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PostPosted: Jun 8th, '12, 11:54 
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I finally have most (I hope) of the pieces together to finish my build, so here is the plan, (3) 1000ml IBC containers with SLO gravity fed to (4) 4x8 raised beds 12" deep with hydrotons. Im draining with Bell siphons into a series of (4) 55 gallon drums sunk into the ground each plumbed into the next VIA 1" black poly hose in series. These are aranged to fill via an overflow from the top of one to the bottom of the next so I could get waste to settle out. These form my sump. Im using a 2200ghp pump in the last barrel but maybe that is too big?I have a small test setup using the barrels plumbed together this way, but the overflow is not returning correctly, Anyway the pump flow 3next goes into my homemade biofilter filling from the bottom, then overflowing from the top outlet into the tanks and repeating the cycle. I wanted to add the filter with my beds for two reasons to allow me to increase my fish bioload, and so I can salvage my bacterium culture when the weather turns and bring it inside to continue. It's basically just a 55gallon drum using the volume split into 1/4 bottom to filter heavy debris collection 1/2 middle filter volume with biobale 1/4 clear water overflow at the top. Im planning on growing Tilapia and leafy greens maybe a pepper or two, but my main focus is going to be the fish. What have I forgot? Please help me fix the monster before its awake!!


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PostPosted: Jun 8th, '12, 13:04 
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So you're running continuous flow then?

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PostPosted: Jun 8th, '12, 18:33 
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Correct, constant flow is the plan, from what I've read this is the least stressful for the fish because of the constant filtration, but im still very new to this and my ideas may just be wrong. If im right, will this method also help with my air exchanges in the bed when the bell siphon cycles, refilling the beds with fresh air? I want the siphons to engage at 10 inches and break siphon at about 1 inch of water left.


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PostPosted: Jun 9th, '12, 07:53 
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Why are your filters after the grow bed? Would it not be better before so the grow beds don't build up with waste?

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PostPosted: Jun 9th, '12, 09:33 
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My barrels have swirl filters attached each fills from the bottom through bulk head adapters to a "T" and two 90's to make the swirl. Then another bulkhead used for an overflow from the top is piped into the bottom of the next barrel. My intention was to let the fish waste be utilized by the grow beds so my plants get nutrition and the barrels just clean up "whats left" and also act as the sump, giving me more total volume before running into the biofilter barrel and finally back to the tanks to complete the cycle. Do you think moving the barrel filters before the beds would be benificial?


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PostPosted: Jun 9th, '12, 09:42 
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It would keep your beds cleaner, and they would go longet between needed cleaned. When I get my filters set up they will be before the grow beds. Right now I am just running 4 temporary grow beds with no filters.

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PostPosted: Jun 9th, '12, 12:19 
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I agree with helomech, the filters should be before the growbed. This will allow you to draw off solids before they are trapped in the system and that way you can reduce the ammonia levels by reducing the solids remaining in the system - and so you can carry more fish. You'll need some way to remove the solids if you want to do this sort of adjustment (like a spigot or whatever - doesn't need to be fancy or permanent if you only use it occasionally). You may want to look at Ryan's backporch Florida system http://www.backyardaquaponics.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=8754
He did something similar where he would drain off the sludge and rinse the solids off some netting in his filtration system every couple of weeks. Here's his other thread, which won't help you yet but you can see where he's headed http://www.backyardaquaponics.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=18&t=12589

Add composting worms to the growbed and unless you're totally overloading the growbed capacity you probably won't ever need to clean the growbed. The worms will also probably become established in the biofilter.

Personally I'd probably do away with the siphons and just run constant flood without siphons but if you setup for the siphons you can always switch. I view the siphons as a potential failure point even though the affnan siphons are very reliable. You can decide once you get going. One thing about having the siphons, you have to have a much bigger sump than you would without them and just running CF. Since you're pushing for fish, the siphons might provide more oxygen but I haven't seen any actual measurements comparing dissolved oxygen in the two setups.

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but the overflow is not returning correctly


how do you mean?


One other thing - if you set up for siphons you can just run CF without the siphons until you feel like messing with the siphons to get them going. This will get you running a bit quicker perhaps.


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PostPosted: Jun 9th, '12, 18:20 
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Actually red wiggler composting worms are a part of my beds about a large handful per bed to help withthe solids waste. Could the overflow problem I am currently having relate to the fact i plumbed the sump tanks together with 1" piping and also used 1" for the overflow returns, I think maybe oversizing the return would help? its not alllowing enough water to cycle through the sump system before the pump has it drained. As far as the siphons go, I am leaning toward this direction to make an air exchange possible after every siphon cycle. Thanks for the advise guys, Im putting in a big day in the yard today and hope to have pictures to post tonight.


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PostPosted: Jun 9th, '12, 23:48 
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I have been tinkering with my plumbing today, I hooked each barrel together via the bottom (previous inlet) all in series to my pump and returned each via the same setup to the top (old overflow) I think I need some sort of manifold or something to get the pressures correct. I put a valve on each line where it returns to the barrel but im concerned with pump head now. If I make a manifold to connect each barrel larger than my 1" lines im thinking 3" and then make the same setup on the return side with the pump in the middle do you think this might work better to cycle the water instead of restrict it?


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PostPosted: Jun 10th, '12, 01:12 
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I have a hydroponic UnderCurrent set up and I can tell you, the difference between 1" piping and 3" is massive. I'm certain by making the change the system will run much more smoothly. Not to mention it makes it easier to clean ^_^

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PostPosted: Jun 10th, '12, 02:29 
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Helomec Thank you for the info. Im now seriously reconsidering the placement of the filter assembly, It seems totally logical to feed the beds nutrients preprocessd by the bacteria culture and cleared of the main solids. Im going to use the solids that collect at the bottom to feed my soil garden, Which is doing very well using just the cycled tank water while my bacteria culture matures. Thank you for the pointers everyone, I think my project is going to be a success, but as everything I think or should say hope its going to be a work in progress for a while, But isint that part of the fun!!


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PostPosted: Jun 10th, '12, 02:34 
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Your welcome, my plans change every time I go out to my system. My plans where for a 16 foot by 40 foot green house, now I am doing a 30 foot by 70 foot one. I have also added more fish tanks, hopefully soon the build will be finished.

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PostPosted: Jun 10th, '12, 04:37 
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Seriously, this cant be healthy.
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@Our_Cheridise

There are many people on this forum including the founder EB that don't use any supplementary filtration in addition to the GBs. Which isn't to say that it is not a good idea to do so. Which isn't to say that it is a good idea.

If you want the solids out for your dirt garden then solids removal may be a good idea. If your system is built and more importantly operated following the basic guidelines you will have very few problems once your system is up and running and you have learnt what you are doing.

A problem with solids removal is the extra maintenance and many of the nutrients essential for fruiting plants are mostly held within the solid waste. So if you remove then the quality of your fruiting plants may not be as good.

If you want a source of nutrients for your dirt garden from your AP system another way to do it is to have large deep GBs so that the volume of gravel is sufficient to provide all your filtration needs but because they are deep you will not have enough growing area so that there are enough plants to stop the nutrients building up in the AP system. The excess nutrients can then be purged from the system by watering your dirt garden with water from your AP system.

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PostPosted: Jun 10th, '12, 05:14 
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I think resizing the pipes is a great idea! You're not getting enough flow to keep the pump going so this makes sense but there is another problem related to the layout and the pump size;

No flow from siphons = no flow from filters ---- pump runs dry (the way you had the barrels connected initially, it would have taken 1.5 minutes at zero head for this to happen. I'm not sure now, a diagram would be helpful)

Problem number 2

All 4 siphons break at the same time - can the filters and pump handle 300 gallons all at once? I'm guessing it will take around 9 minutes for the pump to handle this much water. Will the sump overflow? It might be close, it may have been empty depending on the cycle time and the plumbing.

Bottom line - I think your sump is too small for the growbed capacity if you run all beds as siphon and you're going to have to run some of the growbeds as Constant Flood with no siphon.

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Stuart's comment got me thinking that you could preserve the culture by removing media from the growbeds. You really don't need the filter for this.


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