Product DescriptionBack to the Roots is on a mission to Undo Food. In a college class, we learned mushrooms could grow entirely on spent coffee grounds. After watching hours of how-to videos and turning our fraternity kitchen into a big science experiment, we eventually decided to give up our corporate job offers to instead become full-time mushroom farmers. What started as curiosity about urban farming has turned into a passion to Undo Food and reconnect families back to where it comes from.
- Bring the garden inside with the Back to the Roots Water Garden. This mini aquaponic tank is a closed-loop ecosystem — the betta fish waste fertilizes the plants on top, and the plants filter and clean the water for your fish — not your average betta fish bowl!
- Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture, or fish farming, and hydroponics, or growing plants in nutrient-rich water. The fish excrete ammonia that would become toxic to the fish in a regular fish bowl. In the Water Garden, the ammonia-rich waste is pumped up to the grow bed and absorbed by the plants, helping them grow twice as fast as in traditional farming! The clean water is then filtered back to the tank, creating a low-maintenance, self-cleaning cycle to foster a healthy fish and herb garden.
- The Water Garden aquaponic kit comes with everything you need to get started including: 3-gallon fish tank, organic wheatgrass and radish sprout seeds, a coupon for your betta fish, fish food, natural fertilizer, a silent, submersible water pump, gravel, and growstones.
Top ReviewsPerfect product with the right fish and plants
by Alec (5 out of 5 stars)
April 9, 2016
I recommend using ghost shrimp,a snail, and a clean fish of your choice to make the tank close to self sustaining.Also the best plant is lucky bamboo...so get rid of the grow stones and put marbles instead.And buy more rocks for the tank.
Cool Fish Tank, Not Herb Garden
by annstarrr (4 out of 5 stars)
December 10, 2016
So far I really like this - I got the deluxe version. I've had it about two and a half weeks. My betta is much happier in it than the tiny box the pet store recommended I get (see the pic of the sad original tank). I added my own rocks, a heater, five nano luffy balls, 2 amano shrimp (my local stores carries these instead of ghost shrimp), and a moon snail that immediately died, probably from transport shock after being mailed to me in the winter. You're going to have to get a version of this stuff if you want your tank to work.
Btw, after doing all this work to set up your tank, don't cheap out and get a cheap heater - apparently they will sometimes cook your fish out of nowhere. See my other comments for a well-reviewed heater that fits this tank.
Also, you should set up this tank and let it run for at least ten days before adding a fish. The materials don't make that clear, but it will give your fish the best chance of success. Seriously, don't add your fish the first day. It was super tempting to do that, but I resisted. You can too!
- The included seeds grow really fast. After soaking the radish & wheatgrass seeds for 6 hours and putting them in the grow stones, they sprouted the very next morning. The roots had expanded into the water tray after five days. Lately the plants grow about an inch a day. The My husband jokes that he can see the plants growing if he looks at them very long.
- The water stays MUCH clearer than the non-filtered tiny box I had before. There is still maintenance, and my tank is not 100% cycled yet, but as far as small tanks go, this one should be fairly low maintenance. So far the plants just suck up a lot of water & I have to top it off every three days. I add half a cap of D-Klor to 2 cups of water, pour the new water over the plants, and it cycles into the tank to top it off.
- The grow rocks are pretty cool. I didn't know what they would be, but they're basically like light gray pumice. They stay damp all the time by sucking up water through all the tiny holes, I guess. I assume this is what provides the water to the seeds before they grow roots down to the circulating water.
- The tank is not huge. I like the aesthetic of it, and I like that it's big enough for my betta and also doesn't take up a ton of room.
- This really isn't a complete kit. It's more like a half kit, which is fine, but they should make that clear. You need A HEATER, a thermometer, more rocks, some plants, a snail, some cleaner shrimp, a tester kit to make sure your water chemistry is right, etc. You need this stuff or your tank will not last long. They should make this REALLY clear since a lot of beginners buy this tank.
- There isn't enough gravel to do more than just barely cover the plastic at the bottom of the tank. If you want to put in any plants or decorations, the included amount of gravel will not anchor them. They should just not include any gravel, or double up the amount they include. I added my own rocks to the bottom.
- They really should include a heater. I don't know of a fish other than a betta that would work in this tank and not need a heater. I had to do quite a bit of trial and error to find a well-reviewed heater that would fit both the tank and the cord exit hole (for instance, the Eheim heater's cord is too thick to fit through the cord hole). I wound up with the Hydro Theo 25W. The black heater and the black pump take away from the clean visual design of the tank, though. It would be nice to have the right back corner of the tank have a white partial column that could hide both the pump and a heater and still allow water to flow through the top and bottom of the column. It would make it look much cleaner, visually, and would be easy enough for the makers to build in.
- It seems, disappointingly, that herbs don't grow well in here, even with bright light. The wheatgrass looks cool enough and I guess I could add it to a smoothie or something, so I'm not deducting a star, but it really is misleading to have the advertising photo on Amazon feature it growing basil. I bought this as a betta tank and not an herb garden, so I'm not deducting a star.
- The included instructions are good for the first day's setup. However, they should be clearer for ongoing maintenance. I had to read comments and questions to figure some things out.
- I bet that pump breaks fairly soon. I don't think there's any kit out there that comes with a quality pump, though, so I can't be too harsh about that. It vibrates just a bit against the side of the tank, just enough that I can hear it when the apartment is quiet. Based on some other comments, I cut off a piece of kitchen sponge & shoved it between the pump and the tank, and another piece of sponge between the white cord holder and the thank. It helped a TON and the tank is super quiet now.
So Many Flaws
by Shawna O (1 out of 5 stars)
February 5, 2016
We followed the instructions to the letter and ended up with:
1.Seeds fell through the cups and into the tank where they sprouted and clogged the filter. (The cups need the larger slits to allow roots to grow down, but the holes that allow water to flow into the tank are open and allow seeds into the tank. Design flaw. Perhaps a piece of mesh over the holes would help?)
2. The seeds that did sprout in the cups molded before maturing.
3. Most seeds didn't germinate at all.
4. Within a week there was mold growing at the water line. Week two brought algae.
5. The plants require sunlight. Aquariums should not have sunlight. Finding the balance is a nightmare.
6. Poor quality of the materials. The lid is warped and the tubing is cheap. The suction cups on the filter arrived warped and are useless.
7. The coolness of a great conversation piece isn't worth the headache.
We now have a $65 plastic fish tank for a $5 betta. I was really rooting for the creators of this clever product, but alas, needed to give an honest review. :(
My husband is determined to make this work, and it's requiring a lot more money and effort. Extremely disappointed.
We love it!
by Amazon Customer (5 out of 5 stars)
March 7, 2017
We've had the water garden for a little over 2 months now and it's been great! We originally planted the seeds that came in the kit but like others had said the seeds get everywhere and sprouts start growing in the aquarium and the plants all died are a couple weeks anyway. Now we have bamboo growing. It's been about 2 weeks with the bamboo and so far so good. Our fish (Marvin) seems happy and our cat (Eddie) loves sitting next to the tank and watching him. We also made sure to get a beta fish heater per the recommendation of others and we got a snail (Harold). After a couple weeks there was a lot of alge starting to grow but Harold cleaned it right up in the first couple days and the water is nice and clear now.
So far it seems we need to take the plants out and clean out the tray every couple weeks. It's a little bit of a hassle but not hard.
Moldy plants/roots don't make for a happy betta
by Deb Rebisz (1 out of 5 stars)
July 20, 2016
Moldy plants/roots don't make for a happy betta. :( I set this up in February and by April I ended up getting an actual fish tank. The rocks and the roots of the plants in the top part molded and I came home one day to find a very pale betta who looked like he was on his last leg (fin?). I had no trouble with cycling the tank and the betta food that was included was actually far better than other betta foods I'd tried. The top part where the plants go warped something terrible after a month's use, causing the water on top to pour into the tank from just one of the holes instead of distributing properly among the 3 (or 4--can't remember). It's just a very poor design. When Finnegan got so sick from the mold/root rot, I immediately set him up in a large bowl and he recovered within a couple days, thank goodness. I threw away this system and bought a great little Marineland setup which Finn loves. I also bought an Aerogarden to satisfy my need for hydroponic gardening.
Terrific compact setup!
by Pandora (4 out of 5 stars)
January 11, 2017
I received this as a Christmas gift from my daughter and did some online research as well as reading the other reviews here before setting it up. I added a heater to keep the betta comfortable and some aqua-scaping to make his space more interesting. The tank as it comes has no enrichment for the fish but a small amount of gravel that isn't enough to cover the bottom. It's like a sensory deprivation chamber. I added more gravel, a quirky T.A.R.D.I.S. figure for the fish to swim in and out of, and a leaf bed for it to rest on. The betta is very happy with his space. I plan to add a small manageable live plant soon to soften it up and then he'll have a very happy space.
I didn't want to fuss with growing and replanting herbs, so I followed Alec's suggestion and got Lucky Bamboo for the top. It's already rooted and grown hydroponically so it got established with no fuss and the only work I need do now is feed the fish. I've had it about a week and both bamboo and betta seems very happy, It's at my desk at work and everyone around me gets to enjoy him too. The motor is very quiet and disturbs no one. The water evaporates fairly quickly so I got a bottle of distilled water to replace it as the level goes down. I assume that will keep the system in balance better than continuously refilling it with treated tap water. I'm very pleased with it, so far.
great concept, flawed delivery
by Marie Calendula (4 out of 5 stars)
November 2, 2015
I knew that bettas need a heater, and intended on finding an appropriate one. The brochure that comes with the tank even recommends getting a heater, but there is no place to put one because of the lid design, and I wasn't comfortable putting a heater on a plastic tank. I opted for an exterior grow light, and with the tank's warm spot in the house, the water temperature is 78-80. I used my own rocks, because the included gravel had SO much dust and sediment in it, even when rinsed. The tank itself was gritty, more than just dusty from shelf life, and felt used. The grow media was chalky, too, but was easily rinsed clean. The lid is difficult to work with: if you have to get into the tank for any reason, you have to unplug the pump, drain the tray, pull everything off, then reassemble. I used an alternate brand of water conditioner, got some pH up/down, and I added a java fern and crypto plant. The pump works perfectly, it just doesn't like to stay in place: it doesn't come off, it just slides around.
I added the fish a few days ago and he is doing well! The tank is surprisingly spacious for a betta, even with the rocks, logs, plants and decorations I threw in. I'm considering adding a nerite snail.
The seeds... What a mess. I totally recommend just rinsing the dirt off a rooted plant and adding it to a basket. The included seeds (wheatgrass and radish sprouts), even if you let them germinate, will slip through the slots in the baskets and get into the water tray, occasionally getting down into the aquarium. I pulled some sage from the garden and put it in one basket, and though I tried the included seeds in three other baskets, I am seeking already-rooted alternatives.
If you are expecting to buy this ~$55 tank and have literally everything you need, ready to go, you are mistaken. I've already spent about $100 on this fish. However, as for the tank/pump alone and nothing else, this is a nice little set up for counter-top aquaponics. I think this should be treated as just the tank, without the expectation of it having everything you need keep plants/fish. Because there are several other things you need to accompany it (pH treatment, blood worms, hidey holes, more gravel, live aquarium plants, a heater and/or grow light, and your own herbs with roots on them). I'm having fun with it.
I'm torn on this review
by A. Susan Adam (3 out of 5 stars)
February 18, 2019
At first it seemed like a great set up...my fish was happy for the added tank size and the greens came up fast and were wonderful additions to my winter diet. But the downside is there is little information about maintaining the tank for the long haul. It's easy to add a toxic load of the seed fertilizer they say to add what seems way to frequently for the health of my fish. I had to take half the water out and try to refresh the tank with new water. I later tried sprouting other kinds of seed...like alfalfa seed (very small) and they sprouted quickly, too, but many fell through and got hopeless clogged up in the filter (which I am now forced to replace) where they began to rot and turn the water horrid. To save the fish I had to drain the whole thing and start all over. And that little hole for feeding the fish doesn't seem like the greatest ideas. It doesn't allow me to sprinkle food in sparingly without it sinking so fast due to water agitation that the food sinks and is lost. And now we have all the rotting food on the bottom, which also contributes to cloudy, icky water. This started out great and just went downhill from there with no support that I could find on the long term maintenance of the tank.
Honestly this thing is awesome though. Having a basement apartment makes it hard ...
by Amazon Customer (5 out of 5 stars)
March 25, 2017
Yes you are going to have to learn some science to use this. Living in the cold northeast I learned the hard way, that fish do need heaters. Honestly this thing is awesome though. Having a basement apartment makes it hard to grow plants but this makes it easier and makes the house more lively. I would suggest getting a shrimp or clam to help filter the tank. Currently I have a small school of minnows and the tank hasn't gotten murky over the last two months but they have a hard time eating all their food ( I had a beta that I froze to death so I crush up dried shrimp that was originally for the beta). Wheat grass shoots up really fast, I never used the radish because I read it can be poisonous to cats. This upcoming crop is catnip, which I'm hoping goes well. It is fun experimenting and seeing how to make things work for this small environment.
Do not bother with this one
by Adventure Girl (1 out of 5 stars)
October 29, 2014
I SO wanted to LOVE this entry into the hydroponic world, but alas, I do not. Where to start?
1) That tank that was sent to me was not the one shown in the picture. Both sides are opaque white plastic so the tank can only be viewed from straight on
2) The little suction cups that are supposed to hold the pump in place are completely inadequate for the job. They don't stick to the side of the tank at all in fact, even without trying to hold the pump. As a result, the pump has to be balanced into a workable position and left to just hang in the tank
3) It is extremely tricky to get the black tube that attaches to the pump to balance into the hydroponic tray and get the whole contraption back together again, which makes cleaning a daunting chore
4) The previously mentioned black tube for the pump is made of a material that attracts a gross thick growth of some slime gunk that I've never had to deal with in a fish tank before
5) The seeds that come with it did sprout, but the wheat grass was ugly and useless and the Basil never grew more than 4 itty bitty teeny tiny little leaves (in well over 2 months)
6) Only about 1/4 of the gravel pictured actually comes with the kit
7) It's pretty expensive
So, back to the drawing board my friends at AquaFarm. This one was a MISS.
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