Aquaponics is a method of growing plants alongside or above fish in water. It sounds complicated, but you can set this up pretty quickly and easily with a “ready-made” aquaponic kit from the many that are available on the market.
When set up outdoors, aquaponics systems are generally quite sizable with bigger fish in a pond or large tank. But aquaponics is also an ideal way to grow herbs and small greens in your home with smaller fish such as betta fish.
Aquaponics works because it’s a perfect symbiotic relationship: the waste from the fish adds nutrients to the water to feed the plants, while the plants filter the water before its returned to the tank. If the roots of the plant are not directly in the water, a pump is used to transport it to and from the plant.
Growing food this way is fun, efficient and good for the environment. And, since no special expertise is needed, aquaponics kits are suitable for everyone: kids, foodies, gardening lovers and even teachers for school projects! They also make wonderfully unique holiday gifts.
Needless to say, some special equipment is needed, but after the initial set up you’ll find that very little maintenance is required. Aquaponics kits come in a variety of shapes, sizes and styles. With the exception of the AquaSprouts Garden, each aquaponics kit below does not need a pump and is easy to set up. Fish are not included in any of the kits.
Back to the Roots Water Garden
If you’re trying aquaponics for the first time and want to start small, you can’t beat the Back to the Roots Water Garden Mini Ecosystem. This aquaponics kit contains everything you’ll need: the tank itself, organic microgreen seeds, a mix to remove chlorine from the water and maintain it’s correct balance and growstones for the plants. Understandably, it does not include any fish, but it does include a coupon to help with the cost of buying a fish. The package says you can harvest the organic microgreens in just 10 days. It comes with a 100% guarantee and refill kits are also available.
Penn Plax Aquaponic Fish Tank
Another mini option is the Penn Plax Aquaponic Fish Tank. This tank consists of a 10” tall plastic plant holder plus ceramic planting material to retain water and support root growth. The diameter is 7.8″ and it holds 1.4 gallons of water. The roots of the plant reach down into the water where there’s space for just one or two fish. This kit is suitable for micro greens and herbs.
There’s also a smaller version 8″ tall and 5.8″ in diameter which holds just 0.5 gallons of water. This will accommodate just one fish, but the space for plants is about the same. Several of these mini tanks can be placed together for an attractive display—or they can be placed in different locations around your home.
Sweetsea Wall-Mounted Fish Bowl
When space is lacking, take a look at the popular Sweetsea Wall-Mounted Fish Bowl aquaponics kit. It looks like a round fishbowl sliced vertically in half, which allows the flat side to be hung on a wall. Almost like a vase, the roots grow in the tank with the fish swimming around them while the plant grows upwards. There’s only space for one or two small fish and some herbs or small greens. It’s more a decorative option, and it’s also an ideal gift.
The AquaSprouts Garden aquaponics kit is more substantial and therefore more expensive than the mini kits. It turns a regular fish tank into an aquaponics system. The kit includes a grow bed, big enough for a variety of plants, clay pebbles, a pump and timer and an adjustable grow light that you can remove if you have enough natural light. You provide your own 10-gallon aquarium and fish.
This is a more complex system and is a more interesting project than the others in this article. With a bigger tank you can have more fish, a bigger harvest and a “real” aquarium in your home. The pump and timer have a 1-year warranty and there’s great support with live chat on the website.
Indoor aquaponics can be a fun way to grow food. It allows you to cultivate plants and aquatic life at the same time without the need for fertilizing, weeding or kneeling. If your living space is limited or you don’t have much time for gardening, an aquaponics kit may help make growing your own food more accessible. And store-bought aquaponics kits are inexpensive and make the set up and maintenance even easier.
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