Back to the Roots Water Garden
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- Bring the garden inside with the Back to the Roots Water Garden. This mini aquaponic tank is a closed-loop ecosystem — the betta fish waste fertilizes the plants on top, and the plants filter and clean the water for your fish — not your average betta fish bowl!
- Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture, or fish farming, and hydroponics, or growing plants in nutrient-rich water. The fish excrete ammonia that would become toxic to the fish in a regular fish bowl. In the Water Garden, the ammonia-rich waste is pumped up to the grow bed and absorbed by the plants, helping them grow twice as fast as in traditional farming! The clean water is then filtered back to the tank, creating a low-maintenance, self-cleaning cycle to foster a healthy fish and herb garden.
- The Water Garden aquaponic kit comes with everything you need to get started including: 3-gallon fish tank, organic wheatgrass and radish sprout seeds, a coupon for your betta fish, fish food, natural fertilizer, a silent, submersible water pump, gravel, and growstones.
- Learn more about the science inside your fish tank — download the Water Garden curriculum at backtotheroots.com for lessons on the history of aquaponics, how it works, and the benefits of home and commerical aquaponics.
- Grow One, Give One! Submit a photo of your growing Water Garden for a chance to win one for a classroom of your choice through Back to the Roots’ monthly giveaway. Upload your photo at backtotheroots.com/giveone.
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Back to the Roots is on a mission to Undo Food. In a college class, we learned mushrooms could grow entirely on spent coffee grounds. After watching hours of how-to videos and turning our fraternity kitchen into a big science experiment, we eventually decided to give up our corporate job offers to instead become full-time mushroom farmers. What started as curiosity about urban farming has turned into a passion to Undo Food and reconnect families back to where it comes from.
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Btw, after doing all this work to set up your tank, don't cheap out and get a cheap heater - apparently they will sometimes cook your fish out of nowhere. See my other comments for a well-reviewed heater that fits this tank.
Also, you should set up this tank and let it run for at least ten days before adding a fish. The materials don't make that clear, but it will give your fish the best chance of success. Seriously, don't add your fish the first day. It was super tempting to do that, but I resisted. You can too!
- The included seeds grow really fast. After soaking the radish & wheatgrass seeds for 6 hours and putting them in the grow stones, they sprouted the very next morning. The roots had expanded into the water tray after five days. Lately the plants grow about an inch a day. The My husband jokes that he can see the plants growing if he looks at them very long.
- The water stays MUCH clearer than the non-filtered tiny box I had before. There is still maintenance, and my tank is not 100% cycled yet, but as far as small tanks go, this one should be fairly low maintenance. So far the plants just suck up a lot of water & I have to top it off every three days. I add half a cap of D-Klor to 2 cups of water, pour the new water over the plants, and it cycles into the tank to top it off.
- The grow rocks are pretty cool. I didn't know what they would be, but they're basically like light gray pumice. They stay damp all the time by sucking up water through all the tiny holes, I guess. I assume this is what provides the water to the seeds before they grow roots down to the circulating water.
- The tank is not huge. I like the aesthetic of it, and I like that it's big enough for my betta and also doesn't take up a ton of room.
- This really isn't a complete kit. It's more like a half kit, which is fine, but they should make that clear. You need A HEATER, a thermometer, more rocks, some plants, a snail, some cleaner shrimp, a tester kit to make sure your water chemistry is right, etc. You need this stuff or your tank will not last long. They should make this REALLY clear since a lot of beginners buy this tank.
- There isn't enough gravel to do more than just barely cover the plastic at the bottom of the tank. If you want to put in any plants or decorations, the included amount of gravel will not anchor them. They should just not include any gravel, or double up the amount they include. I added my own rocks to the bottom.
- They really should include a heater. I don't know of a fish other than a betta that would work in this tank and not need a heater. I had to do quite a bit of trial and error to find a well-reviewed heater that would fit both the tank and the cord exit hole (for instance, the Eheim heater's cord is too thick to fit through the cord hole). I wound up with the Hydro Theo 25W. The black heater and the black pump take away from the clean visual design of the tank, though. It would be nice to have the right back corner of the tank have a white partial column that could hide both the pump and a heater and still allow water to flow through the top and bottom of the column. It would make it look much cleaner, visually, and would be easy enough for the makers to build in.
- It seems, disappointingly, that herbs don't grow well in here, even with bright light. The wheatgrass looks cool enough and I guess I could add it to a smoothie or something, so I'm not deducting a star, but it really is misleading to have the advertising photo on Amazon feature it growing basil. I bought this as a betta tank and not an herb garden, so I'm not deducting a star.
- The included instructions are good for the first day's setup. However, they should be clearer for ongoing maintenance. I had to read comments and questions to figure some things out.
- I bet that pump breaks fairly soon. I don't think there's any kit out there that comes with a quality pump, though, so I can't be too harsh about that. It vibrates just a bit against the side of the tank, just enough that I can hear it when the apartment is quiet. Based on some other comments, I cut off a piece of kitchen sponge & shoved it between the pump and the tank, and another piece of sponge between the white cord holder and the thank. It helped a TON and the tank is super quiet now.
Here's my experience with this tank so far.
I started out with white cloud minnows in the tank. We had to get cold water fish unless we wanted to add a heater (another thing they don't tell you) because I live in San Francisco, and our house is usually 62-65 degrees inside.
I changed out 20% of the water every other day while the tank was cycling because I was (rightly) concerned about the fish. These minnows are hardy, but fish in cycling can still damage their gills or kill them. They survived but after a couple of weeks I took them back and bought a betta instead because the minnows really should be in a bigger tank.
So now I have a betta. And I love him.
Unfortunately, the tank doesn't really live up to their self- cleaning claims. "Dump some sludge eradicator in the tank every couple of weeks or get a snail" they say. Having done both of those things, there's still a build up of "stuff" in the gravel at the bottom of the tank. I've just resigned myself to the fact that I might have to clean out the tank regularly, which would be fine if it wasn't a colossal pain in the butt because of the top, or throw this out and get a regular tank that's easier to clean (with or without a filter).
Also, the plants sprouted really quickly and grew fast for about two weeks. After that, growth significantly slowed down. They are getting sunlight but obviously, this tank can't be directly in the sun because of the fish. I don't think we'll be able to eat anything that grows out of it because it will probably stay small and am doubting that it takes enough waste out of the tank.
Problems with the design-
- the pump! It really should not be housed in the top of the tank. It vibrates violently which is not good for any fish, plus it's really loud. I bought more airline tubing and moved the pump outside the tank
- the entire top part of the tank. It completely warped within a week. They say it doesn't affect the functionality of the tank but the plant holder doesn't sit on the tray correctly.
- the pump doesn't seem to take enough waste out of the tank. If there's waste floating about in the water, a lot of it gets pushed up to the top of the tank, but some of it doesn't and once it settles on the gravel, it's there to stay. Unless you clean the tank.
I wish they would include a way to add a heater should you need one (bettas like warm water, around 78 degrees), and more information about cycling the tank including a fishless cycle option, however I do realize that most tanks don't come with this information.
At this point, I'm not sure what I'll do with this tank. I'm obviously having issues with it that some others aren't having.
I really really like the idea of this tank and I know aquaponics works, but I'm not sure this tank is really practical.
Tip- If you want to take the top off without getting water everywhere, first take the plant tray off, then shove paper towels in the holes in the bottom tray and dump that water in the sink.
FYI- if you want to see pictures of other tanks, check instagram, #aquafarm.
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