Q: Where are you from? Tell us a bit about yourself.
A: I am from the Philippines but have been living in Saudi Arabia as a contract worker for almost 20 years now. A Muslim and a single man (separated)
Q: How did you get interested in aquaponics?
A: It was in 2010 when I swore to my dying Photos that I will do everything in my power to make it live. In the past I’ve always been a believer that I have green thumb, but wonders why my ornamental plants kept dying on me here in Saudi Arabia. So I spent the following few months researching about container gardening until I found out about hydroponics but using chemical/synthetic fertilzier is not appealing to me unti I learned about Aquaponics. It was heaven for me as i love both fish and plants.. and my favorite fried fish is Tilapia.
Q: How are you currently working with aquaponics? Home setup, community greenhouse, etc.
A: I have a small balcony system, in fact two systems.
In one system I have tilapia fingerlings in an flood and drain style. Planted in the small growbeds are: Bitter melon, 7 Pod pepper, Jalapeno Pepper, Gynura Precumbens, Red Spinach, Beet, Onion
In the 2nd system I have four goldfish and two pangasius. Planted in the growbeds are: Bell peppers, Cucumbers, Basil and Tomatoe
These systems are absolutely micro only 15 – 20 gallon water for the fish tanks.
Q: Tell us about your system. Geek out a bit and tell us all the specs.
A: Both systems uses flood and drain. I apply the Affnan style of siphon.
In one system a T is used on the outflow end of siphon instead of the usual elbow. This allows additional air like a venturi style to speed up the draining and oxygenate the water. Only one pump is used. Hydroton is the media I prefer due to convenienct.
My balcony does not get enough light so I had to compensate with growlights. Budget is a concern so I experimented on Blue and Red CFL. It did the trick. These lights are hanging around 2′ above the growbed. Everything is growing healthy. There are also worms in one bed and I had to install clarifier to get rid of the additional vermi sludge. All my plants are getting Fermented Plant/Fruit Juice (FFJ, FPJ) I combined Moringga, Cilantro and Banana (w/ skin) and fermented them in Molasses for a week. I then strain and use the liquid as FOLIAR spray twice a week. 2 Tbsp/Liter of water.
Q: What plants and fish have you had the best luck with? And the worst?
A: Basil, Cucumber, Bitter Melon, Peppers, Brocolli, Sweet Potato (best and easiest for me)
All lettuce, brocolli, cabbage, tomatoes, celery (hard to grow in my part of the world)
Best Fish – Goldfish, Catfish, Tilapia, Pangasius
Q: What do you like most about aquaponics? Least?
A: LIKE: recycling, multiple crops, no need for soil, fish, convenient, can be indoors or out, eco friendly, healthy and fresh
DISLIKE: nothing really
Q: What do you think the biggest misconception about aquaponics is?
A: Some people are concerned about food tasting fishy or contamination from harmful bacteria
Q: What are your future aquaponics goals?
A: To continue my advocacy in promoting it here in KSA. It is my dream to draw more and more expatriates and local into Aquaponics and start GROWING THEIR OWN FOOD.
To set up a community garden will be a dream come true with the support of local government.
Maybe start a business of supplying home system (using materials available locally) to those wanting to start.
Q: What do your friends say when you show them your system for the first time?
A: They are amazed I could grow food from my balcony. Some of them are just surprised about the entire concept.
Q: What is your next big gear purchase going to be? What about your next small one?
A: Heavy duty air pump that I can bring home to the Philippines for my planned set-up at my home.
Small one: Some PVC pipes for my next vertical system.
Q: What’s the best recipe you’ve ever had/made, based around something you grew in your system?
A: Using fruit and young leaves of my bitter melon with sauted tuna, sprinkled with green onions