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 I have been trying to get this bell siphon to work for a week now. i have 2 2'x3'x9" drain tables and according to this pdf doc.: http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/BIO-10.pdf I have the measurements right. It works fine without the media in it, but when I add the gravel the siphon will not break. Any ideas? I am at the end of my rope and have seriously considered taking the saws-all to the entire system.

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yes and no it is not blocked.

Chi Ma said:

Do you have a gravel guard? Is the air tube blocked?  Did you try adjusting the air tube? Pics?

I hesitated to mess with the size of drain under gb because i only have so many materials to work with, u know? but does it really create a higher drain rate by lengthening the pipe? I really do not want to change the pump. I tried that already, but all my pumps are virtually the same. I also tried puncturing holes in the pump tubing to slow down the fill rate, but that did not work and cost me a few feet of tubing. and yes it slowed down alot and the holes shot water everywhere lol. should the fill rate be slowed down to a trickle? also i was worried about putting to much strain on the pump if I made the tubing smaller, etc. to slow down the fill rate. should I be worried about that?

Rob Torcellini said:

you can also try slowing down the filling rate too.    Or increase the length of the pipe under the bed so it creates a stronger suction (drains faster).

Richard Wyman said:

Maybe you can try bigger tubing for the air break. It worked for me when I had that problem.

 So just to let everyone know... first and foremost I am eternally grateful for all the input and second my basement is being waterproofed this week so I will not be able to play with the siphons until this weekend, when I will post my results and solution (god willing). Thanks again!

 I thought that I should describe what is happening with the siphon for more clarity and also to help other people having a similar issue. As I said before the siphon works fine in an empty gb, but when I put the media in... first it fills then when it hits the right height it starts draining (it seems to drain faster than it is filling) then when the water level gets down to the end of the snorkel it starts to make a gurgling sound and the water that is draining slows down to less than a trickle. It then starts flowing fast again and will not fill the gb. After the water hits the end of the snorkel it continues to make gurgling sounds. 

Christopher, If your worried about slowing down the pump. With the extra flow, I made a spray bar to help aerate my fish tank. Also I found adjusting the level of the horizontal drain pipe is important. For the siphon to break properly it must have a easy flowing, down sloping path. Is something slowing the flow in the drain tube?? Same size pipe?                                                                                                                                                                                                                            "I also tried puncturing holes in the pump tubing to slow down the fill rate, but that did not work and cost me a few feet of tubing. and yes it slowed down alot and the holes shot water everywhere lol. should the fill rate be slowed down to a trickle? also i was worried about putting to much strain on the pump if I made the tubing smaller, etc. to slow down the fill rate. should I be worried about that?"

HI Christopher,

I'm really interested in your sit. with the auto siphon. Can you do a little video? I would like to see exactly what you're dealing with. It would be great to share with others and also work on your specific solution.

When my flow is too fast I put another t on the pump pipe and send the water back to the fish.  This gives more oxygen to the fish.  I put sut off valves on both lines, too bed and back to the pump.  I use 3/4 in pipe for the drain pipe bring it out bottom of the bed about 12 inches or so, put on an elbow 90 deg and run the water back to my fish as I don't have sump tanks.  The bell is a 2 inch pipe with a cap.  I make holes in the bottom inch.  I usually put an air hose in the top of pipe or sometimes in cap.  make it extend dow to the holes in the bottom.  I use a 3 o4 4 in pipe around that to keep out the rocks. I put rocks in beds and play with the siphon.  It is all based on the water coming in.  You just have to be patient and tweek it.  Sometime it takes awhile before you get it to work.  Mostly we are not patient enough.  I never succeed unless I have shut off valves and on both pipes.  I have 11 bell siphons which I made myself out of scrap pipes and they all work.  It is rare that I have to touch them.  I even have one 5 gallon bucket siphon that drains 5 beds at once.  Glen Martinez made that one.  I was very impatient in the beginning.  nIf it worked when the bed was empty it will work when it is full if you adjust the water.  

 yea i saw ur thread on the bucket siphon (i think the topic was "what siphon is best"?). how is that working for u compared to a bell?i was thinking that the bucket would probably be more useful for more than 2 gb's? ur 5 gal drains 5? simultaneously? or consecutively? That is pretty cool and something to look into in the future.

 i had shutoff valves on it to begin with, but with the 3/4" i am using it did not seem to want to adjust properly ie. it was either to fast or to slow, even after ALOT of tweeking. 

  good idea with the T and aerating the fish. also steve gets kudos for that idea.

Raychel A Watkins said:

When my flow is too fast I put another t on the pump pipe and send the water back to the fish.  This gives more oxygen to the fish.  I put sut off valves on both lines, too bed and back to the pump.  I use 3/4 in pipe for the drain pipe bring it out bottom of the bed about 12 inches or so, put on an elbow 90 deg and run the water back to my fish as I don't have sump tanks.  The bell is a 2 inch pipe with a cap.  I make holes in the bottom inch.  I usually put an air hose in the top of pipe or sometimes in cap.  make it extend dow to the holes in the bottom.  I use a 3 o4 4 in pipe around that to keep out the rocks. I put rocks in beds and play with the siphon.  It is all based on the water coming in.  You just have to be patient and tweek it.  Sometime it takes awhile before you get it to work.  Mostly we are not patient enough.  I never succeed unless I have shut off valves and on both pipes.  I have 11 bell siphons which I made myself out of scrap pipes and they all work.  It is rare that I have to touch them.  I even have one 5 gallon bucket siphon that drains 5 beds at once.  Glen Martinez made that one.  I was very impatient in the beginning.  nIf it worked when the bed was empty it will work when it is full if you adjust the water.  

 Sorry pics and videos are not possible yet, but I am working on it. Hopefully I can post some soon.

Connie Christians said:

HI Christopher,

I'm really interested in your sit. with the auto siphon. Can you do a little video? I would like to see exactly what you're dealing with. It would be great to share with others and also work on your specific solution.

 well the bigger tube on the snorkel did not work. i will be going to ace soon and getting a T and 90 degree angle (for the snorkel). Cross your fingers.

I drill a small hole in the bottom of the standpipe, and I put the pump on a timer (60 mins on, 15 off). Two common things are responsible for auto siphon failure, inconsistent pump rates and inconsistent flow thru media. Those two details are never constant, as solids, roots, and bioslime slow pump rate, and flow rates. When I clean my pump and pipe, often the siphon won't break. A few days later everything works great, and at some point, the siphon won't start. Regardless, the hole in the stand pipe drains in the off cycle, ensuring at least one fill and drain per hour.
Side note, big pumps are much more consistent with auto siphons, as slime is simply over powered. My larger pumps and siphons cycle flawlessly with no maintenance. It's the little pumps on my fry tanks that gave me grief. Another advantage of the drainhole is that if power fails midcycle, the bed will still drain. Nothing worse than a growbed full of water for a couple of days.

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