Green onions and goldfish: Growing food in a dorm room

Posted on May 4th, 2010 by

Vinai and Anthony's dorm room aquaponics system.

We’ve heard about movements to grow food in urban gardens, rooftop gardens, on college campuses, and (maybe illegally) in basements under grow lights. But how many students grow food in their dorm room? Will dorm room agriculture be the movement of the future? Gustavus students Vinai Vang and Anthony Adams, Geography/Environmental Studies and Biology/Environmental Studies majors, respectively, are leading the way to show us how this can be done.

The following information comes from a presentation Vinai and Anthony made to our GEG344 Sustainability class last week.

Aquaponics is a modified version of aquaculture in which fish and plants are grown together. The system mimics natural ecosystems in which one organism’s waste is another’s food. In this case, the fish wastewater fertilizes the plants. The water, purified by the plant roots, is then recycled back to the fish. Various forms of aquaponics were used by the Aztec and ancient Egyptians, and such closed-loop systems are popular today in places like China and Thailand where fish pond waste is used to flood rice paddies.

Three green onions and five goldfish are used in this dorm room aquaponics system. If five loaves and two fish could feed a crowd, who knows what three green onions and five fish might do?

Anthony and Vinai’s dorm room aquaponics system consists of five goldfish and three green onions–plus a spider plant thrown in for good measure. For equipment, they use a fish tank, a pan for a reservoir, an electric pump and tube, another pan filled with pebbles to hold the plants, a light source, and fish food. Since they already had the fish tank and pump, they were able to build the entire system for only a few dollars. In less than two weeks the green onions grew about 20 cm!

See how their garden grows and learn more about aquaponics with the videos Vinai and Anthony created here:

Day 2

Day 6

Day 14



  1. Rachel Versluis says:

    Very cool! My husband and I are inspired to try it out for ourselves, along with testing out window farming!(

  2. Aquariums Are Cool says:

    Yeah, a cool idea. But is it ok to eat food after goldfish was there? They produce a lot of waste (