Happy New Year

Happy new year 2019. There will be a huge change regarding this blog in this new year.

I won’t be updating this blog as much as before, instead I’ll be posting content through my social media accounts:

Also, I’ll be posting in Malay language in order to target readers in Malaysia and neighbouring countries.

Indoor aquaponics revision 2

After nearly two months, my indoor aquaponics, which initially planned as germination station, have been revised with some improvements. First, let’s take a look back at what I had previously.

These pak choy were 7 weeks old, and ready to be harvested, however the growth were stunted and had nutrient deficiencies.


This filter is a bit too small, I had to clean it up frequently (between 3-4 days), and the filtering capability was not satisfactory, the aquarium water became murky in 2-3 days after water change.

The biggest problem with the previous design was algae problem, with the water exposed to the grow light, algae grew thick on the water surface consuming oxygen and nutrient. Water exposed also allowed mosquitoes to breed in the water.

Learning from my mistakes on the first design, I modified it and completed the changes last week, and here it goes.

Filter box now bigger, however I don’t have enough clay pebbles so I top it up with the unused K1 bio media. Water from the aquarium now need to travel further to the outlet, and solid waste got filtered out by the media.

Filter outlet is about an inch below the media level, to prevent water from exposed directly to grow light thus prevent algae growth.

Grow area is covered with styrofoam, plant holes are covered with net pots filled with clay pebbles, which also intended to solve algae problem.

Clay pebbles are filled fully to the top. This styrofoam is recycled from the previous aquaponics set, where the plant holes are 6 inches apart.

The plumbing also got changed a bit, where I put a tee from the pump, one redirect water back to the aquarium, fitted with ball valve to control the water flow, and another out directly to the filter box above.

So far, the filtering capability is quite good, there are no solid waste inside the aquarium. Photo above is the 3rd day after I run the system and feed once daily. I need to monitor it for a few weeks more to see the end result. For now, I’ll be using potting mix to germinate the seeds.

Dashcam Drive #1 – Petronas Moyan → UTC Kuching

This is the first video in my new Dashcam Drive video series. In this series, I’ll be driving around places and show the dashcam footage embedded with the GPS navigation video of the travel. This series is intended to show places in cities in Sarawak (probably including Sabah, Brunei and Kalimantan in the future) from drivers’ point of view, and routes to take from one place to one destination.

Aquaponics germination update September 2018

Previous filter method which was using tea filter wasn’t good enough, it got clogged very quickly. So now I changed the design to use just clay pebbles to do the job.

I’m reusing a plastic container, fill it with clay pebbles (C), water from the aquarium entering the filter at A, as water flowing towards hole B, the solid waste will be filtered by the pebbles.

Here’s how it looks like. In addition to that, I add more grow lights since I saw the seedlings became elongated, a sign that plant is looking for lights.

Previous batch of pak choy and sawi putih seedlings already been transplanted to raised beds. I left a few to continue growing inside the aquaponics set as an experiment. Currently they’re showing signs of nutrient deficiencies, maybe nitrogen (leaf not enough green, almost become white) since the system is still new and not enough bacteria to produce nitrate, or maybe also iron or calcium (older leaf became burnt and died).

Aquaponics germination station

In this post I’m going to go through the process of building my aquaponics germination station, materials used and shop where I got them from.

I’m using 5-level metal boltless rack for this germination station, aquarium size 1x2x1 ft (WxLxH), and two car boot tray (15×32 inch) which surprisingly all of them fit well.

I bought this rack from DC Rack at Jalan Green. They have variety of racks at reasonable price, so it’s highly recommended.

For the outlet at the car boot tray which acts as the grow bed, I’m using ½ inch HDPE tank connector, fitted with ½ inch to 16mm connector. For the hole, I drilled it using 22mm hole saw.

Here’s the connection from the top grow bed to the below one, using 16mm HDPE pipe. At first I connected them directly without elbow, but the pipe bends and disturb the water flow, and also it look messy.

Here’s the line from the water pump inside the aquarium, with ball valve to control the water flow. I put some cloth there as a mechanical filter, and some clay pebbles or hydroton below which act as biofilter, where it provides surface area for nitrifying bacteria to colonize.

Ball valve is extremely important here to control the water flow. I have to match the flow rate of water that coming into the grow bed, which is under pressure, with the flow rate of water that coming out, which is by gravity. If the water coming in is more than the water that coming out, the grow bed may be flooded and water level in aquarium may dry out.

On the other hand, the outlet pipe should be clear of any debris as it might slow down the water flow, which again may cause the grow bed to flood, as it only depends on gravity.

All of the 16mm elbow, tee and connector I use here were bought from Garden Hobbies Collection near Emart Matang, while the tank connector I got from SK Hardware, and the pipe was ordered online, but it also can be bought from the gardening store mentioned earlier.

Water pump I use is a 20W, 1500L/h with 1.6m head, and it has a matching 16mm outlet, which I got it online. It sucks water from the bottom, so it’s useful to clean up the fish poop at the bottom of the aquarium. The fish we have here is shubunkin goldfish, 15 of them, but we also have ikan puyu (climbing perch) below there, which we have initially, but it can’t be mixed with the shubunkins because it might eat them.

Germination station now installed with T8 LED grow lights (2 ft long), one for each level. The light has to be at least 30cm from the plants below, thankfully by using boltless rack it’s easier to adjust the rack levels.

I bought these grow light online, and for those who plan to buy them, make sure it matches your electricity voltage and current type. This grow light supports 85-265V AC (alternate current), and here we have 240V, so it matches. If the product stated DC (direct current), it only support electricity from batteries or solar panel, or you need to use adapter (to convert AC to DC) if you want to connect with your home electricity system.

This LED grow light emits blue and red colour lights, essential lightwave for plants to perform photosynthesis. Alternative to this, is by using regular light bulb, but by mixing the cool day light and warm light, to provide the full light spectrum needed by plants.

Here’s the electrical part. I’m using 3-plug extension wire, to connect the grow light, aerator and water pump. I put a timer on the grow light, set it to turn on from 6.30am to 6.30pm, while pump and aerator are switched on all the time. The aerator has to be suspended over a rope as shown above to reduce the vibration noise. Similarly, the air stone shouldn’t sit on the aquarium base as the vibration will produce more noise.

Aerator is needed in this setup to provide extra dissolved oxygen, not only for the fish but also for the water that get pumped up to the grow bed, to prevent root rot. There’s also another LED light above the aquarium, which we turn on only at night, and it provides nice view of the fishes inside the aquarium.

Sowing method shown here is using sponge cube, cut in half so that seeds will be clamped inside when fitted into the germination tray. This is to make it easier to take out the seedlings during transplanting later. This method is suitable for leafy greens.

Another method is using cocopeat – spray it with water to wet it a bit, then fill it into the germination tray with larger hole, poke a tiny hole at the cocopeat then put seeds in there. This method is more suitable to larger type of plants, which take longer time to germinate & have larger root system.

This is cili geronong, after one week sowed using cocopeat, now already starting to germinate. Problem with using cocopeat is that it cause the water inside aquarium to turn cloudy and dirty.

The blue sponges are pak choy while the green ones are sawi putih (white stem choy sum), also after a week. At back there I change the filter with coffee strainer, which work quite well, except that it doesn’t allow high water flow rate and sometimes it overflow from the opening of the strainer.

We cover the grow bed area with cloth because the glare from the grow light is unpleasant to our eyes, and since this germination station located in the living room, we’ll see it often as we pass by and we want to reduce this disturbance. This cloth also need to be held together using paper clip because when there’s wind coming in, the cloth might flapping around and land on the grow bed or in the water.

To check the water quality, I’m using this ammonia tester. I try to keep the ammonia level below 2.0 ppm, and if the level stay high, I’ll change the water. Murky water caused by the cocopeat doesn’t affect the fish much, but if causing problem like the fish can’t see its food, then I’ll do a water change too.

I don’t have the full test kit, so I can’t verify if the system is already cycled – by checking for presence of nitrite and nitrate. It’s already been around more than two weeks, based on online reference, it may take up to 2 months for the system to be fully cycled.

So far, the routine we have done is to feed the fish 3 to 4 times daily, each time with a pinch of feed. And every day I’ll take the ammonia level reading, and if the level stays at 2.0 ppm for two days, then on the third day I’ll do a water change. Note also that I use harvested rainwater for the water inside this system. Other than that, we don’t have to worry much about the plants as they grow by itself with enough light, water and nutrient.

Scaling down aquaponics set

Since last update about aquaponics, where I faced problem with leaks, I tried to scale down the aquaponics set from 1000 liters of fish tank and 3 DWCs, down to where it’s financially practical for me to run it. Because to run at that capacity, I figured the budget for the fish feeds, electricity, water supply and various maintenance cost might be overwhelming when I still don’t have proper channel to sell the produces.

DWC was reduced to one bed only.

I changed the piping to use 1 inch PVC pipe because it’s easier to find the tank connector of that size, which helps prevent leaking. I also drilled another hole at the fish tank, which is lower than the first one, to reduce the amount of water and the fish which going to be grown here.

Solid filter and bio filter were changed to 5 gallon buckets. Note the drain pipe for the radial flow filter is directed outside of the sump tank, to simplify the sump tank layout.

Water from sump tank was changed to pump directly to fish tank, without any split flow, so that the high water flow will help create circular flow inside the fish tank.

Unfortunately, that didn’t work really well. This tank has bump on the its base, so the solid are stuck between those bumps which prevent solid lifting overflow to work.

And for the bio filter, 5 gallon bucket is too small, and since the K1 bio media are floating, they are blocking the pipe outlet and cause water flow to jam – water pumped into fish tank are more than water that returning to the sump tank.

Since there were too many problems with the current setup, and I ran out of my budget and time to experiment, I decided to further scale down the system, to something that more controllable, like this:

Indoor aquaponics germination station.

To be continued.