SQU researchers grow vegetables, fish through aquaponics

Muscat, March 19 – The research students of SQU led by Dr Wenresti Gallardo, Head of the Department of Marine Science and Fisheries at the College of Agricultural and Marine Sciences, successfully grew cabbage, spinach, lettuce, basil, radish, strawberries, cherry tomatoes along with tilapia and koi carp in aquaponics cultivation. Koi carp is a fish variety that is more expensive than tilapia. These crops were tested due to its relatively higher market value and their potential to grow in an aquaponic system. The project was funded by SQU Deanship of Research.
Aquaponics combines conventional aquaculture (raising fish or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a recirculating system. Water from the fish tank containing nutrients from fish feed is not discharged but goes to the plant tank which contains physical and biological filters (including plant roots) that make the water clean again for the fish. The nutrients in the water from the fish tank is utilised for growing plants so no soil is used. Water is conserved because it is recirculated.
`Through the project, students gained experience in working on aquaponics and conducting research to generate useful information and technology. Further experiments are being conducted to develop a technology that is profitable and can be adopted by potential farmers.
The aquaponics project is located in a greenhouse at the Agricultural Experiment Station of SQU. Abdulbaqi (AES Assistant Director for Plant Operations) and Ahmed Al-Souti provided support to the project.
In Oman, aquaponics is becoming popular. There are aquaponic farms, both commercial and as a hobby to produce vegetables and fish for home consumption. With the support of FAO in Oman, the Department of Marine Science and Fisheries has conducted a survey to generate technical and socio-economic information that are useful for other people interested in aquaponics.