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  • The Aquafarm™: What is it and How does it Work?

     The Aquafarm: What is it and How does it Work?

    If you want to grow fresh veggies at home, but don’t have the space, we’ve got a cool way to do it. All you need is an Aquafarm™.

    Using the Aquafarm™ (and a Betta fish), you can create your very own countertop aquaponics garden for fresh herbs, veggies, and leafy greens. It’s especially great if you don’t have the space, time, or energy to create a traditional garden or aquaponics system of your own.

    How does the Aquafarm™ work?

    The Aquafarm™ is a small aquaponics system that essentially creates a small ecosystem in your home. Aquaponics is a method of growing fish and vegetables together where each organism helps the other to survive and thrive. It’s symbiosis at its best.

    In essence, as you raise fish in a tank, their waste is used to fertilize the plants you will eat, and in turn, the plants help to clean the water the fish live in, helping the fish stay healthy.

    Here’s how the Aquafarm™ works:

    1. The water from the fish tank is pumped up to the plants into a grow tray at the top of the tank. The plant roots become a “biofilter” that breaks down harmful ammonia in the fish waste and turns it into nitrates that the plants then absorb as food.
    1. After this conversion process, clean water is circulated back into the fish tank—ridding the tank of all the accumulated fish waste.
    1. Your plants grow in the grow trays at the top of the tank, giving you fresh veggies like leafy greens, wheatgrass, mixed greens, and a variety of herbs.
    1. You get fresh greens and herbs with minimal effort.


    What are the benefits of having an Aquafarm™?

    Besides the obvious benefit of the Aquafarm™ (fresh veggies), there are some other great reasons to have one if you’re a fish owner, gardener, or interested in emergency preparedness.

    • First if you’ve ever owned a fish, you know they’re tricky to keep alive. Toxicity, swim bladder, and algae growth are all common problems in a fish tank that affect the overall health of the fish (like I've learned all too well). The Aquafarm™ helps to reduce these problems as the plants help clean the tank.
    • Second because I’m an (unintentional) plant killer, the fact that I don’t have to constantly water the plants or give them plant food works in my favor. All I have to do is remember to feed the fish and nature will take care of the rest.
    • Third the Aquafarm™ will help me get one step closer to self-sufficiency. Use the food you grow to supplement your food storage supplies if you run out or just want fresh veggies.

    So if you’re like me and want your fish to clean up its own tank and earn its keep in your home by giving you fresh veggies, consider getting an Aquafarm™!

    And if you’re interested in building your own medium-to-full-sized Aquaponics system, check out our Aquaponic Gardening series written by our guest blogger and customer, Kevin White. He tells you how to get started and what supplies and materials you’ll need.



  • Aquaponics Part Two: Materials

    Media Filled Growbeds

    Aquaponics is the practice of raising fish and vegetables together in a symbiotic relationship by using the fish waste to fertilize the plants. In early April, I posted about my beginning adventures in making my own Aquaponics system. To learn more about Aquaponics and my plan for building a system, check out the article here.

    If you’re curious about Aquaponics, you may be wondering what materials you’d need to set up your own system.  As I build my own, I’ll keep you up to date on what you need to have and how to build your own.

    Materials to grow vegetables:

    • Fish Tank
    • Grow Beds
    • Growing Media
    • Water Pump(s)
    • Supply of piping, valves, & fittings
    • An Aquarium Water Test Kit
    • Proper type & number of fish

    Most of the materials I am using have been salvaged for free or close to it. I am building my system inside a greenhouse that I am constructing to allow for four-season growing and to keep predators away from the fish.


    Fish tank:

    The tank must be large enough to fill all of your grow beds and still have plenty of water for the fish. The water will return from the grow beds into this tank so make sure it has the capacity to not overflow. You can try using a repurposed, above ground, soft side swimming pool with a filter/pump to filter out the solid waste and supply water to the grow beds. Or, what I’m planning to do, use three Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBC) holding 300 gallons of water each.

    Grow beds:

    I am using salvaged (free) plastic 55-gallon barrels that are cut in half lengthwise. Make sure you cut them so that each half will have a bung or filler hole at the bottom of the radius in the center. This will allow the water to drain out of the grow bed on the off cycle.

    DIY Aquaponics Grow BedsDIY Aquaponics Grow Bed

    Growing media:

    You can use commercial clay ball media (such as Hydrocorn or other clay pebbles), pea gravel (this is what I will use), or one of the many other types of grow media. There is a lot of information about the different types on the internet. Learn more about grow media from Backyard Aquaponics, Aquaponic Gardening, and Home Aquaponics System.


    You will need a water pump, or pumps, depending on the design of your system. There are many inexpensive types out there in either 12-volt DC or 120-volt AC house current. You want enough water flow to be able to fill your grow beds in a short amount of time but not flood them out.

    Plumbing fixtures and piping:

    You will need enough PVC pipe and fittings to connect the grow beds together, carry the water to all of them and also drain it back to the fish tank. This amount is dependent on how your system is designed. I will list what it takes for mine as the construction progresses.

    Aquarium Water Test Kit:

    You will need this to determine the amount of ammonia and PH levels in the water to make sure it is at a tolerable level for both the fish and the plants.


    This has to be a choice based on your climate conditions. For instance, Tilapia is a favorable choice as they are prolific breeders, but they are very intolerant of cool water temperatures. Catfish, on the other hand, tolerate almost any temperature and are able to survive in low-oxygen environments; however, they will not breed in a tank unless it is large and has some type of nesting box to use. I will be using both Bullhead Catfish and Hybrid Bluegill as stocked fish in my system. The thing to remember is that the ratio of fish to water is critical. The ratio I will be using is 1 pound of fish to 10 gallons of water. This means 1 pound of fish at MATURITY to 10 gallons of water. You may get away with 100 fingerling fish to begin with, but they will have to be thinned out as they grow or they will die of oxygen depletion.


    I will stop here for now, and pick up next time with design and construction of an Aquaponics system.

    See ya'll next time!


    Kevin, OK

    Check out the rest of our Aquaponics Series:

    "Aquaponic Gardening: What is it? (Part One)"


    Additional Info:


    Photo of Media Filled Beds Courtesy of Backyard Aquaponics

  • 45 Ways to Conserve Water

     45 Ways to Conserve Water

    Have you ever thought about how much water you use in a day?

    Everyday activities like bathing, washing clothes and dishes, flushing the toilet, and watering your lawn require a lot of water—and we may not even realize how much water it takes.

    So what would you do in an emergency if your water supplies were limited or totally cut-off? Practicing water conservation now can help you to use your water wisely and develop habits that will help your water storage last longer in a crisis. Here are 45 ways to start conserving water in your home. (Some of these tips may surprise you!)

    Conserving Water at Home

    • Start by doing Emergency Essentials’ Water Challenge—One Gallon of Water for One Day to see how much water you actually use and how much you should store. Doing this will help you determine where to start conserving.
    • Insulate your water pipes. This will heat the water faster so you don’t have to have the water running as long while you wait for it to heat up.
    • Choose water-efficient fixtures. Faucet Aerators control the stream and reduces splashing as your water comes out of the tap. They help you to waste less water because they control splash reduction. You can also get a water-flow reducer attachment, a low-flow toilet, and choose water/energy efficient shower heads, dishwashers, and washing machines. Doing this can help you cut down on your water usage.
    • Fix any leaks from faucets, toilets, or sinks in your home. Call a professional or fix the leak yourself if you know how. Fixing leaks is an excellent and easy way to begin conserving water.

    Conserving Water While Cooking

    • Do not use running water to defrost frozen meat. Either use the microwave setting or put it on a plate in the fridge the previous night to let it defrost without using water.
    • Rinse fruits and vegetables by putting them into a bowl full of water and swishing it around. This will save you from constantly running the tap water in the sink. You can reuse the water in the bowl for house plants or your garden.

    Conserving Water in the Kitchen

    • When boiling water for tea, coffee, or cocoa, instead of just filling the kettle full of water, measure out just enough water for one cup only or enough for however many cups you’re making.
    • Install an instant water heater on your kitchen sink so you don’t have to run the water for a long time as you wait for it to heat up.
    • Garbage disposals use a lot of water to break food down. Consider creating a compost pile instead or scraping leftover food into the trash before rinsing your dishes in the sink.
    • Don’t start the dishwasher until it’s completely full. This will save several gallons of water.
    • If you have a dishwasher, use it instead of washing dishes by hand. Dishwashers save more water than washing them in the sink if you keep the water running constantly.
    • Fill up the sink or a large pot while hand washing dishes instead of letting the water run the whole time.
    • Scrape uneaten food off your plate instead of using running water to rinse it off.
    • Keep a water pitcher full in your fridge so you don’t have to keep turning on the tap to cool it down whenever you want a drink.
    • Pick one glass for drinking water (or your beverage of choice) from each day, or use a refillable water bottle to cut down on the amount of dishes you wash and the amount of water used.

    Conserving Water in the Bathroom

    • Fix toilet tank leaks. According to WholeLiving.com, “Put a few drops of food coloring in your toilet tank and check the bowl after 15 minutes; if the color has seeped in -- without flushing -- you have a leak. Fixing it can save up to 1,000 gallons (about 200 flushes) a month. Often, what’s needed is a new flapper, or “valve seal,” which you can find in just about any hardware store”
    • Use a displacement device (you can even use a brick) in your toilet tank to reduce the amount of water you use each time you flush.
    • Do you really have to flush the toilet every time you use it? All those flushes per day can add up to flushing 20 gallons of water down the drain. If you are just urinating, leave it there to lessen the amount of times you flush per day.
    • Replace or fix broken toilet handles. If your toilet handle sticks when you flush the toilet, replace or fix the handle. If your toilet handle sticks, the water in the bowl continually run.
    • Conserve water in the shower. Turn on the water to get wet. Turn off the water to lather up. And turn back on to rinse off. Do the same thing when washing your hair.
    • Turn off the water while brushing your teeth.
    • When washing your face or shaving, fill up your sink halfway so you don’t have the water running the whole time. Use short bursts of water to clean off your razor.
    • Take more showers than baths. It takes about 70 gallons of water to fill a bathtub.
    • Take shorter showers. Challenge yourself and your family to take five minute showers. Use a kitchen timer to keep track. Older shower heads can use up to 5 gallons of water per minute.
    • When washing your hands, turn off the water while you apply and lather soap.

    Conserving Water in the Laundry Room

    • Use the shortest reasonable cycle available to wash your clothes in the washing machine.
    • Only wash full loads of laundry. This will save several gallons of water.

    Conserving Water on House Plants

    • After you clean your fish tank, give the water to your plants. This water will be full of nutrients and good for growth, similar to an aquaponics system.
    • If you drop ice cubes on the floor, don’t toss them down the sink. Put them into a plant instead.
    • If you have leftover water in a glass (that you don’t plan to drink), reuse it. Instead of tossing it down the drain, water a plant or add it to your pet’s water bowl.

    Conserving Water on the Lawn and in the Driveway

    • Give your pet a bath on an area of your lawn that needs to be watered.
    • When installing an irrigation system, choose a drip, micro, or bubbler system. These systems are more efficient than spray or sprinkler irrigation systems because they direct water to the plant’s roots and minimize water loss due to evaporation.
    • Use on-off or shut-off timers while watering your lawn.
    • Water your lawn early in the morning or in the late afternoon, evening, or night. Watering the lawn when the sun is not at its peak allows the grass to hold in more moisture so you don’t have to use as much water to replace what’s evaporated in the heat of the day.
    • In the summer, only water your lawn once every three days when hot. Water once every five days in cooler temperatures.
    • Make sure your sprinklers are only watering your lawn and not the sidewalks or streets.
    • Use a broom to clean off your driveway, porch, or sidewalk instead of using a hose.
    • Wash your car at a carwash where they recycle water instead of washing your car with a hose and letting the extra water run down the street.
    • If you must wash your car at home, use a bucket of water to wash your car. Only turn on the hose when you need to rinse.
    • If you must wash your car at home, use a hose nozzle or turn off the water as you lather the car.
    • Cover outdoor pools when not in use. On average, swimming pools lose about a quarter of an inch of water each day, yet variations in wind intensity, humidity and sunlight can drastically change water loss rates.

    Conserving Water in your Garden

    • Plant drought-resistant, native plants in your garden that don’t require much watering.
    • Use a rain barrel to collect rainwater from gutters for watering your garden. Note: Make sure that it’s legal to collect rainwater in your city or state before you do this.
    • Use mulch in your garden. This will help keep moisture in and require less watering.
    • Do not use a lot of fertilizer on your plants. While they’re good at helping plants grow, they also increase water consumption.
    • Use a rain gauge to keep track of how much water your plants actually get so you don’t overwater using the hose.


    What do you do to conserve water? Give us your best tips in the comments.













    http://www.wholeliving.com/174858/50-ways-conserve-water/@center/136755/green-home-guide#65557 (toilet trick)





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