Home Grown Ponics FAQ

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

All of the answers to the questions posted have been answered by highly trained and skilled professionals. 

General

  • What is aquaponics?
    • Aquaponics is an ancient sustainable method of farming developed by the Aztecs. 
    • Aquaponocs uses 90% less water than traditional farming methods and combines aquaculture (raising aquatic animals in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water).
  • What is pH and why is it important?
    • pH stands for "Potential of Hydrogen” and is the symbol for the hydrogen ion (H+) in liquids. pH has a range from 0 (acidic) -14 (alkaline), with 7 being neutral. For hydroponics we are aiming for a pH between 5.5 to 6.2 (slightly acidic); this is suitable for most hydroponic crops. For soil, we want the pH a little higher but still slightly acidic; around 6.0 to 6.5. Ensuring that the pH remains within this range will help maintain good plant health. Keeping the pH in this range ensures that nutrients are readily available to the plant. Once the grower goes above or below this optimal range certain nutrients start becoming unavailable to the plant (e.g. iron deficiencies will appear at a pH of 6.5 and above). - See more at: http://www.mrstacky.com/uncategorized/why-is-checking-ph-important.html#sthash.ap3UHur5.dpuf
      pH stands for "Potential of Hydrogen” and is the symbol for the hydrogen ion (H+) in liquids. pH has a range from 0 (acidic) -14 (alkaline), with 7 being neutral. For hydroponics we are aiming for a pH between 5.5 to 6.2 (slightly acidic); this is suitable for most hydroponic crops. For soil, we want the pH a little higher but still slightly acidic; around 6.0 to 6.5. Ensuring that the pH remains within this range will help maintain good plant health. Keeping the pH in this range ensures that nutrients are readily available to the plant. Once the grower goes above or below this optimal range certain nutrients start becoming unavailable to the plant (e.g. iron deficiencies will appear at a pH of 6.5 and above). - See more at: http://www.mrstacky.com/uncategorized/why-is-checking-ph-important.html#sthash.ap3UHur5.dpuf
      pH stands for "Potential of Hydrogen” and is the symbol for the hydrogen ion (H+) in liquids. pH has a range from 0 (acidic) -14 (alkaline), with 7 being neutral. For hydroponics we are aiming for a pH between 5.5 to 6.2 (slightly acidic); this is suitable for most hydroponic crops. For soil, we want the pH a little higher but still slightly acidic; around 6.0 to 6.5. Ensuring that the pH remains within this range will help maintain good plant health. Keeping the pH in this range ensures that nutrients are readily available to the plant. Once the grower goes above or below this optimal range certain nutrients start becoming unavailable to the plant (e.g. iron deficiencies will appear at a pH of 6.5 and above). - See more at: http://www.mrstacky.com/uncategorized/why-is-checking-ph-important.html#sthash.ap3UHur5.dpuf
      pH, or Potential of Hydrogen, is the symbol for the hydrogen ion (H+) level in liquids. pH has a range from 0.0 (acidic) to 14.0 (alkaline), with 7.0 being neutral. 
    • For hydroponics and aquaponics, a pH level between 7.2 to 8.2 seems to promote optimum plant growth.
    • 7.4 is considered ideal for bacteria to convert ammonia to nitrates.  This action starts to fail at 7.0 pH.
    • At 6.2 bacteria fail to reproduce and your aquaponics system will fail.
    •  Keeping your pH within this range is important for fish and plant health and ensures that nutrients are readily available within the system. 
  • What is All-Natural D-Klor?
    • D-Klor is a chemical free dechlorinator made from vitamin C and aloe vera. In addition to removing chlorine and chloramines from the water, which is harmful to fish health, the D-Klor also enhances the fish's natural surface protective slime coating.
  • What is Zym Bac Nitrifying Bacteria?
    • ZymBac is a solution of beneficial bacteria that establish the biological filtration in your tank or system. They kickstart the cycling in the tank or system and help correct for ammonia and nitrite imbalances that could be harmful to your fish. Additional, in-depth information can be viewed here.
  • What is Tidy Tank?
    • Tidy Tank is a natural sludge eradicator that helps keep your tank, system, gravel, and other components clean. It contains beneficial bacteria that help break down the organic solids in your tank.
  • What is Fish Prep?
    • Fish Prep is a combination of therapeutic oils including citrus oil, aloe vera, eucalyptus oil, and a clove based calming oil that help clean fish and boost their immune systems before being added to a new tank. The solution helps prevent fin rot, tail rot, and common bacterial infections. It also protects delicate slime coats and repairs damaged areas.

AquaFarm

How to video

About the AquaFarm

  • What is an AquaFarm?

    The Back To The Roots AquaFarm concentrates all the amazing features of large-scale aquaponics into a 3 gal tank for your kitchen or classroom! 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 in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water).
  • What plants can I grow in my AquaFarm?

    Leafy greens and herbs grow best in the AquaFarm. We include organic wheatgrass, lettuce, and basil seeds with all of our AquaFarms. Some other verieties that work well include parsley, cilantro, mint, arugula, mixed greens, and other varieties of basil.
  • Can I grow flowers in my AquaFarm?

    Flowers require much higher amounts of nutrients than our one betta can provide. Leafy greens and herbs require lower nutrient levels and work great with AquaFarm. However, feel free to experiment!
  • What Seeds are included with the AquaFarm?

    The AquaFarm comes with organic wheatgrass, lettuce, and basil seeds provided by Seeds Of Change.
  • How many fish can I keep in my AquaFarm?

    If you're keeping 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. Since our tank is 3 gallons in size, we recommend 3 1" fish or two 1.5" fish.
  • 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 biological system and it does take time for the tank to start cycling and become balanced. We recommend betta fish because they are such hearty fish. Zebra danios also work well with our AquaFarms 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 AquaFarm!
  • Does the AquaFarm come with a fish?

    Your AquaFarm will come with a coupon for a male Betta fish from your local PetCo! Remember Betta fish live alone... only 1 Betta per AquaFarm.
  • What's Included with the AquaFarm?

    • AquaFarm
    • Betta Fish Coupon
    • Air Pump
    • All-Natural D-Klor: D-Klor is a chemical free dechlorinator made from vitamin C and aloe vera. In addition to removing chlorine and chloramines from the water, which is harmful to fish health, the D-Klor also enhances the fish's natural surface protective slime coating.
    • Zym Bac Nitrifying Bacteria: ZymBac is a solution of beneficial bacteria that establish the biological filtration in your tank. They kickstart the cycling in the tank and help correct for ammonia and nitrite imbalances that could be harmful to your fish.
    • Tidy Tank: Tidy Tank is a natural sludge eradicator that helps keep your tank and gravel clean. It contains beneficial bacteria that help break down the organic solids in your tank.
    • Fish Prep: Fish Prep is a combination of therapeutic oils including citrus oil, aloe vera, eucalyptus oil, and a clove based calming oil that help clean fish and boost their immune systems before being added to a new tank. The solution helps prevent fin rot, tail rot, and common bacterial infections. It also protects delicate slime coats and repairs damaged areas.
    • NaturePro Plus Fish Food
    • Plant Pots
    • Shale Rocks
    • Organic Seeds provided by Seeds Of Change

Setting up your AquaFarm

  • How long will it take to set up my AquaFarm?

    There's about 20 minutes of actionable set up time required and 30 minutes of waiting, so all in will take about 50 minutes to get your AquaFarm running. The waiting time can be broken up into 15 minutes for equalizing temperature for your fish between the container your fish came in from the store and the AquaFarm tank water and 15 minutes to allow your fish to swim in your immune-boosting Fish Prep bath.
  • Does the AquaFarm need electricity and where should I keep my AquaFarm?

    You'll need to plug in the air pump so an outlet is required. When growing basil or lettuce, you'll want to put your AquaFarm somewhere that receives a significant amount of direct sunlight - ideally by a south-facing window. If possible, try to orient the tank in a way that blocks sunlight from hitting the water in the tank, but can still reach the plants - this helps prevent algae growth. If you don't have a spot like the one described above, we highly recommend you grow wheatgrass, as it grows fantastically in low light conditions. You can also invest in a small grow light.
  • My AquaFarm is missing instructions and shale rocks.

    The instructions and shale rocks should be packaged underneath your AquaFarm. You can also download the instructions here. Please email our Community Happyness team at contact@backtotheroots.com if your AquaFarm is missing any components.
  • What temperature should my water be?

    Bettas are tropical fish and should have their water at 76-82 degrees F, so just a little warmer than room temperature.
  • I poured too much D-Klor in the water!

    Not to worry! Our D-Klor is made of an all-natural blend of vitamin C and aloe vera and poses little danger to your fish - even if added at larger quantities than necessary.
  • How long after adding the D-Klor can I add my fish to the tank?

    The D-Klor is effective immediately, so go ahead and add your fish right after you've added the D-Klor.
  • Should I use soap when washing my shale rocks?

    There's no need to use soap when washing the shale rocks. The rinse is meant to remove any loose dust and particles from the rocks before you add them to your system. For the easiest washing experience, we recommend using a colander.
  • Can I use my own rocks in the net pots or for gravel?

    In the AquaFarm, the shale rocks serve as the growing medium for the plants. They're there to anchor the plant as it grows and serve as surface area for the beneficial bacteria that convert the fish waste to useable plant nutrients to colonize. We chose shale rocks because they have great amounts of surface area, absorb water an ideal amount to germinate the seeds and keep the plant healthy, and are pH neutral so they won't affect the pH of the water dramatically. If you do decide to get another type of rock for the bottom of the tank, you want to make sure it's pH neutral and won't be leaching out any chemicals. Remember, the water in your tank is the same water your plants absorb, which will eventually be the plants you eat!
  • How many seeds so I pour in each plant pot?

    Your AquaFarm is just like any other garden. Each plant is different so it's best to follow the recommended planting on the back of your seed packet. Since we want to avoid overcrowding, we're recommending you seed each net pot with 4-5 basil or lettuce seeds and only leaving up to 3 germinated lettuce plants and 1 basil plant in each net pot. If you keep too many plants in one space, they'll compete for limited nutrients and will not grow as quickly or strongly.
  • Can I grow different types of plants at the same time?

    Yes, you can definitely plant all three types of seeds at the same time, though we recommend you plant them in different net pots.
  • Can I put a live plant in the tank? Can I add decorations?

    Live plants below the water require nutrients just like the plants above. Adding one to your tank introduces the risk it will take some of those nutrients away from the plants growing up top, meaning they may grow slower. Other decorations are great and encouraged as bettas enjoy places to hide and swim around. Just make sure they aren't made out of any materials that will leach into the water. Again, the water in your fish tank is the same that's watering your food!
  • Is the cardboard packaging recyclable?

    Yes!
  • What materials make up my AquaFarm?

    The tank is one piece and made out of BPA/phthalate-free acrylic. The grow bed and grow lid are made from BPA/phthalate-free polypropylene. We've also added white covers to two of the tank sides. These minimize the amount of light hitting the water in the tank to prevent algae growth.

Troubleshooting

  • I just set up my AquaFarm. Why is the water cloudy?

    It will clear up! The water may be cloudy because of extra dust and dirt left on the shale rocks after washing. In this case, the dirt will eventually settle and your tank will clear up within an hour. The water may also become cloudy after you add the Tidy Tank. Tidy Tank contains special beneficial bacteria that help eat up the organic waste in your tank. Those thousands of bacteria might make the water appear cloudy until they too settle on the tank bottom.
  • I'm having trouble setting up the pump.

    The flexible tube is meant to be shorter than the rigid tube. The pump blows air down the flexible tube. These air bubbles then rise up the rigid tube and bring water up with them. If the flexible tube is longer than the rigid tube, the bubbles don't have a structure to rise up through. Check out these photos on setting up the pump
  • My AquaFarm has algae, what's wrong?

    Algae is a common issue in aquariums, and it 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.

    If you already have algae along the sides of your tank, it can be removed with a sponge. Depending on how much algae your tank has, you may also want to visit your local pet store and pick up one or three algae-eating freshwater snails. They'll happily clean your tank for you!
  • The water isn't circulating, what do I do?

    If your pump is working and the water isn't flowing through your AquaFarm properly, it may be because your water level is too low and there isn't enough pressure for the water to make it up to the grow bed. In this case, make sure you're topping off your tank with dechlorinated water so it falls right below the textured line - about an inch from the bottom of the grow bed. If this is not the case, check to make sure there are no blockages in the center tube or the two openings on the sides of the grow bed that allow water to drain back down to the tank.
  • The water is not pumping into the grow bed, is there something wrong?

    If water is not pumping into the grow bed, tighten the tubing attached to the pump to ensure a proper seal. Also, increase pump power by rotating the outer ring of the pump near the electric chord.

D-Klor

  • What is D-Klor?

    D-Klor is a chemical free dechlorinator made from vitamin C and aloe vera. In addition to removing chlorine and chloramines from the water, which is harmful to fish health, the D-Klor also enhances the fish's natural surface protective slime coating.

Fish Food

  • What are the ingredients in the Fish Food?

    The Fish Food contains a combination of ingredients that provide your fish with necessary proteins, vitamins, and dietary supplements. These include krill meal, kelp, herring meal, spirulina, biotin, and vitamin B12 supplement.

Fish Prep

  • What is Fish Prep?

    Fish Prep is a combination of therapeutic oils including citrus oil, aloe vera, eucalyptus oil, and a clove based calming oil that help clean fish and boost their immune systems before being added to a new tank. The solution helps prevent fin rot, tail rot, and common bacterial infections. It also protects delicate slime coats and repairs damaged areas.

Tidy Tank

  • What is Tidy Tank?

    Tidy Tank is a natural sludge eradicator that helps keep your tank and gravel clean. It contains beneficial bacteria that help break down the organic solids in your tank.

ZymBac

  • What is ZymBac?

    ZymBac is a solution of beneficial bacteria that establish the biological filtration in your tank. They kickstart the cycling in the tank and help correct for ammonia and nitrite imbalances that could be harmful to your fish.