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Site last updated 25 October 2023

 Read below, plus visit the Growbeds page to learn more about Sandponics


Grow your own fruit and vegetables economically and with ease. Plus raise amazing edible fish to feed your whole family while saving, earning, and helping to save the planet. A balanced diet of fish, fruit and vegetables, along with an occasional treat of your choice is, without doubt, the healthiest and best-tasting diet that anyone could possibly eat. Plus, growing your own food can save you lots of money, and could also help you to live longer. 

Find below information to help you save and/or earn by creating your own system by viewing videos available from YouTube, plus by viewing descriptive images and text. If you have questions about the system or have suggestions about how the system can be further improved to be more productive or know of other relevant videos or websites that can be linked to from within the site, feel free to contact us through the email address displayed near the bottom of the page, or via the Facebook page.

View the information and create your own Sandponics system to share what you have learned with your friends and family so that they and everyone else can also benefit from what you have learned. We have created a Facebook page that enables visitors to chat with each other online about their experiences when building their Sandponics system and share photographs, videos and comments to show the results obtained. 



"Sandponics" is not yet a readily recognized term in the field of agriculture or hydroponics. It, however, refers to a specific variation or method within hydroponics, which usually involves growing plants in a soilless medium with a nutrient-rich solution. "Sandponics" in contrast exists as a unique and separate method of food production, and involves using sand as the growing medium in place of using other commonly used mediums such as rock wool, perlite, or coco coir.

By using sand and water as the growing medium, and by using fish waste as a natural fertilizer instead of soil and compost. This highly efficient and sustainable technique creates a closed-loop natural environment in which plants and sand provide a natural filter for the water, and fish waste provides nutrients for the plants.

It is instead a closed-loop system for growing plants without soil. The sand is placed in a container or tray, and water is added to it to create a moist environment for the plants and bacteria. The plants are then placed in the sand, and their roots grow down to absorb the nutrients and moisture required for growth. At a basic level, the container can consist of a suitably sized hole in the ground fitted with an appropriate waterproof liner. A fish pond could also be created by lining another suitably sized hole in the ground with a waterproof liner. Alternatively, raised grow beds can be used along with an in-ground pond or other arrangement. 

This method of growing plants is becoming increasingly popular in areas where there is a shortage of soil, or where the soil quality is poor, such as sandy soil, difficult clay, or if the ground is very rocky. It is also a good way to grow crops in urban areas where there may not be much space for traditional farming such as the balconies of apartment buildings or small back gardens, or possibly even in front gardens to grow exotic flowering plants.

Sandponics has several advantages over traditional farming methods. Firstly, it requires less water than conventional farming, making it a more sustainable option in areas where water is scarce. Secondly, it can be used to grow a wide range of crops, including vegetables, fruits, herbs, and even flowers in appropriate locations. Finally, it is relatively easy to set up and maintain, making it accessible to people who may not have a lot of farming experience.

In summary, Sandponics is a method of growing plants using sand and water instead of soil. It is a sustainable and accessible way to grow crops and can be used in areas where traditional farming methods are not practical or sustainable. The depth of sand is determined by the variety of plants to be grown, with a depth of about 400mm being adequate.

Click here to view videos of existing established sandponics systems producing substantial volumes of food.

Click here to view videos showing our own early experiments with the system conducted over a period of several months.

A scientifically based article describing the sandponics system can be viewed by clicking here.

Sandponics can be used in a range of different settings, from home gardens to commercial farms, and offers many benefits such as reduced water use, improved plant growth and nutrient content, plus the system has a minimal environmental impact.

This website is a free education and research resource, providing an introductory overview of the Sandponics system. We provide links to various videos, diagrams, and scientifically validated and detailed information for those interested in learning more about the system.

Please note this website is best viewed on a PC or tablet due to the high volume of text displayed. We regularly add more educational videos, explanatory diagrams, and links to other relevant websites, so please check back often. You are free to duplicate the contents of this website for personal study, although not for commercial use.

Our goal is to keep things simple by applying the 'Keep It Simple' principle in order to keep costs and labour to a minimum without sacrificing quality. We invite anyone with valid and constructive information to contact us via the email address displayed on the bottom of this page, or you can if you wish leave comments on the Facebook page.

Sandponics is a new growing method that aligns with the well-established principles of permaculture. To learn more about permaculture visit the website. As this site evolves, we will continue to add more videos, websites, and e-books to help visitors learn about the potential of the Sandponics system to grow more than basic fruit and vegetables.

We believe that Sandponics offers the most productive and scientifically proven results for growing food. Although the exact amount of food that can be produced with Sandponics is not yet 100% certain, it does however appear to have the potential to significantly increase the yield of aquaculture and farming operations.

If you're interested in Sandponics, we invite you to view the videos and technical data, including viewing a drawing of the layout of a proposed demonstration site that could potentially produce more than sufficient food to meet the needs of an average family.

In conclusion, Sandponics is a sustainable, efficient, and cost-effective method of growing plants using sand and fish waste. By using this system, you can beat the food chains, save money, and even earn by selling your produce or creating a home-based business installing Sandponics systems in your area.

* When output exceeds input the produce is free.



The Sandponics system is an alternative, sustainable, and environmentally friendly method of growing food that involves growing fish and vegetables intensively using sand as the growing medium and limited volumes of water to achieve high yields without the use of synthetic fertilizers. 

This method uses bacteria from fish waste to create natural fertilizer, with sand acting as the growing media and also as the biofilter to clean the water. Sandponics is a highly effective and scientifically proven method of growing food using soil-friendly, naturally occurring bacteria to convert fish waste into fertilizer that feeds vegetables and other plants, including fruit trees. 

It is the world's most water-efficient food production system, generating more food than the water it consumes, and you can feed yourself, your family, and possibly even your neighbours and others in your community. Sandponic systems use sand as a filter to remove waste from the water and use bacteria to convert that waste into fertilizer to grow fruit and vegetables. The system is different from conventional aquaponics systems that use gravel, clay balls, or deep water raft techniques, while the sand along with the water cycling allows the air to enter into the sand because the sand particles are sized appropriately to prevent anaerobic conditions occurring. 

Sand is a vastly superior mechanical filter medium when compared to gravel due to the individual particle sizes. The Sandponics system requires specific grades of sand with sizes ranging from 0.25mm diameter up to 2.5mm diameter, with the mix being made up of approximately 20% (one fifth) small particles of not less than 0.25mm in diameter, 40% (two fifths) of mid-sized particles, and 40% (two fifths) of particles up to a maximum of about 2.5mm in diameter. 

Pure-washed river sand may lack certain mineral elements due to its long submersion in flowing water, so it may be appropriate to include within the sand mix an appropriate measure of essential materials such as rock phosphate, which will provide elements that the river sand and the fish waste lack. The Sandponics system is a proven example of a “closed-loop” system using waste from edible fish to grow plants.

One thing to be avoided in a Sandponics system is over-watering, as too much moisture may be detrimental to certain plant species. Meaning that in locations of high rainfall, a Sandponics system may need to be located under a weatherproof translucent roof. Either that or drainage of the beds may need to be designed to be efficient and highly effective.


Sandponics is a system of growing plants in sand, which combines aquaculture (raising aquatic animals) and hydroponics (growing plants in water). The plants are grown in a sand bed, which is irrigated with nutrient-rich water that comes from a fish tank or pond. The fish waste is used as fertilizer for the plants, and the plants, in turn, clean the water for the fish. This system is an efficient and sustainable way of growing food, which has several advantages, such as low start-up costs, easy access to educational resources, high yields in both the short and long term, no smelly compost, minimal labour requirements, and little equipment or inputs.

Bacteria are essential for plant growth, and without them, plants would not be able to access the nutrients and minerals they need to thrive. In the Sandponics system, bacteria play a crucial role in creating a superior environment for plant growth. The system provides the appropriate growth medium and is organized in such a way that it functions as nature intended, and an appropriate level of moisture is maintained for the plant species being grown. This involves creating the most suitable conditions possible for bacteria to survive and thrive. The sand bed acts as a filter, and billions of beneficial bacteria and microbes continually clean the system, ideally with zero need for the sand bed to be periodically drained and emptied for cleaning.

The Sandponics system is economical to build because the sand bed is the filter, and so separate filters are not required. The systems use little energy, especially if suitably designed and sized pumps are used. Root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, garlic, beets, onions, and many other plants can be grown, subject to the appropriate conditions for those plants being maintained in the beds. Your choice of pond and bed liners will impact the building costs and the life of your system. The specific grade and type of sand you choose will also impact the cost and productivity of your system.

To build your own DIY Sandponics system, you would idealy create a fishpond by digging a hole, adding a liner, adding water, and adding a small pump and suitable pipes, although other layout options are possible, such as those displayed in the diagram on the Grow Beds page at this website. Then you need to create your sand bed by building the bed on or into the surface of the ground (or elevated) with strong side supports, add a liner, and add the sand. After that, you can add the fish, followed by the plants. Feed the fish frequently, check the water level, and add the fish-waste-derived fertilizer regularly, and you are done. The liner material typically recommended for Sandponics systems is either 0.8mm HDPM or 0.5mm PVC pond liners, although a good quality builder's plastic liner without pinholes may be adequate.

Note that if you do not wish to raise fish, you could possibly obtain and use an alternative fish-based fertiliser as described in the associated videos.

Your fish pond needs to be organised such that the fish waste falls to the lowest point on the pond floor so that a suitably positioned pump and pipework can be used to remove the waste from the pond and deliver it onto the surface of the furrowed sand beds. The pump is usually operated in a 15-minute on/two-hour off cycle during daylight hours, with no cycling taking place overnight.


The systems mentioned, such as iAVS and Sandponics, each use bacteria to convert fish waste into plant food, while minimising water use, in order to create environments suitable for efficient plant growth. By using these systems, we could save our soils and ecosystems and grow most of our food in highly efficient Sandponics grow beds. Eating less meat would also help in this process. By doing so, the natural ecosystem could heal the landscapes that have been damaged by inefficient agriculture, and eventually return them to natural grasslands, meadows, and forests. The recovery of animal and plant life would then make the environment as lush and green as it was before we damaged it, plus go some way in helping aleviate the effects of global warming.

Quote: "Once people learn how to raise fish and grow fruit and vegetables they will feed themselves and their communities forever."   Anon



You will need some type of pump in order to move water and fish waste from your fishpond or fish tanks and into the sand beds, several options are possible. You may also need to obtain or create some type of timer to control the operation of the pump.  We will later attempt to provide more information on the subject of pumps and timers.


Building a system of your own

Other related food production systems linked to for your enlightenment

Sandponics, a sustainable solution to desert food security

Mad scientist's homestead is parking size, off-grid system

FedEx tinkerer custom builds no-waste micro farmstead

Sunken greenhouse wraps home & feeds suburban anti-fragile co-op   

Growing Water Convolvulus  with fish in an interesting flood and drain system

Farming Fresh Fish and Growing Lettuce in a system that has some similarities to Sandponics

System comparisons

Comparison between Hydroponics VS Aquaponics.

Essential Equipment Guide for Aquaponics Systems

Equipment needed for a Cheap & Easy DIY Hydroponics system

Worst Hydroponic Systems Ever 

Essential Equipment Required for a Sandponics System ***

Murray Hallam's iAV Sand Aquaponics System

Aquaponics System for raising Crawfish with White Radish and Water Spinach

Scientific and technical articles relating to Sandponics

Soil Horizons with Leighton Morrison

Also, visit the website at Permaculture Information for more good news.


Dr McMurtry is a world-famous horticulturist with over 35 years of experience in plant physiology, hydroponics, and sustainable agriculture. He has been a pioneer in the field of hydroponic growing and was instrumental in developing several innovative systems, including the iAVS growing system.

It appears that after conducting research, Dr Mark McMurtry developed the iAVS growing system in the late 1990s as a way to grow plants in a hydroponic system using sand as the growing medium, instead of more traditional mediums such as rockwool or peat moss.

The system was initially developed for use by impoverished villagers in locations such as Namibia, the Sahel, and the Middle East. Many issues confronting these villagers are now also emerging in countries around the world to the point where future food security is brought into question.

The website here displays links leading to information about Dr Mark McMurtry and his research.

The iAVS website was created by the late Gary Donaldson and displays valuable and relevant information.

An Australian reference website for scientific research:

Sandponics - The Affordable and Healthy Way to Grow Your Own Nutritious Food

Are you looking for an affordable and sustainable way to grow nutritious food for your family? Look no further than this revolutionary growing system that uses sand as a medium to grow plants hydroponically. Not only is sandponics a cost-effective solution, but it's also easy to use, and when appropriately installed to suit the local climatic conditions, provides fresh, organic produce year-round.

When compared to traditional gardening methods, the system offers significant economic benefits. Because it uses a closed system, requiring less water than traditional gardening methods, which translates into lower water costs. Additionally, it eliminates the need for soil, fertilizers, and pesticides, which saves you money in the long run. With sandponics, you can usually grow your own fresh produce at a fraction of the cost of buying organic produce from the grocery store or supermarket.

For elderly individuals, it offers even more benefits. This is because as we age, it becomes more difficult to tend to a traditional garden, but sandponics requires much less physical labour and is easier to maintain. Additionally, it can be set up in a suitable structure such as a shade house or other enclosed space, or even indoors, or on a balcony in suitably designed containers, making it accessible for individuals with limited mobility. And because the system provides fresh, organic produce, it is an excellent way for elderly individuals to maintain a healthy diet and improve their overall health.

At, we're committed to providing sustainable, affordable, and healthy solutions for families and individuals. Join the revolution and start growing your own fresh produce today. Study and apply the information displayed on this site to learn more about the growing systems and how they can benefit you and your family.

Remember: "You never know before until after", and never was a truer word said in jest.


Subjects covered in the above include:

Sandponics system design, Benefits of Sandponics, How to set up a Sandponics garden, Sandponics vs. hydroponics: a comparison, Best plants for Sandponics, Sandponics DIY guide. Sandponics for sustainable gardening, Sandponics for arid climates, Low-maintenance Sandponics solutions, and Sandponics nutrient solutions.


Final note
We encourage everyone to build a sandponics system of their own, even if that system is initially simply a small test bed in which to conduct experiments similar to the ones shown in some of the attached YouTube videos. You can later build a full-sized bed in which to grow plants, and use that system as a demonstration site to share awareness of this exceptional food-growing system with friends and associates who are interested in building their own systems and in helping to further develop and spreading awareness of the positive benefits the system provides. 

This is especially important as food prices continue to increase and as food insecurity becomes more commonplace. More information will be added to this site over time as we identify ways to simplify and improve the system and make it even more productive and economical to install and use. Feedback acquired from your own personal experiences with building and using the system is welcome, and will help us to further develop and expand the site. We intend to over time add a social network group (possibly a Facebook community group) to this site to help members freely share and exchange information for the benefit of all.


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An Ode to Sandponics.

Amidst the sand and desert's heat

Where life is scarce, with nowt to eat

Sand is something so unique

Plants and fish make it complete

In sand, the plants take root to grow

While fish in tanks below move slow

Forming life's eternal bond

In a system that is so profound

The waste is filtered and turns to mud

So plants will grow and flourish good

Plants provide such fine clean air

For fish to breathe and all to share

Life is the only way to grow

Plants and fish, the perfect show

The ancient ways we must now eschew

So bold solutions can spring up anew

Let us rejoice in this new technique

And with it the eternal truths seek

In sand, with plants and fish, we scope

To discover truths beyond our greatest hope.


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We shall not be liable for any damages, including but not limited to direct, indirect, special, incidental, or consequential damages, losses, or expenses arising from the use of this site, any linked site, or the inability to use them. This includes, without limitation, any failures in performance, errors, omissions, interruptions, defects, delays in operation or transmission, computer viruses, or system failures, even if we or our representatives have been advised of the possibility of such damages, losses, or expenses.

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Date first published: © October 24, 2022

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