what you'll need:
2: two gallon glass jars or fish tanks with clear lids
1: 20 gallon cycled and established sorority or community tank, live planted preferably, with 7-12 fish (guppies, female bettas, platies or tetras will work fine)
five pounds of gravel, or two pounds of sand and two pounds of natural organic soil
10-20: assorted live stem plants (wisteria, primrose, hornwort, rotala and anacharis work great)
2: long stems of pothos or similar wide leaved surface plants
2: either male bettas or mystery snails
2: strong bendy-necked desk lamps or fluorescent banks
assorted aquarium-safe rocks and decorations
2: 7.5 watt heaters
1-find a good place to set up your jars. you should have a flat surface at least three feet long and two feet wide, that's strong enough to hold at least 60 pounds.
2-set the jars on opposite ends of the surface (we'll just call it a table from here on out) with enough space to break up visibility from between the jars (only necessary if you're using bettas)
3-if you're using soil, first put a pound of soil in the bottom of each jar, then cap it with the sand. if you're using gravel, separate the bag into equal portions and fill the bottoms of the jars.
4-condition four gallons of water and fill the jars halfway (if you're using soil and sand, do this VERY slowly so it doesn't all end up floating.
5-once the jars are half-full, place your hardscape (rocks and decor) after this is completed, plant your live plants (the best way to do it is to space them around the rim of the glass, so the betta/snail has areas of plants and open water. you can do a cutout of the spacing in the front to give you viewing room) place your pothos somewhere in the open area, so the roots and part of the stem are in the water, with the leaves resting at the surface.
6-position your lighting for maximum exposure, ensuring that none of the plants overshadow the others. insert your heaters and check the temperature of your water to make sure it's between 78 and 82 degrees.
7-fill the jars with the rest of the water, and begin acclimating your snails or bettas (one per jar). once they're ready to be released, let them go, and place the lids (for jars, make sure the lid is propped up at least a quarter inch to allow air flow)
you should now have your farms up and running. the animals in them will provide ammonia and nutrients from their poo to fertilise the plants, and the plants in turn will keep the water safe and clean, as well as well-oxygenated. they should look a little something like this:
once every two weeks, take a pair of scissors and trim the top two to three inches of new growth from the stem plants. while you're doing this, pay close attention to the health of your betta or snail, and if you see any signs of sickness don't take the plants anywhere until the problem has been treated. take these cuttings and place them in your sorority/community tank for a further two weeks as floating canopy (bettas in particular LOVE floaters like this) during this grow-out time, they should start sprouting roots, both from the cut end, and from every joint in the stem. after two weeks they will likely have doubled in size. remove the stems (you should have a new crop you just cut to replace them) and trim back the roots from the stem joints, and you have some 4-6 inch plants ready to either plant, or post on aquabid. you can realistically expect to get $.50 to $.75 per stem for them, but may go up to a dollar or $1.50 if they're particularly nice. enjoy!