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external bell siphon problem, anyone have any suggestions?/ thanks in advance

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Comment by litano on September 13, 2011 at 11:29am
Thanks again Jon, do you have a video or pictures of your external system? I am interested in how you connect it to the grow bed..
Comment by Jon Chaiton on September 13, 2011 at 5:46am



Hi.  You are absolutely correct about avoiding root intrusion by using an external bell siphon.  Please see the specific comments I left at the "photos" page under the schematic for the bell siphon.  Building one is fun and easy.

Jon Chaiton

Comment by litano on September 12, 2011 at 2:46pm

Hi John, this is Lloyd from the aquaponics website. The reason I was thinking of an external bell siphon was the roots were invading the unit which is in the center of my growbed. The roots were interfering with the flow. So I thought an external one would avoid this issue. My tomato plants especially were intrusive. thanks for your help. Lloyd

Comment by Jon Chaiton on September 12, 2011 at 6:02am


I've added the schematic to the "photos" option page at the top of this page.

Jon Chaiton

Comment by Rob Nash on September 12, 2011 at 5:56am

Litano, bells siphons can be a wonderful thing if built correctly. i have several that have been functioning for over a year now. i will put together a how to with parts and pics. it is all in the ratios; stand pipe to bell, reduction in drain pipe to bell teeth, pump volume to gravel bed size, etc. most important, the siphon needs to be in the bed. im not sure i understand the point of an external bell siphon.

Comment by Jon Chaiton on September 12, 2011 at 5:45am



Please send me your email address so I can send you the schematic for the external bell siphon.  I can not seem to add it to this text.  My email address is:

Jon Chaiton


Comment by litano on September 10, 2011 at 1:43pm
thanks, Jon, but I did not see the attachment that you mentioned.
Comment by Jon Chaiton on September 10, 2011 at 1:03pm

Dear Litano,

I have attached a schematic for an External Bell Siphon system.  It is easy to follow.  The only thing  you need to know is that the drain pipe from the bottom of the tank that leads to the 2" threaded PVC Tee passes through the side opening of the tee where there is a 2"x1" bushing and extends all the way to the 1" 90 deg. elbow.  You might have to grind or sand the little ridge inside the 2'x1" busing so that the 1" PVC drain line passes through this fitting and goes all the way to the 1" 90 deg. elbow.  Make sure you glue the 1" pipe where it passes through this bushing or the fittings will leak.  This bushing is also glued into the opening of the 2" Tee.

You can ask me any questions at: if you have any additional concerns.

Best Regards,  Jon Chaiton


Comment by Homefire on September 4, 2011 at 10:41am

Hi Litano,

I don't have any simple good news for ya if you're committed to bell siphons.  I believe there is a physical limit to their reliability.  I think that regardless of configuration one can't get them to perform dependably beyond a few thousand cycles.  They are dependent on Fluid Dynamics; subject to Chaos Science. I mean that a slight change in liquid or atmosphere or flow resistance can cause a bigger change in performance even if the operator has made no change in plumbing.


I think many aquaponists working more than a couple years, beyond the model stage, have abandoned bell siphons in favor of more reliable alternatives like gradual drain with index valves.

I endured a frustrating six months with many configurations of bell siphons. One can 'fix' it when it fails only to fix it again a couple weeks later. 










Comment by halemart on September 3, 2011 at 3:53pm

Google "Aquaponics_Common_Sense_Guide.pdf"    it has details about the J siphon.



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