Aquaponic Gardening

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I am currently building my first system using a 275 gal. tote.  I constructed a bell siphon and was testing it last evening.  It would not kick in and begin the siphon until I wiggled it.  It then began to siphon but not with the volume expected.  I am using a 1" intake and 2" bell, tried to use a 1.5" bell but it would not sit down around the fitting going through the grow bed.  I left about 1" between the top of the intake and the top of the bell.  Questions I have are, should the bell portion be smaller?  Would it make a difference to allow a larger gap between the top of intake and the bell?  Would it help to add some piping on the discharge side of intake to help in maintaining the siphon?   

Thanks for helping a rookie.

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Well, I'm kind of a rookie as well, but I got my bell siphon to work. Did you put the air bleeder tube on it? Also did you scolope the bottom of the 2" outer sleeve to allow the water to rush in?

I also have a 275 Gal. tank which I buried and have stocked with 20 Catfish and 2 Koi. I have pea gravel as my planting media. and have 8 half barrels which will be running bell siphons. Currently 4 are being flooded via a 7' high flood barrel system. I use about 10Gal. per barrel, per flood.

Would be interested in what you are doing as well.

Bill Sherman

p.s. My cell number is 512.587.0328 and you can rech mea just about anytimes as I'm retired.
I'm not terribly good with bell siphons but my first guess as to your problem might be as William asks, is there enough space for water to get in at the bottom of the bell!!!! The water and only siphon out as fast as it can get to the plumbing. Since you mention a fitting at the bottom that wouldn't allow for the 1 1/2" bell it does make me wonder if the crenalations are big enough to allow the water in and since you mention it kicked in when you jiggled it but the flow was not as fast as you expected it does make me think there might be a restriction some where.
What they said. Bell siphons can be a pain in the butt because you have to engage in a balancing act between water flow in, and water flow out. If you don't get that balance right, you end up with a regular siphon instead of a bell siphon. If you're restricting flow into your bell siphon, that could be a problem. When bell siphons work they're great, when they don't it's terrible. Another tip: keep a 6 or 8 inch maintenance pipe around your bell siphon, cause you'll probably be having to access it pretty often- whether it's to clean your bleeder tube to keep your siphon breaking, or to clean out the holes in your siphon housing. . .
Your bell should be about 3/4 to one inch higher than the standpipe too. If its too close that can slow the flow as well as the crenalations on the bottom mentioned by others.
This is a good Affnan question! He is a member here, and has GREAT "how to" videos on bell siphons on YouTube. Also search for videos by VincentVonGoat He has also terrific aquaponic plumbing videos on YouTube.
Thank you for all the great suggestions. After studying it a little better this evening my distance from the standpipe to the bell is too tight. I am going to trim my standpipe slightly, I also scalloped the bottom edges of the bell pipe a little bit more to allow water to flow in easier.

Thanks again for giving guidance to a rookie.
Hello William, Thanks for replying to my post. I found some problems with mine and hopefully am on the right track. I am planning on using the tote to get started and then try some other system designs to experiment with. I am going to use gravel for the majority of my media and then place net pots with Hydroton in the gravel. I hope to also try a couple of gravity pipes with pots also. Not sure yet what kind of fish we will use, right now we have 5 minnows and 5 gold fish just to see how fish would do in the tank. We have made it two weeks and no casualties. Anxious to get the plants going.

William Sherman said:
Well, I'm kind of a rookie as well, but I got my bell siphon to work. Did you put the air bleeder tube on it? Also did you scolope the bottom of the 2" outer sleeve to allow the water to rush in?

I also have a 275 Gal. tank which I buried and have stocked with 20 Catfish and 2 Koi. I have pea gravel as my planting media. and have 8 half barrels which will be running bell siphons. Currently 4 are being flooded via a 7' high flood barrel system. I use about 10Gal. per barrel, per flood.

Would be interested in what you are doing as well.

Bill Sherman

p.s. My cell number is 512.587.0328 and you can rech mea just about anytimes as I'm retired.
I had a similar problem I put an elbow at the bottom of the sand pipe this restricts the flow of water enough to start the siphon. Make sure the elbow is above the waterline. Once I did this no more problems with it starting did have problems with it stopping but this was solved by creating a larger intake it now empties in 2 min. good luck
Thanks, I did this and now the system is running great. I do see that as the season goes on there maybe maintenance issues with this type of siphon. I looked at Affnan's siphon and it is probably what I will transition to in the future. Right now I am just anxious to get some plants growing in the system. Thanks for the help.

Earl ward said:
I had a similar problem I put an elbow at the bottom of the sand pipe this restricts the flow of water enough to start the siphon. Make sure the elbow is above the waterline. Once I did this no more problems with it starting did have problems with it stopping but this was solved by creating a larger intake it now empties in 2 min. good luck
I have had no problems with the Bell; I have had problems with the drainage pipe getting clogged with roots. I solved this by making it higher than the gravel. Give it a twist once every couple of weeks to clear out any roots in the drainage slits.

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