Office Trials – Aquaponic System

Reader Contribution by Ashley Cain
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Set-up (Day 1)

We received our 3-gallon aquaponic system, graciously donated to us by We were super excited, but we had no clue where to start. Fortunately, the company included a trifold pamphlet explaining how to set up the system—and it was quite simple. First, we had to purchase a fish. James and I happily

drove to PetSmart and picked out a flamboyantly colored beta (the recommended type of fish). When we got back to the office it was time to prepare the tank. Back to our handy dandy set of instructions. We had to give the fish a bath…give a fish a bath? Yes. This is required to clean any scummy disease that it could possibly transfer into its new aquaponic home. 

As the fish was lounging in a tepid bath, we filled up the aquaponic tank with water and added the D-Klor (to de-chlorinate the water). Once the tank water was ready, we set the fish in while still in its container from the pet store. This step is to get the fish used to the temperature of the water without stunning it. 

After 10 to 15 minutes, we opened the container and set the fish free in its new home. He seemed happy and swam around joyously out of his tiny pet store container. We named him Morrissey, turned out the lights and headed home for the night.

Set-up (Day 2)

Morrissey is dead.  This was devastating.  We thought we had done everything right!  Scooping him out of the tank and heading back to the pet store, we traded our dead fish in for a live one and decided to try again.

“New fish”, as we called him for three days, was set free. Now it was on to installing the plant part of the system. We washed the grow stones and prepared them to be put in the individual containers on top of the tank. We turned on the pump and water began to spill out into the top compartment to feed our prospective plants. After placing the stones on the tank, it was time to plant some seed, but first we had to soak our wheatgrass seeds overnight before placing them on the grow stones.

Planting (Day 3)

Walking into the office warily, we went to see if the new fish had survived the night and… he did! Relief. The wheatgrass had also become waterlogged, but this was the point of letting them soak. Covering the grow stones evenly with the seeds, now it was time to wait for our seeds to grow!

Growth (Day 4)

Well that didn’t take long.  We came into the office to find that the wheatgrass had popped up over night!  How cool.  It had only grown a bit, but we couldn’t believe that it had grown so much in just one night.

Harvest (Day 6)

This lovely little self-cleaning, self-maintaining (besides feeding the fish) aquaponic system had produced about six inches of wheatgrass and it was time to harvest some for a salad! James did the honor of cutting some and sprinkling it on his salad. I had already eaten lunch, but I will try it soon!  

In all, it was a bit of a bumpy start after losing Morrissey, but from day 2 we’ve had great luck with our aquaponic system! Marlin, fish #2, is happy as a clam and stares at James frequently. I’m pretty sure they have staring contests in his office.  The wheatgrass is growing beautifully, and everything in this little environment seems happy. Our next venture is learning how to fill the tank every so often. The water evaporates and is fed to the plants so it slowly dissipates, but I’m sure this won’t be a problem.

We are very happy with our aquaponic system that so graciously donated to us for our office experiments. Stay tuned to the blog! We’ll be posting about our homemade (or office-made) apple cider vinegar, ginger beer and we’ll keep you updated on our hydroponic system!

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