Aquaponics at Mediamatic Fabriek

Cultivating our own food

Mediamatic Fabriek, Mediamatic’s new location, is situated in the Van Gendthallen, old ship building halls on the Oostenburgereiland east of the center of Amsterdam. They are huge, and are surrounded by, at least for Amsterdam standards, loads of space. This urban playground will be transformed into an eco-friendly oasis for urban agriculture. Right now the Mediamatic team is experimenting with aquaponics. We're sharing our knowledge by organizing workshops that enable you to build your own system at home.


First 4-storey aquaponics system - Mediamatic's first 4-storey aquaponics system. Built in a workshop in 2012.

Our work

Aquaponics is a sustainable, recirculating ecosystem for food production made up of fish, microorganisms and vegetables. The fish feed the plants and the plants clean the water the fish swim in. The system is pretty fragile when you start out, and has to be monitored constantly. The water has to be tested for certain chemicals, for its pH-levels etc.. Small changes to the composition of the water can be deadly. As the ecosystem grows it gets stronger, until it cannot only sustain itself, but also protect itself from external influences. As of August 2012 we have built a number of aquaponic set-ups, including a 4-storey tower (1 fish tank, 3 plant containers). We are monitoring, adjusting, and keeping our fingers crossed that our fish and plants survive and prosper.

The system

An aquaponic system consists of at least one fish tank and one plant container. In the plant container, plants are grown on a layer of expanded clay pebbles. These are bits of clay that are baked at a really high temperature, which means they are full of air and let through lots of oxygen - more than regular soil. This is good for the plant roots. After a while the roots, bacteria and worms (that live in the layer of clay pebbles) start to form a complex ecosystem. Fish are kept in another container. Water from this container is pumped into the layer of pebbles at regular intervals. The water feeds the plants. The bacteria and the plant roots work as a filter: they clean the water, which is then released back into the fish tank. We feed the fish with the gluttonous, fast-growing larvae of the black soldier fly (hermetia illucens) found near the neighborhood trash. Result: happy fish and organic plants.

Get involved

Please feel free to get in touch and join us. Help us build or research, or just hang out for a nice chat about urban agriculture and happy farming. You can also participate in one of the aquaponics workshops we are organizing. For more information, check our aquaponics event page or e-mail Deborah Meibergen.

On Saturday May 26th approximately sixteen people gathered to build a triple-decker aquaponics tower. This marked the first public aquaponics workshop hosted by the Mediamatic aquaponics team. At Mediamatic Fabriek, Oostenburgereiland Amsterdam.

Arte visited Mediamatic Fabriek on 17 May 2012 to have a look at the aquaponic systems we've been building. The item was broadcast on June 2, 2012.
From the Arte website : "In order to gain autonomy from the global food industry, more and more people in the Netherlands are growing their own urban farms. They are growing vegetables on rooftops and cultivating fish in old warehouses. Sustainable and organic."


Building the 4-storey Aquaponics tower - Tijdens de Aquaponics Workshop van 26 mei.

Auto syphon or bell syphon explained. A lot of people keep asking how the bell siphon works, why there is a little tube, and so on. I made a nice animation to show you how the auto-siphon functions so you can integrate it to your eb and flood system like aquaponics. Found on youtube, made by Kanaal van valschep.


Sterre and Sander planting tomato - The big system started its cycle. Yesterday we planted different vegetables in the two grow beds.


Jules washing clay pebbles - Before putting them in the grow bed, clay pebbles require preparation. They should be cleaned to remove dirt, dust and other contamination.


Sterre analyzing water - During the last meeting we analyzed the water of the small system, measuring the level of pH, GH, NO2 and NO3