Setup fish tank solid lifting overflow

Solid lifting overflow is designed to automatically clean the fish tank from solid waste by using circular water flow, which gather the waste at the center of the tank, then the standpipe will suck the solid out to the filter tanks.

At the bottom of the standpipe (see A), there are small holes for the water to flow and to prevent fish from entering it. When the water overflow at B, it will create small siphoning effect at A which carry the solid out of the fish tank. T connector is used at the standpipe to prevent full siphon effect from occurring which will drain the fish tank completely.

Holes at the bottom of the standpipe.
Standpipe height determines the water level inside the fish tank.

Building trickling bio filter

Trickle filter design

Bio filter provides extra biological surface area for nitrifying bacteria to convert ammonia into nitrite and then nitrate. Trickle filter works by dropping water from fish tank through some kind of trickler (see A in diagram above) onto bio media (see B) and bacteria living on these bio media will help the nitrification process. Trickle filter also helps in degassing process, when the water trickle down, it contact with the air and some gas inside the water will be released to the air, such as carbon dioxide and excess nitrogen.

I use colander to create the trickle effect. This colander will be covered with some cloth, which function to filter out fine solid that escape the radial flow filter. Bio media that I use is K1 bio media, however I only have 1kg of them, which occupies about 6 liters of volume, so I added together some clay pebbles I have around to increase the bio media volume. Both media are wrapped inside a mesh cloth.

Using ½ inch PVC, cut into half, I tied it onto 4 sides the pail to create holder for the colander, to prevent it from tumbling inside the pail.
Underneath this K1 bio media is the clay pebbles. By right it should fill about half of the pail capacity. This bio filter tank doesn’t need to hold water so the outlet to the sump is located near the bottom.

Building radial flow filter

Design of the radial flow filter

Radial flow filter is used to remove large solid waste from fish tank. The way it works is by directing the flow upward (see A in diagram above), and a standpipe to direct the flow downward, forcing the large solid to settle on the bottom of the tank. Outlet to the bio filter is positioned higher to avoid the solid to exit the filter.

One addition for this tank is I add an outlet (see B) with a ball valve to drain the tank including the waste out of the system. This drain pipe will connect to the sump tank to reuse the water, while I can use either mesh bag or cloth to collect the waste and put it into the mineralization tank

Using 50mm (2 inch) hole saw, I drilled two holes on the sides of a 12 gallon pail for the piping from fish tank and to the bio filter. While for the drain pipe, I used 22mm (½ inch) hole saw.

Inside of the filter.
This is how it looks like from outside.
For the standpipe, I recycled cooking oil bottle and tied it to the lid of the pail.

DWC frame

This is how I build the frame for the deep water culture (DWC) unit for my aquaponics system.

This is the initial plan for the DWC frame. Pond liner will be laid inside the frame to hold water for the hydroponic component of the system.
Measuring out the woods to be cut. The styrofoam board is 2 by 4 feet, and I add 1 inch to the frame width & length to give more room for adjustment and to prevent the board from fitting too tightly.
Planing the woods, this will give smoother surface for varnishing later. These wood dust would go to our composting box.
The standing part of the frame, 36 of them.
Left aside for the varnish to dry. I choose to varnish them to prevent it from rotting quickly due to rain and termite. I plan to reuse it when we moved to our own village house in the future.

One thing I learned when working with varnish is I need a lot of thinner to dilute the varnish. The way I do it is by pouring some varnish into paint tray, mixed with some thinner, and paint a thin layer on the wood. However thinner evaporate quickly and the varnish eventually become thicker again, so I have to regularly add thinner to the varnish.

These are for the 4-foot frame width part.
And these are the 12-foot frame length, already planed and going to be varnished next.
After planed, varnished, re-measured and re-cut, these woods are joined together using 1½ inch tapping screws. I drilled the holes for the screws first so that it can be fitted without breaking the wood.

Not an easy task to do, some of the wood are bending so need to use more force to screw at the right place. Some are hard wood, so when I drilled it continuously, the drill bit become too hot and break eventually. If I use small drill bit size, it’s harder to screw, and some screws couldn’t go in, I had to cut them and replace with nails.

Raised garden beds part 2

A few weeks after constructing the raised garden beds, only then I got the time to fill the beds with mixed soil.

Top soil mixed with burnt peat soil and chicken manure, however only 4 boxes are filled for now. Transplanted some choy sum and kailan seedlings immediately into the beds.
Petola plant (silk gourd / luffa) now crawling halfway the shade, still have a few weeks before it starts flowering and fruiting.
Strawberries are placed here underneath the shade area, ground layered with plastic to prevent insect from entering the polybags. There’s also saffron plant at the lower 2nd right row.
These last two boxes were added recently, haven’t filled with any soil yet. My wife put some of her plants there including chives, mint, rose cuttings, Brazilian spinach and lemon tree.
Long bean plant, a few weeks old now start crawling above the shade.

In the future, we plan to create a garden tunnel for the climbing and vining type of vegetables, such as bitter gourd, cucumber, passion fruits and others, which based on this structure layout, but using stronger materials.

Raised garden beds

Gathering materials and building raised garden beds:

Got these pallet wood from electric pole construction in the village.
At first I wanted to use only bamboo to build the raised garden beds, but it was quite hard to work with bamboo and its cylindrical shape.
Previously had some vegetable patches here so I level out the ground and clear out the area for the beds.
Made 6 square boxes, mixing wood and bamboo.
Install the boxes onto the ground.

Building the shade:

Bought six 1×1 6ft. woods to construct the posts for putting the shade above the raised beds.
Using leftover PVC pipe as the bar to put the shade on.
Tie the posts together with string, so that the shade can be secured into place above the raised beds area.
Installed the shade, check if the posts are planted straight into the ground, tighten the string and done!

Floating raft

These styrofoam boards are 1 inch thick, 2×4 feet in size, RM8.00 per piece.
Marking the holes, about 6 inches between them.
I drilled the hole manually by hand, using ½ inch PVC pipe.
Using pen knife, I made saw-like teeth on the pipe. Rotate the pipe slowly to get a clean cut circle.
One board done, it took around half an hour to complete it.
But it took a week to finish all these 18 boards. 😉

Aquaponics build materials & water test kits

Continuation from the previous materials list. These remaining materials were ordered online since I couldn’t find them sold here, and I simply don’t have time to go around the city to look for shop that sell them.

Pond liner, bought online from seller from China. When I asked around hardware shops, they don’t recognize what pond liner is, and they confused it with weedmat.
Garden mesh netting, also bought online from Chinese seller. However currently I haven’t decided on whether to use it on this aquaponics set, or will reuse it for another project.
K1 bio media. 1cm diameter, total 1 kg occupies 6 liters of volume. Using my 12 gallon pail as bio filter tank, this K1 media is a bit too little, should have bought about 4 to 5 kg of them.
Ammonia test kit. This is important for doing initial system cycle later.

System cycle is a process to be performed on new system, to ensure nitrifying bacteria are colonizing the system. I plan to cycle the system using fish, by lowering stocking density and feed rate, then I need to monitor ammonia level daily to ensure it doesn’t exceed dangerous level. This is to ensure enough nitrifying bacteria to grow to convert those ammonia into nitrate, and this process will continue for about one to two months.

pH meter (with buffer powder) and EC (electrical conductivity) meter.

Water pH is one of the most important parameter to monitor. Initially, the system water pH will be a bit high (7 – 8 pH), and over time, the pH should fluctuate around 6 – 7 pH. For EC meter, it’s not so useful for aquaponics, but I think perhaps in future I’ll try hydroponics or fertigation, and EC meter is very useful to measure the fertilizer solution.

Other water test kits that will be beneficial to have are dissolved oxygen meter, various nutrient test meter (to test important nutrient such nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium etc.) and thermometer. All these water parameter data will be useful later to analyze effectiveness of the system.