New fruit plants

Kuini plants (Mangifera odorata), so far only got two seed germinating after being sowed nearly a month.
Lychee plants, we bought the fruit from the supermarket (imported from Thailand) and sow the seeds, after 2 weeks now we have around 10+ lychee plants growing.
These are abiu plants (Pouteria caimito), total of 9 trees aged around 2 months old.
For those who are new to abiu fruit, to eat it you need to cut the fruit in half, until you reach the seed at the middle, not all the way through, then using spoon you scoop out the sweet inside of the fruit.

Ayam kampung update July 2018

Started with the first batch of 20+ chicks 5 months ago, here’s the latest update:

The very first batch, there are 4 roosters (one alpha male) and 6 hens, but not yet laying eggs. Now they are being left outside to range freely around the house compound.
These are the second batch, around 10 of them. They are the ones that being placed inside the brooder when it first built previously. When they were inside the coop (now they free-range outside too), they often attacked by rats and lose feathers around their neck, but now they started growing back.
Third batch of chicks, 13 of them inside the coop. They got better health since we give them “chicken panadol” (as they call it here).
The 4th, latest batch of chicks, total of 7 chicks. This was taken right after they hatched.
Since some chicken are free-range outside, I placed two waterer cups outside of the coop for them. For the feed, I don’t use the upside-down container anymore since it’s wasting the feed, and birds always come to eat the feed. Also maybe that’s the reason why there are rats inside the coop.

Install water pump and test run

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.

Using tap water, filling this 1000 liters tank took around 1 hour plus
This 2000L/hour submersible water pump is connected using PVC pipe to the rest of the system.
Using leftover plywood and planks, I made this sort of electrical box, which is then covered with tarpaulin, to house the extension plug from rain.
Here’s the finished box, where I put also the timer for external lighting.
Water pump is installed inside the sump tank. Got some leaking at the connection, I used PVC male socket, layered with 15mm hose (orange color) and then clamped with the 1-inch connector hose (transparent).
Filling up the 3 DWCs. The water flow quite low here, even with the valve to the fish tank is closed. Maybe because of the leaking at the connection inside sump tank. It took a lot longer to fill the DWC to the desired deep (1 feet), so I just fill up to the stand pipe height (around 4-5 inch).
As the water inside the DWC rises it became apparent that it got some leaking. However, with the current design of the DWC, it’s quite hard to detect where the leaking is, because I can’t lift up the DWC and check underneath.
Among all of the causes of leaking, I think this is my biggest mistake. Silicon sealant doesn’t work on pipe connection, and it is harder to do adjustment because I need to wait for the silicon to dry. When the water inside tank rises even for a few inches, it creates water pressure which silicon sealant cannot contain.
So I disassembled two of the DWC and try to work with only one in fixing the leaking issue.

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.

Plumbing the aquaponics units together

Revised plan.

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.

Overview of the arrangement of fish tank, then to solid filter, and then bio filter, and lastly to the sump tank in the ground.
Inside the sump tank. All water returns here, except for pipe from pump, which distributes back the water to the fish tank and DWC, and the overflow pipe (at 6 o’clock)
Pipe into the fish tank, with ball valve to control the water flow. It’s about 3 ft. (90 cm) in height.
Pipes to the DWC with ball valve each, and about 16 in. (40 cm) height.
And these are the stand pipes from the DWC back to the sump tank.

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.

Installing DWC unit

The plan is to assemble the DWC frame built earlier, then lay out tarpaulin as base layer followed by pond liner.

First DWC unit. The frames are assembled using metal corner bracket. Hole for water return to sump tank was drilled prior to this.
Second unit, about 1 feet apart from the first one.
The space between these units became narrower when all 3 are completed. Here I measure and cut the 2-inch UPVC pipe for dry-fitting, before putting on the tarpaulin.
The next day, laying out tarpaulin on the unit. The tarps are secured to the unit by using thumbtacks.
Second unit in progress, I had to work quickly since rain is coming.
Done laying out all three units, seems I don’t have enough time to lay out the pond liner, so I just connect the pipe, and wait for the rain to come down. From my observation, around one hour of heavy rain, the unit only filled about 1 inch deep.
Later that night, I put the styrofoam board in. It’s important to evenly lay out the tarpaulin, because the board might not fit as shown above. Minor adjustment to the tarp and let the unit filled with more water allow the board to settle floating on the water.

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.