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Photo: Getty Images/Tonaquatic

When prompted, most proud plant ladies will call aloe vera, rattlesnake plants, and marimosa moss balls their pets. And yet, to take that sentiment one step further, a new indoor foliage trend combines actual pets (fish) with the chlorophyll-munching variety. That’s probably why searches for the trend “aquaponic gardening” are up a whopping 980 percent on Pinterest.

The name for this plant-obsessive practice is a mashup of “aquaculture,” meaning raising fish and “hydroponics,” meaning growing plants sans-soil, according to The Aquaponic Source. In practice, the two lifeforms work symbiotically: The fish provide an organic source of food for the fish (via their, er, poo), while the plants filter the chum’s H2O. The result? You get fresh, pesticide-free produce with a fish-friend to boot.

While farms across America use the aquaponic technique to run large-scale, fish raising and veggie-cultivating operations, you can start a family-sized garden wherever you have a well-lit corner to house a mini-ecosystem in your home or backyard. Or, if your apartment is a den of darkness, you’ll just need to purchase a grow light instead.

Once your tank has accumulated a diverse population, you might also be able to introduce fruiting plants like tomatoes or peppers. Meaning, you could home-grow your whole salad order, NBD.

To skip the trouble of visiting PetSmart and Home Depot to collect a tank, fish, seeds, and the like, you can nab a starter kit on Amazon to take some of the legwork out of the setup. Then, all that’s left is to stroll through the aisles of the pet store to find your new fish BFFs. Nelson Pade, an aquaponic organization, notes that pairing warm, freshwater breeds like koi, talapia, or “fancy goldfish” with leafy crops like kale and herbs have been found to thrive the most under these conditions. Once your tank has accumulated a diverse population, you might also be able to introduce fruiting plants like tomatoes or peppers. Meaning, you could home-grow your whole salad order, NBD.

Who knew? That whole time you were steadfastly raising a betta fish in middle school, you could’ve been raising basil, parsley, and aurgala, too.

Speaking of small plants that spark huge joy, here’s how to keep your mini-garden healthy. Psst: This 3-ingredient insecticide is a good start

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