Aquaponic Gardening

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 have been building a ibc tote garden lately and yesterday I found myself at a bit of an impasse. After making my bell siphons and test them without grow media they worked well. It was when  I added  the expanded slate into the grow bed that there arose a problem. Taking my garden hose I began to test the  bed with the washed, what the previous owner called permatill, I waited as I watched the siphon kick in; but it stoped way to soon. Looking under the siphon I found that half the water didn't drain.thinking it was somehow the back pressure piping going from the grow bed back to the tank I removed it, leaving only the 90º female threaded elbow underneath which I used to make the bulk head.This helped but very little. I tried it without the media guard but again the siphon stopped before emptying the bed. I realize most people have problems getting theirs to start or stop, but somehow  find myself between the two. If anyone can shed some light on my problem or design flaws I would be very thankful.

P.s. once filled the medal frame stared to sink to one side, unevening the bed a little,other than putting bricks under the edge I couldn't think of a way to fix it. Does anyone have a better idea? Also considering using a indexing valve I have.

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Will post photos once my Internet connection is agreeable.

Photos as promised. 


Seth your beds do need to be level.

For the bell siphon to break to needs to get sufficient air some possibilities:

  • Is the point at which yours is breaking not the point where the water is touching your 1st holes/cut/grooves in the bottom of your bells. 
  • With your beds at a bit of a slope is the siphon at the highest point, leaving the lower end still half full of water?
  • Not sure how dense your expanded slate is, maybe the water cant flow through fast enough?
  • What size is the piping for the siphon, might be too big to maintain a constant vacuum and air is running back up the pipe?

I had the same problem with sinking, I used a 2 ton car jack to raise it up and get it level again

Just saw your photos.

One more thought, you might need a bit more of a fall on your drain pipe. The angle of the photo may be tricky but it looks almost level.

You might also check for air leaks in your cap, the vac-break line and the bell pipe. Sounds like air getting in. Here is a very good link with some Trouble-Shooting tips:

Hope this helps!

Mr. Python,

  • The siphon stops with about 5 inches or more let in the bed. the top slit l is closer to an inch tall.
  • the siphon is at the low end of the bed.
  • This is something I considered but did not think was the case, could be wrong. While filling the bed with the hose I dug a small bowl in the .5 to 1 inch permatill and found that filling the bed from the other side in another bowl showed the water level to rise evenly. I was also surprised when first washing the media that some of the rocks floated.
  • My standpipe is 1inch with 2 inch adapter at the top. the bell is 3 inch with the media guard being 4 inches.
  • All my plumbing is one inch pvc right now. 
  • Could it be the hight of my bell?
  • I am considering replacing the elbow with something that could give me more of a fall. 

Kevin Barnes,

I checked for that as well. I have not glued anything yet though due to the expectation of running into problems. Thanks for the link Kevin, I ran across that a while ago and have been meaning to find it again. doesn't seem to say much about what seems to be my problem though. 

Kevin Barnes said:

You might also check for air leaks in your cap, the vac-break line and the bell pipe. Sounds like air getting in. Here is a very good link with some Trouble-Shooting tips:

Hope this helps!

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