Equatorial Lowland Strawberry Project - Journal 31st July 2014

More runners coming out and I try to evenly space out these new plants so that will get better area to set root. I use clip made from plastic coated wire to hold the new plant for rooting.
Earlier plants already grown and showing healthy foliage.
I limit only two runner coming out from each mature plant at a time. Above this new plant already giving out runner of its own. These I need to clip and let the plant grow.
The crown shows encouraging progress from initial stock plant.
I put these plants under some shades so that they are protected from midday sun, which from my previous attempt had killed all my plants.

Gandarusa Trial

Planted this Gandarusa plant last March because someone wanted me to try out this plant and it must have been 4 month already since I was given the two seedling to try and see whether it can grow in Aquaponics media base growbed.
Initially it takes some time for the plant to recover from transplanting. Once it take root and show sign of growth I waited for the few plants to be bigger before I could take some cuttings to propagate it.
I use small pots to plants few cuttings and once show sign of growth I transplanted it to the growbed. I just let it grow in the growbed until I need to do some rearrangement which make me transfer the plant into pots.
Due to limited supply of LECA, I am forced to try out media base flood and drain using potted plants and for the Gandarusa plants it does really well.
With initial batch of two seedling, I manage to propagate it to fill up the growbed and using potted media base has shown good success on this plant. This trial is not only be useful for Gandarusa but to many more plants to try.This method of planting reduce the quantity of LECA required and it is also possible to use stones, since it is in a pot which easily manage.
I have to reduce the number of this plants and stop the trial since I know that this plant do well in Aquaponics, it took only four months to get from two plants to this below.
I had to change pot twice to accommodate growth, this below is the size that I currently use.
I will leave around two plants just to keep stock if needed and send the rest to relative place this next few weeks. Gandarusa is a medicinal plants good for diabetic since it is use as a tea for this purpose.

Next months I will start to reduce this plants.

Equatorial Lowland Strawberry Project - Start of A New beginning

I had obtain potted Strawberry plants from Cameron Highland, Malaysia and it is very difficult to keep them alive let alone growing. Four pots obtained last June and grown them in my Ornamental set to be on the safer side.
Few has died and the ones that survived show little progress. All is not lost, few runners are produce by two of the surviving plants.
These runners are slowly taking root, trying my best to ensure they are not damage by direct sunlight.
If these runner  survive then I will have new plant that can do better as compared to the initial stock which is older "used" plants. These new plants can then slowly get use to the warmer surrounding.
In this setup I am using Chicken Manure base fertilizer, I don't dare to try other type. I intent to get them grow first and reproduce, this first year is the time to get plants grow and survive the heat.

Malaysia Airline MH 17 - Shot Down over Ukraine

A very tragic and unfortunate event had happen to Malaysia Airline Boeing 777 MH 17 on route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.The plane was shot down over Ukraine.

Thoughts and prayers are with those on board MH17, as well as their families and loved ones.

CHOP 2 - A revised CHOP

Someone asked me about CHOP 2, I  never practice CHOP so it will not be a write up from a first person point of view. I did wrote about CHOP somewhere in 2010, a brief overview of it : Here and the difference between CHOP and CRAFTS : Here
Improvements or corrections to a system are usually made after experience gained, user feedback or maybe problem or it could be a simpler way to do it. It is normal evolution in Aquaponics to make things better, easier and most important reliable.

Area of problem that I suspected in earlier CHOP system is the water feed to growbed which is using gravity overflow from fish tank and the returning water from sump tank. This arrangement is not an easy way to control constant flow for growbed operation. I did experiment with this style of water feed and I found it quite challenging to get right over long period of time.

So with this problem in mind, CHOP 2 was made which eliminate all those that I mentioned earlier. Diagram below is a simplified schematic of CHOP 2 and it is self explanatory.
CHOP 2 has a sump tank where a single pump located, output from the pump is split one part to growbeds the other to fish tank. The growbed return to sump with normal bell siphon arrangement and the fish tank return via an overflow keeping the tank height constant.

That's about it the basic CHOP 2, obviously you can make it more complex by adding more tanks or some sort of additional filters here and there but above is the baseline of CHOP 2.

Now where do this system derived from, please refer below.
Most Aquaponics system are derived from somewhere, CHOP 2 is no exception above diagram show a simple Growbed over a fish tank in this case a sump tank and a separate loop feeding a larger fish tank. This kind or arrangement is normal if you want to put an aquarium further away from the system.

Growbed over a fish tank diagram below  from : Here
What ever the system you choose to make it'll depend on your site installation. If you asked my honest opinion between CHOP & CHOP 2 then I will say CHOP 2 because it is an improvement over the older design. Between CHOP 2 and CRAFTS then it will depend on the space you have. If you have ample space CHOP 2 is more suitable, if space is the limiting factor then CRAFT or even Growbed over a fish tank is the way to go.

Just for reference CRAFTS is : Here

My handmade 20 mm StrainerBell Siphon for sale.

Making this 20 mm StrainerBell Siphon for sale world wide, detail of which can be obtain : HERE

Email any queries : HERE

Equatorial Lowland Strawberry Project - Journal 9th July 2014

I am burying this runner to try to get it to root, I guess it is too small for it.

A Boxing Work Round

I have been trying hard to make the siphon simpler, smaller and lighter. The whole idea is to make it more reliable and at the same time reduce cost so that it can be easily made or made available to others.

I had manage to do just that, however there is one major stumbling block when it comes to sending the siphon abroad. The shipping cost, it is just too expensive and make it uneconomical to do. Reduction in size has help a lot due to weight reduction and the shipping cost has reduce a bit.
Weight is one thing, however there is another side of shipping that we tends to overlook. It size, anything measured bigger that 250 mm x 200 mm x 100 mm or weight more that 2 kg will be charge a different rate which is more expensive.
I have manage to get the siphon weight to less that a kilogram each and with packaging it is not more that 1 kilo as above photo, however this package exceed the post office small package size and it goes into the parcel rates which is double the posting price to most countries.

The different is significant and I do feel that this is unnecessary expense to pay. So I try to make a box and fit 1 siphon in it within the 250 x 200 x 100 mm small package size limitation.
So made a prototype box on my "kitchen table workshop" and it smaller that the dimensions given by the post office guide for the small package. It will be ugly but it saves a lot of money on postage, this I think more important that it looks.

All I need to do is stick some stamps and do a registered post to have a track & trace it is all done .. !!! Oh it takes some time to make the box .. :(

Single Barrel with a growbed Aquaponics

Finally the last unit done, it was on hold due LECA nil stock and I have to wait for about a month to get it. This is a remake of a set that I made couple of months back that I then convert into the three barrel CRAFTS set.
A single 1000 Liter/hr pump is use and my 20 mm StrainerBell Siphon act as the water control device. Power usage is about 14 watt of electricity and this should be able to plants nice herb for the kitchen.
36 inches growbed which is slightly smaller than the one that I commonly use and it takes 2 bag of 50 liter LECA to get to 8 inches growbed height.
Water inlet is a drilled through 15 mm tank coupling and have it coming out like above photo. Siphon, I don't bother to cut the outer casing and leave it as it is which is taller that the 8 inch growbed. This particular siphon can do growbed up to 12 inches maximum and 6 inches minimum. Thicker growbed need to make a taller siphon.
Siphon "Barrel" view showing the white 3 inches outer casing and the 40 mm inner PVC extender to take water level to about 7 inches. Faint view of the reducer taking the 40 mm to 20 mm then it will be siphon outlet.
Growbed bottom view nothing extraordinary, the typical double elbow outlet and a tube water feed into the 15 mm tank coupling taking water to top of media bed.
Murky water result of new LECA, I rinse it in a container and filled up the growbed if not water will be even darker than this. Let few starter fish swim around to keep mosquito at bay and get the ammonia build up for nitrification process to start.

I will be planting simple plants for the next few months just to get things going. I will experiment with natural base fertilizer on these isolated aquaponics set, so that I could see the effect it has on fish and plants. Do not want to straight away do it on my bigger set just to be safe.

Its looks like I have completed the different sets of flood and drain media base aquaponics at my place and next is to try out different plants, this will be interesting.

Equatorial Lowland Strawberry Project - Journal 5th July 2014

First runner spotted today 5th July 2014 from one of the plants. This is a good sign that the plants are recovering.

Three Barrel CRAFTS update after a month.

It's been slightly more that a month since I made the Barrel CRAFTS set and this is an update of it. I just use cheap starter fish, well mostly gold fish to get the ammonia and nitrate build up.
So far everything holding fine, the 20 mm StrainerBell Siphon works great never miss a beat, one problem I had is the barrel on right is slightly lower then the feeder tank. Maybe due to the uneven surface of my compound causing slower water flow from this tank to the feeder in center.
Another problem is those half moon, I wish I had made it wider and shallower like the one below that I made recently for a single barrel set. But it is a small problem that I can later rectify if needed.
I mostly plant "Buffer Plants" like this mint to get the system mature with those cheap gold fish.
This mint will be here for roughly three months until system reaches medium maturity then I can do more elaborate vegetables. My intent is to experiment with Lowland Strawberries, if there is such a thing as that.. but let see if I succeed with it.
Another favorite is this Chinese Chive or Garlic Chives, transplanted these from the set at the back about 2 weeks ago and they are slowly recovering. Yellowing leave sign of iron deficiency and I need to address that. This 3 Barrel CRAFTS set I will experiment with supplements, like natural base fertilizer. A lot of question asked about supplements, I can't really answer since all this while I never use any.
I need to try for a change and see what effect it has on fish. I'm not in favor of chemical fertilizer fearing it could affect fish in the tank below.
Slowly does it, and it will be okay. The mistakes that most people do in aquaponics is that they want everything to be fast. They will want plants and vegetables to be instantly growing, well it is not the case as in aquaponics.

In aquaponics it takes time for bacteria to build up, nitrate to be produce and ammonia eliminated in the cycle. In short, it'll takes time for aquaponics to mature and it is not like hydroponics.