Open Source Aquaponics

How we produce and distribute nutritious food to a growing population is one of the key challenges we face. There is no single answer to this challenge. It requires a systemic approach. One part of this problem is to look at how we grow our food in both urban and rural settings. One answer could be the increased use of Aquaponics. 

I have written two blogs providing case studies of aquaponics in the UK GrowUp Urban Farm and Todmorden Incredible Aquagarden. This blog post adds to these by detailing the work taking place at Aquaponics Lab in Sheffield.

What is Aquaponics

In the future, more of our food will be grown using aquaponics. Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture (farming fish) and hydroponics (growing plants in water with added nutrients rather than soil). This post continues the series that I have been writing over the looking at how growing food in urban spaces and in controlled environments can play a part in taking care of this concern.

Aquaponics Lab

Last autumn I travelled to the University of Sheffield to meet with Paulo Marini the Project Developer at Aquaponics Lab. Aquaponics Lab has set up open source aquaponics to allow people and communities to ‘DIY’ when it comes to aquaponics.

Paulo showed me the aquaponics set up at the University of Sheffield which is part of the Sustainable Growing for Community Resilience with Aquaponics project. The resilience food farm was opened on campus in June 2016. It allows students to see a working example of aquaponics.


Paulo explained how some of the elements of the aquaponics system and why he saves his egg shells:

  • Innovation – the set-up includes using blood pressure monitors and collapsible inner tubes from bicycle inner tubes
  • Feeding – the amount of fish feed required varies depending on the temperature
  • Ebb & Flow – this is controlled using an ultrasonic sensor
  • PH – is around 6.4
  • Egg shells – these provide calcium carbonate which, along with potassium, is required to maintain the PH levels
  • 3D printed – some of the design elements were created, and 3D printed at a makerspace to keep costs reasonable


What I love about Aquaponics Lab is that what they do is open source and there is a page on the website where you can find what you need to set up your own DIY aquaponics system. Check it out and be inspired to start your own or a community aquaponics system.

With thanks to Paulo for his time and willingness to answer all my questions about the project and the system.


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