ECO-CYCLE Aquaponics Kit Review

Eco-Cycle Aquaponics Kit Review

 

Is The ECO-CYCLE Aquaponics Kit The Best Choice For You?

The cost of food is rising.

It’s crazy what organic vegetables cost at the store.

Many people that are looking to grow their own fresh veggies and greens eventually get interested in aquaponics.

The concept of a fish-powered garden is brilliant.  Fish provide the natural fertilizer through their waste to enhance the growth of the plants.  The plants co-operate in a symbiotic relationship with the fish by cleaning the toxins and waste out of the water, creating an optimal environment for the fish.  The result is an amazing closed ecosystem giving you incredible plant yields and happy fish.

But where to start?  There are dozens of DIY indoor aquaponics set-ups and costly deluxe systems that can fill your entire backyard.  Perhaps you’ll grow to that level, one day.  But if you are an aquaponics novice, or are looking for a kit for your classroom, or even just “dipping your toe” into fish-powered gardens, then I recommend the plug-and-play features of the ECO-Cycle Aquaponics Kit by ECOLIFE Conservation.

 

What Makes This The Perfect Aquaponics Kit For A Beginner?

Let’s look at three important things:  design, simplicity, and price.

If the tank doesn’t fit in your room, it’s probably not going to work, right?  If it’s too complicated to run and requires a lot of maintenance, you won’t use it long-term, right?  And if it hurts the wallet and needs a big budget to run, it’s not the system for most of us, is it?  Let’s look at the benefits of a low-cost, easy-to-run aquaponics set-up, like the ECO-Cycle, in deep detail.

 

Frequently Asked Questions About The ECO-Cycle Retro Kit

 

Can I use this in a classroom setting?

Absolutely!  The small footprint, quiet operation and low maintenance makes this kit a favorite with teachers.  In fact the manufacturer has an entire teaching curriculum perfect for k-12 to illuminate students on the benefits of aquaponics and how it can change the world.  Many homeschool parents have this as part of their homeschooling program.

classroom aquaponics equipment

Can you use this system with a turtle or a frog or gecko?

The short answer is yes but NOT if you’re eating the plants.  Certain species of turtles and frogs can increase the risk of salmonella.  If your system has any kind of an amphibian guest living in it other than fish, then enjoy their company, grow your plants but don’t consume them.

 

What food grows best with this system?

The best results come from leafy greens that thrive in a nitrogen-rich environment.  The grow bulbs are perfect for this.  Growing flowering plants like strawberries may require nutrient supplementation.  If you get yellow leaves you can do research on nitrogen, iron, mineral deficiency and nutrienting the growing medium.  That’s part of the joy of fish farming.

 

What fish varieties work best with this kit?

You will get great results with plain old pet store goldfish.  They make plenty of organic waste!  Bream tend to grow too large.  If you think a 20-gallon tank equals maximum length of 20 inches of fish, then you will be on track.  Customers are finding that as few as two goldfish can produce sufficient waste to nutrient their beds.  For personal interest you can test freshwater shrimps.

 

What other type of aquaponics equipment do I need to buy?

The kit is ready to farm out of the box.  You’ll need the correct size tank, some fish, water and seeds of your choice.    The planting cups are durable as long as you don’t abuse them.  You can have a lot of fun decorating your tank with custom aquascaping.  If this is your first time owning a fish tank, pick up some test strips at the pet store to monitor your pH.  If you’re using goldfish, pick up some standard fish food.   Goldfish are happy at room temperature so no need for a heater.

 

Do I need to purchase Leca clay?

There is enough clay media for your plant pot beds for at least a couple of harvests.  From your dozen grow pots you can enjoy a rather substantial amount of plants.

 

How easy is it to setup?

How much electricity does the pump and grow light use?

Running the pump and lights 12 hours a day produced an almost negligible increase on an average monthly North American power bill.  One customer who ran the system without interruption for a month equated it to less than 2 cups of coffee at Starbucks.

 

How tall do the plants grow?

You have clearance for up to 13 inches.  Leafy greens, chives,  spinach, certain kale, arugula, parsley, cilantro, sage, and strawberries all seem very happy.  Basil does well as does interesting micro-greens like shiso.  Flowering nasturtiums are gorgeous.  In the 18th and 19th century in England every manor had a kitchen garden behind the back door with fresh herbs to make cooking a delight.  If you have a backyard or patio garden you can start milkweed indoors to transplant to support the Monarch butterfly population in your very own pollinator garden.

eco-cycle growing pots

ECO-Cycle Growing Fresh Herbs

Can you grow tilapia to eat?

The tilapia generally won’t grow large enough to eat because of the tank size.  But they thrive and are happy in the setup.  They are good poop producers for nutrienting your plants.  The recommended variety is Mozambique tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus).

Tilapia

Tilapia

How can I prevent algae build-up on the tank walls?

The easiest way is to add 1-2 algae eater fish from your pet store or PetSmart.  A clean tank scrub brush can help in tight corners, but if you are getting massive green build up then the tank chemistry is off.

 

What size fish tank should I get?

You’re looking for a 12 x 24-inch tank of maximum 20 gallons.  If you’re buying a used aquarium, fish, or terrarium fish tank off of Craigslist or at a garage sale check the corner welds for leakage, chips or structural defects.  Make sure you scrub and rinse it well to eliminate any toxins or residue from the previous inhabitants.

 

What extra accessories does the tank need?

Before filling your tank, lay a gravel bed and “decorate” it as you want.  A few nice rocks and some classic aquarium fixtures like river rocks or a scuba diver make it appealing and interesting.  This is referred to as aquascaping.  A good tip is to rinse all items overnight before putting them into the tank, to remove any chemicals, trace toxins or other pollutants.

 

How can I ensure the right pH?

Avoid using tank decorations that can inadvertently alter the pH of the water.  For example, coral and some seashells can affect the entire tank.  Quartz gravel is a better choice.   When filling your tank for the first time, realize that treated municipal water has chlorine and chloramine and will need to be treated with ascorbic acid.  City tap water is hostile to your fish.  Reverse osmosis water is a preferred choice.  The goal is a neutral to slightly acidic pH.

 

How do I use the grow lights?

If you’ve ever started seedlings indoors under a grow light you know how important it is to have strong bulbs to prevent spindly plants.  I recommend adding a simple timer between your power bar and the wall.  You plug your grow light into the power bar, and the power bar into the timer, and the timer into the wall socket.  We set our grow timers for a standard 12 hour day, coming on at 8 am and going off at 8 pm.  If you ever break the bulb or wear it out just remember to replace it with a full spectrum T5 grow bulb.

 

What can go wrong and what do I need to watch for?

Remember it’s a living ecosystem.  Watch for water evaporation, and add a little reverse osmosis or pure water as needed to keep the water level adequate.  If you are in a classroom setting, putting the tank in a large plastic boot tray can prevent spills and drips.  When filling your tank for the first time, add the water very slowly, especially if you have sand in the tank, to minimize clouding.

grow lights on fish tank

Grow Lights On Tank

DIMENSIONS

The kit weighs 17 pounds out of the box, measuring 24 inches x 12 inches x 20 inches.  If you want to take a closer look at it, CLICK HERE to visit the manufacturer’s page.

 

WEIGHT

The kit ships to your door weighing 20 pounds, or 9.07 kilograms.

 

FEATURES

Made in the USA.  Will ship globally.  Just email the manufacturer to arrange shipping and import documents.  Powerful T5 grow light bulbs are included.  Assembles quickly, video instructional available.

 

ACCESSORIES

A complete turnkey retrofit system fits perfectly on a 12”x24” 20-gallon fish tank.  Comes with a grow tray and pot holder and filter.  Micro-Jet pump included.   Pump hose included.  Double 24-inch fluorescent grow bulb mounting assembly included.  Grow bulbs included.  All the grow pots and clay pellets included.  Bio-filter material included.  Tank light included.  Basically you just add the tank, water, fish and plant seeds!

 

PROS

Simple to set up.  Small footprint is excellent for home and classroom use.  Quiet.  Very low power usage.  Looks great and is a fascinating conversation point in any room.  Produces surprising amount of plants from just a few fish.  Knowledgable and helpful customer service staff.  Absolutely the top choice for teaching kids about chemistry and aquaculture.

 

CONS

The average customer rating is 93% extremely satisfied or higher!  A few customers wanted the retrofit kit to work on a bigger tank.  You aren’t going to be eating your own tilapia with this system.  Aquaponics is very addictive, and as a starting point this kit can’t be beat.  You may end up with a giant backyard pool and 50 pounds of fish frying each season!

But as a beginners aquaponics kit,  perfect for novices, classrooms and home use, this is the highest recommended system on the market.  When you pick fresh herbs to make dinner on a chilly January evening you’ll wonder how you ever cooked before it.

 

PRICE AND SHIPPING

The best place to order is on Amazon.  They have shipping specials, free shipping and financing packages, and pricing discounts from time to time.

grow lights on fish tank

CLICK HERE to check the current price of the ECO-Cycle Aquaponics Kit.

 

 

 

 

 

DIY Backyard Aquaponics

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