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Potential of aquaponic system for the growth and production of strawberry (Fragaria sp.)

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Abstract and Figures

Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture (fish) and hydroponic cultivation of plants. The good combination of both fish and plants will develop a sustainable aquaponic System in order to support the sustainable agriculture. A portable aquaponic system was designed to observe the potential of both Clarias gariepinus and Oreochromis niloticus from different tank in the aquaponic system against strawberry plant growth and production for ten weeks. Fish was fed with commercial diets ad libitum twice per day and the growth was recorded weekly. Strawberry leaves, flowers and fruit growth was recorded. Strawberry plants in the system of C. gariepinus starts flowering during week three and four with one flower respectively and it produced nine flowers during week nine and ten. While the plants only start flowering during week nine and ten with seven flowers respectively for treatment of O. niloticus tank. Plants in both treatments start fruiting during week nine with three and two fruits for C. gariepinus and O. niloticus tank system respectively. Both C. gariepinus and O. niloticus showed a significantly (p<0.05) weight gain percentage 116.84±2.35% and 88.57±1.91% respectively. The length increment of C. gariepinus (18.06±1.40cm) is more than O. niloticus (5.99±1.30cm). Fish survival are 100% for both C. gariepinus and O. niloticus. The combination of fish in both tanks and strawberry plants studied show growth increment. In conclusion, the aquaponic system designed for this C. gariepinus, O. niloticus and strawberry plants growing is efficient and possible to be applied either for urban farming or commercial farm production.
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3rd ICA Research Symposium (ICARS) 2020
Innovation Centre in Agritechnology for Advanced Bioprocessing
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia
Pagoh, Muar, Johor, Malaysia
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Muhammad Helmi Nadri, A Rafidah A Mohd Yunos, Muhammad Hazim Yusof
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3rd ICA RESEARCH SYMPOSIUM (ICARS) 2020
22 September 2020
22
Potential of aquaponic system for the growth and production of strawberry
(Fragaria sp.)
Norashikin Anjur1,2*, Mohd Syukri Samsuri2, Tajul Ariffin Mohamed Arif2, Zulfadzly
Ameer Abdul Halim2
1 Department of Technology and Natural Resources, Faculty of Applied Sciences and
Technology (FAST), Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM), Pagoh Educational
Hub, 84600 Pagoh, Muar, Johor, Malaysia
2 Department of Agrotechnology and Bio-industry, Politeknik Sandakan, Education Hub,
Jalan Sg. Batang, Batu 10, 90000 Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia
*Corresponding author: norashikinanjur@gmail.com
Abstract
Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture (fish) and hydroponic cultivation of plants.
The good combination of both fish and plants will develop a sustainable aquaponic system
in order to support the sustainable agriculture. A portable aquaponic system was designed
to observe the potential of both Clarias gariepinus and Oreochromis niloticus from
different tank in the aquaponic system against strawberry plant growth and production for
ten weeks. Fish was fed with commercial diets ad libitum twice per day and the growth
was recorded weekly. Strawberry leaves, flowers and fruit growth was recorded.
Strawberry plants in the system of C. gariepinus starts flowering during week three and
four with one flower respectively and it produced nine flowers during week nine and ten.
While the plants only start flowering during week nine and ten with seven flowers
respectively for treatment of O. niloticus tank. Plants in both treatments start fruiting
during week nine with three and two fruits for C. gariepinus and O. niloticus tank system
respectively. Both C. gariepinus and O. niloticus showed a significantly (p<0.05) weight
gain percentage 116.84±2.35% and 88.57±1.91% respectively. The length increment of
C. gariepinus (18.06±1.40cm) is more than O. niloticus (5.99±1.30cm). Fish survival are
100% for both C. gariepinus and O. niloticus. The combination of fish in both tanks and
strawberry plants studied show growth increment. In conclusion, the aquaponic system
designed for this C. gariepinus, O. niloticus and strawberry plants growing is efficient
and possible to be applied either for urban farming or commercial farm production
Keywords: Aquaponic, Clarias gariepinus, Oreochromis niloticus, Fragaria sp., growth
1. Introduction
Aquaponics is an integrated system of tank-based, aquatic animal (typically fish) and
hydroponic plant culture. Most of the nutrients needed for plant growth are derived from
fish waste [1]. Because of its sustainability, aquaponics has gained increasing interest
over the past several years. Nitrogen (in the form of ammonia and nitrate) and phosphorus
(mainly in the form of phosphate) are the essential nutrients for plant growth and are
found in aquaculture waste. By utilising them as a nutrient source, the plants filter
dissolved waste products from the system, thereby reducing the need for biological or
chemical filtration for water changes and water quality management to fish [2]. This soil-
less agriculture system has been used to reduce pests and soil-borne diseases affecting
monoculture crops. This aquaponics system stimulus the better use of land and water,
3rd ICA RESEARCH SYMPOSIUM (ICARS) 2020
22 September 2020
23
simpler methods of pollution control, improved management of productive factors, higher
quality of products and greater food safety [3].
There are limitations associated with the prohibition of chemical fumigants for the control
of phytopathogens in the cultivation of strawberries in the soil and the ergonomic
difficulties of growing plants on the ground surface, both of which have hampered the
recruitment of manpower [4]. Because aquaponic is an energy-efficient, prevent waste
from being released into the environment, supply plants with organic fertilizers, reuse
wastewater through biofiltration, and through multiple cropping ensure higher food
production per unit area. It needs to be treated as a working model of green technology
towards sustainability of aquaponic system in strawberry production [5]. Hence, this
study was conducted to compare the potential of both Clarias gariepinus and
Oreochromis niloticus in the aquaponic system against strawberry plant growth and
production since these three species is highly demand in the local market.
2. Materials and methods
2.1 Plant and fish preparation
A total number of 60 Fragaria sp. daughter plants in the age of three weeks old were
collected from Greenhouse 4, Politeknik Sandakan, Sabah. This plant locally called
lowland strawberry which can grow in the temperature range of 25-35 °C. The mother
plants were bought from Taman Agro-Fertigasi in Kajang, Selangor. A total of 30 healthy
Clarias gariepinus and 30 Oreochromis niloticus juvenile in the length of 9-10 inches and
4-5 inches respectively was bought from fish hatchery at Politeknik Sandakan, Sabah.
2.2 Experimental setup and aquaponics design
In a locally built aquaponics module, one aquaponics system was built up using PVC pipe,
iron frame, two fish tanks (250 L) for two different species, four wheels, two water pumps
for each fish tank and twenty of plant pots (Figure 1). Coconut fibre was used as the
growing substrate in plant pots. Plant pots used are 5 inches diameter and 6 inches height
in size. Ten plant pots are connected to one fish tank.
Figure 1: Aquaponic designation. (a) Front view of aqoaponic system; (b) Lateral view
of aquaponic system.
The actual aquaponics system set up was shown in Figure 2. This system was set up in
triplicates under a shaded open area at rain shelter pump house (Politeknik Sandakan
5 ft
4ft
Front view
Plant pot PVC Pipe
Tank
PVC
Pipe
Frame
iron Wheel
Tilapia Tank
(250 L)
African Catfish Tank
(250 L)
6 inch
5 inch
4ft
5 ft
Lateral View
Tilapia
Tank
African
Catfish Tank
ab
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Sabah). All the fish in all treatments were regularly monitored at a frequency of three
times daily for ten weeks. Fishes were fed with commercial diet (Star Feed brand) ad
libitum twice per day. Uneaten food remained dissolve in the tank and providing a nutrient
source for strawberry plants. Water from the fish tank was pump to the PVC pipe under
plant pots as organic fertilizer sources for strawberry plants. Fish water quality was
observed to maintain fish in good condition. Water in the fish tank was partially changed
with dechlorinated tap water once per week.
Figure 2: Actual aquaponics system setup
2.3 Data collection and analysis
Growth of strawberry plants was observed in terms of the number of leaves grow, the
number of flowers emerge, the number of fruits produce and survival rate (%). All the
fishes from each tank were sampled once per week to measure their growth performance
in term of weight gain (%), length increment (cm), survival rate (%) and specific growth
rate (% day-1). The water temperature, dissolved oxygen and pH was taken daily by using
a digital thermometer, dissolve oxygen meter and pH meter respectively [6]. Data
collected were subjected to T-test statistical analysis using SPSS software to identify the
significant differences formed at 95% confidence level to show the differences means
between the groups.
3. Results and discussion
Strawberry plants showed growth development for every week. Their plants keep growing
but some leaves have become brown and dry. The death leaves were removed from plants.
The new leaf growth increased week by week from an average of three to seven new leaf
counted for strawberry related to both fish tanks (Figure 3). Strawberry plants grow in the
tank of Clarias gariepinus had an earlier flowering which the on average the first flower
emerged during week 3. However, this flower dry and drop off. There is more flower also
grow in the tank of Clarias gariepinus during week nine and ten. Average of ten flowers
recorded compared only seven flowers from strawberry plants grow in the tank of
Oreochromis niloticus. Plants in both fish tanks starts fruiting in week nine where three
fruits and two fruits emerged from plants related to C. gariepinus and O. niloticus tank
respectively. All the strawberry plants showed a 100% survival rate (Table 1).
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Table 1: Survival rate of strawberry plants
Aquaponic system
African catfish tank
Tilapia tank
Values (Mean±SE) within the same column followed by same superscript were not
significantly different at p<0.05
The growth of strawberry plants was photographed (Figure 4). Young leaf showed light
green in colour. The strawberry flower is white in colour. Mostly plants grow in the tank
of the C. gariepinus showed the development of runner or stolon with a new plantlet.
However, this sucker was removed to avoid the reduction of strawberry fruit production.
The fruits emerged is shown in Figure 4(d), where some of the fruits have irregular shape.
As the fruit ripens, it was tasted and the fruits are sweet and slightly sour in taste as the
plants are nature to lowland weather. Their taste was not influenced by the hot temperature
like some of the commercial strawberry fruits that are sweet in the highland area with
lower temperature but become very sour after reaching the lowland area. Strawberry fruits
production and quality depends on temperature, photoperiod, and enough cooling time
[7]. Not many fruits were collected and analyzed in this study because of the limited time.
In comparison to the study by [4], their strawberry plants in the hydroponic system starts
fruiting during week six after planting and the yield production was calculated until the
week of 38th. But their study was using a chemical nutrient solution to fertilize their crop.
Figure 3: Strawberry plants
growth performance in
aquaponics system for
different fish tank. (a)
Average number of leaf
grown; (b) Average number
of flower emerged; (c)
Average number of fruits
formed.
c
b
a
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Figure 4: The strawberry plants. (a) New leaf growth; (b) Emergence of flowers (c)
Emergence of runner; (d) Strawberry fruit.
Water quality parameters measured throughout this study were summarized in Table 2.
Only three basic water parameters were measured in order to maintain the water quality.
The dissolved oxygen was set in the range of 5.98.5 by recirculating water system using
water pump. The water pH was in the range of 6.618.10. Temperature for the both tanks
in this study was maintained in the range of 26.332.2 °C. These range of water parameter
are favourable for both fish species to grow.
Table 2: Water parameters in fish tank
Water parameter
African catfish
Tilapia
Dissolved oxygen (ppm)
6.7 - 8.1
5.9 - 8.5
pH
6.61 - 6.95
6.86 - 8.10
Temperature (C)
27.3 - 32.0
26.3 - 32.2
Both Clarias gariepinus and Oreochromis niloticus showed positive growth in the
consistency of weight and length increment (Figure 5). This aquaponics system is suitable
for the growth of C. gariepinus and O. niloticus in the term of water quality. The
favourable condition of tank culture influenced optimum fish growth rate.
b
a
cd
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Figure 5: Growth of fish. (a) Average fish weight by week; (b) Average fish length by
week.
These ten weeks of study revealed a significant growth increment of both C. gariepinus
and O. niloticus (Table 3). The mean of initial and final fish weight and length was
compared using T-test and results showed a significant different (P<0.05). The value of
African catfish weight and length is higher than Tilapia as bigger size of fishes were used
in the beginning of the study.
Table 3: Comparison of fish growth during the study (between initial and final)
Fish Growth
African Catfish
Tilapia
Initial
Final
Initial
Final
Average fish
weight (g)
98.68±1.99b
212.50±2.65a
52.52±1.87b
99.04±2.48a
Average fish
length (cm)
14.02±1.12b
32.08±3.73a
11.20±1.90b
17.19±2.44a
Values (mean±SE) with different superscript in rows under the same fish species are
significantly different (P<0.05)
The growth performance of both C. gariepinus and O. niloticus was calculated using
standard calculation formulae. The mean of weight gain (%), length increment (cm),
survival rate (%) and specific growth rate (% day-1) for both fish species were compared
using T-test. All the results show no significantly different at p<0.05 (Table 4). This
means both fish species possess the same average growth performance in this aquaponics
system of strawberry. This aquaponics system is suitable to be used in both African catfish
and Tilapia fish production.
Table 4: Comparison of fish growth in different tank
Fish growth
African catfish
Tilapia
Weight gain (%)
116.84 ± 2.35a
88.57 ± 1.91a
Length increment (cm)
18.06 ± 1.40a
5.99 ± 1.30a
Specific growth rate (% day-1)
1.67 ± 0.03a
1.27 ± 0.23a
Survival rate (%)
100.00 ± 0.00a
100.00 ± 0.00a
Values (mean±SE) within the same row followed by same superscript were no significant
different at p<0.05
4. Conclusions
The present study is more environmentally friendly without using chemicals as fertilizer
to produce organic agriculture production. The combination of fish in both tanks and
0
5
10
15
20
25
30
35
Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10
Average Fish Length (cm)
Tilapia African Catfish
0
50
100
150
200
250
Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10
Average Fish Weight (g)
Tilapia African Catfish
a b
3rd ICA RESEARCH SYMPOSIUM (ICARS) 2020
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strawberry plants studied showed positive growth. In conclusion, the aquaponic system
designed for this C. gariepinus, O. niloticus and strawberry plants growing are efficient
and possible to be applied either for urban farming or commercial farm production and
contribute to sustainable agriculture. However, further investigation should be done on
the water nutrient analysis in correlation with the time of the culture to make sure the
strawberry plant growth can be more productive, and the crop yield can be evaluated.
Acknowledgments
The authors are thankful to Presly Dulasi, Mohd Raihanaizzuddin Bin Hamlie, Ronaldo
Levis, Aljim Bin Julpin and Encbeth Eldy for their help and kindness in completing this
study.
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ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
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Producing organic fish and mint in an aquaponic system
  • N Wahap
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Wahap N, Estim A, Kian AY, Senoo S, Mustafa S. Producing organic fish and mint in an aquaponic system. Borneo Marine Research Institue, Sabah, Malaysia. 2010:29-33.
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