What is aquaponics?
Having an aquaponics system is fun and very rewarding. Not only for the fresh and naturally grown veggies but also for the knowledge you will acquire along the way. In this article I will introduce you to a very important parameter: the pH. You may have heard about this term, mostly concerning your drinking water. Well, our favourite pets (our fish) as well as our plants like their water to a certain pH and this is for that reason, you will have to test it. So without any overdue, let's talk about potential of hydrogen aka pH.
There is indeed an aquaponics movement picking up in Dubai. I see more and more new comers, residents purchasing from me small systems to put in their backyard or by the window sill. This is very encouraging. And many more come and visit us to see with their own eyes what is this about. I tell you, when they see the papapya tree I have growing in the grow bed and they can compare with the one planted in soil, exactly at same time, they realise the potential.
But these people are expats, no nationals have been visiting so far.
So I decided for this short article to share with you how is the aquaponics doing at the National level.
When you decide to build your aquaponics system, it is important that you take the time to size everything accordingly. There are some ratios to respect. The size of the grow bed according to the size and stocking density of your fish tank and also the filters (if you decide to use any) as well as the heart of your installation: the pump.
There are two ways to bring water to the grow bed: water pump or air-lift with an air pump. In this article I will introduce the two possibilities. Although, note that my preference goes to the water pump :)
When you read about ''cycling your AP system'' doesn't mean taking it on your back and going for spin with your fancy bicycle... LOL I just made that up and the picture I had in mind was very funny. If only I could draw :)
On a more serious note, after reading the previous post, you have a better understanding now of the nitrogen cycle and this is what it is about.
When you finish to build your system and it has been tested for leaks, the siphon is working, you have filled the grow bed with media and should now plug in for, ever, your pump.
Let's see a more in depth approach to cycling an aquaponics system.
When we talk about aquaponics, we can't do so without talking about what makes it all possible. I am talking about the nitrifying bacteria, the Nitrobacter and other Nitrosomonas. Without them, the ammonia excreted by the fish would stay in the water and after passing in the grow bed, where the plants would not like the taste of it, it would go back in the fish tank.
The ammonia is very toxic for the fish and the bacteria we are talking about, are responsible for converting it into nitrites and eventually, into nitrates. But let's take a break here and dive into science a little bit.
If you have never held a drill, a grinder and or a saw, be aware, these powered tools are dangerous and require that you first, wear protective equipment and second, if you're really a beginner and not too sure, ask for help. Pride can be stitched back, not your little pinky ;)
A piece of history
The first time an IBC tote was used to build an aquaponics system was in the early 2000, in Australia as it appears. Australia is extremely developed in aquaponics farming and many Australians have their own system in the garden. The resilience coupled with the ''grow your own'' movement is growing around the world. So why not you? Read on and learn how I got bittne by the bug :)
Let me start by telling you that DIY in Dubai is taking the concept to a whole new level. Between sourcing all the pieces and parts to do something, to actually finding the location Google Map thinks he knows exactly where is or best, getting yourself understood by the salesman when you don't even know the name of what you are looking for... It has been a huge challenge. The challenge was very interesting, I learned a lot and am confident to take any DIY project today in Dubai.
I am a French expat, married, dad of one, nature lover and firm believer of sustainable living. My background is leisure and tourism industry. I fell into aquaponics and now I am sharing with you my adventure.