Fountain Operation



Empty the clay pebbles from their bag into a bucket or basin, then rinse thoroughly to remove dust. Empty and repeat until the rinse water runs clear. Use dechlorinated water for final rinse. Once the pebbles are rinsed, fill the Grow Bed to your desired depth. The amount provided should be enough to fill the Grow Bed close to the top. Next, fill the Reservoir with clean, dechlorinated water to approximately ½” from the rim, then plug in the Pump.

If you are planning on operating the Fountain as an aquaponic garden, start here. If you do not want fish and you are planning to use it as a water feature or water garden, or if you are interested in hydroponics, skip ahead!

TIP: Dechlorinating solutions for tap water are available at most pet stores or at aquasprouts.com. If your tap water is very hard or otherwise unsuitable, bottled spring water is a good alternative and usually does not require dechlorination. Do not use purified or distilled water!

Aquaponic Operation - Keeping fish in your Fountain?

Cycling - Preparing the Environment

Equipment setup is only the first step in establishing an aquaponic garden. Next, you willl need to nurture the living components of the system as they grow. Your aquaponic fountain will need time to allow beneficial microbes to colonize its biofilter. For the first several weeks, any aquaponic garden will tend to be unstable and may need special care to protect the health of fish and plants.

Want to know more about the cycling process? For more information and detailed instructions check out our guide to cycling. If you have not kept an aquarium or aquaponic garden before, we recommend you check the guide before selecting fish and plants!

Planting - Ready to Grow?

You have several options for adding plants to your Fountain.

Sprouting: Some plants will germinate from seed in a soilless medium like the AquaSprouts clay pebbles. Smaller seeds like parsley or basil can be started in plugs such as AquaSprouts’ Aqua Grow Plugs.

Cuttings: Some plants can be introduced by sticking a cutting directly into the grow-bed. Plants like basil and mint will propagate easily from cuttings. Some cuttings may need to root in a small container of water or be placed in a Grow Plug; treating with rooting compound will encourage faster growth.

Transplants: Seedlings or small plants can be transplanted into your garden. Gently wash all dirt off of the roots, then plant your transplant in the grow media so that the roots are deep enough to touch the water.

TIP: Inspect cuttings & trans-plants carefully to avoid introducing pests. It can be tough to treat plant pests in aquaponics once established, so keep them out!

Choosing Fish

Types: Most small freshwater aquarium fish will be happy in your system with the right care – these include common aquarium fish like platies and mollies, many varieties of tetras, small barbs such as cherry or checkerboard barbs, and more. You can also add small invertebrates like snails and shrimp! It is a good idea to choose hardy fish that can adapt to changing water conditions, and to consider your water source. If you’re using dechlorinated tap water, choose fish that will thrive in the pH and hardness of your local water supply. If you are adjusting your water chemistry for better plant growth, choose fish that can tolerate the ideal soft, slightly acidic water conditions.

Check out the Fishkeeping section in our Support Center for more tips on getting started and common mistakes to watch out for, including fish species to avoid!

TIP: Provide your fish with an enriched environment. Add rocks or gravel, decorative aquarium plants, and decor items they can use to hide. Not only will this make your Fountain look better, it will make your fish more comfortable, and you will see them more often. Fish who have somewhere safe to retreat tend to actually spend more time out in the open!

Number: Fish need adequate space. Choose fish with an adult size of two or three inches at most. A common guideline is “one inch of fish per gallon of aquarium” - that is, in an 6-gallon system like your Fountain, you can safely keep 3-5 typical small aquarium fish with adult sizes around 2 inches in length.

More fish means more waste; advanced users may stock up the tank more densely in a heavily planted, highly productive garden, but this requires more attention and more maintenance.

Hydroponic Operation - Want a decorative water garden or a simple hydro planter?

Cycling - Preparing the Environment

Water Feature

The Fountain can be just that - a Fountain. Fill with purified water, set the pump to constant minimum flow, and add decor. You can also add ornamental houseplants to your Fountain with very little extra care. Robust plants like Golden Ivy or Dracaena will take readily to the Grow Bed. A small amount of slow-release fertilizer or liquid “plant food” will satisfy the needs of slow-growing indoor varieties. You may need to drain and replace the water in your Fountain occasionally, especially when using fertilizers, but water features otherwise require very little maintenance.

TIP: Some houseplants will thrive almost anywhere indoors, but many will need more light. Check the sunlight requirements of the plants you want to grow and make sure they are suitable for the location of your Fountain.


With the addition of nutrient solutions, your Fountain can be used to grow many hydroponic plants - even flowers, fruits, and vegetables! Hydroponics is a specialized field. It does not have to be hard, but it does take some planning and attention! 

Outdoor Operation

Your AquaSprouts Fountain can be placed indoors or out, but please note the following important information when setting up a Fountain outdoors.

  • Protect electrical connections from moisture. Use only outdoor-rated, waterproof extensions and outlets. Use waterproof plug/junction boxes. Make sure any powered accessories are outdoor-rated.
  • A small volume of water will change temperature along with ambient conditions, and may become too warm or too cold for the survival of your fish or plants. In particular, direct sunlight in a hot environment can cause the temperature of the water to rise dangerously. Treat your Fountain like any other potted plant or animal enclosure and shade it, cover it, or bring it inside when necessary.
  • Even with appropriate care, temperature and water chemistry will vary much more outdoors than in an indoor aquarium. If you intend to keep fish in an outdoor Fountain, choose hardy varieties which can thrive in a variety of conditions. Many small tropical aquarium fish can only survive in a narrow range of warm water conditions.
  • Cats, birds, and other animals may be attracted to your Fountain. Protect your fish by providing decor items they can use to hide.