If you like the idea of aquaponics but aren’t sure how to get started, you’re in luck: AquaSprouts just launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund their brilliant home system, which allows anyone to grow vegetables right on the kitchen counter. Imagine having lettuce and other summery greens growing right in your kitchen in the middle of winter, or a wide selection of fresh herbs at your fingertips for all your culinary needs. Sure, you could keep a few potted plants here and there and hope that you’ll remember to water them regularly, or you could get on board with sustainable growing techniques for a far more efficient way to garden indoors.
Designed by Jack Ikard and Shannon Crow, a pair of young entrepreneurs from Austin, TX, AquaSprouts allows you to transform any 10-gallon fish tank into a self-cleaning aquaponics bay. True to the idea that items can be as beautiful as they are useful, AquaSprouts has a sleek, streamlined design that would be right at home in the most elegant kitchen or living room, or even as a living display in cafes and juice bars, where ingredients for smoothies and juices can be grown onsite. Made of black, scratch-resistant polycarbonate, it fits snugly over a fish tank, and then its grow bed is filled with clay pebbles that act as a growing medium.
Once the fish are happily established in their home and the AquaSprouts system is fully installed, all that’s needed is to add some plant seeds and let them grow. The fish have to be fed regularly in order to keep them healthy, although an automatic fish feeder can also be installed to keep things completely self-sustained. It’s also important to ensure that you choose fish that can thrive in a 10-gallon tank environment: small species like goldfish, tetras, and guppies are good examples of the species that would do well.
For homes where there may not be a good source of direct natural light, the detachable bar that comes with the system can be installed along with a pair of hanging hooks so you can suspend a grow light above the tank. This would also be of benefit in winter, when natural light is significantly weaker than during the warmer months.
AquaSprouts is the ultimate countertop garden for any living space, and the best part is that it maintains itself: you don’t have to clean it because the fish’s secretions—which would ordinarily accumulate on the inside of the glass tank—are instead absorbed as food by the plants growing above. The bacteria in the fish poop acts as a fertilizer, so when the plants suck up water from the tank, they’re also nourished rather heartily. As part of this process, the plants clean the water for the fish, creating a sustainable, self-contained ecosystem that just happens to include delicious edibles for you to enjoy.
With regard to which plants can be grown, you won’t be limited to just a few select plant species: unlike many other aquaponics systems, AquaSprouts’ deep grow-bed allows for a greater range of plant diversity, as well as better growth. With the ability to spread roots more deeply, your plants can grow to their full potential, and have a solid base to re-grow from after being cut. You could create a salad garden full of assorted lettuces, spinach, and chard, or everything you’d need for an amazing salsa or sauce, like tomatoes, peppers, green onions, basil, parsley, and cilantro. If your kids would love to have a fish tank in their room, you could plant a bunch of strawberries over it so they can forage for healthy snacks.
Whatever you’d like to grow, AquaSprouts really is the ideal aquaponics system for any home. The company is currently raising funds on Kickstarter to cover manufacturing costs, with the garden system available for pre-order.
+ AquaSprouts on Kickstarter