With funding from SQU Deanship of Research, Dr. Wenresti Gallardo, Head of the Department of Marine Science and Fisheries at the College of Agricultural and Marine Sciences, and his research students successfully produced cabbage, spinach, lettuce, basil, radish, strawberries, and cherry tomatoes in an aquaponic system integrated with tilapia and koi carp. 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.
Aquaponics is an integration of aquaculture (growing fish and other aquatic organisms) and hydroponics (growing plants without soil) in a recirculating system. Water from the fish tank containing nutrients from fish feeds 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 utilized for the growth of the plants; no soil is used. Water is conserved because it is recirculated, thus, this aquaponics system is environment-friendly.
Through the project, students gain 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 (AES) of SQU. Mr. Abdulbaqi (AES Assistant Director for Plant Operations) and Mr. Ahmed Al-Souti (MSF Technician) provided technical support to the project.
In Oman, aquaponics is becoming popular. There are now aquaponic farms, both commercial and as a hobby or family activity 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 of the aquaponic farms to generate technical and socio-economic information that are useful for other people interested in aquaponics.