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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This journals purpose is to make a log of my adventures in aquaponics, the amazing combination of gardening and fish keeping! I am an anthropology student only because being a naturalist is not "really" a career choice now a days...

I keep a lot of "tropical" and or "difficult" plants in my home and love taking care of them :) I also love betta fish! It was time for my two loves to meet. After doing some research I decided the best tanks for my apartment (under 4 gallons per tank or I am breaking my lease) are the Water Garden from Back to The Roots. That being said I am not going into this as a no maintiance/ no risk system. I have seen a lot of mis-information on these tanks and this system and I want to see if they can really be a viable tank and herb garden.

My set up:
Two Water Gardens with the new pump
Two male betta fish, rescued from petco
Two Nirite Snails
Seeds!
Two grow lights that shine only on the plant area
A handful of natural products to prevent infection and general poor health of the fish!
Two heater and thermometer set ups to help regulate temperature

I have had my first tank set up, fish and all for over a week now, and just got my last tank completed with fish. So that is two tanks for room to experiment!

Background on me and Betta fish:
My fist fish was a poor little guy that had been bought as a decoration piece for my grandparents 40th anniversary... he lived in a vase with a plant (but I did feed him) for about a year. I was around 8 at the time. At some point all the fish in our 55 gallon had died due to a bad infection brought home from the fish store :( all except for the GIANT pleco that lurked in the tank all alone, after a few months of him being alone and apparently healthy my dad got tired of helping me change the vases water and dumped in my betta. Amazing he survived some of the worst possible conditions only to be given a giant home with a giant roommate. I don't remember if the tank was actually warm enough for him but he lived another five years and died shortly before we moved, we never bought any other fish for the tank even after the pleco passed.

In college my roommate and I decided fish were a must for our dorm, went out and bought a 3 gallon tank kit at walmart and set it up, went to the petstore and were sold two of those glass fish that were popular a few years back. They died, we replaced them and they died. We went back and a knowledgeable employee taught us about cycling a tank and ammonia build up, we followed his instructions to clean and cycle the tank and were sold two smaller fish (I don't remember the type) that would be better suited to our set up. They lived until an unfortunate tank exploding incident while getting our dorm ready for break.

My next fish was another betta in a vase, poor guy lived for 6 months before he jumped out and died.

This year for my birthday my mom got me an aqua garden. In researching the tank I started learning about the actual requirements for bettas and immediately felt horrible about my vase betta from 3 years ago... honestly I should have known better and could and should have done more research before impulse buying him.

I am still learning and the health of my fish is priority number one in this system, which means water changes and heaters and a soon to be set up hospital tank in case of emergency. I am also looking into other aquaponics set ups and ways to modify this tank so it is better for the fish.

I will try to keep this updated with my experiences and experiments.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Week one summery:
Tank one is completely set up according to manufacturers instructions. I decided to do it this way so that i can test how "easy" the set up is.
I was thinking about using this tank in a future classroom to teach about ecosystems. I do make some small adjustments. I add a snail to help with excess food processing and algae and I cover each grow pod with aluminum foil to help speed the germination process. One of my pods is planted with green onion cuttings from my dinner that night :) I wanted roots in the system asap!
I monitor the water twice a day, realize the ph and total alkalinity is a bit higher than recommended, and work out a ration of my tap water to reverse osmosis water that strikes a nice balance, I begun to slowly take out a little water and replace it with the RO water each day, with the used water going into my second tank to be cycled once this has been sorted out I have two tanks with a nice ph balance! I also replace the heater in my first tank with one that heats the water better. I set up the heater and plants in tank 2 to let it cycle. I am testing water in both tanks daily. By the end of week one my plants are growing nicely (weatgrass, green onions, micro greens, and large leaf basil) and all cloudiness in tank 1 has cleared up! Unfortunately my poor fish has scraped his back on some tank decor and lost some scales I, remove the decor and modify it so that it is safe (hopefully). I order some IAL and some Fish Protector as well as a product called Fish Therapy from the makers on the other products that come with this kit. Alph seems happy in his home and is eating and swimming despite his scale injury.

Week two:
Wednesday 18 May 2016:
Tank 2's water parameters have settled into a happy place and I am ready for fishy number two. Pick out Monster and a snail and bring him home.
I also transfer the weatgrass to tank 2 so that I can replicate the roots in the water asap success of tank 1
Monster is a happy and energetic fish in his new home!
I add Fish Protector to the water of both tanks.

Thursday 19 May 2016:
I treat Alph in a Fish Therapy bath.
I find monster stuck in his tank decor, My fiance manages to free him but he has cut himself down to the flesh and is stressed.
Monster also receives a fish therapy bath and extra fish protector added to his tank.
Monster rests on his plants near the surface for a few hours and then begins taking little swims around his tank. He seems miffed that the dangerous decor has been removed :(
Alph seems happier and more energetic after his treatment.
IAL is added to Monsters tank to help him heal.

Friday 20 May 2016:
This morning Monster is swimming as normal in his tank and seems happy. I will continue to monitor him for secondary infections.
Both fish will receive another fish therapy bath tonight.
 

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Interesting. Sounds like you understand that "No Clean" tanks are fake. Keep up the good work, I'm excited for pictures!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Interesting. Sounds like you understand that "No Clean" tanks are fake. Keep up the good work, I'm excited for pictures!
Yes! I honestly just figured that this way I could get away with more plants lol, and maybe even grow herbs successfully indoors :) My biggest complaint so far is that the lid is a pain to remove whenever anything needs adjusted :( trying to think of mods that would fix this). I just ordered a better test kit and food. Honestly the fish are getting spoiled over the guilt I have from that poor vase betta.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·

This is Alph he lives in Tank 1 which is currently growing green onions, parsley, microgreens, and basil

This is Monster he lives in Tank 2 which is currently growing wheatgrass, radish sprouts, purple basil, and thai basil.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Friday 20 May 2016: Evening summary- The wheatgrass and radish sprouts in Tank 2 have sprouted and some roots are already in the water. I am leaving the foil covering them until I can see green growing not just roots. Both fish resisted being captured for their baths, good thing this is the last one unless they develop any symptoms as this was primarily a preventive measure. Slightly worried about Monster as he hasnt eaten since I got him... I think it was stress from the new environment and then stress from his accident. I'll try to feed him again tomorrow .

Saturday 21 May 2016: Both fish are fairly active this morning during my morning tank check. This makes me happy as they appear to be shrugging off their injuries. Alph ate a big meal, I have notices that he ignores the blood worms so I might try live food or brine shrimp. Monster chased his floating pellets around and tried to make a snack of a blood worm but then spit it out :( good thing my carnivorous plants eat this stuff because my fish sure won't! I think Monster managed to eat a few pellets so I am no longer worried that he will starve, I just wish he would eat more nutritious food.

I will update with pictures once my shelf is cleaned up and maybe a few more plants are grown in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Update

Both fish are doing well, posting on here everyday about plant growth is probably like posting on watching paint dry. I would also like to open this up to questions or comments.

o-o I saw a female I really wanted today. Unfortunately I have no tank for her and we are watching money due to the upcoming wedding... I kinda want to put a tank on the registry but we made a deal that there were no individual gifts only couple gifts :(. I have my eye on the Pen Plax 10 gallon or larger tank for our future house and a nifty filter for it that I will post if I ever get it... I want my car to be fixed so bad so that we know the damage done to our savings :(.

The poor car broke down on my birthday, the day before I lost my wallet, the day after I get a call that my grandpa is sick, and today I found out that my liver is still no cooperating with me :( May has not been good to me friends :(
 

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Sorry you're not having a great week/month.
I look forward to seeing photos of the setup! Love aquaponic systems, great for the fish health (nitrate absorption) and tasty edibles for you ^^
I currently have an aquaponic setup on my goldfish tank. Look forward to growing their veggies as well as veggies for my husband and I on it.. right now they are just little seedlings but I have water sprite in the aquarium taking care of nitrates until the terrestrial plants grow bigger ^^
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Here are some photo updates of the space tonight!

This is Growbed 1

Growbed 2


and some views of my tanks

Tank 1

This is Alph's Tank he is rather shy and reserved and spends most of his time hiding in the plants and generaly not being photogenic. His activity has improved some since adding IAL to his water.

Tank 2

This is Monster's domain, now complete with Monster proofed tank ornament!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Here are the pictures uploaded correctly this time.
Picture order is growbed 2, tank 2, growbed 1, tank set up (two pictures) and tank 1
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
So far the biggest problem I have run into with these tanks is the water evaporation rate. I swear I am adding water every two days! So far everything is growing great and has sprouted like crazy. Plants that normally take a week or longer to germinate have sprouted withing 2-3 days using my method. Water is still testing fine. I use strips for daily checks and then check my water once a week with chemical tests. Went to the dollar tree to find a turkey baster for easy clean and no luck :( I'll have to go somewhere else once I get my car back. I was looking into bigger 'ponics systems and they seem to slightly overstock for higher nutrient levels. Not a great carry over for a tank this small although I was thinking of adding some ghost shrimp as a supplemental food source.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Added 5 ghost shrimp to Tank 1. Three days later one died. Its ok as they are really a test to see of the bettas can deal with tank mates. Initially they were divided over two tanks but Monster became very spooked and stressed by them, so they were all moved to Alph's tank. Alph seems lo enjoy the company, he watches them but wont strike or bother them. Sometimes he swims around looking for them so he can watch. This is a major improvement over his sulking in a corner act. I will likely replace these guys with red cherry shrimp once they have lived their lives since I know they wont just become easy snacks. I also found an amazing jewel of a local fish store. Bettas were in cups or small bowls but with very clean water and they were almost all very active. If I get another male I am going there. They also gave me some pointers about reef tanks. Ahhh maybe someday!
 

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how is the tank going? i started my Back to the Roots tank last week, and so far it's sprouting, the water is clear, and the betta seems happy. I'm not sure which direction to take it in if it continues to be successful. perhaps adding shrimp or a snail - your thoughts?
 
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