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I'm throwing this out there for discussion, spawned by a recent blog, but something on my mind since first being interested in AP.  NO PUMPS. Can it happen, and how?

Why? Well, 'cause if we didn't need pumps or electricity we probably wouldn't use them, and AP might truly join the ranks as a sustainable food production method, and applicable to feeding the poor, saving the world, yada yada...and at the heart of it all, I'm cheap and lazy. I find personal victory in reaching the end goal faster, smarter, easier, cheaper than "how it normally done".

The only thing that comes to mind is a wicking bed of some sort. And I need to consult my book of wild ideas before I open my mouth.

Now I won't be a stickler about including some pumps using waste energy, or some low-tech mechanics, or human power, but try to avoid solar PV and windmill electricity (not that they are not excellent, but they are being done and discussed elsewhere).

link to blog:

Pics, sketches, links, etc are always nice. Happy brainstorming.


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"That damn foam" I have been hearing that here alot. I had a thought of a possible solution. If you were to take aluminum cans cut tops off for cleaning invert them and connect them side by side using silicone. There is a small gap between the cans isn't that a floating bed. You could cut the can on each can to close the gap together to form a cup for inert plant seed mat. Hmmm what cha think?

Jon Parr said:

Hehe. I like the third option, Brad. I am in California, after all, maybe earthquakes could stir the water. Seriously, though, my entire commercial build here is designed on level beds, just to minimize pumping lift loss. And maximum surface areas to minimize/eliminate aeration need. My first beds here using floating rafts don't need aeration, but air would improve growth, hence the need for an air plenum under the rafts. Plus, if the rafts themselves don't need to float, I can forget that damned foam. That's another thread.

Graham, many folks run solar powered back-ups (or battery, or generator) in case of power outage. The more you have to lose, the more important that becomes. If your growing with flood and drain, the beds can handle several days with no worries, so a simple bubbler in the FT will buy you time to figure it out. Half the reason I started this thread was to eliminate the need for pumps at all, making it much less stressful in the first place.

I still haven't built my convection system, way too busy this month. And tomorrow I'm leaving for the Disney AP workshop, then the Denver conference, then camping with the family for a week. So it will be October before I can renew efforts there, which drives me nuts.

Brad, I'm not sure we want that much aluminum in our systems.

Ah an answer I expected the inside of a aluminum can is coated to make it food safe.

Now where you cut the can not so much. I know the link with aluminum and alzheimer.

I just do not know the fish effect.

I don't think most cans are coated and the ones that are, are coated with something that while approved for food contact here in the USA, I don't really want to have it in my food since that is one of the materials pointed at for containing BPA.  But I think that is mainly used in the canned foods not so much the soda or beer cans.

Well said TC. We (they) are just beginning to understand the toxic nature of aluminum. The first thing some cancer centers do is get a person off of AL. And of course flouride is a toxic waste product left over from al production that the big al producers used to pay big bucks to get rid of. Now they get paid to dump it in our drinking water claiming it is "for the kids". God bless Corporate America. But that IS another thread. Best to keep both out of your AP system.

Back to this thread: I have noticed that the 55 gal. drums which I have stored for future use make some ungodly noises (bangs) as they heat up and cool off every day. Perhaps there is a force there that would create a pumping action thru the use of one way slapper valves. Drums are cheap and enough of them could move quite a bit of water on a daily basis thru this expansion and contraction. If I get a chance I will play with the idea. I have some valves around here some place. First I have to drive 4800 miles to bring my 2 boats down here from Maine (2 trips) which means I have to train my wife on how to take care of my 40 fish and 5 grow beds for days at a time. YIKES! I don't even know what I'm doing yet much less teaching her.

OK OK put down the rope (for the lynching) was just a idea. there is polystyrene concerns as well.

So 6 inch bamboo.

Hey Brad, you're funny.

Actually I have been thinking of starting a bamboo grove here. Still fighting with my wife on that one. That would be so cool to plumb everything in bamboo:-) But seriously throw out the al pots and pans. Never store food in them at the very least. Not sure about others but I am in AP so as to have more control over my family's food source. Everything is a matter of degree. A pumpless system with NO toxins would be as perfect as AP could get! Don't forget to cover it in a GH so as to protect it from the constant chemtrail spraying going on over head almost daily here. Main ingred. are you guessed it AL and Barium. Now that IS another thread! Off to finish closing in my GH:-) and check on that dorsal fin fungus prob on my BGs. Damn!

Well, I know I've cited and mentioned this gentleman, B.A Kratky, a number of times in the past... so here it goes again. I don't often directly linked  other people's work, so as not to piss off mom (Sylvia) or any other authors here...If anyone minds I'll remove this link...

keep in mind when deriving plant essential elements from organic sources I doubt the "non-recirculating" part is do-able...but there are some good ideas in there nonetheless...particularly when it comes to potentially avoiding air-pumps, air stones the electricity to drive them, the vinyl hoses to carry the air etc... 

Great link Vlad. I still had the page open from a week ago when you linked it a week ago, but didn't actually read it until now (sitting at Houston for a 3 1/2 hr layover, thank you Priceline, William Shatner you can meet me at the bar and buy the next round of IPA's). I think my double-convection loop idea would work well along the same lines, and give enough circulation to use AP nutrient source as opposed to a closed volume of inorganic nutes. My hunch is that the water circulation is not as critical as the air plenum circulation (plumbed to a tall black chimney should pull a nice breeze), especially for the fish.
In terms of the least amount of power to move water and aerate the water, the air lift pump or burper pump as Glenn Martinez refers to it, is something to look at.
I think his talked is up loaded to this site or there is more and on my youtube EmpowerMaui site. Here is a link to the open house Glenn discusses a number of systems during this open house.
The air pumps we have used on Maui are from Haako, only consumes 38 watts to provide 40 liters of air. I am operating 2 airlift pumps and 4 airstones, had 6. This is from one pump.
Glenn will be speaking on this at the Aquaponics Association Conference next week in Denver and has come up with some even better variations on the original ones. So for pumping and aeration an airlift pump is pretty cool.

Ugh!  I had to go through all the membership "stuff" to reply to this post.  I hope you are still here/watching/reading/interested in this.

I have (also?) been looking for the "lazy man's way out" -- meaning, I want a "pumpless" system:  by "pumpless" I mean a pump powered by electricity or solar or battery or man's labor, for that matter; I don't mean not actually circulating the water.


By "lazy man's way out" I mean, I'm looking for someone that has already done the work for me in fabrication and/or design that would afford inexpensive simple assembly of parts easily found.  I have yet to find that.


HOWEVER, for those of you not as lazy or miserly as me, read on (especially the guy who made the first reply in this thread)...


One can have a "pumpless" system, meaning no electricity, etc. powering the pump.  A system that is entirely closed that generates and uses it's own power for circulation (cycling) and aeration.

Using gravity, one can set up the fish basin to have water flow out and down (you must devise the proper location, height, flow rate, and volume) onto a simple turbine that turns an Archimedes screw or tube (I prefer a tube, perhaps a copper coil wound around a rod) that delivers the fish water to the grow bed.

As for aeration, similarly, again using gravity, on the return feed from the grow bed to the fish, one can adjust distance, flow rate, volume, etc., for the appropriate force and so on, that the returning water strikes a biowheel (which is another good element to add to the system and are already available in many sizes, or you could devise your own) which will then assist in aeration of the water being returned to the fish.  The aeration occurs in two places: (1) the biowheel itself, and (2) when the water "hits" the fish water.  Obviously a "trickle" won't accomplish adequate aeration, so it must be of sufficient volume and flow.


Now, for anyone who would like to complete the design and assemble this for me, please don't hesitate.  However, keep in mind that I prefer aesthetically pleasing articles as well as intellectually stimulating ones.  So, the Archimedes "tube", should be as much of a show piece as the gorgeous plants, the gorgeous tank, and the gorgeous fish.


Please supply photos and design specs for my review and approval.  :p

ADDED:  It is possible to actually capture energy (water flow/turbine) and store it (battery) from your system...that is if you're as miserly as me.  :D



You are going to have to explain what you are talking about in alot more detail to make it feasible to even consider,. I pump my fish tank water to a cistern and then let it passively  ( gravity fed) flow through my growbeds. But SOMETHING has to provide the power to move the water in the first place.

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