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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2014
When I bought this product my life was in the dumps. My wife had just left me for an undomesticated gorilla type and I was really in need of something to help me pull through. I got a recommendation from a fellow divorced guy, that having a pet might make me feel a little better about my situation. I was never much of a cleaner (#whysheleftme) and knew that I needed to start small if I was going to be a pet owner. The aqua farm was perfect for me. Never much of a savant in the kitchen, I tried to incorporate the herbs I grew into my daily cooking routine, and over time with a little practice I got a lot better. Additionally, caring for the fish inspired me to eventually get a dog, named Herby who I love very much. A few months after I purchased the Back to the Roots AquaFarm, I was hanging out in a dog park and eventually met my new wife Emily. Now I feel no longer like a divorced guy. Thanks Aquafarm.
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The manufacturer commented on the review below
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2015
RUN AWAY FROM THIS POS

I wanted to like it, but it does everything it can to make you hate it...
First, the build/material quality is awful. The clear tank is uneven and rocks around, the white tray was warped, the lid is badly shaped. The rocks shipped with the unit are Not As Pictured, there was almost enough to cover the bottom 1-rock thick making this oddball tank look even worse. (Look at the pic I am including)

Second, the design is lacking to the point of making it dysfunctional. The pump will not stay stuck to the 'glass', the way the tubing and wiring are supposed to run make it impossible to remove the tray without pulling the plumbing, as it is, out and feeding the power cord back through the tray... they could have had the tubing and cord run around the outside of the tray instead of in it, can't imagine why it was engineered like that.

Third, and most important to myself, this is not a good hydro/aquaponic design. The water only touches the bottom 1/5 of the grow stones in the baskets leaving the top 4/5 dry. I guess you could adjust this by plugging the drain holes with taller tubes but then the water would probably fall back out of the slot the pump tube sits in. The instruction for the seeds have you smearing them on the top of the dry grow stones... seriously.
There is absolutely NO Aeration in this setup. The drain holes are so close to the water line that no oxygenation is occurring from falling water; your plants and fish will die. I realize Beta fish don't need as much dissolved O2 in the water, but that means you can only use a Beta fish and your plants will have a very hard time pulling nutes. Without enough O2 in the water you will get anaerobic bacs and fungi really quickly. I managed to fit an airstone tube mashed in with the power cord for the pump but it had to be kinked and the tray fits even worse now.

I thought the bad reviews on this were due to inexperienced users that may not have understood hydro/aquaponics, but really this is just terrible.

I have built many hydro systems and am preparing to do an aquaponic build; I figured I could use this as a test bed for determining good PH/Nute values, but I think I am going to try to return this, even on sale it just isn't worth the parts it is made from.

Save you money and time and just buy a little tank, pump, and grow tray. It shouldn't cost any more than this and will function better in every way.
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The manufacturer commented on this review (What's this?)
Hi,

Thank you for your interest in our product and for sharing a photo and your experience. I'd like to take this opportunity to address some of your issues as well as clarify a bit of misinformation.

Firstly, I'm concerned that your tank arrived damaged. I'm not seeing any unevenness in the clear acrylic, but the grow bed does look like it warped inward. If you still have your AquaFarm can you please contact me directly? I'd love to check out more photos and can send you free replacements for any damaged or severely warped parts. I can also send you a new pump with better suction since yours do not stick to the acrylic very well.

I want to assure you that the Water Garden is a good aquaponics system and great for novice farmers! If/when you plant your seeds on top of the Growstones, you'll notice that there is enough moisture for them to germinate and then their roots will grow down into the grow bed looking for water. If it's particularly dry in your home or you are growing greens and herbs that take longer to develop a root system, you can add water to the top layer of rocks to help give them a boost. However the seeds provided will grow just fine if following the included planting instructions.

Also you are right, this tank have very little additional oxygen. The water drip provides dissolved oxygen. This is one of the main reasons why a Betta fish is recommended. If you'd like other species you'll want to consult your local pet store about adding an airstone. It's also important to keep in mind that this is only a 3 gallon tank. Many other species will need a tank of 10+ gallons. Fungus would have to be introduced into the tank to bloom, so as long as your fish, snails, etc are healthy, then there's no need to worry about fungal outbreaks in your AquaFarm. Most betta tanks are small and none of them should be aerated as bettas like calm, warm water.

Finally, I really appreciate your review and would love to learn from your expertise. Can you please reach out to me directly with more feedback and for support. I hope to hear from you soon.

Best,

Jasmine Jackson
Back to the Roots
contact@backtotheroots.com
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2013
If I could convince my husband to have more of these, we would have more. I kept my eye on this from the moment it hit kickstarter.com and ordered, before this even went into production. All I can say is, that we love it. Yes, it could be improved upon,(some kind of center support in-between the tray and net-pot holder) and yes, it's not perfect, but this is the very first version of it. Overall, this is a great product for the price. And if you think that the Betta is worse off in one of these, than in a little plastic jar, I think you are going to be wrong. Some of the people who reviewed this, who left negative feedback, do not own one. Please, talk about facts, not assumptions.

Regardless, this has been a great teaching tool to our 3 year old daughter. I would highly recommend it. We added one net-pot of wheat-grass (included seed packet) to help get the roots started to help filter the water. The roots were in the "tray" in about 4 days. The others have basil, salad mix, peppermint and chamomile in it, all growing very well.

After 1 week and again after 3 weeks, I had the water tested at my local Petsmart (for free...thank you Petsmart) and there are no issues at all with the water in my tank (I do not replace the water, I just top it off with distilled water). Healthy happy Betta and healthy happy plants who are thriving.

Made in America and awesome and friendly staff. (I had some issues with it when it first arrived, but they were amazing to work with).
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2014
killed my first betta within 5hrs, even after following instructions

2nd time around- let the tap water sit for a few days, suspecting the hard chlorinated water of houston tx was the culprit

and now have a pretty fun mini aquaponics tank

would suggest to
1) let tap water sit out for a few days
2) have a guinea pig first betta
3) make potential funeral arrangements for said betta
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2013
We were so excited when we bought this product and during the first two weeks of owning it when we grew some wheatgrass. We already owned a hearty betta fish and thought this would give him a new happy home. However, after only two weeks of owning this tank, the wheatgrass died and the basil never even sprouted. After two and half weeks the pump totally stopped working.

We ordered a new pump and spent many hours trying to find one that would fit inside the top part of the tank, but couldn't find anything that fit inside the top tray. We finally bought an external pump for the tank, however, no plants will grow in the system despite putting the tank in a very sunny location. Instead of plants we have tons of algae inside the tank and now we have to clean the tank by hand and switch out the water as if the betta were living in a bowl (but it is way more work than a bowl because we have to remove the cumbersome top each time, which promptly broke upon removing it more than once). As the tank is designed to be a self-cleaning system, the top fills with water and the design makes it extremely difficult to ever remove the lid at all: every time we take off the top off to clean the tank dirty water and algae spill everywhere and it is a huge mess. Finally, our fish developed fin rot because of the quality of the water.

Although the hydroponic betta tank was a good idea, this product does NOT work as an ecosystem and has been extremely frustrating and time consuming. We really regret buying it and our fish is very sad in his new home :(.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2015
I have the v2 latest current version as pictured.
After reading so many of the other reviews I decided that I should write my own.

Is this product perfect for novices? Probably not. I certainly would not put a fish in that I cared deeply about, before learning more about hydroponics.

We knew nothing about hydroponics when we started and I'm very happy to report that were well on our way now. We started by soaking our seeds for almost a week till most of them started sprouting in our cookie sheet. I'm not sure why this isn't suggested. During which time my two year old daughter decided she wanted to help by mixing all the seeds :) we started with the two packs provided, and some mint, Basil, radish, wheat grass and broccoli for broccoli sprouts.

Well the provided seeds did really really well, but because the seeds were mixed I kinda had to put them all in at once. The other seeds might be coming now but it's hard to tell because of the forest of wheat grass and radish sprouts. :)

We've made at least four smoothies so far and the grass keeps growing great. We've cut sprouts for two sandwiches and we're having lots of fun.

I tried to do my research and since we cared so much about the plants we wanted to put the tank in the sun. So I bought the betta and a plocostomous. Well I know all betta fish are different but this one didn't like that idea one bit. Within two days there was only the betta left. :-/ oops. But the plants were growing great!

By this time the water was looking a little gross. Some of the seeds fell into the water and are kind of rotting on the bottom. So after that experience I decided I would buy a little fire red cherry shrimp and an assassin snail. Since I thought my betta was bored I also bought a log, and put some ping pong balls in. ( I read that online )

Since I was adding extra animals to the tank I decided to also get some baby tears plants. To help with the water quality. I put it all in but the betta still seemed kinda lethargic. I thought it might be oxygen levels or temperature so I got a thermometer and a little bubble pump. The temperature is between 76 and 78 so I think that is fine for now, and the bubble pump is kinda fun with the log.

Anyway this morning I found the betta dead down by the log...
So... After a day without the betta the water really started to clear up with the snail and the shrimp going strong. I thought it would be good to get another betta tonight to keep feeding the plants.

We bought another one and he is much more energetic than the last one!

I wanted to share all of this because as you can tell for us it's more about learning about the balance of they Eco system than the life of one fish or a plant. I know others may disagree but this has been a fantastic learning experience for us and when you look at it that way it's really fun. My wife and I have been engaging our friends about our experience and it's just shocking that most people myself included don't know that it's even possible to have an eco system like this...

I wish I would have known about this when I was a kid. I spent a lot of time cleaning my fish tanks and so far this is the best fish tank I've ever even heard of. It's stylish and super fun for kids. I have every confidence in the world that we are converging to a solid balance with ours. We may buy several more shrimp and try to clean up more of the seed rot on the bottom, but I'm having lots of fun with it all.

Sadly our second fish, the happy one is now dead.
It was a slow and painful death for our family to watch.
He started hanging out more and more by the pump and then finally he laid on the gravel and never swam back up.

I'm not sure if we can put another betta through this.
Our investment in education might have taught more than just hydroponics.
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The manufacturer commented on the review below
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2015
This is a pretty great fish tank and amateur hydroponic system for the price. While i'm sure you could buy a better fishtank for less, this one requires very little upkeep and works as a garden to boot. I've read some reviews about algae problems, and that is really just a matter of keeping the tank away form direct sunlight, which isn't hard to do considering the size. If you want to grow more sunlight craving plants, I'd recommend a grow light or covering the tank during sunny hours. Snails also help keep algae in check. But again, I've never personally had an issue with algae using this product. I generally spend 20 minutes once every three weeks cleaning the plant tray and clearing out old plants from the cups before planting new seeds, and I use API accu-clear solution to keep the tank clear. Keeping the sediment out of the bottom of the tank is a challenge, but it really isn't a pressing issue as long as you don't mind a slightly dirty looking bottom.

The biggest beef I have is the power cord situation. My apartment doesn't always stay super warm, so i bought a little tank heater to help with the water temp in addition to the pump. The way the cords are designed to extend out of the tank is poorly designed and causes the plant tray to stick up in one corner. My solution is to run the cords beneath the plant tray and skip the provided space within the tray entirely, as seen in the attached photo. This allows me to take out the entire tray as needed for cleaning without having to wrangle with the power cords.

All in all, this is a great little side project and I get a lot of joy out of growing different plants and maintaining the whole tiny little ecosystem. It is pretty stress free, but as with any fish tank requires some minimal effort to maintain.
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The manufacturer commented on this review (What's this?)
Hi Carl,

Thank you so much for taking the time to review our product, post a photo and provide tips and tricks! We really appreciate your support and hope to hear more feedback from you. Please feel free to contact us directly with any further though.

Best,

Jasmine Jackson
Back to the Roots
contact@backtotheroots.com
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2014
This aquarium caught my eye and it seemed interesting to have plant roots being a filter medium after years of having a standard freshwater community tank with the usual filtration methods. The package arrived with everything intact. I did notice some slight bowing of the white plastic top at the sides but for the most part, the aquarium seemed to arrive with relatively good quality control with everything packaged nicely and no missing items. Assembly was pretty straight forward. I received the second generation Aquafarm with the internal pump. I did do something a little different. I had a betta in a cycled tank with water and substrate already. So I went ahead and added my betta along with the water and substrate into this tank (retiring the other tank into a hospital tank). Thus, there really wasn't any clouding of the water as the biological filtration was set up and merely transferred into another tank along with the fish. I guess I did miss out on the discount coupon of getting a betta from petco but if you can afford the aquafarm, a betta at full retail probably wont be an issue.

I have had the aquarium for just under a week at this point and here are my initial observations. To set up the tank, it is pretty standard until you realize this is not your regular aquarium with a hood you simply remove to add things. The new pump is a small unit that is placed internally and suctioned up against the aquarium wall. You then have to run a black tubing as well as the power cord out through openings in the upper white plastic top compartment. You then place the top cover which has 5 cut outs for the plant pots and a swivel door for feeding the fish on top of the upper white compartment. The black tubing is held in place through a slot in the upper compartment delivering water to the root area of the plants and the power cord runs out through a slot in the top cover. Here is a design challenge that is hard to overcome. To add anything to the aquarium other than betta pellets, you have to carefully lift the upper compartment and unseat the pump tubing and power cord. This would be fine except there is a good amount of water in the upper compartment. Thus be advised, don't do this near anything you don't want to get wet. Since tank is only 3 gallons, I simply carry it either outside or over to a sink. I had to do this as I added some water plants after set up of the tank. However, once set up, realistically, you wont be lifting the hood all that much other than perhaps some water changes which you can do using a turkey baster which fits through the feeding slot.

The water pump is quite small but seems to do a nice job at circulating the tank at the rate a betta would appreciate. There are 3 holes through which the water can potentially return to the tank but only one of which realistically does. This is actually fine as it represents a minimal amount of current which is best for bettas who like a calm environment. I added a few ghost shrimps to help clean the bottom and so far so good. One issue with the pump is while it is submersible and silent for the most part, the black tubing that carries the water to the upper compartment needs to angled so it does not touch the tank sides. It will rattle somewhat if it does. However, this so far is not a big deal as once I adjusted the tubing, it stayed in place and no further noise. As well, adjusting tubing is easily done by lifting the closest plant basket.

So we set up the plant holders and that was easy enough. Planted two with basil which has yet to sprout but not expecting this to go fast as I do not have the tank next to a window and gets mostly indirect lighting. The wheatgrass, however, has already made progress and I can see why the company chose this plant. Not only has it sprouted but is growing quickly and sending roots towards the water. The plant holders actually work pretty nicely, a few seeds dropped through but you just lift holder (not the whole top cover as it is not necessary) and you can pretty much access the entire water reservoir easily to retrieve the seeds. The growstones actually capture the the seeds quite well for the most part.

Overall first impression is a nice package with one inconvenient issue of not being able to access the fish tank easily should you need to add plants/etc. Be ready to have things get wet and remember to watch out for the cord and tubing when removing the top. The bowing of the plastic on the side is a non-issue thus far as it is minimal and really not a functional or aesthetic issue. Is this due to quality control or the fact that I had the item delivered to my house which resides in an area of the country where during summer 95 degrees is considered mild?

Potential areas that can improve the tank:

Easier access of the fish tank

For aesthetic purposes only, an LED lighting system--fish probably couldn't care less but us humans would like to see better perhaps.

Ability to remove the swivel door completely--be nice to be able to park an automatic feeder across the top when going on vacation but the door goes vertical when open thus potentially obstructing a feeder.

Summary: I bought this tank not to set up a new aquarium with a school of neon tetra/catfish/etc. That should be your standard tank with standard lighting, filtration, heater, etc. and the larger the better (I would have an 150 gallon tank but my wife would veto that idea so my main tank is adequate but not as large as I would like). This is a aquaponics hobby tank that is a betta tank with perhaps a snail or some small shrimp as friends. I purchased this because it is different from anything out there. Is it perfect? No, but it is unique and its fun as any hobby should be. The company appears to be very responsive and has had a long list of reviews of good customer service--notice any less than shiny review is followed up with a reply. Thus, as long as this product is successful, I would think the folks will continue to modify and improve the aquarium. The plants have thus far germinated and started grow nicely and look forward to trying different types of seeds as time goes by. Overall, I like this product and so far so good.
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The manufacturer commented on the review below
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2015
I got my AquaFarm when they were first funding v1 with a Kickstarter campaign. They had me at "self-cleaning"! I do agree that v1 had issues, not the least of which was the noisy filter. When v2 came out, I did send for the new tray and filter, and have been very satisfied with the outcome. The filter is much much quieter and does the job well, and the new tray fits properly where the old one didn't. We have one betta fish, as recommended.

While on the one hand, the tank does keep itself clean for a long time - that is, the system works - on the other hand, we have not been successful growing anything at all except wheat grass. I have added the use of a grow lamp pointed at the tray, and the grass grows quite well. But, since I don't juice it, and have nearly no other use for it (sometimes I cut it like chives and use it in salads), it dies off within usually about a couple of weeks (short life cycle), and I have to clean out the containers and start with new seeds. I try to do this in cycles so that there is always some grass growing and having its roots in the tray. Perhaps for this reason, I do find I have to clean out the whole thing and start with fresh water occasionally (not more than once every few months, though.)
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The manufacturer commented on this review (What's this?)
Thank you so much for this super helpful review! Glad to hear that the current version is working for you!

You can find some tips from another Kickstarter Backer who is having success here: http://theaquaponicsource.com/aquaponic-gardener-profile-12 and of course feel free to reach out to us directly for tips :)

Best,

Jasmine Jackson
Back to the Roots
Contact@backtotheroots.com | 510.922.9758 x1
The manufacturer commented on the review below
27 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2013
This tank design is not safe for fish! I bought this tank as a present for my sister and she set it up exactly as the directions stated. She bought the most beautiful delta fin betta fish for it three days ago and now the betta has become injured and looks as though it may be dying! The betta was very active and alert until last night when she came home from work to discover that the betta had become stuck in the center tube that is used for the air pump (she quickly helped the fish out but he may have been stuck in there for hours)!! His fins were destroyed and my sister believes that he has become blind in one eye! The betta has become extremely sluggish and now just sits on the bottom of his tank - it's depressing to see him in this state. I am extremely disappointed in this tank and am sending this back as soon as possible. If you care about your betta or other breeds of fish, do not buy this tank.
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The manufacturer commented on this review (What's this?)
Hi Danielle--

Thank you so much for your review. I'm extremely sorry to hear about your sister's fish. Can you please pass along our contact information? I'd like to speak with you and/or your sister as soon as possible to learn more about the accident. We've made a few changes to the tubing to help prevent these accidents, but I'd like to collect as much data as possible and really look forward to hearing from you two.

Best,

Jasmine Jackson
Community Happyness
Jasmine@backtotheroots.com | 510.922.9758

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