This is a sponsored post
Did you know you can grow herbs in a fish tank?! I know, it sounds a tad crazy, but the Aquafarm concept is actually based in ancient sustainable farming methods, and if you ask me it’s a stroke of genius. There’s never been a better reason to buy your child that pet they’ve been hounding you for!
If you already have a fish tank though, you may enjoy this post too because I’ve made some printable tank backdrops specifically for your kids to try with their aquarium. After learning more about this unique system though, you may very well want to get another pet fish! See the printable backdrops below.
Let’s take a look at the Aquafarm
I’ve seen these sustainable aquariums around quite a bit lately and have marveled at their brilliance and now that I have my hands on one, I’m even more excited about them. Since I’ve had it at home, I’ve seen even more benefits than I initially anticipated.
How does it work?
The fish fertilize the plants, and the plants filter the water for the fish. It’s that simple, but if you want to go more in depth, this is how Aquafarm explain it:
Aquaponics is an ancient, sustainable method of farming developed by the Aztecs. It uses 90% less water than traditional farming methods and combines aquaculture (fish cultivation) with hydroponics (plant cultivation without the use of soil) in a symbiotic environment. The water from the fish tank(s) is pumped to the plants, where beneficial nitrifying bacteria growing on and around the plant roots convert the ammonia-rich waste from the fish into nitrites and then nitrates. The plants then take up the nitrates as the nutrients they need to grow.
Pretty cool, huh?!
There are four great reasons you’ll love an Aquafarm:
- Obviously it’s a pet fish first and foremost. Before you think of the responsibilities of pet ownership, I’d like to remind you of how much value there is in letting your children have their own pet. I’ve listed those benefits in a previous article here.
- Fresh herbs. I tend to forget to use my herbs in my cooking because they are out the back in my vegetable garden. I now have them in plain sight and am guaranteed not to forget those flavorsome greens that make dinner so much tastier!
- It’s sustainable and the cycle works together perfectly without the use of fertilizers. It’s also indoors, so you don’t need to worry about those naughty grubs (or possums) eating them!
- It’s educational. Children will learn:
• how nutrients move through an environment
• how water is cleaned by being filtered through the plant roots
• what plants need and how they grow
• the different parts of a plant (children will be amazed to see the root system)
• the responsibility of caring for an animal
Is it safe?
This is something I wanted to be 100% sure about for my family’s sake. Many of us get our food from the shops and are disconnected from how food is produced. Some people may be a little uncomfortable seeing first hand that the plants are growing from fish waste.
If you’re a gardener, you’ll have no qualms at all about this because you have first-hand experience putting Blood and Bone and compost and all other sorts of nutrient-rich ‘waste’ material into the soil you plant your veggies in.
There’s most certainly no need to worry about the food. In fact, how wonderful that your children will grow up understanding where it came from and how it grew.
I would be careful of decorations you add to the tank though. Ensure you’re using food-safe decorations.
Does it come with everything you need?
The Aquafarm comes with everything you need, except the fish and water (obviously). You may also need a heater if you don’t live in a tropical climate.
What herbs can I grow in it?
I started out slowly by just growing wheatgrass and alfalfa. Both grew so well, I was quite shocked how quick they grew and healthy they looked. You can also grow rocket, basil, radish sprouts, parsley, coriander, mint, chives and mixed greens!
Any other concerns?
I deviated slightly from the Aquafarm instructions by letting the tank cycle for three days before I put the fish (a Betta) in. The instructions say you can add the fish right away but after a discussion with the local pet shop, they suggested I let it cycle for at least three days. It didn’t make any difference to the process of growing the herbs though. I added the herbs in the first day and by day three, when I added the fish, the herb roots were just touching the water. In fact it worked perfectly this way!
Fun with your fish tank set up
Whether you’re thinking of getting an Aquafarm or you already own a pet fish, you can have fun decorating your fish tank. Here’s a couple of ways we’ve been playing with our fish tank.
We’ve been using whiteboard markers to add creative fun to our Aquafarm tank. We’ve drawn a fish feeding roster on the side of the tank to ensure CC Dash ( yep, that’s what they named him) was always getting fed. You can also draw:
- more friends for your fish
- different scenes and habitats
- speech bubbles
- clothes on your fish
Here’s a few fun printable backdrops you can download for your fish tank. The girls adored these. Of course you can use the whiteboard markers to add inspiration to these scenes too!
Check out FluidGrowers Facebook page for more creative ways you can liven up your Aquafarm set up.
FluidGrowers are giving Mother Natured readers a whopping 25% off all supplies and accessories should you decide to buy your own sustainable ecosystem. The coupon code is MOTHERNAT and will be valid until 15th April 2015. Go to FluidGrowers to find out more!
Disclosure: This is a paid sponsored post. Please see my disclosure statement for more information. My opinions are my own and I genuinely loved the Aquafarm setup.