Sunday, 30 September 2012

The Shade

I spent the whole Saturday afternoon building the shade for my grow bed. When I built the table for my grow bed, I forgot to factor in the importance of the shade. So I need to modify the table a bit for attaching the shade's post. As you can see, the blue fish tank that I used as a grow bed is smaller at the bottom and wider at the top. The table top size is similar to the bottom of the grow bed, thus I can't attach the post as the top part of the grow bed is in the way.

Luckily I have some 2x4 wood leftovers from the table so I attached it to the side of the table to get the 'extrusion' needed for the post to clear the grow bed's top. I let the shade to have and extra overhang to the front and the back to provide extra protection during the sun is low on the horizon. I'm quite satisfied with the outcome.

Here is the picture if you stand in front of it.

I finished around 7pm and my wife took the picture. It was actually dark. So the next morning I just can't wait to enjoy the view, after all my fingers and toes are accounted for, with the whole body aching from building this thing, I snapped below picture. Look at the morning dew on the leaves, amazing.

I also found a wild tekukur (Spotted Dove) has made a nest on one of the palm tree leaves that I planted at the side of my house. This is not the first time the tekukur nesting there. Maybe I should build a bird bath for them.

So what's up next?

Tank Cover

Last Thursday I was home because my kids are not well. I found some free time in the evening to tend to my project. I decided to modify the tank cover.
I have to take the cover off to feed the fish. It was really inconvenient so I cut the original cover into half and screw half of it to the tank. I used cable ties to tie the two halves together and the ties acted as hinges. Work pretty well.
Looks like the green algae has started to grow. I have to keep an eye on that. A little algae is good but when it grew out of control it going to consume the oxygen in the water. I think I should find bottom feeders to keep this problem under control.
See my new shade for the plants in the next post!

Friday, 28 September 2012

The Cost

Ok as promised, here are the costs of things. Some other things like screws, glue etc that I didn't mentioned here means I already have them from previous projects (of some sort...)

1) 2x4 wood - RM25/8ft used 2 = RM50
2) 1x2 wood - RM7.20/8ft used 3 = RM21.60

Grow Bed
1) Blue 36" x 30" x 10" fish tank - RM55 from aquarium shop
2) Thumb size pebbles (and smaller mixed) - RM20/bag used 8 = RM160 from landscaping shop
3) Piping (elbows, different size pipes, etc) - RM50 from hardware shop
        note: you might want to refer to Affnan on what kind of materials you need for the syphon.

Fish Tank
1) 80 gallon black poly tank - RM130
2) Astro 2000 water pump - RM55 (I found cheaper somewhere else - happened every time when you already bought something!)
3) Electrical conduit and elbows (to make as frame for the cover) - RM10
4) Black 70% shade - RM3.50/ meter used 1 meter = RM3.50

1) Junction box - RM15
2) 2 gang 3 pin socket with base - RM15
3) Electrical conduit - RM10

What else? I think that is it. So total damage is RM600 there about because I didn't put the cost of fish in there. If you already have tools, this is what you should be looking at if you want to build this kind of setup.

I also found that using LECA as medium could reduce your cost if you know where to look, plus your grow bed can be a lot lighter. Those pebble bags weight about 18kg each so do you math on how heavy my grow bed is! Next up, my tank cover modification so stay tune...

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Every story has its beginning...

Hello World! (now that's classic geek programmer screen test wordings) but I'm no programmer. I'm an engineer by qualification and still practising engineering. Electronics engineering to be exact. Now the thing with this blog...I've been interested with gardening since I was a little kid, guess I got it from my mom. Love you mom. So about more than a week ago I decided to dive into aquaponics and this blog is going to be my aquaponics adventure diary, plus the things I'd probably do with my electronics skill to make aquaponics easier, for me and everyone that read this blog. Thus the name 'Electronica Aquaponica'... kinda sound like magic spell tehehe...

Ok now here below is my current setup. I've been preparing myself for almost three months prior to this to get the know how, and money, of get my first ever aquaponics setup up an running.

Gosh, I really need to edit the picture to be more presentable. I made the table myself, bought the wood from a local hardware store. I will share the cost of this setup in my next post. My system is based on ebb and flow or also known as flood and drain technique. I learn how make the syphon from Mr Affnan (of course!) the master of aquaponics syphon. Visit him HERE. I found that his bell syphon design is just easy to follow. I made it and it work first time and every time after that flawlessly. I haven't turn off the pump since day one (14 September 2012) and the syphon haven't failed even once!

 The water tank used is a common 80 gallon domestic water tank. I don't know whether it's a US or UK gallon. If US gallon is used, the capacity is about 300 Liters and for UK gallon is about 360 Liters.

There are about 19 fishes in the tank now, 10 red tilapias, 3 kois, 3 patins and 3 lampams. Oh yes, and a tortoise that my mom found next to her house. She gave it to my son to keep and now it joined the fishes in the tank. Never saw it happier! I bought 10 tilapias in case some might not survive but after about two weeks now all of them seem really happy. 19 fishes in 300L of waters should be fine but I think another grow bed is needed to process their junks...or maybe a biofilter.

My first plant is daun kesum because I think it is much easier to root. It can even root in plain water. The yellowish leaves are due to the heat from the sun, before I found a cover for the bed. One of the disadvantages of using pebbles and the likes is it can soak up sun's heat pretty fast, retain the heat and burn the leaves that touches it. Shades help a lot in reducing the heat. I increased the water level to be the same as the pebbles' to help keep the pebbles cool. You can learn how to adjust water level in grow bed at Mr Affnan's blog.

And the pak choy seeds begin to germinate after a week! I also sown lettuce seeds but none seems to be sprouting, probably got washed off into the fish tank by the syphon. Next try I'll sprout it before I put it in the grow bed. I think it is not good to start the bed with 100% seeds, as the nitrate need to be processed immediately. Only grown plants can do that better so that is why I start with daun kesum plus the seeds.

I think this is long enough for a first entry, more story later on the cost and new addition to the system that I'm current working on. Tata!

update: my wife just called, our son found one tilapia dead in the tank...