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Classroom & Education

A child asks: where does food comes from? And sometimes us grown up don't even know the answer. Wouldn't it be great to connect once again to basics, and teach our kids how easy it is to grow your own food?

For educators, parents, and community now is easier than ever to give students a sneak peak at nature with a classroom-friendly system that feeds children curiosity about organics, chemistry, biology and the mystery of how little fish waste can help you grow healthy, delicious food.

A perfect classroom pet — no need to clean the tank or occupy limited space. Just put it somewhere with sunlight, feed your fish, and let children learn!

aquafarm classroom pet  kids love the aquafarm  teaching sustainability

 

Aquafarm in the classroom Frequently Asked Questions FAQ's:

What is aquaponics and how does it work?

Aquaponics is an agricultural system that combines aquaculture (fish cultivation) with hydroponics (plant cultivation without the use of soil) in a symbiotic environment. The water from the aquaculture portion is pumped up to the plant portion, where beneficial nitrifying bacteria convert the ammonia-rich waste from the fish into nitrites and then nitrates. The plants then take up the nitrates as nutrients they need to grow.

At certain concentrations, ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates can be toxic to fish. Because the nitrifying bacteria is ridding the water of ammonia and nitrites by converting them to nitrates, and the plants are taking up the nitrates, the system has a built-in filtration system. Through the recirculation of the water, the toxins are removed and the plants are provided with the necessary nutrients to grow.

How much water does aquaponics use?

Water is constantly being reused and recirculated in aquaponics, and water only needs to be added to a system to replace that which has been lost due to evaporation, absorption and transpiration by the plants, and any spillage or overflow. As a result, aquaponics uses a dramatically smaller amount of water per unit of plant growth than conventional agriculture. Depending on the particular aquaponics system and conventional agricultural system being compared, aquaponics can use anywhere between 90% and 98% less water!

Is aquaponics organic?

Aquaponics is organic by nature, as you’re not having to supplement your crops with fertilizers or detoxify your water with chemicals. Aquaponic farms still must go through the process of getting organically certified if they’d like to sell their crops as formally organic, but the system is meant to mimic how ecosystems work in nature.

What are the types of “beneficial” bacteria?

There are two main types of beneficial nitrifying bacteria. Nitrosomonas bacteria convert ammonia into nitrites, and Nitrobacter bacteria convert nitrites into nitrates. Both are chemoautotrophic bacteria and serve as the crucial connectors between the fish and the plants in any aquaponic system.

What pH range should my water be at?

The ideal pH range for an aquaponics system is 6.0-7.0. Fish prefer a slightly alkaline environment above 6.0, and plants grow best in slightly acidic environments of 5.5-6.5.

How many fish can I keep in my AquaFarm?

We recommend keeping one large male betta fish in your AquaFarm. If you’d like to keep more than one fish in your AquaFarm, we recommend following the 1-inch of fish per gallon rule of thumb. 2-3 fancy guppies or zebra danios are other recommendations of ours. Please consult your local pet shop about stocking a 3 gallon tank.

Can I keep two bettas together in my AquaFarm?

Unfortunately, no. It is believed that betta fish got their name from an ancient clan of warriors called the “Bettah.” As their name suggests, betta fish will fight with each other if placed in the same tank. While it’s true that female bettas are less aggressive than the males, our 3-gallon AquaFarm is too small for 2 female bettas to be housed together.

What types of fish can I keep in my AquaFarm?

We recommend keeping one male betta fish in the AquaFarm. They’re particularly hardy fish that fit well with a naturally regulated system like the AquaFarm. They also have a labyrinth organ that allows them to breath in additional oxygen from above the water’s surface.

If you’d like to use your AquaFarm as a home for fish other than bettas, we recommend fancy guppies or zebra danios. Both are tropical species of fish and thrive in temperatures between 72° and 82°F.

Some fish are schooling, while others prefer to be solitary. Certain species also prefer to have decorations and places to hide in their tanks. Please consult your local pet store on the preferences of your fish to make sure their home is a happy one!

Can I keep a goldfish in the AquaFarm?

Though they may look small in stores, fantail goldfish can grow to be 8” in length, and we do not recommend them as permanent residents of the AquaFarm. While the AquaFarm may make a good beginner home for a goldfish, please have a larger tank ready to transfer it to as it matures, so you’re not stunting its growth.

My AquaFarm has algae?

Algae growth is a common natural ocurrence in aquariums and develops as a result of the combination of sunlight, nutrients, and water. While algae is perfectly safe for your fish, preventing it will help you keep a clean and clear tank.

You can help prevent rapid algae growth by blocking the back side of your AquaFarm and minimizing sun exposure to the tank. One or two algae-eating snails or an Otocinclus catfish may also be great additions to your AquaFarm, as they will eat the algae and eat additional food and solid waste in your tank. They'll happily clean your tank for you!

Finally, if your tank only receives a small amount of light, a live water plant inside of your tank will help keep the water crystal clear.