Growing swimmingly: This aquarium feeds your fish – and you

Vegua fish tank uses aquaponics to grow veggies in a mini ecosystem
Fishy business

It's a fish tank. Thrilling. Don't carp on; this is far more than your goldfish bowl from the local fair. Vegua is an aquaponics food production system that'll produce eco-friendly veggies right in your home.

What's aquaponics when it's at home? And where do the fish come into it? Simply put, it's a combination of hydroponics – growing plants in water – and aquaculture – raising aquatic animals in tanks. You feed the fish; the fish waste is converted into nitrates by bacteria; the nitrates provide nutrients for the plants. And the plants filter the water, keeping the fish happy!

Sounds fishy to me… Aquaponics has been used since ancient times – the Aztecs practiced it, when they weren't busy ripping the still-beating hearts out of their vanquished foes. Nowadays it's used for commercial cultivation – of both fish and vegetables. Vegua's a smaller-scale version, designed to produce herbs and veg in your home. "Small" is relative, mind; it's quite hefty, at 54 cm x 36 cm x 43 cm.

Vegua
Sofa, so good

Why would I want a fish tank instead of a potted plant? Aside from the fact that it looks rather lovely? Vegua claims that it'll produce food twice as fast as conventional growing methods and at higher density, and it isn't affected by soil pests (since there's no soil, obviously; the plants sit in clay pebbles instead). And according to Vegua, it uses 66 per cent less energy than conventional gardening, and 90 per cent less water – so it's eco-friendly, too.

Won't it require lots of care? No more than a regular fish tank; indeed, since the plants act as a filtration system, once you've cycled the system you don't have to faff about changing the water. We would suggest, though, that you don't go for the strictly minimalist look seen in Vegua's promo shots. It may look nice against your Scandinavian interior, but goldfish get stressed without somewhere to hide – so pop some plants in the aquarium, too.

Okay, I'm sold: how much? You'll have to wait a bit; Vegua is launching on Kickstarter in October. Pricing details have yet to be revealed, though we're told that "it will not be a cheap product." 

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