Have you seen these? They’re fish tanks that double as gardens so you can do a little indoor farming. I first saw these on a Montessori blog and loved the idea that it was a pet ownership lesson AND a “where does food come from?” lesson AND a beautiful addition to the home all in one. So, I was thrilled when I ran into the guys from Back to the Roots at the PMA expo and they offered to send us a tank to try out.
First, I should tell you that the Morgan family track record with pets is pretty terrible. In the five years that we’ve been married, we’ve had eight pets and currently we have no pets, so that kind of goes to show how good we are at pet ownership. Therefore, although I was excited about the indoor garden, I wasn’t totally convinced that we were ready for fish ownership.
The AquaFarm kit comes with everything you need to get started, including a coupon for a male beta fish. We did invest a little extra cash in this project because Eva wanted her new pet to have some decorative items in his tank. I also picked up two heaters because we had a hard time keeping the water at the right temperature (beta fish like water between 70-80 degrees and we keep our house in the low 60s).
I was worried that the set up would be complicated, but it was very easy to follow the instructions. I’m oversimplifying here, but basically you fill the tank, put the provided chemicals in the water, get the fish into the tank, set up the pump, and then fill the pods up top with grow stones and seeds. The pump brings water up to the growing area and the stones magically stay wet enough to grow things. I was very skeptical about this whole process after we set it up because the stones and the seeds I sprinkled on top all seemed like they were way too dry to grow anything. In fact, I emailed customer service because I was sure something was wrong with the tank. Nope! Those rocks and seeds produced plants in just a couple of days.
Here’s the tank a week after we set it up:
Eva was thrilled when the plants started to grow and we talked about how Thumper (the fish) was helping the plants to grow by providing the plants with food (fish poop). I thought that she might be grossed out about the whole process, but she was fascinated and she’s constantly complimenting Thumper on his excellent poop producing skills. To be fair, it’s amazing how well that one little fish seems to be feeding those plants.
This is the growth at a week and a half:
And here we are just two weeks after we set up the tank:
Isn’t it beautiful? You’ll notice that we haven’t put seeds in the 5th grow pod. I probably could have spread the seeds out a bit more, but I wanted to pick up some mint seeds so we could add it to the mix (we’re currently growing the radish and wheatgrass seeds that came with the kit). Unfortunately, I hadn’t realized how hard it would be to find mint seeds during this season so I probably need to order some online!
One of the other things I noticed with this tank is that the seeds have a habit of falling down into the tank and sprouting, which has recreated a little jungle in Thumper’s tank. I thought he might get hurt or the sprouts would gum up the pump, but we haven’t had any problems so far and it’s actually kind of exotic with all those plants floating around.
All in all, we’re huge fans of the AquaFarm and I’m excited to harvest our plants and let the kids enjoy them. I’m actually tempted to get a second tank and really get a lot of things growing at once, just because it’s been such a lovely addition to the kitchen. And I have to say, I’m kind of a fan of fish ownership. That Thumper has charisma!
You can pick up the AquaFarm all over the place (pet stores, grocery stores, Target) or you can order directly from their website. This would make a great holiday gift!