In this article, necessary information you’ll need to build your indoor aquaponics setup using a betta fish tank to grow herbs on your kitchen counter. Before you race over to your nearest pet store, there are a few things you’ll need to know to make your aquaponics journey a little easier.
You might think that aquaponics is a soilless growing system reserved for big-time companies with thousands of dollars, but aquaponics doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Anyone can use this sustainable method to quickly and easily grow food in small spaces.
Pick Plants that do Well in Smaller Spaces
Not all vegetation is suitable for countertop operations. To narrow it down, consider what will grow better in a smaller space. Plants like rhubarb and corn need a lot more breathing room than, say, basil. Leafy greens like lettuce and spinach are excellent choices for small space growing, along with herbs like parsley or oregano. Wheatgrass is yet another healthy choice that grows well in a soilless medium.
However, perhaps the most critical question to ask yourself when deciding what to grow in your betta fish aquaponics system is: what do you want to grow? What herbs do you use the most? Do you have a favorite vegetable that might take up less space? There isn’t much point in growing something you don’t even like. Pick something you eat regularly, and you’ll get a lot more enjoyment out of your countertop system.
Choose and Appropriately Sized Container
Picking the right container for your betta tank aquaponics system is almost as tricky as figuring out what plants you want to grow in it. Make the tank too small, and you risk overtaxing the plant’s ability to filter the water. Make it too big, and the nutrients will be spread much thinner. Thankfully, there a few necessary parameters to help cut down on the choices you have to work with.
While husbandry choices differ between individuals, betta fish need at least one gallon of water. A regular sized mason jar with a single plant in it might sound pretty, but it’s simply not enough space for your aquaponic fish.
A one-and-a-half-gallon mason jar or secondhand fish tank make excellent, inexpensive choices for your at home aquaponics system. Make sure whatever you choose is clean, free of leaks, and big enough for your aquatic friend to swim and breathe normally.
Bettas are surface breathers and need a small space of air at the top of their tank. Moreover, that means that another consideration for choosing your container is the opening in which you’ll be placing your future plant. Aquaponic mason jars tend to have wider openings that will accommodate a cup or growing basket while still leaving room for your fish to have an air pocket to breathe in properly.
Find a Good Grow Substrate
Some of the popular substrate choices like peat moss and coco coir aren’t the best for your betta fish set up. They can leach tannins into the water and mess with the PH levels for your tiny fish friend. Better choices include lava rocks, expanded clay pebbles, or even plain old aquarium rocks.
Lava rocks and expanded clay have the advantage of getting plenty of air to your plant’s roots. Clay pebbles can affect the PH of the water, but to a lesser degree than more soil-like substrates. Aquarium rocks are a little more tightly packed but have the advantage of being relatively inexpensive. Pea gravel is another commonly used aquarium stone that can be purchased in large bags for pennies on the dollar. If you do go that route, be sure to rinse the gravel before using it thoroughly.
Make Sure Your Water is Safe for Your Fish
So you’ve decided what plants you want to grow, found a container, and prepped the growing area. Now you throw some water in there and get things going, right? For some people, yes, but if you’re hooked up to city water, there’s typically chlorine added to ward off contamination. While that’s debatably good for you, even this low level of chlorine could easily poison your fish.
You have a couple of options to solve this problem. Instead of investing in expensive filters for your sink, you can buy gallon jugs of regular water at your local supermarket or grab dechlorinating solution at your local pet supply. After following the instructions on the box and waiting for the appropriate amount of time, it should be safe to put your new fish into the tank. Water testing strips can be a great way to ensure the water is ready.
Introduce Your Fish to His New Home
Putting a fish in a new tank might not sound like a complicated process, but it’s not as simple as taking the fish from one spot and tossing it into another. Fish can be susceptible to temperature and water quality changes. If you’re transferring your fish from another tank, you can scoop him into a sandwich bag and float that bag inside your readied container. After fifteen minutes, poke a few small holes into the bag, being careful not to harm the fish. In another ten minutes, you can go ahead and release the fish. He may sink to the bottom out of stress, especially if he’s in an open environment with no place to hide, but this is normal.
If you’ve just bought your fish, you can follow the same process with the bag or cup he came in. For a cup, instead of poking holes, simply push it under the water to let a small portion of the new water in through the feeding hole.
When I first started out with aquaponics I created my first Indoor aquaponic betta tank.
I tried mint but I soon found out mint was not a good aquaponic plant.
Feed Species Appropriate Food
Speaking of feeding, there’s one thing you might find yourself wondering: how on Earth do you feed this fish once you’ve gotten him in the container. Just like with any other aquaponics system, your betta fish will need outside food in order to survive and excrete nutrients for your plant. Commercially made betta fish systems tend to have a built-in opening for feeding purposes. Your at-home creation can have as simple a method as lifting the cup the plant is growing in to make room for food.
It’s important to note that some people think that the roots of the plant will provide the betta with all the food it needs. However, betta fish are predominantly carnivores. A variety of prey items such as bloodworms and freeze dried shrimp or a specially formulated betta fish food are all excellent choices for your little friend. Depending on your reasons for creating your countertop aquaponics system, you may even want to look into organic fish food
If you want to give your betta aquaponics set up the best chance for success, consider the following points:
One of the best parts of having a betta tank aquaponics system in your house is the decorative aspect. They look cool, and if you want to make yours look even better you can carefully place a few rocks on the bottom of your container to balance your
One thing every living creature on Earth has in common is that we all need air. Fish and plants are no different. Depending on your set up and container size, you may want to add an air stone to increase the amount of oxygen in the water for both fish and plant. Not only will this make for a happier fish, but it can also significantly increase your yield.
If you choose to build an indoor aquaponic betta fish tank remember air and sunlight is critical.
It’s a good idea to give some consideration to where you’ll place your tank ahead of time. Once you fill it with water, moving your chosen container becomes increasingly tricky. Each gallon of water weighs eight pounds. So, before you fill it, selected a location near, but not directly in a window. This will give your plants and fish enough light, but not so much, your container will quickly develop algae.
Another thing to realize is that individual plants are harder to start from seeds. So make sure you do your research on how to best start whatever plant you plan on growing. Chamomile and strawberries, for example, do much better when they’re started in a soilless system as plugs, but basil practically grows itself.
In short, creating your aquaponics system at home can be complicated and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Aquaponics is a soilless, sustainable gardening system that anyone can do at home. All you need is a plant or plants to grow, a container to put everything in, a suitable substrate, fish food, and of course, a fish to make the whole thing work.