Aqua Farm Self-Cleaning Fish Tank That Grows Food

Posted on Aug 12 2014 - 11:31am by Pete M

Aqua Farm

The Aqua Farm is a cool little countertop science experiment in aquaculture. The Aqua Farm, by Back To The Roots, is a tiny fish tank that grows plants on top.

In theory the plants clean the water and the fish feed the plants. While that sounds great, it isn’t quite that simple and there is a bit of maintenance required. Still a pretty cool little setup. The Aqua Farm package includes the fish tank, plant holders, organic seeds, pump, and even a discount coupon for a beta fish.

Aquaponics Kit


What Is Aquaponics?

Aquaponics is an ancient sustainable method of farming developed by the Aztecs. It uses 90% less water than traditional farming methods and combines aquaculture (raising aquatic animals) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water). Scaled down to a table-top system, this is what happens inside the AquaFarm: 1. Fish waste, which is toxic to the fish if allowed to accumulate, is pumped through an inner tube in the tank into a grow tray above containing plants. 2. The plant roots act as a biofilter where beneficial bacteria break down the harmful ammonia in the waste into nitrites and then finally nitrates which are absorbed as food by the plants. 3. The clean water is circulated back into the fish tanks so all you have to do is feed the fish!

What plants can I grow in my AquaFarm?

We include organic wheatgrass and basil seeds with every AquaFarm. If you're looking to grow other plants, leafy greens and herbs work best. We recommend parsley, cilantro, mint, arugula, mixed greens, and other varieties of basil.

What types of fish can I keep in my AquaFarm?

The AquaFarm is not suitable for fish that are particularly sensitive to fluctuating ammonia and nitrite levels. This is a completely biologically-filtered system, and it does take time for the tank to cycle and become balanced. For this reason, we recommend betta fish, as they are especially hardy. Zebra danios and guppies also work well with the AquaFarm at numbers of two to three per tank. If you decide to keep goldfish, please make sure you have a larger tank to move them to once they outgrow the 3 gallons!

How many fish can I keep in my AquaFarm?

If you have a betta, you can only keep one per tank, as they will fight if kept with other fish. If you're keeping other more peaceful fish, the general rule of thumb is 1" of fish per gallon.

Tips for a thriving AquaFarm
  • Bettas are tropical fish, and happiest in water between 76-82 F. If your home is not regularly a temperature in this range we recommend a heater for your betta.
  • Algae is a common issue in aquariums and develops as a result of the combination of excess nutrients in the water and sunlight. Being careful not to overfeed your fish is one way to prevent nutrients from building up. If your AquaFarm is in a spot that receives very direct sunlight, this is great for the plants, but not the tank water. In this situation, consider putting a back panel over the tank side to prevent sunlight from hitting the water.
  • Don't forget to feed your fish. Push the feed cap down to rotate it open and drop 5-6 pellets of the included food into the tank.

2 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Darby L. January 22, 2017 at 4:30 pm -

    Hello! I know you mentioned having goldfish in this tank, but I just want to be sure that it is indeed ok to keep a goldfish in it! Thank you!

  2. Gadget King January 23, 2017 at 8:44 am -

    Hello Darby! Per the folks that made the tank, “The only limiting factor in choosing a fish for your Water Garden is that it’s a 3 gallon tank. For that reason, we recommend 1 Betta fish but if you prefer to have a few fish we suggest keeping 2-3 Zebra Danios or Male Fancy Guppies as an alternate pet choice. We’ve had folks put snails, shrimp, crabs, and a lot of other fish in there. Based on the average 1″ of fish per gallon rule, you’ll want to put only small fish in there. We do not recommend Goldfish because they require a much larger tank than a 3-gallon one. Hope this helps!”

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