Aquaponics – Can we grow fish and vegetables in our greenhouse?

It’s been a long winter. During which time GF and I were closed up in the house with too much time to think.  The long cold winters give us plenty of time to dream up our projects for spring and summer. This one should be a doozy. This Saturday we are starting our new project for there year.  We have decided to install a fish tank in our garden. A tank that will be big enough to raise fish for our dinner.  The tank will be hooked up to our greenhouse, the fish water will pass through the greenhouse and back into the tank.  The plants will clean the water and use the nutrients from the fish to grow.  We have decided on a closed system that recycles the water over and over again.  By this time next year we should be eating home-grown fish as well as our own veggies.  Last summer we were inspired by a man who lives in the next village.  He grows trout and carp commercially.  His set up is really quite simple.  I started thinking that we could use the waist from the fish for our garden and I stumbled onto this system that is called Aquaponics.  The system grows fish and vegetables together in a greenhouse.  Everything works together.  It is clean, organic and cost very little to operate.

 To maximize its potential, we’re going for a system that is referred to as CHIFT PIST (Constant Height In Fish Tank, Pump in Sump Tank) or CHOP (Constant Height – One Pump). Essentially what this means is that the fish can remain serene, and undisturbed in their tank, with a large sump tank handling all of the variation in water height as water is pumped through to the grow-beds. Here’s how it works:

Photo from: Microponics The Integration of Fish, Plants and Micro-livestock


  • The fish tank (rear right) is 10′ in diameter and 4′ deep – 6000 litres
  • There are three rows of grow-beds : Ten that are 4′x2′x12″, and three that are 7′x4′x18″ (although these will only be filled to a depth of 12″). 
  • Total grow-bed volume – 4300 litres.
  • Grow-bed:Fish tank ratio is 1.5:1
  • The sump is made up of two interlinked tanks,7′x4′x18″. 
  • Total sump volume is 21050 litres.
  • Sump:Grow-bed ratio is 0.6:1 

The water will pass through beds of gravel.  The gravel will help filter the water as well as the plants which are in the grow beds.  The system mimics a natural stream.  As the water passes through the gravel and plants the impurities are left behind and the clean water is returned to the fish tank.  The tank is placed lower than the grow bed so gravity does most of the work for you. For more detail information about Aquaponics visit:

Garden Aquaponics in the UK Growing Fruit, Fish and Veges in our chilly Northern garden

Microponics The Integration of Fish, Plants and Micro-livestock