Locating your system
There are a few things you may want to keep in mind when it comes to locating your system. For some this may not be an issue, you might only have one place it can go. But, if you have some choices as to location, one of the first things to consider is sunlight. You need at least 4-6 hours of good sunlight a day for your plants to grow well, however, your fish do not need sunlight, and in fact you’re better off not having any sun on your fish tank at all if possible. Sun on your fish tank leads to algae growing. If you can’t help but have your fish tank in the direct sun, you might like to think about having some floating plants on the surface of your fish tank. Floating plants in your fish tank offer shelter and hiding places for your fish and fish are far happier when they feel protected. The water’s surface can be a food production area as well as a good place to grow invasive plants like mint and water cress which will take over your media filled growbeds if you plant them in there.
Access to power. You will need to pump water and possibly have an air pump as well, these need power to run so you need to be able to run your power lead to a power point. Access for planting, harvesting and maintenance. I’ve seen many systems that people have set up where there’s been little to no allowance for access to the whole system. Keep in mind that although you may think you can get to most of it, once your growbeds are full of plants, getting to that back corner of the growbed might not be as easy as it was when everything was new and empty. Also plants hang out over the edge of the growbeds, we normally allow at least 70cm between growbeds. Even this isn’t enough sometimes when plants are growing really well. Access to the fish tank is also important. I’ve seen many system built from IBC’s where there is only a very small access point into the fish tank, not really big enough for a fish net to catch your fish. Seasonal differences. If you are building your system in summer, there’s a good chance the sun will actually track a different course in the sky come winter time. What may have been good sunshine during the summer could perhaps be no sunlight at all during winter, and vice versa. Surrounding vegetation. It’s not great to have a system directly under a deciduous plant of any type, or any plant with heavy blossom drop. I’ve known of plants contamination from some shrubs and trees which has caused fish deaths. This can sometimes be one of the harder fish death causes to pin point as it may only take a few leaves or flower of a plant to affect fish if the plant happens to be highly toxic. Fish deaths from this is not a regular problem we hear of, but keeping the tank and growbeds clean can be difficult with large quantities of leaves or flowers dropping from above. Pets and Children. You may have one or you may have both; you need to be sure when planning and constructing your system, that your system is child friendly and pet friendly.