Aquaponics and Goldfish Pond Systems

Charles Bacon of Ecolicious Aquaponics

Recently in Sydney we met Charles Bacon from Ecolicious who builds Aquaponics systems that are cleverly disguised to look like natural ponds. A pond builder for many years, Charles likes to use as many easy to find components as possible.

Some of his designs are quite clever too. The Aquaponics grow bed made from a row boat is one that you can see at Kimbriki a recycle refuse dump in North Sydney.

In this short you-tube video, we have Peter Rutherford from the centre explain this system that Charles designed. Its one of the first aquaponics systems we’ve seen that running completely on Solar. Even the fish are fed from worms grown on the site.

We also spoke with Charles who explains why he likes the pond aquaponics system that he designs and how he hopes people will be inspired to create their own little systems in their backyard.

Recycled boat gets a new life as a growbed for plants

“Quite a few years ago I struggled with the look of Aquaponics.” he said, “Because I’ve been building ponds all my life I decided to incorporate aquaponics into the ponds that I was already building.”

“In my head and whether its correct or not, I think fish like a few interesting places to hide and look around.” So Charles likes to make his systems look and feel as natural as possible. He also feels that aquaponics may then become more accessible to clients that like the look of a natural system in their backyard. Charles system has evolved over the years to work as simple as possible.

“I experimented for years and then simplified the whole system down to a basic flood and drain bell siphon system.” he said. “I like to build my systems out of polyethylene.”

He prefers to use structural poly-pipe rather than pvc but admits he finds 300mm grow beds to work very well.  “I like to build my aquaponics systems out of anything. Recently I built one out of fence posts!” he says. “I created a very strong structural box out of fence posts and lined it (with plastic).”

So what kind of fish does he prefer to use?

“If I’m starting up a system it will generally be a few goldfish to tick the system over until I’m happy that the bacteria has built up enough and then Sydney climate – generally Silver Perch.”

“I’ve had all sorts of fish,” he says, “Everything from Goldfish, Yabbies, Mussels, Shrimp, Bass and Tandanus.”

“Tandanus is one of my favourites. Its a little Catfish. Its never really mentioned in Aquaponics, but they smile at you and wag their little tails.” he said.

“I don’t tend to eat my fish. I like the look of them and by the time they get to be big – I get too attached to them.” he said.

So do people install an aquaponics pond system to look aesthetically pleasing or to grow food?

“I actually believe that the pond aquaponics system may become quite popular just because people want an excuse to just have a pond.” said Charles,  “If that pond can grow them their parsley, their basil and their tarragon, coriander and their various herbs – then its got the benefits of both.”

You can see more photos of Charles Bacon’s pond aquaponics system and see how it was constructed by visiting this link on his website.