DIY aquaponics is probable the very best means of experimenting with aquaponics if you are a beginner. It is certainly the cheapest if the materials used are sourced for free. This and repurposing items and materials is mainly the case in such instances.
Basic DIY aquaponics
There is really not much to doing so in order to build your own DIY aquaponics system. Some plastic barrels wood or steel framework plastic piping and an air and water pump will get the job done admirably. What is left is the media of which thick gravel is by far the most inexpensive and widely available, the fish, plants, and a water chemical tester kit.
Another alternative is searching for materials and items on the internet. There are probably hundreds if not thousands of materials that will get the job done at any given moment.
The main thing to keep in mind is that whatever materials are selected for the DIY aquaponics system, must be sturdy enough to handle the mass of the system. Should the actual tanks and grow beds not be constructed of rigid materials, then they will have to be supported in such a way to provide that rigidity. This is very important since there will be a time investment involved in the construction of the system. Furthermore, the construction itself will have to be very sturdy, since failure to make it so spells doom for the fish, the plants, and your labor.
Sometimes, a DIY aquaponics system is constructed of half purchased used items and half of the free sourced items. This may be for instance a largish fish tank and a few barrels for the plants. Some people have been known to use large old cast iron bathtubs for either tank or grow beds or both. Others dig a long narrow and relatively deep trench on the ground. They then line it with pond liner covered panels and a wooden or steel construction of grow beds above it. There is no one way to do things when it comes to a DIY aquaponics system. Left to their own imagination and devises, people have come up with a surprising number of solutions.
Sophisticated DIY aquaponics
Most of these are constructed with specific needs in mind or ready-made kits. These can have a substantial cost depending on their quality and the support equipment that is selected to service them.
Custom-made items for DIY aquaponics are quite common if fabrication is done by the owner. Examples of this can be the fish tanks and items related to water purification where necessary.
Real sophistication related to DIY aquaponics, is usually equated with electronic monitoring and regulation systems. These are systems for sensors, cameras, feeding a.s.o. The fact is that none of these are absolutely necessary for DIY aquaponics. However, there are people that like to “play” with the possibilities of optimizing their systems.
DIY aquaponics kit
This is the final choice of the DIY variety, although there is far less personal innovation involved and the extent of the DIY is in fact assembling the system at the location it is to be housed.
All in one ready-made kits of plastic are available on the market. These are usually found at a very limited number of outlets that deal specifically in the home or backyard aquaponics market. In many countries where the concept has yet to take off, people are compelled to source each item separately from various vendors and assemble them. Naturally this a little different from acquiring a ready-made pre-calculated and tested system since all this has to be done by the enthusiast.
At the end of the day, DIY aquaponics can and does provide a hobby for some, a source of food for others, and an income for small family businesses that are just starting out.