Aquaponic Gardening

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On the outer 3 inch strainer pipe how are you holding it in place?

Mine just has hydroton around it and I guess that is not good enough, as it appears that it is being pushed up somehow as I have some hydroton in the fish tank, not allot but still annoying.

I placed a screen around the strainer pipe so this is the only way that it can get in that I can think of.

Will aquarium sealer hold this strainer pipe to the bottom or maybe a weight of some type on the top of the pipe?

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Hi Mark,

Some people add a stone or something to the top of the siphon for an effective, if crude, solution.  I have used aquarium sealer on my little system and it works a treat: (The holes that have been covered by the sealant at the bottom, I subsequently just used a cotton swab to clean them out)

That looks good, thank you for the picture.

I guess I have some work to do this weekend, will have to empty the grow bed again.

Hopefully this wont set me back on the fishless cycle I just started.

Thank you for your help.

Before you empty the growbed... why not see if it just might be possible to do this from the INSIDE of the media guard instead of the outside?  It would definitely be tricker - but you would not need to empty the bed.  Maybe using a spatula or perhaps put some of the sealant into a small plastic bag.. snip the corner a little bit and then apply it as if you were icing a cake.... not that I am suggesting you do that regularly or anything 

My gravel guards are all just set in.  The trick is to hold the guard while placing the media around it to make sure it doesn't shift while you are filling the bed.

Now I've used gravel most of the time so it is heavier so if your media and the guard is trying to float and causing the shifting to allow media under your guard, well then something heavy on the guard or some sealant might be warranted.  However, make sure you are not flooding the bed too deep, since if you flood too deep the clay balls will try to float some and this sort of shifting is not necessarily good.

I am not sure I will be able to do this from the inside because the bell pipe is wedged against the strainer pipe by the media that has got inside the two pipes.
So getting the bell pipe out will be a task.

I think the problem might be the shape of the grow bed, it is larger at the top and narrows towards the bottom kind of like bowl.
So maybe this is causing some kind of squeeze of the media which is moving the strainer pipe.

I have about 1 to 1 1/2 inches of media above the flood area.
I took some pictures to try and show this but it is difficult to get a good perspective.
Even at that depth the top media is always damp as you can see from the pictures, not sure if this is going to be a problem for plants once I get them in.

Hi Mark,

What does it look like inside the media guard?  Can you drain the grow bed, remove the bell siphon temporarily... then get all the hydroton out... and then try and use the sealant?  Can't you just prise the bell siphon and the standpipe out?... if not... then the hydroton that is causing the difficulties needs to come out in any case so it may be worth sorting that out.... use the vacuum cleaner with a slim attachment so it can suck the hydroton up but won't let it pass down the nozzle of the hoover.

If you need to, then I don't suppose there is much harm in removing the hydroton for a short time and then replacing, but if you can do 'an inside job' then it may be a little easier.


I ended up removing the hydroton this evening.

After getting that out I drained what little water was left into the fish tank, luckily I do not have any fish yet.

I dried the area around the bulkhead fitting and set the grow bed aside.

I had to bang the the 3 inch pipe on the floor several times to break it free from the 2 inch bell pipe, there was quit a bit of media wedged in there, pretty amazing how tight it was.

I dried the 3 inch strainer pipe and set it centered around the drain hole and used the aquarium sealant on it.

I will let that dry overnight and put it all back together tomorrow.

Hopefully this will be the fix.

Thank you for your help, I really appreciate it.


I have seen the videos of the systems you build, they are really neat looking !

Excellent Mark.  glad you were able to sort it all out.  Good luck with the system and hope it works brilliantly for you.  If the water is coming up too high in the hydroton then you can play around with the height of the standpipe and bell.  The hydroton will probably settle down too once it has become fully waterlogged... it is often a little frisky at the beginning!

Thanks again.

I hope to be able to grow, some garden plants like I see in the videos.

Some of the videos are just amazing, the growth they are getting and the quantity of food some of these plants are producing is fantastic.

I put it all back together this evening.

One thing I did notice is that the bell siphon starts and stops without any problems but it leaves about 3 inches of water in the grow bed.

I cant figure out why this is, I have holes in both the bell pipe and the strainer pipe pretty close to the bottom of the pipes but it breaks siphon with 3 inches left in the bottom.

Whats kind of bad things will having 3 inches of water in the bottom of the grow bed at all times cause me, the height of the grow bed is 13 inches.

Siphons always leave a little bit of water in the bottom of the grow bed because they will always manage to suck some air before the grow bed is dry.  Now a siphon might be drawing water out of the gravel guard faster than the water can flow into it and this can cause the siphon to suck air early while there is still lots of water in the grow bed.  This happens when there are not enough or big enough holes in the gravel guard or if the water flow through rate in the gravel is slower than the siphon sucks.

Now 3 inches of water in the bottom of a grow bed is probably not a big enough problem to worry about, I've run grow beds that had 4 or 5 inches left in them and they were fine.

Thanks TCLynx
I wasn't sure if the roots would get long enough to where they would be sitting in water 24/7

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