Grow fresh, organic food in your home all year long! With the beautifully redesigned ECO-Cycle, you turn your aquarium into a productive garden. This self-sufficient ecosystem uses fish waste to naturally fertilize the plants above. You feed the fish, the fish feed the plants, and the plants clean the water. Nature’s balance – simplified. Learn about the science inside the ECO-Cycle!
NEW! Shipping included! Please note tank is not included.
Grow for Good
Your purchase directly supports our Aquaponics Education Program! You can be a part of a project that provides ECO-Cycle Aquaponics Kits, curriculum, and educational support to students and classrooms.
Aquaponics provides a lot of solutions to the problems with modern agriculture and it’s something you can do anywhere! I want to share that with other people because sustainability relies on education to spread.Brianna Pinto
The children’s excitement and positive learning atmosphere helped us gain perspective on the importance of ECOLIFE’s mission, to provide our youth with a foundation of environmentally-conscious methods of farming and learning.Kelsey Zeran
We planted Swiss Chard on December 1st and our seeds sprouted by the 5th. We are using our aquaponics system to help guide our NGSS Ecosystems unit and to help us in our future NGSS Genetics unit on inherent and variable traits.Kathleen Taila
MAINTAINING YOUR ECO-CYCLE AQUAPONICS KIT
The Grow Tray
Check the tray regularly to make sure that the drain is free of any roots or other debris that could cause an overflow. Check that the water flow is properly adjusted and not overflowing the filter section.
The Filter Section
The filter section is on the right end of the grow tray. It is comprised of a mechanical pre-filter sponge (white) and a bio-filter brick (blue). The aquarium water flows through this integrated filter prior to reaching the plant roots in the grow tray.
Mechanical Sponge Filter
The filter sponge serves to trap solid waste and should be removed and rinsed in clean water weekly or more frequently if necessary. Visually inspect sponge regularly for discoloration and accumulated debris.
The blue bio-filter brick is composed of Matala media. This inert spun plastic media provides a high surface area substrate for beneficial nitrifying bacteria to colonize. This brick should not need to be removed or cleaned more than once every six months. The pre-filtration by the white mechanical filter sponge will prevent the majority of solid waste from reaching the bio-filter. Should the bio-filter brick become clogged, it can be removed and gently rinsed in spring water or tap water that has been treated to remove chlorine and chloramine. Rinsing in untreated tap water is detrimental to the bacteria that live on the filter.
- A Standard 20-gallon (20H) fish tank. You can find these at your local pet store for $20-40. See below for more information on aquarium options.
- 2-3 Fish
- Fish food
- 1-2 packets of seeds to start growing.
- Electric timer (optional) Allows you to set a consistent amount of daylight for the grow light and tank light- this is about $10 at most hardware stores. The timer can be set somewhere between 16/12 -12/12 on/off cycle. In hydroponic growing a 16 hour day is standard. Do not set your pump on a timer – the pump should run continuously, 24/7.
- Aquarium gravel and any decor for the tank (optional).
Any aquarium with a 12 in by 24 in footprint. The standard 20-gallon or 20H is a widely available model with these dimensions. Other standard tank options include 15-gallon and 25-gallon models, just make sure you get an aquarium that is approximately 24 by 12 inches at the rim (the tray will accommodate aquariums with top dimensions of 23.75” – 24.25” x 11.8” – 12.5” / 60.3 – 61.6 cm x 30 – 31.8 cm). The tank size is also be determined by the type of fish you want to keep in you tank. The general rule of thumb is 1 inch of fish per gallon; a little less if you are keeping goldfish.
Rainwater and potable pH neutral well water are the best choices for filling an aquaponic system. Many of us, though, are limited to municipal tap water to charge the system. While in some regions this water may be ready to use right out of the tap, most municipal sources add chlorine and chloramine to the water for disinfectant purposes. These compounds make the water safe for us to drink, but unfortunately they are toxic to fish and to the nitrifying bacteria in the bio-filter. While there are a number of water conditioners available through aquarium shops, most of these products are not certified for use with fish and plants that are intended for human consumption, as stated on the bottle. An easy and safe alternative is a little powdered Vitamin C. 200 milligrams of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) will treat 20 gallons of water, effectively neutralizing the chlorine and chloramine.
Leafy greens grow best in the ECO-Cycle system because they thrive in nitrogen rich fertilizer found in fish waste. Some specific examples of plants you can grow are: Lettuce, basil, chard, kale, arugula, watercress, mint, cabbage, and a wide variety of leafy greens and herbs. The kit may also be used to start the seeds of flowering plants for the garden, native plants for landscaping, tropical house plants, and even trees.
You can harvest your plants all at once or by just clipping a few leaves at a time. In either case, the plants should remain in place when harvesting rather than removing the pots first. This will keep the leaves clean from aquarium water. While your ECO-Cycle Aquaponic system will produce safe, organic produce and herbs, always wash plants with clean water prior to serving or eating.
Ideal fish for the ECO-Cycle Aquaponics system are smaller tropical fish and goldfish. One inch of fish per gallon is a common aquarium stocking recommendation. This is a very loose target, however, and the actual number of fish will vary depending on the types of fish and their species-specific care requirements. For fish like guppies, platys, swordtails, small tetras, danios, rasboras, and other peaceful community fish, one inch per gallon is a good target. Goldfish produce a lot more waste and therefore fewer are needed to stock the tank.
As with any aquarium, biological filtration is required to keep the system balanced and safe for the fish. Nitrifying bacteria process the fish waste (ammonia), eventually converting it into nitrate (NO3) — which in aquaponics is utilized by the plants. Bio-filtration is accomplished by moving oxygenated water through a substrate or media with high surface area, on which nitrifying bacteria colonize. The blue filter brick in your ECO-Cycle provides this surface area. “Cycling” is the process of building up nitrifying bacteria colonies in the bio-filter. The initial cycle of building up sufficient nitrifying bacteria takes about 4-6 weeks.
It is important to introduce the fish incrementally, starting with just two or three. Once the system has “cycled”, the tank will be ready to handle a larger bio-load. From there, fish may be added incrementally in small numbers until the target number is reached.
Though many of the common fish foods have questionable ingredients, there are several sources for high-quality fish feeds that do not contain artificial coloring. One the best flake foods for tropical fish is Zoo Med Spirulina 20. It contains high-quality proteins and no artificial coloring.
Click here to buy Zoo Med Spirulina 20 Flake Fish Food. You can also find it at most pet stores.
Here is a good reference for several other fish foods with ratings and detailed analysis: Fish Food Ingredients Analysis
Yes. However, due to the salmonella risk associated with reptiles and amphibians, you would not be able to grow edible plants.
Our ECO-Cycles are primarily designed for use in freshwater aquariums and standard aquaponic growing using freshwater fish to grow leafy greens and herbs. That is not to say that it couldn’t be used for marine aquaria. It’s possible that caulerpa or other marine algae could be cultured in the grow tray, if the pots are removed to open up the space. A marine system of this type would serve scientific or ornamental purposes only and would not be for food production.
Do you have a heater in your tank? If it’s cold in a room and warm in the tank, the condensation will increase. Usually, just lowering the aquarium temperature few degrees will alleviate the issue. Another contributor to condensation may be the flow rate. For ideal performance and to reduce moisture build-up on the bottom of the tray, be sure that the water pump is set to its lowest setting or just slightly higher. This will reduce splashing from the main drain line, as well as water draining through the emergency overflow holes. Check also to make sure the drain fitting is completely clear.
The initial setup takes about an hour- after that, maintenance is very minimal. You need to feed the fish daily (or as much as is recommended for the breed). Also, you’ll need to add small amounts of water to make up for the water lost to evaporation and transpiration. In an established system, the replacement water usually does not require the water treatments discussed under “What kind of water should I use in my kit?” The plants, bacteria, and other micro-biota in the system will quickly neutralize and remove the harmful compounds. As far as cleaning the aquarium – using the ECO-Cycle Aquaponic kit will help ensure a balanced aquarium, in which there is little to zero excess nutrients. That means less algae growth and reduced maintenance requirements in comparison to conventional aquariums. Biofilm and some algae, however, will gradually grow on the glass and solid waste and other debris will accumulate on the gravel. These are best removed using an algae magnet or pad on a stick, and a gravel vacuum. Both of these pieces of equipment are easily maneuvered through the front door of the ECO-Cycle Aquaponic grow tray.
Cloudy water is not uncommon in a new system. It is usually caused by a bacteria bloom due to overfeeding, overcrowding, or adding fish too quickly. It is important to provide enough food without overfeeding the fish. Most fish should be fed 2-3 times per day, but only as much as the fish will consume in 2 minutes. If you have a cloudy tank, do one or two 30% water changes and reduce the feeding amount.
The growth of brown diatomaceous algae and biofilm is a normal phase in a new aquarium. This will usually die off naturally and is later replaced by much slower growing green algae. All of these are easily wiped from the glass using an algae magnet or algae pad. The addition of a small algae-eating fish, such as a bushy-nose plecostomus, can also help to keep algae growth in check. In any case, algae growth will be significantly reduced once your plants are well established in the grow tray.
Yes, definitely! The footprint is only 12 by 24.
Aquaponics is the growing of plants and fish in a recirculating environment. Water is cycled between the fish tank and vegetable pots, and fish waste acts as a natural fertilizer for the plants.
Yes, if you have any questions you can call (760) 740-1346.
You will receive your ECO-Cycle in about 7-10 days.
The grow lights have a year warranty. If you have any questions about replacing parts you can contact us directly at (760) 740-1346.
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