The Duck-ponics Experiment - Raising minnows


Positively Ducky
11 Years
Oct 2, 2008
Duck-ponics is a type of hydroponics. The theory is that if you have a pond with ducks, you can take advantage of their natural tendency to totally mess up the water and use it to your advantage.

All that duck waste is loaded with nutrients that plants love. So, if I filter the pond water through some type of plant, it should remove waste from the water. Not only do I get clean water, with a proper plant choice, I can be growing feed for the ducks...and possibly for human consumption.

The system I have in mind is a small pond (approx 500 gallons) with a pump that feeds in to an external container filled with duckweed. Duckweed thrives in yucky water, and is edible by ducks. It is also high in protein and grows really fast. The fact that I can get starter for free at a local pond makes it an even better deal. After the water passes through the duckweed, it then goes in to another container for growing people food. After it passes through that, the remaining clean water goes back in to the pond.

Questions and Issues...
• Will the duckweed remove enough waste from the water to make it clean enough to be used on plants for human consumption?
• Will the duckweed grow too quickly and overwhelm the system?
• How much water will I lose to evaporation?
• Can I do this with one pump or will I have to buy an additional one?
• How many plants are going to be needed to pull the waste out of the water and make it clean?
• Will I have to install a UV filter to kill potential pathogens?
• Can fish be eventually added to the system, or will the ducks just eat all the fish?
• Will my stupid ducks even eat duckweed?
• Since this is in my back yard, I need to make it look nice. Can it be attractive AND functional?

I hope to answer these questions and more my experiment goes along.

Phase One: Install the pond.
Status: DONE
We purchased a used pond liner from a neighbor. It appears to be a 500 gallon sized pond. Ducks will have daily access to the pond as a normal part of their free ranging in the back yard.

Hubby dug the hole yesterday, we put the liner in and surrounded it with paving stones. The ducks watched us the whole time and learned to check the dirt for nightcrawlers after I threw them a few
. We filled it with water, but it was something new and different so the ducks were cautious. A few pieces of cabbage sprinkled on the water were enough to convince them to give the pond a try. They approved

Phase Two: Hook up pump and filter.
Status: In progress.
Since the ducks are already swimming in it, I need to do this ASAP. We have a pump that came with the liner but haven't tested it yet. I need some hoses. The filter will be the container of duckweed, so I need to take a trip to the local pond for a starter.

(to be continued.....)
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10 Years
Jan 27, 2009
Issaquah, WA
I'll be watching this post, as I'm trying to figure out beforehand how to deal with messy, icky water that my Khaki's (1 month old) are going to make.

Would you mind posting pictures, I could easily follow whats going on?


12 Years
Apr 28, 2007
Linden TN
This post is going to be watched very carefully by me. I have been thinking of doing something like this, but haven't got past the planning yet. Yes please post pics

This is a great project. I'm excited that you are going to post as you go.

Thank you


13 Years
Jan 11, 2007
WAY North Coastal California
initial off the cuff thoughts--

put a large wire cage around your pump---or the feathers will clog it.--then wipe the feathers off the cage as needed. More often during the molting season!

not sure the duckweed will be enough for your goal...

not sure the dirt going though the filter wont over tax the filter

need to add some oxygen into the system...either through a waterfall or sprayer

good luck...It's a good idea. By the way...I use a bucket to take the duck water and water my filtering involved. No problems at I wouldn't stress over the "cleanliness" of the water for your garden.



Positively Ducky
11 Years
Oct 2, 2008
Good point on the feathers. I just checked my pump and it already has a screen of some sort over it but I may need to do more.

Oxygen will be added via some sort of waterfall action so no worries there.

Not sure about the pump and dirt though. I was expecting some sort of sludge issue anyway, so I will put that on the back burner for now.

Great news on already using the duck water on plants!!!


Positively Ducky
11 Years
Oct 2, 2008

The pump is working. I am currently using it to pump out the muckey water since the garden needed watering anyway. I also inspected all of my planting barrels and other various containers I have on hand and none of them appear to be water tight. I had the guts of an old washing machine, but I have deemed that way to ugly to use. As a rain barrel on the side of the house nobody sees? Fine, but I want the pond area to actually look good.


Premium Feather Member
13 Years
Dec 26, 2006
Both Coasts
Im excited to see someone else interested in using duckweed. It has incredible potential as a feed source.


11 Years
Jun 1, 2008
Southern CA
We have been thinking about doing something similar to this, but in addition to using plants to eat up the nutrients left over in duck waste we were contemplating stocking the pond with catfish and tilapia. I'll be watching your results closely.

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