Aquaponic Gardening

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How are you folks anchoring your gravel guards? Mine was dislodged from the silicone used to hold it to the bed. It seems the Hydrocorn media has a tendancy to float as a mass, and its shifting, and pulling away from the sides of the bed, and guard have torn it from its base. Been four days now, and the media is still somewhat bouyant.

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I supported my cap as well, and enter in the center at the rear of the bed, but I am exiting at the front left corner. I too thought about down sizing the guard, but wasn't sure if I'd get enough flow, without sucking air into the bell and breaking the siphon. The 4" would have been easier to work with, easier to find, is sold in smaller 3 foot sections, and would fit in my CNC lathe to machine slots, and thread if needed. I had to buy the 6" in a ten foot length, so I'm stuck with it. I like how you improvised a bulkhead fitting, and your funnel looks very effective. I thought about machining a base to center, and hold the guard, but that would raise it off the bottom and leave more water behind. The hydrocorn isn't floating as much now, but it still manages to make it under the guard. Maybe I'll try your 3" bell system. Thanks!

Jim Fisk said:

I enter the water in the left rear corner and exit right front. There is quite a flat area in the corners of my IBCs, tops or bottoms. Not all IBCs are the same. I pick mine for lots of reasons other than what was in them:-) I use 4" gravel guards and 3" bells and 1" down tube. Never had floating media though. I have settled on granite pea stone for now. The exit hole is right by the drill. That Vari-Bit or Step-Bit is about 50 bucks but well worth it. I should add that I give extra support under the area around the cap using short pieces of decking.

so with that male and female adapters with the O-ring your gb is water tight? what size O-ring? Also if i wanted to just up the ratios of the pvc sizes you used would that work. Just want GB to drain fast

Keep in mind that a larger siphon that drains a bed really fast needs larger media and a really open gravel guard that doesn't impede the flow of water into it.  It is possible to make a siphon drain the gravel guard faster than the water can flow into it and have the siphon cut out while the bed is still mostly full of water because the water can't move through the gravel or gravel guard fast enough.

Don't get too hung up with needing to drain the grow beds FAST, about the only things that draining growbeds fast does is splash the water in the sump more and perhaps suck more of the fine suspended solids out of the grow beds.

That is an old picture and I have made some changes. I now use an electrical female adapter and no ring nut to get rusty among many other changes. The "O"ring is a #18 from Lowes. 10 in a box. Like TC says there is no reason to go any larger for an IBC than 1" stand pipe. Everything else is sized accordingly. 1" stand pipe = 2" funnel = 3" bell = 4" gravel guard.

The only maintenance is to rotate the gravel guard about once a month to cut off the roots that will grow thru ANY gravel guard. That is why you DO NOT want to GLUE down your gravel guard. That is asking for trouble down the road. I use S&D pipe for everything I can. (2" pipe is not available in S&D around here at least) 3/4", 1", 1.25" 1.5", 3", and 4" all come in S&D at Lowes. When you use these ratios for the siphon you will need the knob on your bell in order to easily lift out the bell for what ever reason. That way you can go with one clear top bell and switch it from bed to bed in seconds.

1" will probably handle a gb twice that size. Going larger for a large GB is simple math (and $). Mine drain in about 30 - 60 seconds and I see no reason to go any faster. My "barrelponics" siphons are 3/4" stand pipe = 1.5" funnel = 2" bell = 3" gravel guard.

No, there are no leaks if you drill a clean hole. 1 1/4" for the 1" TAs (threaded adapter) and 1" for the 3/4" TAs. I use a step drill that covers holes from 1/4" to 1 1/4" and last time I purchased one they were about 50.00 and will last a lifetime.

My siphons have been flawless for 10 mos. now with one exception on my oldest (first) GB where it turned out I ran up hill under the IBC GB just enough to form a "trap" in my haste to get cycling. That water left in the pipe was not allowing air to come from the common vented drain line. You need the air that "breaks" the siphon to come from above and below in order for the siphon to break quickly and not keep on trickling over the top of the funnel. You can tell by lifting the bells occasionally and if they are in a drain cycle they will feel very heavy but once the siphon breaks there should be no resistance to lifting it. If that weight continues more than a couple minutes you have a problem. My clear top bells are great for troubleshooting a stubborn siphon as you can watch exactly what is happening in there and the mystery is gone.So far I only offer them in the IBC size and just switched to Lexan as it is indestructible and a pleasure to machine. Twice the price but well worth it. Lowes sells a small square big enough for 5 lenses for under 4.00 so we're talking chump change. The labor and leak testing is the cost determinator for production but for yourself it is all fun anyway. I now have 2 dedicated drill presses, 2 chop saws, a router table, belt sander and 2 hole saws all dedicated to turning them out in a timely manor for our Ebay store. Nearly 100 bell siphons sold now and we will probably go over that next week. Thanks to all! If anyone needs help with theirs please feel free to write me although it helps far more people if we keep such conversations on the open forum. Keep in mind that for every question asked and answered in public rather than by personal messaging we have probably helped 100s of others. 10,000 members strong and growing on here. Kudos to Sylvia

I did miss one detail and that is I use a small coating of clear silicone cement on the TAs and "O" ring. Don't over do it as you might want to make mods down the road. Also here is a newer pic of the bells with the routed grill at the bottom as opposed to the old saber saw hand cut grills we did way back in the old days. (3 months ago:-)

Jim, have you looked into making bigger gravel guards for those people with really big hands/arms that can't put their hand down a 4" pipe easily to remove the stand pipe if adjustment is needed?

I can put my arm down a 4" pipe no problem even with a stand pipe in it but I can also slip a roll of gaff tape over my hand and wear it on my arm which I know most larger guys can't do.

Sorry TC. No XXXL yet Special order only.

Actually I have rather big hands and if I am careful I can get my hand down a 3" pipe in S&D. A 4" S&D gravel guard is HUGE.

There's plenty of room to grab the 2" funnel and twist it off and after that is out there is all sorts of room. The guards are only 14" tall so yikes if you can't get in there. The thin wall S&D has many advantages beyond the lower cost. Also I tend to go low with the funnel for 2" media Sun block and use my extensions for raising the level to various heights for seeding, seedlings and flooding. I never remove the funnel anymore.

"but I can also slip a roll of gaff tape over my hand and wear it on my arm which I know most larger guys can't do." Absolutely no idea what that means but I am picturing all sorts of things.

8 more siphons just went out the door so I can have lunch now


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