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HOME GROWN: Excited about growing tilapia


Suzanne Griffith

HOME GROWN: Excited about growing tilapia

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I really enjoy  digging in the dirt (with gloves on, of course).
My ongoing writings about aquaponics have merely reflected my observations, queries, and curiosity about this emerging way of “gardening”.
For quite sometime I wondered if I would be able to garden without the dirt and still enjoy my beloved hobby.
I also wondered if my green thumb was up to the challenge of non-traditional gardening.
Slowly but surely I have been setting up my aquaponic system. Comprised of two neatly cut water storage tanks, a metal stand, and an array of PVC pipes, the system is taking shape.
Thanks to Tropical Storm Tomas I was easily able to gather enough water to fill the tank that contains the aquatic component of the system.
Tomas kindly filled the six-foot diameter tank nearly three feet deep with rainwater.
Let that be a gentle reminder: rainwater is free and easy to collect, whether for a traditional garden, aquaponics, hydroponics, or washing your car! Just remember to gather water responsibly; standing water is a serious problem and directly contributes to the prevalence of dengue fever.
Aquaponics works great in small spaces, I’ve positioned the system in my driveway. This is pretty cool.
For one thing it is easily accessible. Second, it takes up very little space. The large, or deeper of the two tanks, which contains the fish is placed directly on the driveway.
The smaller, or shallower of the two tanks, which will soon contain the plants, sits on a square steel stand that is roughly three feet high.
We’ve placed two of the legs of the steel stand in the aquatic, or lower, tank so that the plant tank partially overlaps it. This gives the aquatic tank some much needed shade.
The fish have moved into their new home.
Well, at least someof them! Right now  I have about 30, roughly three-inch tilapia living in the aquatic tank.
It’s interesting when your perception of a particular thing doesn’t match up with reality.
I have enjoyed eating tilapia for quite sometime. It is a nice fish, light, not too dry, not too oily.
I was quite surprised to see the variety of colours that they come in, orange, orange and black, black and white, white. They are beautiful to watch.
I’ve got my son involved with the system as well. Each morning it is his responsibility to feed the fish; this too is building his interest in the project and as well prompting him to ask questions, and care for the system.
Besides, the knowledge that he will be able to see the fish anxiously rising to the top of the tank for their breakfast is a sneaky way for Mum to encourage him to get out of bed on time.
Soon we will be adding the soilless growing medium, coconut husk, to the plant bed, starting to circulate water through the system, and finally, we will begin planting.
I cannot wait!
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