alhameli99

Aquaponic in Greenhouse - Middle east

14 posts in this topic

watch?v=QvfmYcpR1BkHello All,

I am new to this forum. I would like to get some help from those who have experiance and can help me.

I have an old green house in my farm, so i decided to make use of it since we didn't use it for a long time. Therefore, i decided to renew it and started my aquaponic in it with a total of 58 grow bed (IBC Tank). I connceted 1HP submersiable pump to the nearby fish pond (we have about 2000 Tilapia), the water comes and waters the grow bed for 45 minutes and then stops for 15 minutes.

The plants aren't doing well! I honestly don't know why?! I tested the Ph last time and it was 7.6 

I asked one of my local friends who have Hydroponic sysem and he said it might be because of the watering timing! He sugguest, i should water the plants for about 30 min. and stop the water for 3 hours and see how it goes, and if 3 hrs too much i should gradually decrease it to 2.5 hrs and so on till i get to the right level. <-- though I am hesitance about this; so thats why I searched in the net and came across this forum.

I'll post a youtube video on what i've done and i hope i can see good feedback that will help me over comes this situation :-)

Thanks all in Advance,

Mohamed 

Edited by alhameli99 (see edit history)

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Hello Mohamed from UAE,

Welcome to APN forums.

Excellent decision to utilise the greenhouse !

OK, i'll try to address what you have mentioned and I have viewed, to the best of my opinion and experience.

a) 7.6pH is to high for most plants to thrive in due to nutrient lock-out. Best results are usually found around 6.0-7.0pH due to nutrient availability.

b) Irrigation timing is one of the largest variables and is dependent on many factors.
Different sizes, shapes and depths of GB will have different water/moisture retention capacities.

My experience suggests that growbeds with non-porous rocks do better with irrigation timings of 15mins ON / 45min OFF.
*My growbeds were 5mtrs long x 1.4mtrs wide - I have no experience with IBC size growbeds
Some people advocate irrigation only during the day, my systems ran 24hrs a day.

c) I note 2 fans at greenhouse end wall.
What are the day/night air temperatures, min/max ?

d) A big issue, in my view, is the green water pond.
As good as these conditions may be for the tilapia and fry... the green algae is consuming all of the nutrients, intended for the plants in the growbeds.

Have you tested the pond water for Ammonia, Nitrites & Nitrates ? ... the results are ??
Such luscious green algae suggests to me your results might be around 0ppm/0ppm/10-20ppm,
My systems ran approx 0ppm/5ppm/150ppm

Additionally, water temps may be higher than your plants prefer... especially as the pond is in full desert sun.
What are your water temps ?
Is there a way you can cover the pond ?

Also, I noted some leaky irrigation fittings. These reduce water pressure, increase evaporation and increase running costs.

Looking forward to your future updates.

Cheers
Toga

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Dear Toga,

Thanks a lot for replying to my inquiries.

You'll have the answers underneath each questions you've asked :) down 

PS. I just inserted the first video i made related to the green house. 

Quote

 

Hello Mohamed from UAE,

Welcome to APN forums.

Excellent decision to utilise the greenhouse ! < --- Indeed it was :) 

OK, i'll try to address what you have mentioned and I have viewed, to the best of my opinion and experience.

a) 7.6pH is to high for most plants to thrive in due to nutrient lock-out. Best results are usually found around 6.0-7.0pH due to nutrient availability.

Alright, so how can i reduce it? is there is an organic things/liquids i can use? if so, where can i buy'em?

b) Irrigation timing is one of the largest variables and is dependent on many factors.
Different sizes, shapes and depths of GB will have different water/moisture retention capacities.

My GrowBed, are all /30 cm depth, as i've taken this from someone called Rob Bob an Aussie guy, whom i really benefited from him lately. 

My experience suggests that growbeds with non-porous rocks do better with irrigation timings of 15mins ON / 45min OFF.
*My growbeds were 5mtrs long x 1.4mtrs wide - I have no experience with IBC size growbeds
Some people advocate irrigation only during the day, my systems ran 24hrs a day.

In my system it runs 24/7, but i adjust it with timer; so that i can control the watering timing.

c) I note 2 fans at greenhouse end wall. <--- since we're in UAE, and the temperature during the summer here can reach 50 c, we have these two fans that sucks the air from one side, and at the opposite side there is the water fall side, where water drops slowly and when these two fans starts, they suck air and doing so the greenhouse startes getting cooler.. and it has a thermostat, during the winter (now a days) when the temp reaches below say 20 c, one or even two fans goes off; so that we don't lose our plantations. 
What are the day/night air temperatures, min/max ?

I don't know, but i can give you roughly :) during the summer, it's extremely hot in my country it can reach 50c or even 52c at noon time.. but in the summer night it can drop say 33c to 35c roughly this is not a precise figure. 

During the winter it's all okay, sometimes it get cold in Dec/Jan but during day time it's all fine. During the day 28c and night time depends sometimes 20 and sometimes 10 even. but in rare occasions let me put it this way.

d) A big issue, in my view, is the green water pond.
As good as these conditions may be for the tilapia and fry... the green algae is consuming all of the nutrients, intended for the plants in the growbeds.

The algae has gone down now, as this video was taken about a month a go. but still i need to get rid of all the algae for sure, any suggestion how can i do that without harming my fish? name of product and where can i get it from plz :) 

Have you tested the pond water for Ammonia, Nitrites & Nitrates ? ... the results are ??

No i haven't to be honest.. i should but i don't have the proper tools yet. I only have the Ph measurement tool. 
Such luscious green algae suggests to me your results might be around 0ppm/0ppm/10-20ppm,
My systems ran approx 0ppm/5ppm/150ppm

I really don't know what does these numbers mean :( I should make a bit of research about them. 

Additionally, water temps may be higher than your plants prefer... especially as the pond is in full desert sun.
What are your water temps ? I don't know, but it's not that hot, in winter it's cool and in the summer, since i have a pond fish depth about 2.8cm, normally in the summer when you go deeper, the cooler the water gets.. so it's not HOT, but you can say it's normal temperature that it won't bother the roots at all. 
Is there a way you can cover the pond ?

Yes we can cover it, but honestly no need. I guess i kinda of know what you mean why? as the Algae needs sun, if we cover it, the algae won't be able to formulate correct? plus, covering it might give cooler temperature to the water... as i have customers who comes to my farm, they want to see the fish and sometimes feed them, so cover it won't be an option to me :( 

Also, I noted some leaky irrigation fittings. These reduce water pressure, increase evaporation and increase running costs.

you're right, the leakage was made by Nicholas one of my best labors, as you can see, he was trying to install the bin (filter) so he just opened the Union and i came recording, so he didn't know that i'll come at that time to record, so (off the seen) i waved my hand telling him "no worry mate" so he backed off and i continues recording :) 

Looking forward to your future updates.

I will update you for sure in soon future, but again in confess something is missing, what it is? don't ask me *_* but i am sure i'll find out one way or another. 

Cheers
Toga

watch?v=M9cA5HiYGik

Edited by alhameli99 (see edit history)

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Hello Mohamed,

I think, put simply, what is missing in your system is maturity and balance.
This can / does take time and often is a combination of many factors.

The important thing is to maintain health of the fish you do have now.

Adjusting the pH will be problematic because you have a rather large volume of water, you have fish in the pond and you have close to 50 tonnes of gravel that may be affecting the pH.
I would normally suggest using various acids to lower pH... this is dangerous and can be fraught with hazard.
Many people accidentally kill their fish adjusting pH.
In your case, for the moment, I would address other issues first.

My suggestion to cover the pond was to make something like a raised shadehouse/roof.

The numbers make reference to Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate.
This is known as the Nitrogen Cycle. **EDIT - Living Bacteria that need to grow, age and mature**
Understanding the Nitrogen Cycle is extremely high priority.
This directly effects both Fish & Plant health and growth.
You can read more here.

When you finally get a balanced Nitrogen cycle you will see much less algae grown, and much more plant growth.

Cheers
Joe

Edited by Toga
**Edit Noted** (see edit history)

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17 hours ago, Toga said:

Hello Mohamed,

I think, put simply, what is missing in your system is maturity and balance.
This can / does take time and often is a combination of many factors.

The important thing is to maintain health of the fish you do have now.

Adjusting the pH will be problematic because you have a rather large volume of water, you have fish in the pond and you have close to 50 tonnes of gravel that may be affecting the pH.
I would normally suggest using various acids to lower pH... this is dangerous and can be fraught with hazard.
Many people accidentally kill their fish adjusting pH.
In your case, for the moment, I would address other issues first.

My suggestion to cover the pond was to make something like a raised shadehouse/roof.

The numbers make reference to Ammonia, Nitrite and Nitrate.
This is known as the Nitrogen Cycle. **EDIT - Living Bacteria that need to grow, age and mature**
Understanding the Nitrogen Cycle is extremely high priority.
This directly effects both Fish & Plant health and growth.
You can read more here.

When you finally get a balanced Nitrogen cycle you will see much less algae grown, and much more plant growth.

Cheers
Joe

Again Thanks Joe :)

 

I visited one guy today here in UAE and he suggested the same thing as you said!

He said that i ought do three things, starting with shade for the fish pond, install ceramic filteration system and last but leat installing swirl filter, he said by doing so, i'll see changes within a week from doing so..

meanwhile I am searching on where can i buy these item, or even if i can do them my self...

I hope i can update you with new video soon 

chat later, as i am busy tonight, it's here 9:12PM -  03:10:45 AEST

Cheers 

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Hello Mohamed,

Does your friend do aquaponics... or only fish ?

The reason I ask is for many complex reasons, but I'll try to keep it simple;

Adding a shade roof - Yes, absolutely. Less direct sun on the water = lower algae growth in pond

Adding a Swirl Filter (SF) - Yes, you can... and it will help... if you are finding fry in the growbeds/sumps, they will also be in any new swirl filter.
The issues I see are that SF are; a) Sized (small, medium - huge) according to water flow & retention time, and b) Pumps are best placed AFTER a SF.
The benefits of a well designed SF is that: a) removes solid wastes from the fish pond, and b) greatly reduces any solid waste being pumped into the grow beds, thus reducing maintenance.
You size pond may need 2 swirl filters.

Adding ceramic filtration - In my opinion, This is good, and not so good - again for many reasons.

One main reason your fish are alive & breeding and the pond is green is because, technically, the pond is mature....
BUT the issue is that the complete Nitrogen cycle (waste nutrient use) is contained within the pond... all/most fish waste nutrients are being consumed by the algae.

In my view, for aquaponics, ceramic filtration - due to high surface area & bacterial growth, could potentially do to much filtering, leaving low/no levels of fish waste nutrients for your plants to grow.
For fish only systems - Yes, absolutely. Ceramic filtration plus swirl filter will offer great results.

The idea of aquaponics is that the Growing Plants ARE the final stages of Nitrogen Cycle balance and management..

When you add a shade roof - the algae will reduce somewhat...
When you add swirl filters - the algae will reduce even more...
When you have healthy growing plants - the algae will reduce to be very, very little.

My best advice at this stage is - Go Slowly.
Do a lot more research about filters before you make decisions and spend $$$.

Cheers
Toga

Edited by Toga (see edit history)

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On 17/11/2018 at 5:43 PM, Toga said:

Hello Mohamed,

Does your friend do aquaponics... or only fish ?

The reason I ask is for many complex reasons, but I'll try to keep it simple;

Adding a shade roof - Yes, absolutely. Less direct sun on the water = lower algae growth in pond

Adding a Swirl Filter (SF) - Yes, you can... and it will help... if you are finding fry in the growbeds/sumps, they will also be in any new swirl filter.
The issues I see are that SF are; a) Sized (small, medium - huge) according to water flow & retention time, and b) Pumps are best placed AFTER a SF.
The benefits of a well designed SF is that: a) removes solid wastes from the fish pond, and b) greatly reduces any solid waste being pumped into the grow beds, thus reducing maintenance.
You size pond may need 2 swirl filters.

Adding ceramic filtration - In my opinion, This is good, and not so good - again for many reasons.

One main reason your fish are alive & breeding and the pond is green is because, technically, the pond is mature....
BUT the issue is that the complete Nitrogen cycle (waste nutrient use) is contained within the pond... all/most fish waste nutrients are being consumed by the algae.

In my view, for aquaponics, ceramic filtration - due to high surface area & bacterial growth, could potentially do to much filtering, leaving low/no levels of fish waste nutrients for your plants to grow.
For fish only systems - Yes, absolutely. Ceramic filtration plus swirl filter will offer great results.

The idea of aquaponics is that the Growing Plants ARE the final stages of Nitrogen Cycle balance and management..

When you add a shade roof - the algae will reduce somewhat...
When you add swirl filters - the algae will reduce even more...
When you have healthy growing plants - the algae will reduce to be very, very little.

My best advice at this stage is - Go Slowly.
Do a lot more research about filters before you make decisions and spend $$$.

Cheers
Toga

Hello again,

 

We keep missing each others comments; i guess because of time different  :) 

Well, my friend does something in between Hydroponic + Aquaponic! what do i mean? well, here is what he does, he harvest fish, plenty of them in kind of ponds, sized about 5mX8M, and he segregate these fishes based on their ages (mainly he sell them in local market) so anyway, he is having fish waste! so he plants in the soil! even thought in my country we have sand only! not like in other countries where they have muddy soil and it's' full of nutrients. So, he plants the seeds in the soil direct and water them with fish waste, plus he uses his cattle fertilizer too, he plants from Aug to June, three times a year, leaving one month which is June for cleaning up the soil and preparing it for next session.what he does it's kind of impossible here  in my country, why? well because of the heat!, it can reach 50+ during the summer + we don't have much water. We have wells at the farm, and we have to dig deep about 1200 ft to get good amount of water, am sure you don't have to go all that in your country :) 

The shade, i thought about it months back, as i was told by one of our employees, but i was thinking aaaah no need meantime :)  So what i'll do i already called some welders nearby, they'll come and give us quotations in regard to the shade and we will see what can we do about it from there :)

In regards, to the rest of your comments, i'll as you said read about it and come back to you for sure, i'll make a video; as it might be easier so that you can see "seeing is believing"

 

Talk to ya later 

Mohamed 

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Hello Mohamed,

I am living in Thailand so we have a bit the same Temperatures to deal with.

First I had the same problem and the plants were looking all other than healthy. Leaves were yellow due to nutrient deficiencies, PH level was also quite a struggle.

It took me about 1 year that all sorted itself so as above from other members stated is the main factor the age of the system.

The bacteria need to grow and plants that have a high demand like Tomatoes and Aubergines for example need systems that are at least 2 years old or even older according to my experience.

Then the issue you have a huge pond that feeds your system. I would suggest to make some separated tanks with tilapia that feeds the system 1:1 till max 2:1 water rate did it for me.

In your pond are algae and most likely there is no or little fertilizer left for your plants. Also you never have the density of fish in your pond to run an aquaponics system proper and controlled. 

Also Duckweed (a Delicatess in Thailand and food supplements for ours fishes) use surprisingly much Nitrate which isn't then anymore available for your plants. 

But first of all give it time, this is the most important thing of all. You might remember your pond as you built it, how long did it go up and down, how much fish died before it starting to balance itself. My mistake was at the begin that I tried all and everything to have some influence in the balance and it made actually things worse. Mother nature does this by herself but she decides when the time is due and the up and downs getting slower until the values stay at a certain level.

In your new system you will experience a rapid increasing of ammonia and somehow it will start going down after weeks, that is the moment when your bacteria starting to spread all over the system.  

I am now almost 6 years with my backyard system and from time to time the balance goes out when we for example harvest too much, a fish has died and we haven't seen it or we took too much Crayfish (they taste so good that you always want one more) for our Sunday barbecues.. 

To the other members, please correct me if I am wrong at some point but that was what I experienced with my system in Thailand. (Check my other treads, there are some photos and a story)

alhameli99, ande and Toga like this

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Hello Mohamed,

Thanks for the video update.

Seeding into gravel is always problematic in terms of germination, survival & growth.
Some do ok, some dont.
Then you have transplanting seedlings... same thing, some do ok, and some dont.
Practice and experiment to find what works best for you.

I note the pond water appears slightly clearer, this is good... as Willroy and I have mentioned, this algae will starve the grow beds.
As your grow beds mature, and more plants start growing, they will increase capacity and mineral content.

On another point of comment, your new water timing.
I feel that even in your winter that 3 hours off is to long... this is one reason why transplanted seedlings go wilting.
Common pump timing is 15mins ON - 45mins OFF.
Also is better for the fish to have a more regular circulation.

Additionally, I noted that some grow beds were full of water when sitting and water pump timer is off.
This is very bad !
This can create toxic conditions ! ... and...
Can create disease in plant roots !
Grow beds must drain fully and must never stand full of water.

All up, good work my friend.
Greens are starting to grow and pond looks a little clearer.
It takes time to learn about so many different things... and how they work and act with each other.

Cheers
Toga

 

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14 hours ago, Toga said:

Hello Mohamed,

Thanks for the video update.

Seeding into gravel is always problematic in terms of germination, survival & growth.
Some do ok, some dont.
Then you have transplanting seedlings... same thing, some do ok, and some dont.
Practice and experiment to find what works best for you.

I noticed that if you take the plant and wash the roots in water gently, it won't harm the plant and could grow as normal as if it was in the soil. 

I note the pond water appears slightly clearer, this is good... as Willroy and I have mentioned, this algae will starve the grow beds.
As your grow beds mature, and more plants start growing, they will increase capacity and mineral content.

On another point of comment, your new water timing.
I feel that even in your winter that 3 hours off is to long... this is one reason why transplanted seedlings go wilting.
Common pump timing is 15mins ON - 45mins OFF.
Also is better for the fish to have a more regular circulation.

To be honest i totally agree with you, but let me pass this to my people there at the farm, and they'll change the time setting according to what you suggested. However! this morning i was talking to one of our boys there at the farm, and guess what? he is telling me that by turning off the timer made good progress! I was like WHAT? he said that the plants grew as normal as if we were growing them in the soil.. healthy with no wilting plants... I can't say becase of what as am not a professional person in such wide field. but am doing my best in avoiding anything which might harm the plants and my system. 

Additionally, I noted that some grow beds were full of water when sitting and water pump timer is off.
This is very bad !
This can create toxic conditions ! ... and...
Can create disease in plant roots !
Grow beds must drain fully and must never stand full of water.

Agree with you, in each siphon (we have U siphon) we made small hole at the bottom of the siphon; so that no water stays in the GB if the water stops, therefore, what you saw i guess was some of these holes were maybe closed by waste of leaves.. i'll tell them to pay attention to it..

All up, good work my friend.

I appreciate it mate :) 
Greens are starting to grow and pond looks a little clearer.

It is indeed a bit clearer, we're in the process to build a shade on top of that fishpond; so that we can reduce the amount of algae formulating in the fishpond. I called a local welder to come and check on how much will it cost to build a shade for the fish pond size 6.5MX10M, and he gave me a BIG number, so i went and searched in youtube, and guess what? i can build one from PVC pipes for as little as 200USD or less even and use net shade to cover it up, whereas in the other option it's WAY too high :) 
It takes time to learn about so many different things... and how they work and act with each other.

Thanks Toga for the support, i really do appreciate that mate, talk to you later :) 

Cheers
Toga

 

14 hours ago, Toga said:

this is one reason why transplanted seedlings go wilting

 

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I forgot to tell that I germinate all plants in Rockwool or Sponges before planting them in my rafts and grow beds.

With Salad and Lettuce I had a loss of almost 99% when directly seeded into the grow beds.

The reason I found out is that many plants love light to germinate and in your gravel they simply falling too deep into the media and rotting away.

Try first to put the seeds on top of any media, Lettuce for example comes within 3 days if they are surface seeded.. 'Underground' it takes 3 week till never..  

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On 24/11/2018 at 2:03 AM, WillroyGreenhand said:

Hello Mohamed,

I am living in Thailand so we have a bit the same Temperatures to deal with.

First I had the same problem and the plants were looking all other than healthy. Leaves were yellow due to nutrient deficiencies, PH level was also quite a struggle.

It took me about 1 year that all sorted itself so as above from other members stated is the main factor the age of the system.

The bacteria need to grow and plants that have a high demand like Tomatoes and Aubergines for example need systems that are at least 2 years old or even older according to my experience.

Then the issue you have a huge pond that feeds your system. I would suggest to make some separated tanks with tilapia that feeds the system 1:1 till max 2:1 water rate did it for me.

In your pond are algae and most likely there is no or little fertilizer left for your plants. Also you never have the density of fish in your pond to run an aquaponics system proper and controlled. 

Also Duckweed (a Delicatess in Thailand and food supplements for ours fishes) use surprisingly much Nitrate which isn't then anymore available for your plants. 

But first of all give it time, this is the most important thing of all. You might remember your pond as you built it, how long did it go up and down, how much fish died before it starting to balance itself. My mistake was at the begin that I tried all and everything to have some influence in the balance and it made actually things worse. Mother nature does this by herself but she decides when the time is due and the up and downs getting slower until the values stay at a certain level.

In your new system you will experience a rapid increasing of ammonia and somehow it will start going down after weeks, that is the moment when your bacteria starting to spread all over the system.  

I am now almost 6 years with my backyard system and from time to time the balance goes out when we for example harvest too much, a fish has died and we haven't seen it or we took too much Crayfish (they taste so good that you always want one more) for our Sunday barbecues.. 

To the other members, please correct me if I am wrong at some point but that was what I experienced with my system in Thailand. (Check my other treads, there are some photos and a story)

Thank you sooo much Willroy, 

You're comments were well appreciated for real :) 

I am doing almost exactly as what you've mentioned in your comment. Thus, lemme see what would be the result in the next few weeks!

Frankly speaking! the other day i checked the Ph and guess what? it was 8.4, but! The look of the plants was fabulous! even though lots of people whom i know from all over the world, they say that the 8.4Ph level is not good!!  

I am learning as our system grows.. so again thanks a lot and please keep in touch.

PS. If you have some times, please post some video of your system.

Regards,

Mohamed :)

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On 24/11/2018 at 2:03 AM, WillroyGreenhand said:

Hello Mohamed,

I am living in Thailand so we have a bit the same Temperatures to deal with.

First I had the same problem and the plants were looking all other than healthy. Leaves were yellow due to nutrient deficiencies, PH level was also quite a struggle.

It took me about 1 year that all sorted itself so as above from other members stated is the main factor the age of the system.

The bacteria need to grow and plants that have a high demand like Tomatoes and Aubergines for example need systems that are at least 2 years old or even older according to my experience.

Then the issue you have a huge pond that feeds your system. I would suggest to make some separated tanks with tilapia that feeds the system 1:1 till max 2:1 water rate did it for me.

In your pond are algae and most likely there is no or little fertilizer left for your plants. Also you never have the density of fish in your pond to run an aquaponics system proper and controlled. 

Also Duckweed (a Delicatess in Thailand and food supplements for ours fishes) use surprisingly much Nitrate which isn't then anymore available for your plants. 

But first of all give it time, this is the most important thing of all. You might remember your pond as you built it, how long did it go up and down, how much fish died before it starting to balance itself. My mistake was at the begin that I tried all and everything to have some influence in the balance and it made actually things worse. Mother nature does this by herself but she decides when the time is due and the up and downs getting slower until the values stay at a certain level.

In your new system you will experience a rapid increasing of ammonia and somehow it will start going down after weeks, that is the moment when your bacteria starting to spread all over the system.  

I am now almost 6 years with my backyard system and from time to time the balance goes out when we for example harvest too much, a fish has died and we haven't seen it or we took too much Crayfish (they taste so good that you always want one more) for our Sunday barbecues.. 

To the other members, please correct me if I am wrong at some point but that was what I experienced with my system in Thailand. (Check my other treads, there are some photos and a story)

Sure

Edited by alhameli99 (see edit history)

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