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GaryD

FAQ - What size pipework should I use?

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The pipework sizes used on an aquaponics system will be impacted by the size of the system.

Generally speaking, I would not use anything less than 12mm (1/2") on a desktop system.....because it will eventually clog up. On anything larger than a desktop system, 20mm (3/4") is the smallest pipe or hose that I would use.

Assuming a system with a fish tank capacity of around 1000 litres (250 gallons), I would opt for not less than 25mm (1") pipework on the supply side of the system.....and not less that 40mm (1.5") on the drain side.

Assuming a system with an overall fish tank capacity of 2 - 4000 litres (500 - 1000 gallons), I'd opt for 40mm on the supply side and 50mm (2") on the drain side.

It is not advisable to use pipework that is too large because solids may settle out in the pipework and create water quality issues.

As a general principle, limit the number of bends in system pipework. Each bend will restrict water flow - too many bends = too little flow.

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  1. The pipework sizes used on an aquaponics system will be impacted by the size of the system.

  2. Generally speaking, I would not use anything less than 12mm (1/2") on a desktop system.....because it will eventually clog up. On anything larger than a desktop system, 20mm (3/4") is the smallest pipe or hose that I would use.

  3. Assuming a system with a fish tank capacity of around 1000 litres (250 gallons), I would opt for not less than 25mm (1") pipework on the supply side of the system.....and not less that 40mm (1.5") on the drain side.

  4. Assuming a system with an overall fish tank capacity of 2 - 4000 litres (500 - 1000 gallons), I'd opt for 40mm on the supply side and 50mm (2") on the drain side.

  5. It is not advisable to use pipework that is too large because solids may settle out in the pipework and create water quality issues.

  6. As a general principle, limit the number of bends in system pipework. Each bend will restrict water flow - too many bends = too little flow.

I am feeling adventurous this evening....

  1. Very true and generally negatively impacted by the wrong choice in pipe sizing.
  2. I agree
  3. 1000 litre fish tank can do very well with both 25mm inlet and an 25mm outlet without any issues. This works well with a system that has very little (less than 100mm) fall by gravity from the fish tanks.
  4. Very similar rules apply to pipe size regardless of the tank size. More important is the total volume. While a 25mm inlet and 40mm outlet will work well on a 2000 litre fish tank, if you have two of them it would not. In this case you would look for a 50mm supply manifold with 25 to 32mm inlets to each of the fish tanks along with 65 to 80mm outlet manifold connecting the 40 to 50mm outlet from each of the 2000 litre fish tanks. 4000 litres is another step again but you get the idea.
  5. Very true. Not that solids "may" settle out, they will even with pipe velocities of 1 meter per second. But the other side of that issue is to plumb your set up so you can flush the lines or drag a bottle brush on a string through the line every few months.
  6. Indeed. Straight line plumbing makes sure it is easy to understand when your neighbour comes over to check things while you are away lol.

Regards

Paul

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Hi Callum,

I use PVC......and I use a mix of types, depending on what I'm trying achieve. Much of what I do requires that I adapt fittings for various purposes and that sometimes means mixing and matching pipe and fitting types to achieve what I want.

Gary

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i guess to add to this, what types of pipe do you recommend the most?

ie pvc dwv, pressure rated pvc, abs pipe etc?

I would recommend against using ABS pipe. ABS is not designed for potable water use and may have some chemical leachate over time. For all the systems I've build to date, I've used 1/2 PEX for the pumped pressurized water supply and 1" CPVC for the drain lines. My biggest system is 660L. If you really want to do the math, you should aim for 1 m/s flowrate in your supply side with the pipe 100% full and 1 m/s flowrate in your drain with the pipe 50% full.

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oh ok yeah i thought i saw it mentioned on here somewhere (think by paul at earthen beds) to try and aim for 1.5m/s so i was looking at 2 inch pipe though am having a hard time finding sweeping bends and nicer flowing fittings other and 90 elbows and straight tees locally. can i ask how do i work out how full the pipe is? i'm assuming that it would be full on inlet side but only guessing. and have no idea on outlet. i was just going to use the same pipe all round. is this a bad idea?

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I use a 3 inch drain line from the center of my circular fish tank to my external standpipe but I also violently purge and drain it it twice a day via a knife valve. All my other lines are 1.5 inch PVC or 1 inch I.D. vinyl tubing.  I prefer the 1.5 inch PVC because it's cheap. The 1.5 inch size is loss leader item for the big box stores around here.

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