Aquaponics is an incredibly sustainable and efficient way to grow food. It involves growing plants and fish in one system; fish waste feeds the plants and the plants clean the water for the fish. Aquaponic growing results in higher yields than traditional growing while using fewer resources.

Below is an original solar-powered vertical aquaponic system design concept I created to maximize the yield of a 12’x12′ foot space, using gravity to minimize the energy used for irrigation and nutrient delivery.


Vertical aquaponics system

The system is a vertical, spiral aquaponics growing system powered by a single 250-watt solar panel and a small DC water pump/filter system. A single DC pump makes the whole thing work.

Solar powered vertical aquaponic system

The tower is 15 feet tall at the top of the solar panel and approximately 13 feet at the top of the spiral. There is 6-foot wide plastic tank at the base of the system for growing fish.

Vertical aquaponics system

The water from the fish tank is pumped up through a small PVC pipe to flow slowly down through the plant crops growing in the spiral growing tray.

Base of the spiral aquaponic system

Upon harvest, water flow is increased. The harvest gate at the bottom end of the spiral is removed so the crops can flow down the spiral, making harvesting easy.

Inside view of spiral aquaponic system

The growing bed tray is approximately 360′ feet long by 3 feet wide, creating a grow area of approximately 1080 square feet. The maximum yield per square foot is approx 7.65 lbs of food annually, or 8262 lbs of veggies annually. This does not include the total yield of fish produced in the tank, which is about 1000 fish, or 1500 pounds annually.

Solar powered aquaponic system

The cost to build this system (at the time of this writing) is about $5k including the tank, materials, pipe, pump, and solar power system.

Spiral aquaponic system

This concept can produce nearly 10,000 pounds of food annually. That means at about $1 per pound national average retail, that’s approximately $9762 in revenue, for a profit of $4762 for the year.

Or you could just produce enough food for your entire family for the year.


Disclaimer: This is a design concept for an aquaponics system, with an auto-harvest mechanism. It’s only a design concept, does not exist, and is not for sale. Anyone is welcome to use this design under an Open Source Creative Commons Share and Share Alike License, with credit given to this page.



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Solar powered vertical aquaponic system


  1. Hi,

    I am fascinated by this concept, which naturally leads to some questions:

    This is your design – have you built it yet? What were the results?

    Does the system allow for multiple crop types on the bed tray? I assume it would be as simple as planting different veggies along the width of the tray, so you could maintain a regular supply of staple veggies (broccoli, spinach, carrots, etc.), and possibly put an intermittent crop in timed for harvest every month or so (spices, chillis, etc.)

    Have you considered putting the entire spiral component within a greenhouse / opaque mesh setup, even one with filtered air perhaps? I’m thinking to avoid exposure to airborne pollutants and extreme UV, such as what we sometimes experience during the hottest summer days, which may burn the crops.

  2. Please contact me directly if you have the time. I would love to expand this idea and create a vertical farm using this technology and design.
    I will be putting my dream up on as it grows. I would love to have your input about the project.

  3. I like your idea of Solar powered vertical aquaponics system. My big concern is that how can I reach the garden food on the top on 13 feet high for gathering harvest foods? It would be difficult to reach up to 13 feet with a ladder. It is seemed to be an impractical way for this method of gathering foods on unreachable height by hands without using a ladder.