Foray into Aquaponics

I already mentioned growing food.  Well I want my garden to be completely organic.  I started studying permaculture and while doing so I found out about aquaponics.  How awesome!  So, here’s my first foray into aquaponics.

I found out about this self-contained starter aquaponics setup called Aquafarm. It’s a five gallon aquarium, with everything you need to get going, even a coupon for the fish!  I’ve had aquariums before but it’s been years so it seemed like a nice way to get started.

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My niece and nephew who live nearby are trying to come up with a name for the fish.  I hope they do soon, I am getting tired of calling him “the fish”!

It started up fast, I had tiny seedlings within a few days!  I got a Betta from Petco and he seems pretty happy in his new home.  The Aquafarm came with Basil, Lettuce, and Wheat grass seeds and 5 net pots that sit in the top.  The air pump pushes water up the center tube into a tray and the net pots are suspended above the tray, two small holes allow the water to drip back down into the aquarium.  The fish provides food for the plants, the plants filter the water for the fish.

I will soon be looking for a small snail to help clean up the left over food and other stuff that ends up on the bottom of the tank, but I need to make sure there’s enough food for the snail before I get one, also I need to find a way to only get one or two, most places seem to sell them in quantities of 25 or more – I really don’t need that many in this small of a tank.

A few notes about the Aquafarm. Do yourself a favour, when you go to the store to get your Betta, also get some aquarium gravel and decorations.  The aquarium looks pretty blah with just the gravel that came with it. When I added the aquarium gravel and decorations, what a difference!  Instead of using the gravel that came with it inside the aquarium, use it all in the net pots (you use most of it in the net pots anyway leaving only a small bit to go on the bottom of the aquarium – not nearly enough).  Yes, that’s a plastic plant in mine.   I wanted a live plant, but I couldn’t find one small enough for such a small aquarium and I was afraid that it would take too much nutrients from the food plants (and after all the food is the point) – whether this is a valid concern or not, I’m not sure, but with only one fish and strong growing plants on top, it seems like it may be valid.

I’d like a light so that I can see the fish better.  I saw a strip led aquarium light that you can cut to size, I think this might work in the aquarium, I just have to find it again.

It’s been going for several weeks now, but I don’t think the plants are getting enough light.  They are doing okay, but not really growing very fast since the initial spurt and much of the wheat grass has died after only one cutting.  I’m definitely looking for a grow light to place above the aquarium.

Starting the plants from seedlings from the local nursery would be a lot faster than growing them from seeds, so if you were to get an Aquafarm, you may want to consider that.

[pe2-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”” type=”image” alt=”IMG_20130922_174630_938.jpg” pe2_img_align=”right” ] To my ears, the air pump is louder than I’d like.  Admittedly, my ears are more sensitive than most and my house is very quiet – I spend a lot of time with no noise other than myself or my dog moving around -, so I tend to be more disturbed by noise than the average person.  As I get additional aquariums set up, I’ll be looking for a quieter pump and will probably also put it in a more sound proofed area.  Meanwhile, I used packing peanuts to pad the area the air pump is in to keep it from rattling around and making quite so much noise.  I highly recommend using some packing peanuts for this purpose!



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