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PostPosted: Mar 15th, '09, 21:25 
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I finally got a chance to post some info about my system. I was given a bunch of 8" ABS piping. At first I was going to just split them in half, but I didn't think I would have enough root depth. Here's what I did:

First of all, I bought some 1/4" and 3/4" taps. I use them throughout the project and they pay for themselves by not needing to buy bulkhead fittings! They work great in ABS or PVC!

I cut each pipe into 5' sections, and then cut out 2 slots in the top about 4" wide for the plants. I then drilled and tapped a 3/4" fitting in the bottom for filling/draining. Once I put in the barbed fitting, I cut off the top on the inside to "maximize" the drainage. Plus, if there is any debris, it will get sucked out though this area.
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In the background, you can see I cemeted and a ring around the inside of the pipe. This will act as a shelf to help support the end cap that I welded into place. This is the first time I've done plastic welding....LOVE IT! :cheers:
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I had a bunch of 1/2" black pipe so I welded a rack together and also dug a hole in the floor of my greenhouse for a sump. It was heartbreaking to dig out the floor in my nice little greenhouse. I'm sure I'll get over it once I see all these yummy veggies :cry: The sump pumps the water back into the 650 gallon tank.
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I split a piece of 2" pipe and half and laid it in the bottom of each tray. This keeps the rocks out of the drain pipe....but I'm still concerned about the roots getting in there and I don't have a good way to clean them out...
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I wanted to have an external bell siphon. I don't have a lot space of play with the water/gravel height in these trays, so by having the external siphon, I can fine-tune the height of the entire siphon. I'm really glad I did this now....It's has been working perfectly and I can make really fine adjustments to it without having to dismantle it. :cheers:

Here area all the parts to it. Just a couple of odd things about it: A) I tapped two 3/4" fittings in the bottom-side. At first I tried to use just one fitting, but the 1/2" stand-pipe can suck the water out faster than a single tray can drain into the siphon chamber. B) I have a homemade bulkhead fitting in the bottom...I didn't have an o-rink or rubber laying around for the seal, but a dab of plummer's putty worked really well! C) The ball valve is for the water supply and the little tube is used to direct the water down into the chamber....I had a little spray problem and it would shoot out the top of the chamber! :shock: As a bonus, since I just sort of stuck the tube on the threads, while it's filling, it sucks air in through it and it act like a little bubbler. :wink:
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Here it is all assembled. Just by dumb luck, I was able to sneak the supply tube under the vacuum break tube. It holds it all together nicely and helps to keep the bell from moving around.
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Here it is with It's lid on and the 2 fill lines in the bottom-side.
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Here's a couple of shot of the entire setup in operation!
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Last week I planted lettuce, broccoli, peas, radish, beets, peppers, carrots and green beans. The peppers I planted indoors about a month ago. Everything else has sprouted. It will be interesting to see what the carrots, radish, and beets do in this sharp gravel. :roll:
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The ground is still frozen outside (you can see the snow in the background). Even though this setup much smaller than my outdoor garden, I usually don't get to start planting until the first weekend in May! A 2 month head start rocks! :cheers: The mass of the floor and tank can keep the night temps in the greenhouse about 12 degrees F warmer at night...just enough to keep everything safe!

I hope you all enjoy my setup...I have more expansions I'm working on......

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PostPosted: Mar 15th, '09, 21:37 
Well done Rob.... and a nice plastic welding job too mate... :wink:


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PostPosted: Mar 15th, '09, 21:47 
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Seriously, this cant be healthy.
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Very resourceful!

What kind of fish are you planning? Any fish in yet or are you fishless cycling?

Please keep in mind that the amount of gravel you have in those tubes won't support very many fish. So what are your expansion plans? :wink:

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PostPosted: Mar 15th, '09, 21:53 
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Wild!

Love the external siphon, it looks so cool! We should be able to buy those at Walmart. Make sure you have an overflow, as the hoses might clog up with biofilm and algae.

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PostPosted: Mar 15th, '09, 23:43 
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Love it, looks great

Plastic welding is SO nice. It can save a bundle in fittings cost.

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PostPosted: Mar 16th, '09, 07:47 
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TCLynx wrote:
Very resourceful!

What kind of fish are you planning? Any fish in yet or are you fishless cycling?

Please keep in mind that the amount of gravel you have in those tubes won't support very many fish. So what are your expansion plans? :wink:


Last year I had 2 monster goldfish in that kept things going nicely. I just had a bunch of coir pots and I was suprised the system even worked without the stone. One of the fish died, the other got moved into our house because the kids were afraid he would freeze. We've no discovered that he was a she! :shock: When we got her into the warmer water, a month later the tank was filled with eggs. :mrgreen: Too bad there wasn't a male in there! Right now I have 15 little goldfish in the tank about 1" long. I have another 20 that will go in one they finish their quarantine. I cheating this year....starting off the system with a 2 part hydroponic feed just to make sure the plants have something to get going. :wink:

I wish I could grow tilapia, but during the winter, the water gets down to about 45F...I don't think they would make it. I may try to find a few to experiment with... :roll:

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PostPosted: Mar 16th, '09, 07:57 
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Dave Donley wrote:
Wild!

Love the external siphon, it looks so cool! We should be able to buy those at Walmart. Make sure you have an overflow, as the hoses might clog up with biofilm and algae.


I'm really happy with the siphon. The goal is to not need an overflow since it fills right in the siphon chamber....we'll see how that works. If the hoses to the trays clog, then the siphon chamber should just fill/flush quickly. At least, that's what I'm hoping! :wink:

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PostPosted: Mar 19th, '09, 04:07 
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I got a new (free) tank for my fish this past weekend. My old 650 homemade tank was in danger of failing...that's what happens when you put water in to a square tank made out of plywood. Plus, it was impossible to clean the sludge from the bottom. The new tank is only 150 gallons...but it freed up a ton of space in the greenhouse!

I will miss having the heat sink of all that water. During the day, the water would usually fluctuate in temp around 8 degrees F. Even after a couple of days, I'm getting 20F changes and it's not even summer yet. :(

I had 3 pumps in the old tank that are now suspended about a foot from the bottom of the new one. I figured I would let the sludge set at the bottom and then once in awhile siphon out the solids. :dontknow: One benefit so far is that with the higher water level, I can use some of my really cheap pumps that have less head pressure...

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PostPosted: Mar 19th, '09, 15:59 
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Nice tank. Can the fish fit through the grill on the pump.

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PostPosted: Mar 19th, '09, 20:11 
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I sure hope not! I'll have to check, but I think there's a filter in it. If they do go through it, they'll become instant fish food! :twisted:

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PostPosted: Mar 20th, '09, 18:25 
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I've been lucky so far with only larger fingerlings. But a lot cheaper to get them smaller. Want to add a few more to my system but its getting closer to the colder weather.

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PostPosted: Mar 23rd, '09, 20:41 
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Here's a couple of pictures of phase 2 of my greenhouse AP system. I'll give credit to Synaptoman for his strawberry tower design....and I've made a few tweaks to the design. :idea:

Here's the entire system. I don't have a open pit for the drain, so there are caps on the bottom of each tower with a 3/4" tapped fitting thats drain to the discharge pipe. I was afraid to have each tower hang since this greenhouse isn't really designed to hang that much weight in it. So I took a piece of 3" PVC pipe and made little stands to carry the weight, then strapped each tower to the cross brace to keep them balanced. Each tower has it's own ball valve to regulate the supply water flow.

Last week I chiseled out a few strawberry plants out of the frozen ground and planted them. They're already sending out new growth...early berries this year!!! :cheers: This setup will hold a total of 48 plants which takes up about 5 square feet.

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I had some problems with the water escaping at some of the 'pockets'. The surface tension was just enough where the water would flip off the curve. I took some scrap pipe and cemented a lip to each opening. If this drained into an open pit, it wouldn't have mattered, but I wanted to keep my floor somewhat dry.

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This is how the drain from each tower is connected to the discharge pipe. I just cut a bunch of holes in each stand and ran a 1" pipe through it. Also, you can see part of an oval piece on the floor. This goes into the bottom 'pocket' to help prevent the stone from getting stuck in the drain fitting.

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I'm really hoping this setup will work. Strawberries are a lot of work in a regular garden. Plus, just when the berries are ripe, the chipmunks steal them. :evil: I'll keep you posted on the progress....

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PostPosted: Mar 23rd, '09, 22:42 
Nice stuff Dandi... 8)


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PostPosted: Mar 23rd, '09, 22:43 
:oops: Sorry Rob... too many windows open...

Nice stuff ROB.... 8)


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PostPosted: Mar 24th, '09, 05:28 
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You just need to call everyone dude. :hippy2:

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