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No room for an aquarium and a garden? Malawi compact ecosystem gives you both

Luke Dormehl

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If you live in an apartment, particularly if it’s in an especially sought-after part of the country, chances are that space is at a premium. Forget the sprawling balconies and foosball tables shows like Friends promised us, in real life you’re far more likely to be choosing between a sofa and a decent-size bed. That’s where a nifty new product called Malawi comes into its own.

Malawi, the first product made by startup Just Grow, is a miniature garden and aquarium in one. Turning both into a compact ecosystem that consumes less space than a microwave, it’s the perfect conversation starter for the modern home. Oh, and did we mention that maintaining it takes just a couple minutes per day? That’s about the length of time it’ll take you to read this story.

“Malawi is the ultimate indoor gardening experience,” Djimo Serodio, founder and CEO of Just Grow, told Digital Trends. “It scales down an emerging sustainable agriculture technology — aquaponics — into an elegant statement piece. Malawi is a garden powered by an aquarium. A pump cycles water from the aquarium to the garden, where bacteria convert fish waste into plant food. Plants are always watered and fertilized while the tank stays naturally clean. No water changes, no synthetic filters to replace, and no mess.”

The Mozambique-born Serodio said he learned about aquaponics after working in the sustainable agriculture industry, starting during his university years. He was impressed by their low maintenance and high productivity, but found that most existed at commercial scale, rather than being suitable for the home. “I founded Just Grow to bring this technology to more people by scaling down aquaponics from farm to apartment applications,” he said. “Our ideal customers are those limited in time and space, living amid more gray than green in cities.”

If you’re interested in getting your hands on a Malawi fish tank/garden, you can currently pre-order one on Indiegogo. Prices start at $279, which will net you a fish tank, aquarium light, grow bed, wire cleaner, pump, cycling starter kit, owner’s manual, and more. Growing can commence as of May 2018, when the product is expected to start shipping.