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Chicago nb 3: The Plant Chicago Aquaponics

Napisano: 2. 05. 2016 19:14

By: dr. Maja Turnsek Hancic

I visited aquaponics facility in the basement of the Plant Chicago.  The system serves as one of the show-cases for the Plant Chicago Tour and for Plant Chicago Aquaponcis workshop.

Eric Weber teaching aquaponics

Eric Weber teaching aquaponics

The Plant’s aquaponics facility is operated by Eric Weber. His background is in aquarium industry, where he was working mostly with marine aquariums for home setup.  

According to Eric, approximately 10 – 15 % of the people who are coming to learn about aquaponics  at the Plant have experience in aquariums. This is probably because people, who are already familiar with aquariums, are also familiar with water chemistry. Making the jump from growing fish from water to growing plants in water is not terribly much different. While for farmers who grow in soil, making the jump to artificial lights, controlled environment etc. is a bit scary.  

Mostly, people who come and learn about aquaponcis have only some experience with for example growing something in their pots.  A third group of people are those who have no experience, and are just really excited about the circular economy and closed loop aspects of it. 

Quick facts on the Plant aquaponics system

Aquaculture size

600 hl

Growth surface

25 m2

Type of the system

DWC and ebb and flow



Type of fish


Type of greens

Chards, different varieties of endive, red vein sorrel, rosemary,  lavender, testing chamomile,  curly kale, vine basil, thai basil,


Currently, the system in Plant Chicago composes two separate systems: ebb and flow system and a DWC system.  The system is made mostly from donated material and with volunteer work.  It is located in the basement of the Plant Chicago, with temperature ranging from 18 ºC with no added heating  in the winter and 26 ºC in the summer.

The system water volume size is about 1200 hl, approx. half is for the aquaculture, with current stocking density at approx. 15 % of the system capacity.  The growth surface is approx. 25 m2.

Previously, the system has been thrice the size, but then they decided to transform it from a pilot of a commercial aquaponics into a educational facility only.

They are growing  chards, different varieties of endive, red vein sorrel, curly kale, vine basil, thai basil and are testing chamomile,  rosemary and  lavender.  While lavender grows really well, the rosemary on the other hand grows really slow.

Jason Moon Indoor farm intern cutting curly kale

Jason Moon Indoor farm intern

New and interesting types of greens not common in Slovenia?

red vine sorrel


curly kale





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