When designing your own aquaponics system, one of the most important things to consider is energy use. Here’s the energy usage of the small backyard aquaponics garden my Dad and I built a few summers ago.
The 35 watt aquarium pump switches on and off every 30 minutes using a double outlet timer. The 5 watt double outlet air pump is on continuously. That’s approximately 16 kWh per month total. At 35 cents per kWh here in Hawai’i, it costs us about $5 — one generously tipped Venti Spiced Latte per MONTH to power your families’ own self-watering, self-fertilizing salad garden. Not a bad deal for how immediately productive things are. A single swiss chard plant pays for the entire’s system energy costs! Plus the system itself is 100% scalable thanks to the laws of gravity and stuff.
We did replace two failed water pumps already, which at like $50 is a pain in the ass and the account! Now we prebuy a few pumps at a time and keep them on hand for when the die to ease the ahhh-my fish are going to die-panic attack.
Ya see…Aerating and pumping the water thru are the energy consuming parts of any aquaponics system. With water pumps, strive not only for energy and cost efficiency, but also durability for the long run. Clogged and busted pumps can mean dying fish within hours, plus replacing those pumps gets costly!
Here are the best low energy, high function water pump designs I’ve found for aquaponic applications.
After completing the research for this article, I’m off to build #2 below the “air lift” — uses just a single air pump ($20) to make water and air move up and then gravity takes care of the rest WOW simple and genius … Thank you Glenn Martinez at Olomana’s for the idea!
Most Efficient Water Pumps for Aquaponics
Hydraulic Ram Pump
If you have access to a natural water source, build a hydraulic ram pump to lift water 100s of feet using no energy at all. DIY cost for the parts including 100 feet of pipe : $375.
Here’s the 1st part of the video explaining how to assemble this ram pump. …looks like a complicated process that takes a bit of skill and tools. But if you have the natural water power, I’d definitely invest in one of these babies.
In Hawai’i, Glenn Martinez of Olomana Gardens employs his own unique water pump designs to bring water up from ANY body of water. The single air pump design is low energy, aerates the water as it moves through the system, easily pumps solids in the water, can move water long distances, has no moving parts, and is supposedly simple to build. He has several patents but reserves only the right to sell the pumps he invents — everyone else is free to DIY and make their own. TRUE INNOVATOR RIGHT HERE!
These airlift pumps look super efficient and durable. I’m definitely going to figure out how to build my own soon! Subscribe and stay tuned!