update 19th April 2010

Quick updates, nothing much happening around my set. The seed that I sow last week or so only 3 germinate so far. Have to wait another week, those seeds comes in vacuum pack foil package they may be very dry.

Kunyit or Turmeric they have grown to large size after I provide the shade. Its big.., normally not as large as in photo below.

The weather being very unpredictable these last few weeks, rain one day and hot the next. Tilapia doing great no problem, I am not adding any new fingerling.


Henning from Denmark - Please advice

Hi Affnan,

I am Henning from Denmark, but living in Indonesia I read your blog and it inspired me to try your Bell siphon design on my future system. I have a few questions I would really be grateful if you can answer for me.

First of all I am planning the following system:

Fishtank - 200cm x 150cm x 50cm= 1500L. This tank I plan to make out of wood with 5mm glass on the inside. I hope it will be big enough to fit about 100 tilapia.

The Waterpump is a Boyu PQ-1200 with 20w, 1260L/h, 1.8m maxhight
The airpump is Boyu U-9900 with 3.5w, pressure 0.012MPa, output 2x3.2L/min, will use 4 airstones.

Q1. Do I need some kind of filter for this setup?

Growbed - 500cm x 85cm x 35cm = 1487L. Will make this out of wood but with a plastic/rubber lining. Will use gravel size 10-15mm as grow media.

As mentioned I plan to use your bell siphon design. I have difficult finding the 25 to 50mm adapter :-( is it possible to use 1.25inch to 2inch instead? ofcourse it means all the other 25mm parts will be 1.25inch.

Q2. Do I need to make the bell bigger if the other parts are 1.25inch?

Q3. Is there anything missing in this setup?

Thanks a lot in advance.


Hi Henning

Q1. - Filter is an option, some say requires some say don't. With filter the grow bed may be a bit cleaner and easier to clean after one or two years of usage. I don't use filter any more.

The size that you specified is not a problem, make sure the adaptor has a funnel like reduction from 2" to 1.25" and not a square type of reducer otherwise it will not have the effect required for the siphon "Boost".

Q2. - The bell part of the siphon is not that critical, as long as you can find the right size to fit the 2" part of the stand pipe is OK, give some gap of roughly 1/2 inches between the 2" adapter to the bell inner diameter. Again this is recommended I've seen a much closer gap and its still work.

Q3. - That's about it in a basic system, if you have the grow bed on top of the tank its then much simpler, however if you place it further away, just ensure you have enough incline for the water flow. If the return to fish tank is long its is advisable if you could put a breather "T" somewhere along the path nearer to the grow bed.

On the number of Tilapia its should be ok, I normally recommend 1 fish per gallon maximum. I am sure you will not fill the tank to max height so the amount of water actually may be less that what calculated.

Hope you manage to set up your system.



We called it Paku in English is Fern the nerd name for it is Athyrium esculentum its edible, the fronds and fiddle heads are all a delicacies here.
Fern among the first few plants I tried for Aquaponics, its water cleaning properties is good and rapid growth and ability to grow in shaded area and confine spaces make it ideal in my setup.
I am dedicating this post to this plant, it sad for me to do but I need the space and all the Fern must go. Fern in Aquaponics is such great plant and I like them a lot.
Fiddle head above usually picked and stir fried is a delicacies and daily available from diners.
I plant Fern from collecting whole plant in nearby streams, planted in growbed with only the roots part with most frons removed. They will then grow into big fern with many fernlings sprouting out from roots stolon.
Another way to grow fern are from the roots itself. Cut those roots and sow them in the growbed, with time they will form Fern and this usually happen after I remove all fern from growbed, the roots left behind will sprout new Fern.
It will takes longer for Fern to mature from roots as compare if you use Fernlings, but its so much easier to do. Normally it took about 45 days from Fernlings to full mature Fern.
Other than roots and whole Fern use for planting Spore Propagation is also a method of growing, however this method of Fern propagation is better leave it to the expert in this field.

Note : I don't know what to call those "Baby Fern" other that Fernlings, I think its not correct.

Cooking Fern

Sowing Tray Preparation

Sowing of smaller seeds or seed that is hard to find is advisable to do in sowing tray, for the simple reason tiny seeds may get wash off due to the rising and lowering of water in the grow bed.

First, get the potting mix prepared. I use premix from flower nurseries that's within my home vicinity. The mix consist of sand, peat and some sandy loam. Their exact ratio I do not know, if you are preparing potting mix there are lots of information available on the net.

Backyard Gardener is one place to learn about potting mix.

Potting mix will have bits and pieces of stones, stick and bigger piece of clay, this I separate using a plastic bin with holes, it work great as a sieve.

OK the bits that I don't want

All the bits that I don't want from one bag of potting mix for my sowing tray. These can still be use for normal potting not a problem.

Potting mix have little nutrient in it, mix some fertilizer, I use organic either from chicken or bat dropping. Shown here is from Bat's dropping it is powdery and easier to be mix with sowing mix. 

These organic fertilizer from chicken or bats are easier to be use, those chemical base are not recommended for amateur. Those fertilizer can do more harm than good if wrongly use.

Chicken dropping's fertilizer are usually sold in pellets form so a bit unsuitable for sowing containers.

Sowing tray ready on a make shift sowing area.

This tray below the sowing tray is from rabbit's cage that use to catch their droppings, its handy and you can buy them separately to be use with sowing tray. 

The good part about this tray is when you water the sowing tray, what left in this tray is not that much to cause water log problem on the soil.

You could drill holes on the sides to adjust water level if you find its too high for your sowing needs.

When you put the soil in this tray, start with the center and work you way gently outward. Put a lump of soil in the center and use a piece of cardboard or any flat piece of wood or plastic and slowly push the soil outward filling those space one by one.

Gently depress each space to slightly compact the soil and add as necessary. Use a pencil to poke the soil for seeds.

That's it.


Line up of seed that I need to try out or have tried before. I'm going to try Chili again, this time I will do it differently.

I will use sowing tray, to ensure better success of seed germination. Previously I sow directly to grow bed this is ok if the seeds are big or freely available.

The sowing tray have many small compartment for soil or compost as growth media for the seeds. This one tray can be use for many different type of plants simultaneously.

50 - 50 Shades

Finally I manage to get the shades done.. bought 3 meter of 50% shades and use existing PVC frame for support. This PVC tube is for electrical installation conduit, they are by far cheapest and easily work.

Restrengthen part of the frame with additional support and covering 2 grow bed that I've planted Kunyit and Sambung Nyawa plants. These plant need shade from the sun.

50% Shade that what the person told me, the next one is 75%, is that 75% of light pass or 75% of light blocked. Should have check it out properly, because ideally I want 75% ~ 85% light to pass through.

I'll replace it if its wrong, just have a go first at this one. Its about RM 5.00 per meter, about USD 1.40

I need to secure it to the frame and tidy it up before it rain and strong wind may blow it away.