Build Your Own "Chop & Flip" Backyard Aquaponic System

The basic "Chop & Flip" IBC aquaponic system is a great way for you to get your Aquaponic "feet wet".  This small system has the ability to grow out 10-12 fish for the dinner table and would take the average handyman no more than a day to build and set up.

Below you'll find the "How To" video tutorials as well as the parts lists for each section of the build.

I've also included a tutorial and parts list to a nifty little DIY canister filter that will remove excess solid fish waste from the system. While the filter isn't mentioned in the original "How To" clip, I would recommend you connect some form of solids filtration to any aquaponic system you build. 

The cost for this aquaponic system build was just under AUD $240 for the tank, pump and all the required plumbing, which was bought from retail stores. The plumbing parts would work out a fair bit cheaper if bought from wholesalers. 

Chop & Flip Aquaponic system

The clay can be expensive and the 6½ bags needed cost around AUD $200-250 when this system was built. Suitable rock or other media like scoria/volcanic rock or expanded shale would be a lot cheaper. 
The beauty of this Chop & Flip system is that it can be used as the starting point. Once you get the aquaponic bug and are ready to expand the system, you can build a much larger backyard aquaponic system by adding a fish tank & more grow beds. 

"Chop & Flip" IBC Parts List

Plumbing from the Pump

This "Chop & Flip" system is based on a 1000L/275gal IBC but similar sized trays and/or tanks could be used in its place. You could also alter the layout by creating your own stand for the IBC grow bed and have it off to one side or raised higher to help those with mobility issues. 

  • 1 x 1000L/275gal IBC

  • 3m/9ft x 25mm/1" spiral or other suitable hose

  • 1 x 3000lph/790gph water pump

  • 1 x AC/DC back up air pump
    (Will work during blackouts too)

  • 1 x 25mm/1" barbed “T” joiner

  • 2 x 25mm/1" barbed inline valves

  • 2 x 25mm/1" barbed 90° elbows

An explanation of these plumbing parts
can be found here in the "How to Build" clip.

Please keep in mind that the lengths of hose needed for your build may vary depending on how deep you want the grow bed, how you're positioning the grow bed and fish tank.

Bell Siphon

This video tutorial explains how bell siphons work and a step by step guide on how to make a very reliable version of this automatic flood and drain controller for your grow bed.

You may find that some of these fittings are named something else in your area so the pictures below come in handy when sourcing them.  👍

Aquaponic Bell Siphon Parts List

 

  • 1 meter/3ft of 100mm/4" PVC stormwater pipe**

  • 2 x 100mm/4" PVC stormwater end caps

  • 1 meter/3ft of 65mm/2½" PVC drainpipe**

  • 1 x 65mm/2½" PVC drainpipe end cap

Aquaponic Bell Siphon Parts List
  • 1 meter/3ft of  25mm/1" PVC pressure pipe**

  • 1 meter/3ft of 20mm/¾" PVC pressure pipe**

  • 1 x 25-20mm/1-¾" PVC reducing coupling

  • 1 x 25-20mm/1-¾" PVC reducing bush

  • 1 x 25mm/1" PVC valve socket

  • 1 x 25mm/1" bulkhead/water tank connector fitting

  • 1 x 25mm/1" PVC faucet 90° elbow

** Around a third of these pipe sections are needed for the build but 1 meter the smallest length I could source.

 

Please keep in mind that the lengths of pipe you need for your build may vary depending on how deep you want the grow bed.

The leftover 25mm/1" pipe from this build can be used in the canister solids filter below. 

Canister Filter

 A build-up of fish waste solids in the grow bed, can, over time cause some major health issues to both fish and plants. For this reason, it's recommended that you remove as much as you can.

This small DIY canister filter does a great job at removing the fine solids created when the fish waste gets macerated into fine particles by the pump.

They do require maintenance, like all filters, as the material used to capture the solids needs to be cleaned out regularly.

The tutorial video below shows how to build and maintain a basic canister style filter suitable for a small system like the "Chop & Flip" IBC system. 

  • 15-20L/4-5gal bucket with lid

  • Small sections of 25mm/1" PVC pressure pipe 

  • 2 x 25mm/1" PVC 90°elbow

  • 1 x 25mm/1" Uniseal or bulkhead fitting

  • 25mm/1" "Nut & Tail" Set, Optional
    (Will help in removing the filter for maintenance)

  • Shade cloth, bird netting or similar media to catch solids

The leftover 25mm/1" pipe from the bell siphon build can be used for the canister filter build.
If you use a bulkhead fitting you will also need to purchase both a valve & faucet sockets in 25mm/1" to screw onto it. 
I suggest that you clean this filter at least once a week.

Did you find this page helpful?

Do you want more DIY Aquaponics Tutorials?

Below you'll find a playlist contains DIY tutorial videos on assembling grow beds, radial flow solids settlers, drainage fittings and other useful aquaponics components.

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