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.
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 bought this rack from DC Rack at Jalan Green. They have variety of racks at reasonable price, so it’s highly recommended.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
To be continued.
Started with the first batch of 20+ chicks 5 months ago, here’s the latest update:
It’s time to install the water pump, do the wiring, fill water into the tanks and do a test run to check for the aquaponics system operation.
Currently I hit a roadblock in building this aquaponics set. First is the leaking issue. It’s like everywhere is leaking, due to my usage of silicon sealant at the pipe connection. I decided to use sealant because I couldn’t find suitable pipe fittings for the tanks:
- there are no uniseal sold here, even the regular rubber seal only have size up to 1.5 inch.
- bulkhead fitting is quite expensive, and I only can find it sold online
- 2-inch PVC tank connector doesn’t fit with 2-inch UPVC
Another issue is the low water flow from the water pump. This probably cause by the leaking at the sump tank connection, and also maybe because of the head height (2 meters). Water from the pump is split to the fish tank and DWC. Pipe into the fish tank is around 90 cm height, so assuming the flow rate decrease is linear, at 0.9 meter, the water flow is theoretically 1100L/hour. Adding the split line to the DWC and all the elbows turn that add friction to the water flow, the value might be much lower. For now, I let the valve at the DWC slightly open and at the fish tank fully open, but only little flow is coming out to the fish tank.
I changed the arrangement of the tanks, and solid filter drain outlet now connected directly to the sump tank, to reuse the water while filtering out the solid waste.
All pipe connections are glued, and the connection to the tanks are sealed using silicon sealant. This is far from complete, as I still need to do test run & check for any leaking. Also need to make sure correct water flow from the sump to the fish tank and DWC.
The plan is to assemble the DWC frame built earlier, then lay out tarpaulin as base layer followed by pond liner.