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 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!
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.
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!
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.
- 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.