|Item model number||AquaSprouts Garden|
|Product Dimensions||71.12 x 20.32 x 43.18 cm; 10.89 Kilograms|
AquaSprouts Garden, Self-Sustaining Desktop Aquarium Aquaponics Ecosystem, Fits Standard 10 Gallon Aquariums
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About this item
- The AquaSprouts Garden is a self-sustaining aquarium & aquaponics kit for the home, office or school
- Fish fertilize the plants. Plants clean the water for the fish. Fits any standard 10-gallon aquarium
- Grow a variety of veggies, herbs, greens and decorative plants all year long
- Perfect tool to explore how our natural environment works. Specialized teacher curricula available
- This updated model includes adjustable drain extenders to quiet water flow
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It's not magic - it's nature! Aquaponics employs the same principles as the natural world. Imagine having a living ecosystem to grow, learn and discover with-all in your own home. The AquaSprouts Garden includes everything you need to turn any standard 10-gallon aquarium ( approximately 20" x 10" x 12") into a self-sustaining ecosystem using the beauty of aquaponics.
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First of all the kit is NOT all that you need. Someone else said you need another filter and I don't agree at all- it's surprisingly effective to do it the natural way. I was worried it wouldn't be as effective as a normal filter, too, but it's actually the best filtration I've ever used, now I want to build aquaponic beds onto all freshwater tanks/paludaria I set up. My tank is overstocked for a traditional setup but this setup handles the waste fine. What you DO need instead of a mechanical filter, though, is an undergravel filter. Without this, your substrate will become anaerobic and toxic as gunk builds up. You could just vacuum it, but it would be hard with the tiny gap in the back and anotherthing I recommend is planting the tank, and that means you can't vacuum it without messing up your plants. Why plant it then? Because it makes the pump easier to hide, decaying plant matter helps feed your plants up top, your fish like them, they help oxygenate an otherwise stagnant environment, and they help absorb anything not taken care of by the aquaponics. Also, the stuff you use in a planted tank will help your plants up top too- I use and recommend seachem products and nutrients and aquatic arts foods, which are safe and beneficial to plants. Seachem stability will make cycling, super important here, pretty much foolproof. You'll also need an LED for inside the tank and a way to attach it (I used outdoor Velcro tape to mount it under the grow bed), a heater, an airstone and air pump to run the UGF and oxegynate the water between times the pump is running, and a grow light for up top- putting it in front of a sunny window won't do it. The main drawback to this system is how inaccessible the tank is. So there are a couple ways to help this. One is to make it as self sustaining as possible by automating as much as you can and picking the life forms thoughtfully to mirror a real ecosystem, thereby minimizing the amount you need to get into it. I used more invertebrates and herbivores than higher organisms- the top predator of the tank is just the betta who is there to eat the platy fry, and the platies, which are only small omnivores. Because a 10 gallon tank is tiny, I would stick to peaceful fish that don't mind close quarters. Gouramis, rainbow fish and some small cichlids could work, technically, but I feel like they'd be stressed and cramped. I'd recommend tetras, platies, Guppies, danios, goldfish, female bettas or one male betta.... Things like that. Even small aggressive(ish) fish like barbs might not like this environment. Anything that requires a constant current will not like this tank either. You want easy small fish that are basically incapable of hurting each other and in their wild environments live in stagnant or nearly stagnant water. I also planted a grassy covering in the substrate, aquatic moss and plants like swords which are rooted plants that suck up a lot of nutrients, and some stem plants like hornwort that need attention... A pretty diverse choice of plants with all of them doing different things. Up top, I picked ornamental flowers. Why? Because the bed is too small to be truly productive, so if it's just for looks anyway you might as well, but more importantly, flowering plants suck up waaaaaay more nutrients than grasses or herbs. Tomatoes, cucumber, strawberries (or any berry) those would work if you really want it to make food. Anything that puts out a flower and fruit (fruit in the botanical sense) will be a much better filter than anything that doesn't. As far as automation, I bought some smart outlets that I could program with an app so I rarely have to mess with the lights and pump (for fun I put a blue LED in the back that comes on at night), and an automatic feeder because it's kind of a pain to reach around to the tiny gap in the back. Once it's all set up I barely have to mess with it. The other way to deal with the lack of accessibility is to make it easier to take apart. As it is it's pretty much impossible to disconnect the pump and remove the grow bed to get into the tank more than a few inches. So I bought some (clear) tubing from Home Depot with a bigger interior diameter that just slips off, and used a hose clamp to attach it up top and stop it from leaking. Now if I want to get in there, I just loosen the hose clamp and it comes right off. Last thing I'd recommend, definitely go to the manufacturer's website. They sell light bar extenders that aren't on Amazon which you'll probably want once the plants get big, and the forums are great. BUT, I wouldn't recommend anything else they sell as accessories- the grow light sucks, buy a good one (mine is for growing pot), and the under gravel filter is overpriced and off brand.
Some complaints that gave me pause before buying this, and why they're wrong/how to fix them:
It's cheap flimsy plastic. Or, it's ugly. Yes it is thin plastic. But it's perfectly structurally sound, sturdy, and if you think it's ugly, you should see a real aquaponics setup. Compared to anything you could make yourself, it's very attractive.
It's loud. When the pump is on, for 15 minutes every hour, the water level will sink as water from the tank fills the grow bed. When it drains, the splashing is kind of loud. It's made quieter by putting something on the drains-either using aquarium decorations or fitting some tubing to the bottom of the grow bed so that the water is not just splashing down.
The filtration isn't strong enough. This is just incorrect. The people who say this must either have grossly overstocked tanks or have not started their plants before adding fish. If you want to cycle your water and establish your plants root systems with fish, you can, but you'll need something to detoxify ammonia and also some live nitrifying bacteria. Like seachem stability and Prime or am guard. If you don't know what you're doing, I would say start with snails and algae tablets while cycling. The snails will produce a minut amount of ammonia to cultivate nitrifying bacteria, and the algae tabs will feed your snails and provide some nutrients to your plants while they get their root systems developed enough to be an effective filter.
It's hard to get the height of the grow light right. Go to the manufacturer's website and order the light bar extenders. Start with the light on the kit at the height it comes, and make it taller as needed. Just hang your grow light with the hardware provided or zip ties or anything, and rather than mess with the light itself add or subtract extenders.
The plants don't grow. If you've never grown anything hydroponically before it makes sense to expect to put seeds in the ground and have them grow with water. But there are no nutrients in the grow medium itself. Just like any other hydroponic system. So if you're starting your plants before you put fish in, which you should, the plants will germinate but won't survive or thrive for long because the water has no nutrients until the fish are pooping in it. Even if you don't plan on planting your tank, you should use some seachem flourish for really robust plant growth. It's a nutrient mix that is safe for fish. Seachem also makes some separate nitrogen, potassium, iron and phosphate nutrients for specific mineral deficiencies that you might find helpful. Honestly, I don't work for seachem or anything, but I can't recommend their products enough especially for this setup. If you try to buy conventional hydroponics nutrients and look at the ingredients on the back you'll find arsenic, mercury, cyanide, lead, all kinds of nasty stuff for animal life, because many hydroponic nutrients are made from kelp or seaweed, which sequester those toxic materials (that's why they're a great thing to have in your real Marine ecosystem but not such a great thing to grind up whole and disperse through your terrestrial ecosystem). Fish emulsion does not have as much of the same toxins, but obviously it's not a great thing to put in a fish tank. It's ground up dead fish and fish poop. In a fish tank environment it will start producing ammonia spikes very quickly.
Overall this thing is a great introduction to aquaponics and I've learned a lot and had a lot of fun with it. It's not fancy but it definitely works, and setting it up has taught me how to build my own larger system. When I do, I'll definitely do things differently (probably build a freshwater refugium on the side to handle the pump, heater, a skimmer, etc. and 2 stagger stacked grow beds for more access) but this is meant to be workable with a non-custom system and it definitely is that. I definitely reccomend it for any biology nerd or experienced aquarist, but if you had no idea what you were doing you could still figure it out, just might lose some fish first. I actually haven't lost so much as a snail or shrimp yet, and that's not easy in a new tank, so as a functional filtration system it definitely works. The fish seem happier in higher concentrations than a normal tank and I used way less chemicals. You never, repeat NEVER, have to do water changes, which almost broke my brain. You don't have to change filters. If you check the water daily like I did you'll be bored with how consistent it is. Dump vinegar in the tank and it will bounce back within an hour. All fishtanks should work like this. As it turns out, nature knows best again. Highly recommend, just do your research and understand that like all fishtanks it's an expensive and time consuming project.
Still works great. Over time I've made some minor changes- I switched to herbs up top, because it turned out that I really didnt *need* as much nutrient-sucking up there as I originally thought, so I gradually switched them out for herbs and that works fine. I've had rosemary, basil, sage, and flat leaf parsley, all have done well and provide all the filtration I need.
My crab escaped, presumably up the pump tube, after about 6 months- so maybe the tank isn't quite secure enough for animals like him or african dwarf frogs or certain snails that are known to escape.
I've added a cory catfish recently to help clean the sediment.
About once a year I have to take all the plants out and wash the grow medium- otherwise the drains and uptake for the pump get clogged with roots and it builds up dead root gunk. I just put it all in a bucket and use a colander to rinse scoops of it until the water runs clear, then return it to the grow bed. After this treatment I use some seachem prime to dechlorinate the water that sticks to it, and some sachem flourish advance (basically a safe-for-fish root stimulant) to help the plants recover as you have to do significant damage to their roots to detach them from the media balls. I call it my annual ball washing (I'm female). It's kind of a pain but I make light of it.
So yeah, still loving this thing.
I did have a minor problem with the pump timer, but I called customer service and they sent me a replacement immediately. This product really does have fantastic customer service. If you have any questions, they’re definitely there for you.
Will most likely update this review, once I’m further along in the growing process, and my tank is stocked with fish.
While all of the manufactured parts are light and made of relatively inexpensive materials, the kit looks rather nice and professional once setup. The sound of the water running through the system is akin to having a fountain in the room. I suspect some plumbing exntensions could reduce the noise. The light bar is adequate and looks nice enough, but I wish I could extend it about a foot higher to make better use of my light. It's taken some practice, but I currently have a balance of glowfish and shrimp in the tank and some basil, lettuce, and spinach in the grow bed and the tank seems to be staying clean and the plants are staying green.
For Makers: One great bonus is that the legs are hollow, leaving room for some IoT hardware if you're looking to add automation or monitoring to your system. I'm planning to mount a camera pointed into the tank so I can live stream my fish around the home network.