- Which plants work well with Window Aquatica?
Sunny Window: Chives, green onions, basil, mint, parsley, various lettuces, strawberries
Not Sunny Window: Mint and most indoor plants.
- How do I start plants?
For all plants, you can simply buy normal starter plants in soil from your local nursery. Rinse ALL the soil out of the roots before placing in the system. Checkout this youtube tutorial.
You can also use green onions from the grocery store. Take the white part with roots sticking out and place it under one layer of clay pebbles in the bamboo growing bed. It should start growing again within 1 week.
- It seems like the water has stopped flowing. What do I do?
- Is air coming out the pinholes in the steel tube? There should be about 5 little bubbles coming out the pinhole every second. The air bubbles rising up within the glass tube is what lifts the water into the Bamboo Growing Bed. If there’s no/little air, then try adjusting the air control valve. If that doesn’t work, then your air pump is probably broken and needs to be replaced.
- Is the glass tube relatively clear or is it filled with gunk or algae? After 3-5 months of use the glass tube should be cleared out of any debris inside it. The easiest way to clean the tube is with a pipe cleaner.
- Are there any roots growing down the inside of the glass tube? Clear the roots out. Aggressive plants like mint and basil will eventually send roots down the tube. The best way to prevent this is by putting the aggressive plants on the other end of the bamboo where water exits. The best plants to put near the glass tube side are green onions and chives.
- Does Window Aquatica need a heater?
No, in most homes you don’t need a heater (there are exceptions). A lot of aquarium stores will scare you and tell you that you need to keep your water at 75F. Fish in nature never live in constant water temperature. See more info here about when you need a heater.
- Why do I have so much algae?
In short, there’s too much nutrients and/or light in your aquarium…but then the question is…why is there too much nutrients or light? The straw aquatic shade that wraps the aquarium should prevent most light from outdoors, but it’s possible, with enough window area, that you have a lot of light being reflected on to the open side of the aquarium. You might need to make arrangements your window area to reduce the reflected light exposure.
There’s too much nutrients in the water if the plants aren’t growing as fast as the amount of fish food you are adding. This is a balancing act that you just have to learn to feel out. When you notice the plants growing well, you can give your fish more food. When you start out with baby plants, you should be giving your fish the minimum amount of fish food. You can read more about feeding your fish here.
Another possible issue is that the water is not flowing properly through the bamboo growing bed. If the water isn’t flowing through the bamboo growing bed then the nutrients are stuck in the aquarium.
- What was the Barley Straw for? (this was in the jar with the clay pebbles)
The Barley Straw inhibits algae growth. It needs to be in contact with the water. You can put it under the clay pebbles in the bamboo growing bed, or in the aquarium.
- I don’t have any plants in my Window Aquatica right now, but I have fish! Are the fish going to die?
Yes, they may die after 3-7 days if you have no plants to absorb the nutrients from the fish waste (nitrates). As a temporary solution you can change out 50% of the aquarium water every week. Make sure when you change the water, it is room temperature and non-chlorinated.
- Can I use tap/public water to fill my Window Aquatica?
Many municipalities chlorinate their water and this is not good for you to drink or for the fish to breath. Generally, you want to use healthy drinking water. Reverse Osmosis is the best. Brita filters and similar will work and so will bottled water.
- Which fish should I use?
Checkout this section on selecting your fish.
- Does Window Aquatica need a UV sterilizer?
Most aquariums need all sorts of extra parts to maintain a healthy ecosystem. However Window Aquatica, because as the most natural aquarium on the market that gets natural sunlight, has no need for a UV sterilizer!
- Can we eat the food that comes from Window Aquatica?
YES! Believe it or not, other desktop aquaponic systems warn their customers not to eat the food because of all the synthetic materials that are in the system. Window Aquatica is the ONLY aquaponic system on the market of any scale where the plants and fish only come into contact with natural materials. The food in your Window Aquatica has higher standards than most of the food you can find in a grocery store!
- Does the Window Aquatica consume a lot of energy?
Only 1.5 Watts! That’s $1.00 to $2.00 per year in energy cost in California.
- Can I put dirt or soil in the bamboo growing bed?
No! Please don’t put any soil in the system, it will pollute the water. Aquaponics are soilless growing systems so you need to use certain growing medias like rockwool, root riot, coco coir, gravel and/or clay pebbles.
- What water level do I maintain Window Aquatica at?
To minimize mold growth on the bottom of the bamboo growing bed, we recommend filling the water to the top, just before overflowing. Note however, the first two weeks when fish are in the tank, they may jump out when the water level is high. Put something over the openings to prevent the fish from jumping in the first 2 weeks.
Also, the water should never be lower than 2 inches below the bamboo growing bed. The water can only be lifted about 2 inches, so if the water drops more than 2 inches below the bamboo, it’s possible for the water to stop flowing. Without water flow, the tank will loose oxygen and the fish may die within a couple days.
- I think I have black mold under my bamboo. What should I do?
It may or may not be black mold. The black stain on the bottom of the bamboo is either partially or entirely black iron oxide (not mold), which commonly stains wood floors and wood cutting boards.
If it is black mold, keep in mind that there’s countless types of black mold and most are harmless. Also, it’s important to understand that if you are growing anything indoors or outdoors, there will be mold involved. Mold is a natural part of the ecosystem. If you are concerned, Click here for info about black mold.
- What needs to be done for maintenance?
- How do I maintain my aquarium if I am away for an extended period of time (i.e. vacation, business trip, etc.)?
The fish should be able to go without food for 5 days, assuming you have a healthy system. The most important thing is that the water level does not get too low. Make sure someone fills your aquarium at least once per week. If the water level is too low, the water will stop flowing and the tank will loose oxygen and the fish may die within 1 day if it’s hot. The warmer the water is, the less oxygen it can hold. So, it’s particularly important to keep the water level high during warm periods. Here’s what to do when leaving on vacation for more than 3 days:
- tape two 8.5″x11″ white piece of paper, side by side, on to the window, in front of Window Aquatica *aquarium*(it’s more important that the aquarium is shaded. the plants can be more in the sun). This extra shade on the aquarium will keep the water cooler which means less evaporation to maintain the water level high for longer.
- fill the aquarium with water to the top
- feed the fish 2 days worth of fish food ( for today and tomorrows)
- Have someone check on the fish on the 5th day to feed the fish 2 days of food and fill the aquarium to the top