Are you considering purchasing a Back to the Roots Aquaponic Fish Tank but not sure if it’s right for you? I’ve been using this product for the past two months and wanted to provide an honest review to help you make an informed decision.
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
First, let’s start with the positives. The fish seem to be thriving, and the tank includes a feeding hole on top, making it easier to feed your fish without having to remove the lid entirely. I was able to grow the provided radish microgreens and wheatgrass seeds. Additionally, the tank is a great conversation starter and looks sleek in any room.
However, there are some drawbacks to consider. While the product claims to be self-cleaning, I found that algae built up on the sides after two months, which required cleaning. The system is meant to be used for short-term plants, such as microgreens, and not long-term plants like tomatoes. If you do plan on growing microgreens, the leca pods need to be cleaned every seven to 14 days, which can be a time-consuming process. Additionally, replacing the pods can be expensive if you are continually changing them out.
I found the noise of the water falling into the top of the grow deck loud enough to be distracting/annoying. I came up a fix which I mentioned in the video showing the set up of the whole Back to the Roots Aquaponic Fish Tank. There are definite improvements in this model compared to the previous one which I go over as well.
Another pet-peeve was that on the box it shows gravel in the system but it did not come with it. I ended up buying some blue betta fin safe gravel that works well enough. The bag I got was one pound, which sounds like more than it is. So if you are buying some I would recommend getting 2 pounds of gravel to better cover the bottom of the tank. In any case, gravel just seemed like something the fish tank should come with.
I decided to stop cleaning the algae to see if the system would balance out. It didn’t. So I then decided to get a snail and some cool blue shrimp. Since adding these little critters the tank is starting to clear up a bit but they are still working their way through the algae. The houseplants I added, a pothos and spider plant, are growing and establishing more roots which will help keep the tank cleaner as well.
One of the biggest drawbacks to the product is that it is not entirely self-sustainable. The leca pods need to be replaced often, and while you can reuse them, it requires cleaning out any residual plant material thoroughly. Also, the product instructions mention that you should not change out the leca in more than one plant pod a day to ensure that the beneficial bacteria level stay at high enough levels to maintain the system’s balance.
Overall, I would recommend this product for houseplants plants and as a decorative addition to any room, rather than for growing food. However, if you do want to use it to grow microgreens, keep in mind that maintaining the leca pods and keeping the system clean can be time-consuming and expensive. If you want to grow things like tomatoes or herbs then I would recommend a hydroponic system such as the AeroGarden Harvest or Rise Garden.
If you do decide to purchase the Back to the Roots Aquaponic Fish Tank, here are a few tips to help maintain the system:
- Clean out the leca pods every seven to 14 days
- Only change out the leca in one plant pod a day to maintain the balance of beneficial bacteria
- If you plan on growing microgreens, succession plant them to keep the system balanced
- Get a snail or shrimp to help control algae
- Consider using the tank for short-term plants or as a decorative addition to your home
In conclusion, while the Back to the Roots Aquaponic Fish Tank is not perfect, it is a unique and fun addition to any home. It would be great if you want a fish and like growing plants, in a classroom or for a child wanting a fish. Just be prepared to put in some effort to maintain the system and keep it clean.