DIY Aquaponics in a Barrel

DIY a Barrel!

We love a good upcycle project featuring 55-gallon blue plastic drums (see our other posts for DIY compost tumblers, floating docks, and even a boat! Not to mention our flagship BlueBarrel Rainwater Catchment System™️).

The latest project we’d like to share with you is a DIY aquaponics a blue barrel, of course! But first, a brief introduction to aquaponics.

Aquaponics: The Cycle
Image source: Blog

What is Aquaponics?

The term itself is a combination of aquaculture (the cultivation of aquatic organisms—e.g. fish—in a controlled aquatic environment); and hydroponics (the cultivation of plants in nutrient solutions—water + mineral nutrients—without the use of soil).




A system of aquaculture in which the waste produced by farmed fish or other aquatic animals supplies nutrients for plants grown hydroponically, which in turn purify the water.


Fish and plants form a symbiotic relationship in an aquaponics system. As fish release biological wastes into the water, plants take in the nutrients through their roots while simultaneously purifying the water for the fish. In other words, the fish make the fertilizer and the plants clean the tank (see infographic above).

Barrelponics: Aquaponics in recycled barrel(s)

Much like the BlueBarrel Rainwater Catchment System, a barrelponics system can range from just a couple of barrels to an infinite number connected together. 

Australians seem to be especially knowledgable about aquaponics and water conservation projects in general, so we've highlighted a few Aussie projects relevant to DIYers around the globe. Enjoy this photo tour to get inspired!

barrels for aquaponics
Image from
multi barrel aquapoincs
A more complex multi-barrel system from
aquaponics with 55 gallon drums
Another fun example of a custom aquaponics set-up using blue barrels.

Aquaponics: fun for the whole family

We hope this post has inspired you to delve into upcycling blue barrels into fun projects like a DIY aquaponics system. You can give yourself credit for saving plastic barrels from the waste stream and growing plants sustainably. Plus, it's a pretty cool science project and garden activity for kids and adults alike!

To conclude, we offer this very informative how-to DIY aquaponics video from Rob in Australia. Learn about the tools and parts needed, as well as the steps for building a "chop and flip" style DIY aquaponics system from blue barrels:


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