Back to the Roots AquaFarm v2 (Packaging May Vary)

Back to the Roots AquaFarm v2 (Packaging May Vary)

What Is the AquaFarm?

The AquaFarm combines a 3-gallon fish tank with a vegetable and herb grow bed into one closed-loop system that fits easily on any kitchen counter. The waste from the fish provides nutrients for the plants, and the plants clean the water for the fish!

A self-cleaning fish tank that grows plants

Grow a variety of herbs
What Is Aquaponics?

Aquaponics is an ancient sustainable method of farming developed by the Aztecs. It uses 90% less water than traditional farming methods and combines aquaculture (raising aquatic animals) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water). Scaled down to a table-top system, this is what happens inside the AquaFarm: 1. Fish waste, which is toxic to the fish if allowed to accumulate, is pumped through an inner tube in the tank into a grow tray above containing plants. 2. The plant roots act as a biofilter where beneficial bacteria break down the harmful ammonia in the waste into nitrites and then finally nitrates which are absorbed as food by the plants. 3. The clean water is circulated back into the fish tanks so all you have to do is feed the fish!

What plants can I grow in my AquaFarm?

We include organic wheatgrass and basil seeds with every AquaFarm. If you’re looking to grow other plants, leafy greens and herbs work best. We recommend parsley, cilantro, mint, arugula, mixed greens, and other varieties of basil.

What types of fish can I keep in my AquaFarm?

The AquaFarm is not suitable for fish that are particularly sensitive to fluctuating ammonia and nitrite levels. This is a completely biologically-filtered system, and it does take time for the tank to cycle and become balanced. For this reason, we recommend betta fish, as they are especially hardy. Zebra danios and guppies also work well with the AquaFarm at numbers of two to three per tank. If you decide to keep goldfish, please make sure you have a larger tank to move them to once they outgrow the 3 gallons!

How many fish can I keep in my AquaFarm?

If you have a betta, you can only keep one per tank, as they will fight if kept with other fish. If you’re keeping other more peaceful fish, the general rule of thumb is 1” of fish per gallon.

Tips for a thriving AquaFarm
  • Bettas are tropical fish, and happiest in water between 76-82 F. If your home is not regularly a temperature in this range we recommend a heater for your betta.
  • Algae is a common issue in aquariums and develops as a result of the combination of excess nutrients in the water and sunlight. Being careful not to overfeed your fish is one way to prevent nutrients from building up. If your AquaFarm is in a spot that receives very direct sunlight, this is great for the plants, but not the tank water. In this situation, consider putting a back panel over the tank side to prevent sunlight from hitting the water.
  • Don’t forget to feed your fish. Push the feed cap down to rotate it open and drop 5-6 pellets of the included food into the tank.

Fish feed the plants. Plants clean the Water.
Who should I contact with other questions about my AquaFarm?

Please contact customer service at Back To The Roots with any questions or feedback. You can email, or call 510.922.9758. We would love to hear from you.

Product Features

  • New version now includes silent, submersible water pump and 360° view
  • Self-cleaning fish tank that grows food
  • Fish waste feeds the plants; Plants clean the water
  • Everything you need to get started, including water pump, organic seeds and a discount coupon for a Betta fish
  • Designed and manufactured in the USA

5 thoughts on “Back to the Roots AquaFarm v2 (Packaging May Vary)

  1. WildScalare
    WildScalare says:

    Four tanks and counting…*latest update 11/06/13 -added a fourth star. 0

  2. Silea

    Semi-final review: intersting product, several flaws

  3. Anonymous

    This seems to be becoming a love it or hate it item, though I’m not sure why. Yes, it has/had some flaws, but it’s still a unique and worthwhile item. I’ve posted a few pictures of my tanks.Update 11/06/13- As others have observed, the tray on my oldest AquaFarm finally began to show some warping. I contacted BackToTheRoots and in a short time received three new frames and trays and a light weight growing media. While I am overall supportive of the AquaFarm, I have also not hesitated to be critical of it’s flaws as I see them- but their customer service deserves 5 stars.The company has made changes to the product. They have moved the pump out of the plant tray- a major improvement. I believe they have also upgraded the included air pump, and are adding something to prevent fish from entering the lift tube. More than enough for me to amend my 3 star review to 4.As for reviews claiming the AquaFarm doesn’t “work”, of course it works. Aquaponics works. The devil, as they say, is in the details.Update10/1/13:I’ve had 3 of these set up for a while now. Judging from other reviews, it seems the tank isn’t meeting expectations as a herb garden. I can’t say. I bought them as Betta tanks. With the modifications I described previously they are proving to be exceptionally nice little tanks. Because it lacks a conventional aquarium filter it is sometimes being deemed inferior- it definitely isn’t. Mechanical filtration and chemical filtration is not normally needed. The proliferation of filters requiring floss-carbon cartridges isn’t because they are needed, it’s because selling replacement cartridges is very profitable.The truth is, everytime you replace a dirty cartridge with a nice clean one you have just thrown away a major portion of the bio-filter, which is the real and most important filter.A good bio-filter needs exactly what this provides- a low to moderate flow of well oxygenated water and something for the bacteria to attach to. The more surface area the better. The stones at the bottom of the net pots provide a great deal, along with all the interior surfaces and the net pots. Lay some filter sponge in the tray and you have probably at least doubled the surface area.Regular “3 stage” small filters usually come with a little rectangle of sponge or plastic seated in front of the expensive throw away cartridge and that is the “bio” part.I keep all 15 pots growing wheatgrass for nitrate reduction. I don’t cut it, I take it out roots and all and re-seed. Algae can’t grow without nutrients and evidently wheatgrass doesn’t leave many. I have zero algae growth. I haven’t had to do more than small water changes. The water is clear and the fish are healthy. A 10 watt heater keeps them a good temperature.As a display tank, it falls short. It’s not really a pretty tank or easily decorated if that is important to you. As a small Betta environment however, it excels.PLEASE BE AWARE: My tanks are cycled. The tank must fully cycle. You must not overfeed or expose the tank portion to bright or extended periods of light. Most issues involving algae or dirty water are due to one or more of those three things- overfeeding, too much light, or an uncycled tank. The first two are completely preventable. The third requires patience and possibly a little research if you are unfamiliar with the nitrogen cycle.Previous review and updates are below.***********************************************************************************UPDATE: Another reviewer has discovered a discrepancy between the included instructions and the manufacturer’s directions regarding the use of the included D-Klor product. The instructions direct you to add a “capful” to the newly filled tank- the manufacturer’s directions calculate to 1 1/2 mL for 3 gallons (a capful is 4mL). I don’t know if the dose is toxic/harmful, but changing the manufacturers directions without notice or explanation is unacceptable. Whether this was simply an oversight, an attempt to keep things simple and/or make certain enough is added, or a way of increasing sales of the declorinator by almost 3X the necessary amount I don’t know. I’ll give the benefit of doubt and assume it was the second reason.*I believe this issue has now been corrected by the manufacturer.Everyone seems to hate the air pump, and with good reason. Fact is it’s the exact same pump included in every small aquarium kit I’ve ever purchased and I’ve never once actually used one for anything important because it’s a weak little pump that can’t even handle a check valve. It should not have been designed to be seated in the plant tray even if operating the pump on it’s side wasn’t a no no. Maybe fish “get used” to the constant vibration, maybe not. How do we know, so why subject them to it? That is really my bigger criticism, I can forgive going with the cheap air pump to…

  4. Anonymous

    The step-by-step review is included below, but here’s my round-up after many weeks of AquaFarm ownership:This is an interesting product, but far from perfect and, honestly, increasingly frustrating.For starters, the materials aren’t up to snuff. Both the tank and the lid are slightly warped now. The sides of the tank bow out a little, and the ends of the lid curl up slightly. Everything still more or less fits together, but whereas fresh out of the box it looked almost classy, now it looks cheap. Also, the flexing of the top means that the hatch for dropping food in doesn’t open smoothly anymore, but instead grates against the edge of the chute.Second, there’s a conflict between the needs of the plants and the needs of the fish. Plants want light. The wheatgrass can probably get away with fairly little, but to get my lettuce to be more than scrawny stems with tiny leaves, i had to move the tank near a sunny window AND add a grow light above it. What happened next was inevitable: a sudden huge algae problem. I went out and bought a snail to try to curb the algae, and he seems to be turning the tide, but bettas are highly territorial and Fishie doesn’t seem to like his new roommate much.Third, the pump and tubing are poor quality. My tubing ended up kinked, which throttled the air flow, which stopped water from being pushed up into the tray and nearly killed my plants before i realized what was going on. I went out and bought some silicone tubing, which can bend and turn without kinking, only to find that for some reason the included pump will only work with the cheap plastic tubing. To get it to blow air through the silicone tubing, i had to push the top of the pump down. It was really strange. So then i had to buy a pump, too.So less than two months after setting up my AquaFarm, i’ve had to replace the tubing and the pump, buy a grow light, and get a snail. The tank has warped, and only time will tell if this was a little relaxation or if the whole thing is just going to slowly come apart. I’m not convinced the lettuce or basil will ever grow to a useful size, but at least they are filtering the water – my nitrate and nitrite levels are very low.If the snail can do his job and fix the algae issue, this product will still be an interesting conversation piece and science experiment, but at this point i don’t think it’s remotely living up to the promise of indoor small-scale aquaponics.–Major update: dead fish. Fishie was alive and frisky yesterday morning, and dead by dinner time. I have no idea what killed him. I’m not sure yet if i’m going to re-start the aquafarm or just quietly shuffle it off.———-The Set Up Process-Set up requires several steps, but all of them are pretty easy. I spread mine over the course of a day so i could allow cold tap water to come to room temperature rather than approximating room temperature from the tap, since we haven’t flushed our hot water tank for far too long and there’s probably all sorts of crud in there.Anyway, add water, add chemicals, add fish, take fish out, dump water, add water, add other chemicals, add fish, put on the top, plant seeds, done. It was probably less than 30 minutes of total effort.There are several small frustrations in the process. For example, the directions from the company often contradict the directions on the back of the chemical packets. Back to the Roots says dump it all in at once, the packet says put in half now and half in 24 hours, etc. I chose to follow Back to the Roots’ guidance and hope for the best.There are also a few things i would change, were it up to me. The pump column goes straight down the center of the tank, instead of discreetly off on one side. There may be a technical reason for this, but if there isn’t, it would look better to do it differently. There’s also an etched effect on the side of the tank that could be mistaken for a fill-line, but i don’t think it is. If it is, it’s mentioned nowhere in the directions. If it’s not, well, it’s misleading. Lastly, i’m a little weirded out by all the additives – this is water i’m going to grow food in, after all. The included material is good about telling you what it’s for (removing chlorine, deterring algae, etc), but offers not a whisper of reassurance that it’s totally cool to have this stuff circulating around your lettuce’s roots. I assume it is, it would be a gross oversight otherwise, but a little verbal pat on the head wouldn’t go amiss. The foam included to dampen the sound of the motor was insufficient, so we had to add a scrap of cloth. Hopefully this won’t cause the motor to overheat.Also, the instructions don’t mention how to feed the fish. Turns out the cover over the motor flips up to give access to the surface of the water. It should really be in the instructions (or if it is,…

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