This blog is here to show the progress, results, and solutions of the aquaponics systems that will be set up and run at the Extreme hotel in Caberete, North Coast, Dominican Republic.
The very basics of aquaponics is a system of growing plants and fish. Like hydroponics, the plants grow in no soil but unlike hydroponics, the fish provide the nutrients that the plants use to grow then return the water to the fish tank cleaner than when it entered.
Here in the Dominican Republic we face our own set of issues, from equipment, water quality, and local resources. Each issue will be discussed as they come up and our solutions to them revealed.
Currently there we have one aquaponics system running and one system cycling water to build up the beneficial bacteria to brake down the fish wastes.
There are 15 Tilapia in system 1, and 4 talapia in system 2, with just a few plants to keep the water clean.
Our first problem we face here is the water hardness and finding a sutable growing medium for the flood and drain system. The current growing meduim has both linestone and corral, so the search to find gravel that contained neither began. Oscar and I set out to the local hardware store or “ferreteria” with a bucket and a bottle of vinegar. Vinegar is an easy way to test rock to see if it is alkaline, just place a sample rock in the bucket and pour the vinigar over it, if it starts to bubble you have an alkaline rock.
So we set off to look further a field and headed to Gaspar Hernandez, where we heard they had granite rock quarries. We talked to a local who said he knew of a couple and was more than helpful to show us.
A quick test with the trusty vingar was enough to arange a truck full to be delivered the next day and with that a new issue. The truck arrived and the work begun to make grave from rocks.
Some hammers, timber, chicken wire and tubs, now we have our own gravel yard.
And so the crushing, sifting and washing began.
Now we have good clean gravel, the grow beds will be swapped out and the water exchanged over the next few weeks to lower the pH and the water hardness. Once this is done the systems will start to produce and expand. (both grow bed sizes and number of fish in each tank)
The next project is to harvest rain water as the local tape water is both alkaline and has a high pH, making the job of balancing the water chemistry much harder. Rain water gutters are not a very common thing in the DR and if they can be found the search would be both pricy and time consuming. Our solution, 6in PVC. Cut in half and screwed into place a 90 joiner, end cap, 4in reducer and some 1in irragation hose for some supports.
Now bring on some rain.