are simple, cheap and effective aren’t they?
regards Sean (Melbourne, Australia)

rik94566 - April 21, 2015

Sean – thanks for asking about this topic. You are correct that bell siphons drain grow beds and they are simple for sure. The problem I had when I started out was I could not get bell siphons to work consistently in my builds. So gave up on them. The technology has changed a lot since 2003 and now the ones on the market work better over all. Bell Siphons limit the cycle times on the grow beds and work at an established volume and cycle period. So if you have a cold rainy day you get the same cycle times and can over water plants. Automation of aquaponic systems allow for changing up of cycle times and total control of a grow bed based on environmental inputs that adjust as the conditions change .

31. John - July 16, 2015

Is this your system

rik94566 - August 12, 2015

Yes it is .. rik

32. Ready Done - April 23, 2016

HI are you still in the game i love the idea of a smart AP system and was hoping i could get some pointers from you in my design.

rik94566 - May 13, 2016

Hi – thanks for leaving a comment. Yes I am still in the game. But been very busy development of my Raspberry Pi / Arduino platform. Have been back-up on getting orders of systems out to people interested in automated units. A lot of work to stay ahead of all the demand or should I say behind as I am back ordered on everything right now. So as far as pointers go just send me an email at info@agponics.com and I will see if I will be able to help you. rik

Cheok Maan - February 23, 2018

Hi Rik ,

We use aquaponics to teach our children in our Montessori Malaysia on food security. Our system is not automated yet. Is it possible to seek your advice on how to do this in the field on education ?

33. ángel cruz - March 20, 2020

Hi Mr. Kretzinger, any chance that you can provide us a more detailed list of materials to build this system and more important (for me 😉 ) your arduino uno set up?


rik94566 - April 1, 2020

Hi — presently I’m doing a total rebuilt of my infastructure and systems with off-grid power source – being I’m in Northern California this is now important (lost a lot of fish over the years because of power loss) — With my redesign of systems and radical new tank construction I will not be going back to document old builds. As I develop content I will be posting the new BOM’s and more detail on the new designs as time allows.

ángel cruz - April 2, 2020

Thanks for your answer.

34. Stefanie - July 22, 2022

Looks like I’m joining late, and this was from 2012ish….

Is there any update? Are you still doing this?

I’d love to see the progression!

rik94566 - July 28, 2022

Stefanie —
Thanks for send in this comment and checking in with me.
I have so much content, that I have worked on and plan to work on that I need to get back to talking about it all here, because bring content to this blog helps me to focus on fully understanding how it all relates to the big picture in what I want to accomplish.
Being that I have worked on a number of different development ideas and finished a number of new concepts – I still have a lot to do and gain better understanding of how it all comes together for me and identifies areas that have I need to gain better understanding of the fit and working them into my projects.

Best to say, yse you will see more content now and I will be talking about just about any and all projects that I want to document so I can reference back to them for details of how the projects were constructed and the steps needed to recreate them over and over with the refinements that make them work better for me.

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