The home gardening trend of aquaponics has been attracting more and more enthusiasts. It brilliantly integrates an aquarium and a garden to create a system where plants thrive on fish waste, and the fish consume the organic growth on the plant roots.
While the DIY route promises fun and education, it is better to invest in an aquaponic kit to make the processes easier and less messy. Some of our favorite kits include:
This kit comes as a self-sustaining aquarium and aquaponics system for your home or office. It has all the necessary components to create a thriving aquaponics system out of any standard 10-gallon aquarium.
The garden comes in a contemporary black matte design that will match a range of decors. You only need to snap on the garden’s legs on your tank for easy assembly. There are also no concerns of dirt seeping into cracks because the platform where you place the garden is designed as a single and compact piece.
Thanks to the light bar that comes with the package, you can position the set up in areas with insufficient natural light. There is no lighting provided, but it gives you a chance to choose the kind of lighting you prefer based on your plant’s requirements.
Also included in the kit is a 9.5watt/120 V submersible pump that handles a rate of 160 gallons per hour. The additional 24-hour timer can be set at intervals of 15 minutes. The timer and the pump have a one-year warranty.
The Garden aquaponics kit has a special clay grow media to support the growth of your plants. The media offers a surface area for beneficial bacteria to grow and turn fish waste into plant nutrients. It also performs mechanical filtration by trapping uneaten fish food and fish waste.
This kit makes traditional fertilizers unnecessary by utilizing similar principles for waste recycling as those in natural ecosystems. You only need to feed your fish to make the system self-sustaining, and you can easily grow your favorite vegetables and herbs.
A step-by-step guide accompanies every kit to make installing and maintaining the garden hassle-free. Additional queries will be handled quickly through email, phone, or live chat.
This system works well with a 20-gallon fish tank, and it makes it easy to grow organic produce throughout the year. It is a closed-loop system, where you feed the fish, and they, in turn, feed the plants. The plants clean the water and create a healthy environment for your aquatic pets.
It is packaged with advanced, energy-efficient, and programmable LED lights that will encourage the growth of your plants. You get four grow settings, an inbuilt timer, and remote control for easy operation. The white glow emitted by the lights adds to the brilliant aesthetics of the setup.
This kit lets you cultivate full-sized leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, chives, and strawberries. It also makes the water change cycle decreased to 10%.
This system is a favorite with teachers for use in classrooms, because of its quiet operation and small footprint. Ecolife has designed a learning tool for science subjects to teach kids the advantages of aquaponics. Even if you are a homeschooling parent, you can use this kit as part of your education program.
Springworks Microfarm Aquaponic Garden
This kit is marketed as a reliable indoor solution to cultivate vegetables and herbs. It will turn your 10-gallon aquarium into a thriving aquaponic garden, and its minimalistic setup makes it perfect for small spaces. Its ambiance will fit your home or office and even classrooms.
The system has an auto-digital timer that can be configured for optimal plant growth. The timer will flood the grow bed for 15 minutes every hour to nourish your plant’s roots. The grow bed is constructed from durable plastic, and you can use it to cultivate the included non-GMO sweet basil and oregano seeds. The kit also has a lightweight clay aggregate medium.
The aquaponic garden includes all the necessary fittings to sustain the system. You get a tank lid, an efficient pump to direct water up the plants, a beneficial bacterial additive to begin turning fish waste into plant food, an integrated high output light, and an all-natural de-chlorinator.
If you want to grow herbs or vegetables indoors, this might be a great choice for both home and office. This aquaponic aquarium kit is also a great choice for classrooms for teaching students how an ecosystem works.
This kit is ideal for a 10 gallon aquarium. The aquarium is not included, but you can buy a cheap 10-gallon aquarium on Amazon or other store.
The Springworks aquaponic kit includes the following: a growing bed in which you can plant the seeds or seedlings, tank lid which hold the growing bed and the necessary fittings.
Lightweight clay aggregate is also part of the kit, which is great for holding plant roots as well filtering the water through its porous surfaces. A time also comes in the package, which is great for putting the lights on a timer.
A quite and efficient water pump is also included, which will pump water from the tank into the growing bed though the clay aggregate and roots of the plants.
A de-chlorinator is also part of the package, which is needed to treat tap water. Beneficial bacteria is also included, which is necessary to start a healthy fish tank.
On top of that, fish food and non-GMO sweet basil and oregano seeds are also included.
A reflector assembly and high output lights, which will be mounted on the aquarium lid is also included in this aquaponic kit.
This kit promises a sustainable and low-maintenance ecosystem. Since the plants filter water, you do have to do a lot of water changes. Its minimalistic design makes it a perfect fit for any living space. The kit is handmade and flame polished for a modern and classy look.
It comes with customizable LED hue lights to allow you to set the automatic timer and change LED colors. You also get aquaponics filter, mountain rock décor, aquarium sand, glass cover, and wireless remote control.
You can keep one betta or several small fish in this 2-gallon setup. Feed the fish three to six times a week and top off the system with filtered water.
It features a fish tank and a seed sprouter where you can sprout many types of seeds and harvest healthy vegetables. You can also utilize the kit as a hydroponics growing system for flowers and plants.
It is a self-cleaning system, where the dirty water from your aquarium heads to the roots of the plants and supplies nutrients. Your aquarium will, therefore, need 50% fewer cleanings than traditional tanks. It is also easy to clean this kit because of its U-shaped base.
The system uses a siphon oxygen supply to cycle oxygen in two minutes. Your plants and fish will benefit greatly from the high-aeration levels.
How Aquaponics Garden System Works?
Aquaponics combines the concepts of hydroponics and aquaculture. The former describes the practice of cultivating plants without soil, while the latter involves rearing aquatic animals like fish. The system works in the following steps:
- Aquatic animals will excrete waste that is primarily made of ammonia. Every aquarist knows the dangers of having ammonia in an aquarium, so this element has to be removed from the tank.
- The ammonia is used to encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria like Nitrobacter and Nitrosomonas. These bacteria transform ammonia into nitrates and nitrites.
- The resultant water is rich in nitrates, and it is channeled to the hydroponic plants. The plants are organized in grow beds that sit on trays filled with water with the roots hanging through holes and into the water.
- The plants use the nutrients to grow and thrive. The nitrates serve as fertilizers for the plants, instead of leaving them in the aquarium’s water where they would negatively impact the fish.
- Once the plants absorb the nitrates, nitrites, and ammonia, the water goes back to the aquarium and creates a healthy habitat for your fish.
The are many aquaponic methods used by aquarists today, including:
- Media-based Aquaponics- This method relies on inert growing media like shale to cultivate plants. This media will remove solid impurities and also convert ammonia into nitrates. You can grow a variety of plants with this method, including herbs and leafy greens, which makes it great for hobbyists.
- NFT systems- NFT systems (Nutrient Film technique) channel nutrient-rich water via narrow tubing. PVC pipes are commonly used with this method, where plants are positioned in holes drilled through the tubes. The roots are left hanging in the water, and the system is especially ideal for plants that do well with little support like strawberries. You can hang these systems from ceilings for the added stylistic touch.
- Deep Water Culture- This method involves the use of a foam raft that floats in a channel comprised of water that has been filtered free of solid waste. The roots hang through holes made in the raft. The system fits plants that need low nutrients like salad greens, and it is popularly used in large-scale and commercial projects.
- Vertical Aquaponics– Plants are stacked on each other to create tower systems in vertical aquaponics. Water pours in through the top of the tower, and it flows through a wicking component through which the plants absorb nutrients and water. The water then makes its way into the fish tank free of any toxic elements. This method is credited for saving on space.
Is it Safe to Eat Plants Grown in an Aquaponic Garden?
Aquaponics food is safe to consume, particularly because it is grown without chemical fertilizers. When done right, the plants can even be healthier than store-bought produce. Aquaponics relies on organic fish waste to grow plants instead of using harmful pesticides and herbicides.
With these systems, you also get fresh and convenient produce. You get complete control over the products that you consume because you select which foods to give your fish. You can, therefore, be sure of the kind of waste produced by your aquatic animals.
Best Plants to Grow in an Aquaponic Aquarium
Most of the plants that thrive in hydroponic systems will grow well in aquaponics aquariums. Herbs and green leafy vegetables are common staples in these setups. Small and hobby-scale systems will support vegetables that do not need a lot of nutrients like spring onions, kale, watercress, and spinach. For plants like beans, cucumber, broccoli, cucumbers, and cauliflowers, you need an advanced system.
Plants to consider in your aquaponics setup include:
- Lettuce – Lettuce is quite popular with aquaponics, mainly because it matures quickly. You can either cultivate it from seeds or from the bottoms of the heads of mature plants. Be aware of varieties like iceberg that need higher nutrients.
- Tomatoes – If you decide to grow tomatoes, provide enough support to encourage them to grow upwards, and not interfere with each other. Ensure temperatures are kept between 75 to 85ºF and PH between 5.5 and 6.5.
- Kale – Kale leaves are bursting with minerals and vitamins, and they thrive well in aquaponics. They particularly do well in media-bed systems where they blossom if conditions are appropriate. Kale like cold conditions, and you can grow them during winter or provide a constant flood.
- Basil – Basil loves abundant water, which is why it will grow well in aquaponics. It also grows in a wide PH range of 5.1 to 8.5 while its roots prefer to be well-drained between cycles.
Best Fish to Keep in an Aquaponic Systems
You can rear a wide variety of fish in an aquaponics system provided you afford them special care. Such species include:
- Tilapia – Tilapia is an aquaponics staple because of its impressive hardiness. Their omnivorous nature makes them easy to feed and maintain. They will grow best in warm conditions and will tolerate temperatures between 70 and 80 °F. You can harvest the fish from six to eight months, and they will taste great when kept in the right conditions.
- Trout – Trout have a carnivorous diet and are related to char and salmon. The rainbow trout is the most popular with aquaponics since it is the hardiest of all other varieties.
Unlike tilapia, trout cannot thrive in dirty water, and they prefer temperatures between 45 and 72 °F.
- Catfish – Catfish are popular because they grow very fast and reach one pound in about 18 months. Their non-territorial nature makes them accommodate similarly-sized fish in a community tank. They also have a good tolerance for different temperature conditions, although you should try and keep it between 75 and 86 °F.
- Koi – The koi fish is more of an ornamental species than an edible one. It will add bright colors to your system while being impressively resistant to parasites. The koi fish tolerates temperatures between 35 to 85 °F, and it also eats algae to promote water quality.
- Goldfish – Like koi fish, goldfish species will brighten your aquaponics system with their luxurious colors. They produce waste quickly and are widely available.
In a small aquaponic aquarium you can’t keep the above mentioned fish, because these need more space. However, there are some fish that you can keep in a 10-20 gallon aquaponic fish tank:
- Betta Fish – you can keep only one male betta fish in a small tank, because they are aggressive and can kill each other. Multiple female bettas can be kept together. Although, bettas are not huge waste producers, they can still contribute a lot to growing plants in your aquaponic tank.
- Guppies – are peaceful fish and are great for smaller fish tanks. In a normal 10 gallon aquarium, you can keep 5-6 guppies. They will reproduce quickly and will produce enough waste for your aquaponic plants to develop and grow . Guppies are hardy fish and are a great choice for beginners too.
- Mollies – are livebearer fish just like guppies and can also be kept in 10-20 gallon fish tanks. They are also a good choice for beginners as well for an aquaponic aquarium.
Beside these aquarium fish, you can choose other beginner friendly fish, just make sure, they are a good choice for smaller aquariums.
How to Maintain an Aquaponic Aquarium System?
It does not take a lot to run a successful aquaponics system.
Ensure you feed the fish enough to get sufficient food waste for the plants. Aeration is particularly important in these setups since the plants, fish, and microbes all rely on the constant supply of oxygen.
It is also essential to match plants and fish that have the same requirements for easy maintenance. Aquaponics gardens are especially sensitive to PH levels, which you should continuously determine by using test strips.
Aquaponic systems provide a healthy environment for fish and plants to thrive. You can either make a DIY kit or buy a ready one from brands like Ecolife, Springworks, EcoQube, and Huamuyu.
Aquaponics supports the growth of edible fish like tilapia and produce like kale, spinach, and herbs.