Aquaponic farming has become very popular over the past few years, and not just with farmers, either. Various individuals, governments, missionaries, and teachers have been turning to the world of aquaponics as a way of growing natural and sustainable food all year round. The problem is that not everyone has room to grow an entire garden of crops in their yard.
And, that’s where aquaponics kits come in. These grow kits make it possible for those with very little or even no yard to have their very own mini garden within the comfort of their own home. How cool is that?!
The following article should give you a much better insight into what aquaponics actually is. It will explain what it’s like to farm in this manner and run through some of the main benefits there are to using a kit. To help you decide which kit is best for you we’ve also put together a section about what to look for when you’re ready to buy one. As well as a few common FAQs to help put your mind at ease.
In the final section of the article, we’ll give you a brief rundown of the some of the best selling kits available to buy at the moment. We’ll give you the facts about what they offer and our opinion as to whether they perform as they should!
What is Aquaponics Exactly?
Aquaponics takes the practice of aquaculture (growing fish and other aquatic animals) and combines it with that of hydroponics (growing plants without soil). In this kind of system, the nutrient-rich water from raising fish provides the plants with a natural fertilizer. In return, the plants help to purify the fish’s water.
The way it works is like this: as your little swimmers move about in the water they create waste. That waste is sucked out of the tank along with some water through via a pump. This water is then used to feed the plants. Once the water has filtrated its way through the plants, the water is cleaned and returned to the tank for the cycle to happen all over again.
What Benefits are There to Using an Aquaponics Kit?
There are many great benefits to using an aquaponics kit. Here’s a few of them:
What to Consider when Buying Aquaponics Kit?
Now you know how good these systems are, we bet you can’t wait to get your hands on one. But, before you go rushing out to buy the first aquaponics kit you can get your hands on, first, take a moment to consider the following:
The first thing you should think about is how much space you have available and therefore what size tank you can have. You should also consider what it is you want to grow as not all vegetables thrive using this system. Root vegetables such as potatoes and carrots need to be able to dig their roots into the soil in order to grow and, therefore, are not really suitable for aquaponics.
You should also consider the weight capacity at this point too because water is heavy! It’s all good and well having room upstairs to fit a massive tank, but if the floor isn’t strong enough to support all the weight from the water, you’re going to be in deep water (literally)!
The amount of lighting you’ll need for your setup will depend on the size of the crop you’re growing. If you’re only growing a handful of plants you won’t need a whole lot of light. If however, you’re looking to harvest several kilos of fish and crops then you’ll need a bigger light source (or two).
Easy to clean
While it’s true aquaponics systems require far less maintenance than any other kind of growing system, they still need to be cleaned regularly. So when buying an aquaponics system make sure it’s one that’s easy to take apart and clean when necessary.
As mentioned previously, water is heavy, so the thicker the glass, the less chance of it cracking or breaking under pressure. However, just be aware that the thicker the glass, the heavier it will be.
This is a must when growing edibles. These systems are put under a lot of stress, and the last thing you want is for nasty chemicals to leak out from the tank and contaminate your crops. One way to get around this issue is to use food-grade plastic tanks instead.
Although the initial set up of your aquaponics system may set you back a few hundred dollars, just remember it is an investment. And, it’s a pretty safe one too. Unless you do something catastrophically wrong, growing your own vegetables at home will save you a fortune. Your crops will be healthier and produce better yields and you won’t be paying any extra for packaging, delivery or storage costs that are added on at the supermarket.
This 10-gallon add-on kit from AquaSports is the perfect way to transform your fish tank into a self-sustaining aquaponics system. You can grow anything from herbs to veg, to decorative plants in this tank, and, you can do it all year round! At 20” x 10” x 12” it’s small enough to fit on top of a countertop or table, yet big enough to grow a decent amount of food.
As well as getting to grow your own organic food, the aquaponics system can also be very handy to use as a teaching tool to see just how the environment works. The kit includes pretty much everything you need (other than the tank and fish). It comes with a light bar, pump and timer, grow media, and a complete step-by-step guide on how to best setup and maintain your aquaponics system. And, it’s fitted with adjustable drain extenders which helps to quieten the sound of the water flow.
My only slight gripe is that it does get dirty quite quickly and so frequent cleaning is needed. Other than that, it’s a great product!
Springworks Microfarm Aquaponic Garden
The Springworks Microfarm Aquaponic Garden is a fine example of an add-on aquaponics system. Created by some of the best experts in the industry, this system is very well made and will work with any standard 10-gallon tank.
What I love about this system is how simple it is to set up and how easy it is to maintain. The parts are made to a high standard so everything fits together nicely and at the end, you have a very sturdy and durable product.
All-in-all, it’s not a bad little system. It’s high-quality, hassle-free to set up; and is small enough to fit pretty much anywhere. And, you even get free non-GMO basil and oregano seeds, which is a bonus! The downsides are there’s no light, tank, or tank substrate included in this kit either, so you will need to purchase these separately.
ECOLIFE Conservation ECO-Cycle Aquaponics System
Grow your herbs and vegetables up to 25% faster, using 90% less water with the ECOLIFE Conservation ECO-Cycle Aquaponics System. If you’ve ever wanted a quick and easy way to grow your own food but never really had much space outside, this is the perfect solution.
Everything you need to get growing is included in this kit, except for the tank (and fish of course). There’s a built-in timer, LED lights, a remote control, and a clear set of instructions to make sure you get off to the right start. And, it’s super simple to use. You feed the fish, the fish feed the plants, and the plants help keep the water nice and clean.
What makes this tank so cool (in my opinion) is that it comes with programmable LED lights that allow your plants to grow much faster using less energy. It will work with any 20-gallon tank and is one of the best-looking systems I’ve seen.
Brio 43368 Aquaponics
Available in a sleek black (or a brilliant white for a little more $), the Brio 43368 Aquaponics system is class in a glass. Yes, it’s one of the more expensive systems out there, but it’s also one of the most sophisticated in both looks and functionality. It’s equipped with an advanced lighting system that produces specific color spectrums to promote optimal growth and a waterfall to provide aeration in the water.
And, although it looks like quite a complicated setup, with the garden on the right and the fish tank on the left, it really isn’t. The instructions are clear and easy to follow and it works really well when in use. Overall, it’s a really good aquaponics system that’s easy to use and produces good results making it ideal for those new to the world of farming. It’s also very good when it comes to self-cleaning with very little maintenance needed.
The only real problem I have with this unit is that it is a little expensive. That being said, it is a sound investment and you will reap back the reward over time by saving money on your fresh herbs and vegetables.
Fin to Flower Aquaponics Aquarium
At 15” x 13” x 12”, the Fin to Flower Aquaponics Aquarium is a fairly small aquaponics system that holds just 4 x 3-inch pots. With a 5-gallon capacity, it’s small enough to place just about anywhere. The problem with that is being so small, you’re hardly going to get much out of it. It’s also quite expensive.
Everything you need to start growing is in the package including a tank, grow pots and media, water pump, and filter. There’s no grow light, but this considered to be an optional extra. Another benefit is that the manufacturer’s do offer a lifetime warranty for both materials and workmanship. And, unlike most other kits, it also comes with the tank included.
Personally, I feel that the Fin to Flower Aquaponics Aquarium is more of an expensive gimmick to learn about aquaponics but is pretty useless for anyone wanting a half decent yield.
After taking everything into consideration, our favorite pick is definitely the Brio 43368 Aquaponics System. It’s a good size, comes with everything you need to get started, and it looks fantastic. Not only should you produce quality herbs and vegetables with this unit, but it will become a focal point of whatever room you decide to place it.
We hope you enjoyed the article and are now ready to make your choice. Just remember, whatever kit you go for in the end, to ensure you get the best results, make sure your fish to plant ratio is right. Everything after that should be plain sailing!
Q: What can I grow in an aquaponics system?
A: There are lots of different plants you can grow in an aquaponics system. Among those that thrive the most are lettuce, basil, kale, chives, watercress, and pak choi. Tomatoes, broccoli, peppers, cabbage, beans, and cucumber also grow very well in these systems provided the environment’s right.
Q: Where’s the best place to set up my system?
A: A lot of people who have home aquaponics systems choose to have it in the backyard. Whether this is an option for you on not will depend on the natural climate of where you live. If you live somewhere that has very few frosts and lots of sunshine all year round, then growing outdoors should be fine. If however, you live somewhere that gets harsh winters and a lot of cold weather, an indoor aquaponics system will be more suitable.
Q: How much space do I need?
A: This depends largely on the size of the system you invest in. If you’re too fussed about eating the fish and would rather use them just to feed the plants and vice versa, then a 10-gallon tank would be fine. These are approximately 20” x 10” x 18”.
If however, you’re planning on growing decent sized, edible fish then you’re going to need a tank that holds around 55 gallons minimum which will be approximately 48” 13” x 21”. While a 75-gallon tank is 48” x 18” x 21”. As well as having room for the actual tank, make sure you leave sufficient room for easy access when cleaning.
Q: What kind of fish are best suited to the aquaponics system?
A: As a general rule of thumb, the fish you choose for your system should have similar requirements to that of the crops you want to grow (i.e. they should have similar pH and temperature requirements. Some fish that are used quite often in these systems include koi, tilapia, fancy goldfish, blue gill, pacu, and crappie.
Q: How many fish should I use?
A: Aquaponics systems are systems of continuous recycling, so the more plants you have more fish you’ll need and the more fish you have the more plants needed. As a rough guide, it’s estimated to have no more than 1lb of fish per 10 gallons of water.
You should always try and maintain the right balance between the number of fish in the tank and the number of plants you’re growing. Overcrowding will result in stunted growth for the fish and will be much more difficult to manage.
Q: How much do I need to feed the fish?
A: You should feed the fish every day but remove any uneaten food after around 30 minutes or so. A buildup of rotting food or waste is toxic for fish as it can use up all the dissolved oxygen and can cause disease.