AquaponicsforTohoku in Minamisanriku

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Aquaponics in Minamisanriku

Project Outline:

This project saw us collaborating with the Australia & New Zealand Chamber of Commerce, and OGA for Aid, to design and install an indoor aquaponics system into a Community Learning Centre in Minamisanriku.  Minamisanriku was a small town that was devastated by last year's earthquake and tsunami, and which has been the focus of many worthwhile restoration and regeneration projects.


The Community Learning Centre set up by OGA for Aid was an ideal venue to install an aquaponics system as we could use this space to showcase aquaponic technology and methods, to demonstrate the potential of aquaponics, and also to use it as a fun learning tool for the children at the centre.


The hope is that as the system starts producing salad greens and herbs they will be able to sell this produce in order to completely cover the running costs of the system and to raise funds for other projects or supplies that they need.


We decided that we wanted to design and build an aquaponics system that would show a couple of different methods of running an aquaponics system, but which was made out of readily available parts that could be easily replaced if necessary.  We wanted the system to feel accessible, and that it wasn't a completely alien technology.


We also wanted to recycle and reuse, and so as an example - instead of using hydroponic net-pots to grow the produce in... we used modified yoghurt pots!  Perfectly sized, readily available, and otherwise destined for the rubbish bin, yoghurt pots were our favourite choice of materials to reuse.


Please look through the information below to see more about the project, including a time-lapse video of the construction taken over the course of the day.

Project Sponsors:

  • Japan Aquaponics

    Japan Aquaponics was set up with the intention of supporting the development of aquaponics in Japan, and specifically to use any profits to donate systems to Tohoku.


    Japan Aquaponics not only provided all of the design and consulting for this project free of charge, but also provided about 60% of the overall funding for the project.


    This project would not have been possible however with out the support of the ANZCCJ, Sodatech, and one particular couple in the US who made a significant  donation.


    Our thanks go to each and every supporter and donor who made this project happen.

  • ANZCCJ - Australia & New Zealand Chamber of Commerce in Japan

    The ANZCCJ, and particularly the members of their Food and Agriculture committee,  have been terrific supporters of aquaponics, and have been instrumental in making sure the project went ahead.


    Thanks must go to the committee members who organised the weekend to Tohoku where we set up the aquaponics system as well as harvesting tomatoes for OGA for Aid.


    The ANZCCJ has worked on a number of initiatives to support the relief efforts in Tohoku, this one simply being the latest of many  projects they have undertaken.


    Please read more about the ANZCCJ:


    Their article about the event:

    ANZCCJ Tohoku Volunteers

  • Sodateck Grow-lights

    The aquaponics system installed in Minamisanriku is an indoor system that relies wholly on artificial light.


    Japan Aquaponics is very proud to have collaborated with Sodatu who sell the excellent professional lighting systems from Sodateck.


    They kindly offered to donate half of the LED lighting system free of charge as soon as they heard about the project we were completing.


    We are very grateful for their support and generosity and we are happy to recommend their systems to anyone looking to grow their own produce indoors.


    Further details can be found here:

  • OGA for Aid

    This project was also a collaboration with OGA for Aid, a grass-roots charity that has been operating in the Tohoku area since the day after the earthquake in 2011.


    The OGA for Aid team and volunteers have worked tirelessly since the disaster and Japan Aquaponics is extremely proud to be collaborating with them, as well as being humbled by the group's selflessness.


    The Aquaponics System is set up in the Community Learning Centre that was founded by OGA for Aid, and the staff and children are now looking after the system.


    Further details can be found here:

  • Worldwide Donors

    We would also like to thank the many donors from around the world who generously contributed to the project and who helped to make it happen.


    Especially we would like to thank a couple in the USA who put their faith in the project and made a donation that really helped to ensure the project became a reality.


    We would love to thank them publicly, but they have asked to remain anonymous - but we hope that you read this and know how grateful we are for your support.


    Thank you to everyone who helped make this project happen.

Timelapse of the installation:

Photos from Minamisanriku:

Presentation to locals in the evening:

Please Support Us

To date, Japan Aquaponics has pledged almost $5,000 (USD) worth of equipment and services to the ongoing projects, and has raised further funds from sponsors and generous individuals in Japan and the US.


Please help us to increase these amounts so that we can provide a valuable and unique service to communities in Tohoku - enabling them to feed and support themselves and regain their independence.


Japan Aquaponics is very pleased to use Ammado as our new method for accepting donations.  Ammado is the world's only true global donations platform, accepting donations in over 75 different currencies and all major - and many local - payment methods.


Ammado provides the simplest and most effective way to make a donation to our projects, and ensures that more of your donation reaches the projects and communities that it was meant to support.


How it works:

This system was made from a modified IKEA wardrobe and is 1m x 2m.  It uses a 220 litre fish tank that has a 2000 litre per hour pump that is pumping the water up to the top growbed.  We have also fitted a ball-valve bypass so that we can control the water flow to the system, and to provide additional aeration and water movement for the fish tank.


The top growbed is a media-filled 60 litre growbed and is filled with small lava stone that is about 5mm in diameter.  This is smaller than usual but it will be very friendly for the children and elderly to use.  The top growbed is for baby lettuce greens and herbs primarily.


This growbed is on a constant flood system which means that the water is at a set height within the growbed and it simply empties out when it reaches that height.


It then drains down through a small filter that is made from a plastic container, a stainless steel drain mesh, and 2 different grades of filter material cut down to fit inside the container.


From there it enters the raft system which is also a 60 litre growbed.  The floating raft is simple extruded polystyrene and we have used yoghurt pots as the pots to hold the plants.  These yoghurt pots were scored using a soldering iron to create the holes for the roots.


We have also made a seedling area from a standard plastic growing kit that was cut down to size.  This raft system also has two aeration pipes running through the bed to provide lots of air for the plants.


From here the water drains back down into the fish tank.  The fish tank also has two air-stones in it to provide lots of aeration.  As this system was designed to be a display, we also added rocks and plants to the tank to make it more attractive


The growing areas are completed by two professional LED growing lights that are calibrated for growing leafy vegetables.  These are high intensity lights, but they draw only a very small amount of power because they are LED.  These were supplied by Sodatu and we are very grateful for their support and generosity.