Aqualibrium uses fish to grow plants, and plants to grow fish
By Ben Coxworth
October 25, 2013
Home aquaponics kits, which combine fish and plants in a symbiotic relationship, are becoming more and more popular. One of them, the Fishy Farm, is a fairly large setup. The Home Aquaponics Kit, on the other hand, is pretty small, while the ECO-Cycle is designed to sit on top of an existing aquarium. The latest arrival on the scene, the Aqualibrium Garden, manages to carve out yet another niche for itself.
All of the systems, including the Aqualibrium, work as follows ...
The fish live in an enclosure in the bottom of the system, where they poop on a regular basis. A pump continuously carries that waste-laden water up into the top section, where it serves as a fertilizer for the plants. The plants' growing medium mechanically filters particles out of the water, while bacteria living in that medium help neutralize accumulated ammonia and other fish-unfriendly nasties. As a result, when the water flows back down from the biofilter to the fish, it's been cleaned up.
While the plants could just be ornamental, the idea is that people would use the systems to grow things they could eat, like vegetables and herbs. In large-scale aquaponics operations, the fish can be eaten, too.
The Aqualibrium is modular (identical stackable sections hold the fish and the plants) and looks quite chic and futuristic – you could imagine Blade Runner's Rick Deckard grabbing a quick salad from one, before heading off to shoot some wayward replicants. This look is entirely intentional, as the makers state that it was "inspired by the designs of futurist Jacque Fresco."
Although the current prototypes are opaque, plans call for the production version to be constructed entirely of UV-protected scratch-resistant clear plastic. There's space for 13 gallons (49 L) of water in the bottom, and 2 square feet (0.19 sq m) of growing space in the top.
Waterproof 9-watt LED grow lights are included, with users supplying their own plants and fish. Given the rather minimal-looking fish sections in the supplied images, it looks like something hardy such as goldfish might work best. If fish just aren't your thing, the system can also be run as a purely hydroponic setup.
The Aqualibrium Garden is the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign, that wrapped up just days ago. You can preorder one now for US$330 without growing medium, or $360 with, plus shipping.
More information is available in the pitch video below.