averan

An alternative to auto-siphons, the E-Siphon

66 posts in this topic

Hi Averan,

 

I have a couple of questions:

 

1. Given the relative simplicity of sub-surface continuous flow grow beds......and that there's virtually no difference in plant growth....why bother with auto-syphons at all?

 

2.  If you're planning a commercial operation, what is your rationale for using media beds.....given that no one else does?  UVI tested them in the late 1970's and found them to be impractical for commercial purposes.

 

By the way, kudos for your attempts to innovate.

 

Gary

A rather large commercial aquaponics facility here uses F&D in lava rock media beds. They use barrel siphons to drain several beds at once. They also use NFT. Does subsurface flow allow for as good root oxygenation?  

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No, you need to make sure the water is already getting oxygenated from somewhere else. Siphons do it for free, thus their popularity. However, there are lots of other ways to aerate water...air pumps, trickle filters, venturi, waterfalls. There is no single right way to grow aquaponically, and there are often several techniques that will work well for any given situation. I like having options. :)

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Does subsurface flow allow for as good root oxygenation?  

 

No.. in reality it relies on oxygenation at some other point(s) in the system... although some may argue that a degree of oxygen exchange occurs atmospherically via the lateral roots...

Edited by RupertofOZ (see edit history)
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Hi,

 

If the media is 3/4 gravel (or even clay pebbles), the bed is full of air anyway…..and you'd the get the normal gaseous exchange at the point where the air meets the water in the bed. Since the water moves through the bed at a reasonable clip, there's reasonable aeration.  

 

Is it as good as flood and drain for aeration?  No.

 

Since all of my system designs feature dedicated mechanical and biological filtration, there's plenty of air everywhere anyway.

 

By the way, when the BYAP trial was conducted (and they didn't have dedicated filtration), there was no mention of any lack of oxygen.  Mind you, those systems were very lightly stocked.

 

Gary

Edited by GaryD (see edit history)
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Hi,

 

2.  If you're planning a commercial operation, what is your rationale for using media beds.....given that no one else does?  UVI tested them in the late 1970's and found them to be impractical for commercial purposes.

 

At the time that I made this statement, I believed this to be a fact.......based on what James Rakocy told me in 2009.

 

Now, to be clear, he may have said "considered" (as distinct from "tested").  He subsequently made a statement in a printed interview that he did with Sylvia Bernstein in 2010......in which he said that they (the UVI team) had considered media grow beds but did not regard them as being viable. 

 

Nowhere, can I find any reference to UVI having even mentioned media grow beds prior to 2009/2010.

 

UVI is often mentioned in the context of commercial aquaponics, however, there seems to be some question as to how long they've actually been doing aquaponics.

 

Can anyone point me to documents or references prior to 1990?

 

Gary

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No.. in reality it relies on oxygenation at some other point(s) in the system... although some may argue that a degree of oxygen exchange occurs atmospherically via the lateral roots...

Thanks guys. I have many points of oxygenation on the both sides of my dual loop plan. Water fall, F&D, and 8" air stones in both the fish and aerobic tanks are planned. My biggest hurdle now is burying a few (3) of the 55 gal tanks. I have lots of roots, clay and stones. :(

Edited by Strider (see edit history)

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Hi,

 

 

At the time that I made this statement, I believed this to be a fact.......based on what James Rakocy told me in 2009.

 

Now, to be clear, he may have said "considered" (as distinct from "tested").  He subsequently made a statement in a printed interview that he did with Sylvia Bernstein in 2010......in which he said that they (the UVI team) had considered media grow beds but did not regard them as being viable. 

 

Nowhere, can I find any reference to UVI having even mentioned media grow beds prior to 2009/2010.

 

UVI is often mentioned in the context of commercial aquaponics, however, there seems to be some question as to how long they've actually been doing aquaponics.

 

Can anyone point me to documents or references prior to 1990?

 

Gary

Hi Gary, I took a tour of Mari Gardens aquaponics here in Hawaii that use extensive media beds as well as NFT.  They are now adding a very LARGE under greenhouse aquaponics that costs over a million US dollars. I cannot remember what their GBs are going to be, but I suspect NFT and Growbed combination. 

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i use 3/16" cinder as my preferred medium. you can pour a 6" layer of gravel on the bottom, then cover the top 6" with small cinder.

 

the cinder wicks very well and is much easier to dig around in.

Yep I use 3/4 inch lava stone on the bottom to about 8". Then I use a finer lava rock on top of that. The finer stuff makes planting seeds and transplanting young plants almost like planting in soil.

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Hi Strider,

 

Keep us appraised of your progress…..and that of Mari Gardens.  While the hybrid arrangement is not my personal favourite, I acknowledge that others may want to use it.

 

Gary

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Hi Strider,

 

Keep us appraised of your progress…..and that of Mari Gardens.  While the hybrid arrangement is not my personal favourite, I acknowledge that others may want to use it.

 

Gary

I just got an invite to attend Jim Fah's Autopot demo at Mari Gardens. Not sure who he is or what an autopot is for that matter. Not decided about going.  Need to look this guy up.

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Hi Strider,

 

Jim Fah is a Malaysian-born Australian who invented the Autopot system…..the heart of which is the Smart Valve.

 

The smart valve allows a measured amount of water to enter the pot holder and it will only allow more at the precise point that the water in the device has been used by the plant.  

 

Jim is a great bloke who will provide fresh insights into aquaculture and aquaponics.  I met him in Melbourne a couple of years ago.  He shared all manner of interesting things with me over dinner.  I've been looking forward to a return trip ever since.

 

Please extend my regards if you get the opportunity.

 

 

Gary

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Hi Strider,

 

Jim Fah is a Malaysian-born Australian who invented the Autopot system…..the heart of which is the Smart Valve.

 

The smart valve allows a measured amount of water to enter the pot holder and it will only allow more at the precise point that the water in the device has been used by the plant.  

 

Jim is a great bloke who will provide fresh insights into aquaculture and aquaponics.  I met him in Melbourne a couple of years ago.  He shared all manner of interesting things with me over dinner.  I've been looking forward to a return trip ever since.

 

Please extend my regards if you get the opportunity.

 

 

Gary

If I go, which I probably will, I will send him your regards.

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Thanks guys. I have many points of oxygenation on the both sides of my dual loop plan. Water fall, F&D, and 8" air stones in both the fish and aerobic tanks are planned. My biggest hurdle now is burying a few (3) of the 55 gal tanks. I have lots of roots, clay and stones. :(

Those pesky volcanoes! (In regards to the stones)

Sorry Strider couldn't resist. :-)

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Those pesky volcanoes! (In regards to the stones)

Sorry Strider couldn't resist. :-)

:)  Well, truth be told the dirt is not that bad up here in the mountain (Large hill)  but I had so many left over stumps from the trees I cut down that I had a real root issue... and small rocks. I figured that I would only need two holes - one for the sump tank for the grow beds and one for the fish tank (a Half IBC and a 55 Gal barrel.) So holes are done, than God. 

My old Ph probe was bad and when I got a new one I discovered my Ph was at about 5.  Not good. No plants, but I am sure the fish would like a little higher Ph. No one died so no harm no foul. And the work, along with the learning curve continues...

Since we are talking siphons here, I was looking at a local aquaponisist (new word?) here that has a youtube video about barrel siphons. Seems that for a large number of GrowBeds it is the way to go...Many beds, one siphon for them all. I am sure it is nothing new but it makes sense to me..

Edited by Strider (see edit history)

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Hi Strider,

 

Since we are talking siphons here, I was looking at a local aquaponisist (new word?) here that has a youtube video about barrel siphons. Seems that for a large number of GrowBeds it is the way to go...Many beds, one siphon for them all. I am sure it is nothing new but it makes sense to me..

 

The word is aquaponicist……and, you're right, the idea of one auto-syphon servicing several beds is not new but, for those who like syphons, it is a good way to go…..if your sump tank is large enough to sustain the amount of water that your grow beds will require when in the flooded mode.

 

Gary

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Lately I've been thinking about a much easier purely mechanical alternative to the auto siphon.....the auto-toilet valve!

 

I haven't tested the idea yet, but basically I envision a toilet flapper valve chained to a float so that when the water fills up it lifts the float and valve just like in a toilet. This will be an easy concept to test and if it works right, could be such a simple solution!

 

I still like the idea of remotely controllable valves that can be set into different modes though and hope someday to come back to it. :)

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I haven't tested the idea yet, but basically I envision a toilet flapper valve chained to a float so that when the water fills up it lifts the float and valve just like in a toilet. This will be an easy concept to test and if it works right, could be such a simple solution!

 

You are so yesterday in your thinking... here's a shite house siphon idea.. :D

 

http://www.myaquaponics.co.za/blog/the-vertical-float-siphon-vfs-the-nail-in-the-coffin-for-bell-siphons/

post-3396-0-12732800-1424459778_thumb.jp

Edited by RupertofOZ (see edit history)

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saw that already, thanks though. I don't think that will work without a sump below. Not even sure if ABS would work as it floats too much. And you need to have room underneath for the stand pipe to drop down, whereas a toilet flap wouldn't need any extra height under the grow bed.

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I misinterpreted the photos, the video gave me a better look.....I don't need a sump per se below, and as long as I have about 8-10" of space available under the grow bed then you can have the float standpipe (drop pipe?) drop into a 2" drain.

 

My toilet valve idea would not have as many problems with media clogging, but isn't as elegant of a design. The toilet valve could dump a lot more water more quickly, which would work well when draining to DWC raft beds. Next chance I get I think I'll do one of each! =)

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I don't think the toilet siphon will work either... :D

 

You could however look at Travis Hughey's barrelponics "flush valve"... ;)

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it's not a siphon....it's just a drain. That's why it can drain so much faster. You can have a 2" drain.

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I remember seeing Travis' valve a long while back....seems that a lever action is needed to pop the valve wide open in order to get a complete drain cycle. A simple buoy tied to the flapper won't do it.

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