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Massive water leak overnight! How to save my fish, system, and carpet.. !

I woke up this morning and was half ready for work when, I walked into my aquaponics room and found the carpet saturated with water, the pump to my knowleadge so far had been running for an excessive amount of time. I am guessing the timer somehow shorted out and stayed stuck on flood.. otherwise the grow bed was clogged and the overflow was not enough because the seal on my tall growbed(mistake #1 a home made addition onto a growing tray with glass siliconed onto it.. was running fine for 9 months)must have broke during excessive flooding by the pump..

I have moved everything I can out of the room. As I am in a first story apartment no one under me was affected..I hope the maintenance team remains in the dark about this. I first toweled as much as a could off the surface and then peeled the carpet back and shop vaced the carpet and the padding. I will try to treat it with bleach after its a bit dryer.. I have the ceiling fan a box fan and the lights duct blower moving the air in the room. I plugged in the fishes air stone but I fear I have limited time to save the fish. The main tank is a 100 gallon stock tank and it has a 40 gallon sump. The sump is just about empty and sits higher than the tank. The tank has about 40 gallons of water in it right now. I have about 20 gallons in a drum which I can add to the tank(RO water) How much time do I have to save my Grow beds and fish? How do I dry this carpet? and prevent mold and mildew from forming.. I know I know really the room has carpet?.. I need to act fast. Good think I was able to call in today. Once I am able to empty out the majority of the hydroton from the deep bed, I am going to cut the siliconed glass box off and it will be identical to the shallow bed..


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Don't feed the fish, and make sure they have plenty of air and as much water as you can reasonably get to them.  Can you rig up the pump to filter the water through the "shallow bed" while you work on cleaning up and getting the other bed re-done?

How to alter your system so this doesn't happen again,  Make sure your overflows or whatever are designed such that the beds can't "overflow" if the timer gets stuck.  This way you could always switch the system on full time constant flood if you need to catch up with filtering because of some other HSM.

If you can get the floor, walls and carpet all totally dried out in less than a few days, then you might not need to resort to bleach.

Good Luck.

I forgot the details of the fish. I have 5 full sized tilapia. The drains where designed that way. I have run the pump for an hour before to test the beds ability to drain. In this case either the glass cracked or the silicon seal failed because of the pressure.. I have a smaller pump which I could use to run water into the smaller bed, but I will need to plug the drain and just let the overfill carry the water out until the pump is turned off. I do not think it is large enough to out fill the drain. And the main pump is not working at the moment. I need to take it out and rebuild it and hope this will fix it.. I have a lumatek ballast which was not submersed in any water at point but was definitely exposed to alot of dripping water and looked like it was rained on. I believe these ballasts are sealed and it should work fine without any worries right?

I don't know what to tell you about the ballast.

Yea, I would get the little pump hooked up to circulate the water through the little bed and keep your fish comfortable and some of your bacteria going while you make repairs and adjustments for the rest of the system and test stuff.

Make sure you are on dry ground, wearing rubber soled shoes and using a cgfi outlet if you test out that ballast.  Good Luck.

thank God! it could have been worse.. you live in the 3rd floor of an old apartment with amazingly poor waterproofing between floors..... each event leads to a higher learning to make things work for the better.... good luck...

After more testing and observations.. It appears both drains where clogged.. and this lead to the entire grow bed to be filled the the brim.. I did not really even consider this because this there is a 12 inch glass box on top of the 4 inch grow bed! That means I had 16 inches of water at least in this beast and the seal did not break. I had a humidity dome on top of the bed because I had some seeds I was just sprouting. After looking closely at the dome you can see the where the max water line must have gotten too last night. It is parallel to the top of the glass. Additionally I could only fine one point of run off. and after putting my level up on the top of the growbed it appears the corner where I thought the leak had occurred is also the lowest point on the system about and 1/8" to a 1/4" over 3 feet. The pump was connected to a marineland 15amp 1/3 analog 15 min timer. Has anyone heard of these timers malfunctioning and staying on? Ah I just do not know where to go from here. If I should leave it as it is and fix the drains to this can not happen again. Or do I butcher my one of a kind sleek deep bed.. which after all seems to be able to hold an estimated 57 gallons of water before any kind of media is added.. I really hope my ballast is alright.. I am kind of scared to test it. Maybe somethings are best left for tomorrow. After it has had a fan on it all night. But it was a good distance from the actual down pour or stream of water..

Can you possibly put your pump up higher in the water thereby limiting how low you can pump the water? Just a thought.

I'm lost as to the design of this system, why a sump is higher than a fish tank...why a sump at all...and how with a timer employed it could "overflow"...

A time based system with grow beds draining back to the fish tank via an overflow standpipe... should merely have resulted in minimal water being lost from any blockage and overflow... before the timer cycle cut out... and the grow bed(s) slow drained back to the fish tank...

Where have posted pics of your system?


Edited: OK, think I found a sketchup of your system... but I can't follow the water flow...

This was my first system, I made all of the design flaws and have learned MUCH. Here is a link to my photobucket. I always intended to write a long post regarding the entire building process and many detailed pictures but have not found the time.. I am well aware of many of my systems flaws and would love to tear it down and redo it. but for the time being mainly money.. I am unable to. Before building or redo this system I am reading as much as I can about stability, ease and efficiency. It is an ebb and flow system, but the tables have a drain and an overflow which is separate from the fill pipes.

Ok. I think I get it... you appear to be pumping into the beds... in an ebb & flow style... where the drains appears to be from (screened) bottom drains... which became blocked... which then would obviously overflow quite rapidly, especially with the very shallow bed....

Not sure how you can fix that problem... other than adjusting your timer to only pump for as long as it takes for the beds to fill and then stop pumping immediately...


Even then... if the drains get blocked by roots... several pump cycles will just continuously overflow the beds....


Perhaps you need to put a pvc media gaurd around the drain(s) to try and prevent the roots growing into them... which you probably wont be able to do... but at least you would be able to see the drain... and remove any offending roots...

Not sure I understand why you used a sump though.... why not just drain directly back to the fish tank???

Well the sump was just for more water volume. I have some small guards around the drains and roots have not been a problem. The hope was to have small fish in the smaller tank and move them into the big tank. . Ah how great things always appear on paper.

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