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Ignoring the question of whether aquaponics is a sustainable process (which it may not be due to seemingly high energy input required for water movement and filtration).

Most aquaponics designs use plastic as a basic building block for every component. Given plastics are not sustainable materials, I'd like to avoid their use in "backyard" DIY projects.

What are some safe, renewable, water-resistant materials I could use instead of plastic in existing designs?

Are there "backyard" designs that avoid plastic materials and components?

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This is a fun question. I am not against plastics in my designs but lets see what we can do to get around this!

Wood? I would think that a good hard wood with closely packed grain would be a great building block for grow beds and even the fish tank. If you employed basic boat building skills and adhesives such as a resin you might be "sustainable". You could use a trough design to move water from point A to point B...also achievable with wooden planks.

To get around the use of pumps you would probably need to employ something like a paddle wheels next to a flowing stream to carry water from a low point to a high point. From there I think gravity could be employed.

As far as some form of ebb and flow system you would need to get tricky with your siphon. Perhaps a loop siphon would be easier to achieve with natural pieces. Perhaps cured animal gut could be dried in a loop siphon form. But then again using bamboo to fashion a bell siphon might work pretty well.

  • A pretty normal approach to a pump is a small windmill attached to an archimedes screw- you'll see them all over the canals in the Netherlands. You can use gravity return through wood planks (wood does ok with moving water for a while, calm water can be very hard on it without proper maintenance). – Meep Dec 26 '13 at 18:59

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