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AquaBiotic Garden Aquaponics Flow Test

Initial test of return flow from fish tank to sump tank in a new Aquaponics System. When complete it will have two 250 gallon IBC fish tanks, a filter bed on...

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Comment by matthew ferrell on March 22, 2013 at 1:59pm

Lee, well that makes sense.  I am an efficiency nut so at first glance it looked like you were wasting energy.  However, you explanation is great, and makes lifting water that high valid.

Comment by Lee Scott on March 21, 2013 at 6:41pm

Matthew, I'm lifting it to the second story deck of my home.  My wife will be tending to the grow tubes and she has difficulty navigating the stairs so I brought the garden to her.  This works well for having it convenient to the house.  I did something that is not yet shown on the video for drainage. (It is shown on still photo's on my site)

I ran a 4" sewer pvc from the deck back to the fish tank for the return flow.
That is way over the needed size for the amount of water. So I decided to combine the 1" pump pipe inside the 4" pvc.  This makes a really neat install.  Only one large pipe and not two pipes.(one for drain and one for pump flow).  I used 1" sprinkler flexible tubing from the pump and it works well inside the 4" drain pipe.

I find that the 2" pipe from the fish tank can be too small if I run the pump at max.  I stepped the original pump down from 1hp to 1/4 hp with half the flow rate.  I don't think I can go much smaller because of the lift required.
Harbor Freight Pump

This pump is inexpensive and by adding the 2 year warranty, they will replace it if it fails.

Comment by matthew ferrell on March 21, 2013 at 1:20pm

Why are you lifting the water so high?  Also you nailed my rule of thumb which is 2 to 1, gravity out verse power in on pipe size.

Comment by Lee Scott on March 21, 2013 at 5:47am

I've changed a few things on the system.
Hurricane Isaac was a real set back to the system.
Water rose above the sump tanks in the video so I had to almost rebuild the entire setup.

It is nearing completion and I have added plants but only fishless cycling ATM.
Here is a video of the current grow beds and sump tanks.

Comment by Lee Scott on August 19, 2012 at 8:22am

Yes, I intend to do that.  However, in the current state, the second fish tank has not been attached and the PVC route to the grow area is not in place.  I was trying to do some pre-install planning to discover the size. 

I'm adding a filter bed this week so once that is in place, it should be the slowest part of the return flow.  Once that is in place, I can channel the flow into that bed to calculate the rate of fill/drain.  That should shed some light on the subject.  (or at least make things very muddy) 

Comment by Kntryhart on August 19, 2012 at 6:25am

The easiest way is to place a gallon container under the outlet and time how long it takes to fill.  Illiminates all the guesswork.



Comment by Lee Scott on August 18, 2012 at 8:55am

Kntryhart I will be posting more videos and other setups here as I continue.

I have the entire process with this video and photos of the start to current state on my blog.

Thanks for the tip about the flow rate, I will check it out this afternoon.

The connections on the side of the IBC tanks are experimental. 

I have two types of connectors:

I purchased some Uniseals from TCLynx.  They seem like a good concept and were supposed to go into a 1 7/8 hole for a 1" PVC pipe in the middle. ( I drilled it and it was a little too large so I had to use some silicone to make the seal tight.

The other method that actually worked well was to purchase a toilet tank seal from Home Depot.  It is a rubber seal that goes between the toilet tank and the bowl.  I then just added a 2" DWV Trap Adapter.

Drilled a 1 7/8 hole in the side.  Put the toilet seal on the fitting and screw it into the side of the IBC.  (A little water or Vegetable Oil to lubricate helps to keep it from not pinching)  Then on the inside of the IBC, screw the adapter nut on the exposed threads.  (just for safety I don't think it will come out without this step).

I saw this video that is by a member here that uses electrical fittings as bulk head connectors. About 3:20 on the video is the connector.

I have not tried the electrical connector but seem like it should work.
Also, using the fitting I used with a simple 'O' Ring should work as well.

Comment by Kntryhart on August 18, 2012 at 7:13am

Good day.  Do you have anymore videos of your setup? 

As far as your pipe sizing, note that horizontal runs degrade flow rate also.  Larger pipes will produce an improved laminar flow and improved performance.  Looks like fairly long horizontal runs though.

If you GOOGLE:         pipe length versus flow rate 

...there are charts available that show the relationship between pipe length and flow rate  Pumping height (head) is not the only consideration.

I would like to see how you made the connections on the side of the IBC tanks.



Comment by Lee Scott on August 16, 2012 at 5:05am

I was hoping to get some comments from others in the forum about the proper sizing of the return pipes.  Since no one replied I have decided to error on the side of larger.

It seems that there is no down side to having a 4" drain over a 2" for return flow.

The 4" size will be much more than needed and I can't see a reason why it would matter.  If I am wrong, then I can always go back to the smaller size (I've already got it on hand). 

The larger size will handle more volume and if it is larger than needed, the water will still flow and not really be an issue since it is a gravity return.

Comment by Lee Scott on August 13, 2012 at 6:29pm
This is a test of the return pipe size. I have a 1" input at a restricted flow at the pump valve. The return pipe is 2".

The flow through the 2" pipe seems to be near capacity for the single fish tank flow.

I will be adding additional flow to the NFT / Grow Bed and back into the fish tank.

Is there a way to know what size pipe for the return flow without trial and error testing?

With a pump adding water from 2 - 1" PVC to grow bed and FT is there a rule of thumb for the size return pipe?

My Pump is a 2600GPH pump but with rise to the GB I will be at about 500GPH.

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