Understanding The Aquaponics System Equipment

Loop Siphon

A loop siphon is flexible tubing that is attached to the drain.   The loop siphon is used to flood and drain the media beds.  When the water gets to the top of the tube it breaks the airlock causing it to drain.   When its empty air is again introduced into the tube and the cycle starts over again.

Bell Siphon

The bell siphon works just like the loop siphon but it’s a bit more sophisticated.  It has a vertical pipe and the height of that pipe is what determines the maximum level of the water.   When the water gets to the top of the tube the drainage begins.   A bell siphon comes with three parts.
  • The standpipe – this is the part that determines the height of the water level
  • The bell shroud with an air line – this is the part that stops the draining once the water has reached the maximum level
  • The gravel and media guard
Unlike the loop siphon, the bell siphon will always leave some water and sediment at the bottom and this will allow the necessary bacteria to grow.  If you use the bell siphon, somewhere between one and two years, you will notice your crops beginning to grow faster and you will also see an increase in your plant yields.

Fish Tank

Your fish tank doesn’t have to be perfect you can use practically anything.  Just remember that if you use a tank that is used that you know the background of the container.  You need to make sure that it has never been used to hold chemicals or anything else that could be harmful to your fish.  You could use something like a large trash can; however, fish generally prefer to swim horizontally as opposed to vertically.  In addition, a horizontal tank will allow for a larger surface area which helps keep the water oxygenated.   You should use a tank that is black and if your container isn’t black then you should paint the outside black to keep out as much light as possible.  (Use paint that is made for a plastic surface.)
You will need to have a large enough tank to accommodate the number of grow beds you have or plan to have in the future.   A 100 gallon tank can accommodate four 25 gallon  2″x4″x6′ grow beds.

Grow Beds

The grow beds should be between 6″ and 12″ deep.  The deeper it is will enable you to plant a wider variety of plants.  Plants such as carrots and onions have an extensive root system and require a deeper bed in order to be grown successfully.  However, if you are on a budget, stick with the vegetables that don’t have such an extensive root, then you will only need the more shallow grow beds.  Thus requiring less clay or gravel making it cheaper because you don’t have to buy as much product to fill the beds.
Your grow beds capacity should equal the capacity of your fish tank.  That means if you are using a 100 gallon tank, you will need to be able to handle 100 gallons of water.   Just remember that the clay pellets will displace approximately half of the water volume .  If when starting out, your grow bed isn’t as large as your fish tank, just use less water or use more media to displace the water.  Always keep in mind the 1-1 ratio.  A one foot long by one foot wide by one foot deep area of water will hold around 7.5 gallons of water.

Sump Tank

Technically you don’t need to have a sump tank.  This is optional.  However, a sump tank will help prevent the water levels from fluctuating in the fish tank when the water is flooding and draining the beds.  If you use a sump tank, just remember to keep it above the level of the grow bed.

Water Pump

Your water pump should be big enough to recycle the water about four times each hour.  Some of the water will remain in the grow bed so you will need to calculate accordingly.  Example:  a 2″ x 4″ x 6′ bed system you will need a 250 GPH rated water pump and this will give you an output of 100 GPH as it has to push the water up at least four feet.   This is more than enough for this size of bed; however, any overflow you have will go right back into the fish tank and provide additional circulation and oxygenation.

Air Pump

The proper amount of air for your system should be about five to ten GPH for each gallon on water in your fish tank.  It’s really difficult to add too much air into your system.  So this is something you really should not worry much about.  Just buy a pump that is rated for the size of the fish tank you’ll be using.

Grow Bed Media

Your grow bed media can consist of gravel (just make sure it’s the right type of gravel) or clay pellets.  Gravel is cheap but it could easily cause problems with the pH of your water and you will then have to continually adjust it which is not good for your fish.
Clay pellets are the preferred grow bed media because it is pH neutral and retains the moisture very nicely.  Clay pellets are also much lighter than the gravel so the weight of your system won’t be as much of a concern.

Plastic Plumbing Parts, Plastic Tubing & Hoses

You will of course need various plastic plumbing parts, as well as, plastic tubing and or hoses.  The type and extent of these will depend on the system you decide to install.

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