Twitter Updates for 2010-12-03

  • I just love google wave. I am so sad that it’s going to go away. I like brainstorming conversations using wave. It’s so… useful for that. #
  • Well, this sucks, 2 blogs I follow have ‘ended’ this week. The people writing them are changing gears and won’t be writing anymore. #
  • It looks like I FINALLY got emails in foreign character sets displaying correctly. It’s only taken me year. I was trying too hard. #
  • It’s that time of year again! http://phpadvent.org A month’s worth of great #PHP articles. Check it out! #FVCP #
  • Doing a double stack of trays with my Nesco Dehydrator is so much better. http://twitpic.com/3cbx27 It doesn’t cook the bottom tray anymore! #
  • I’ve been waiting years for this. My 110 gallon aquarium is finally home http://twitpic.com/3cd1ou Some serious aquaponics is about to start #
  • Woah. My garage has a floor! I’ve not seen it in a while. http://twitpic.com/3cd9q5 Getting ready for this Sunday’s snowshoe building. #

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DIY Bell Siphon for Ebb and Flow Aquaponics with 75 gallon Aquarium

I had a rough week this last week, so I decided I needed to build something. So I built a bell siphon for an ebb and flow grow bed (also called Flood and Drain grow bed_ for the 75 gallon fish tank in the living room. This will allow me to grow plants using the fish water. This is pretty cool, as it means that the plants will remove the nitrate buildup which is the primary reason people need to do partial water changed in their aquariums.

My 75 gallon aquarium in the living room before I added the  aquaponics component to it.
My 75 gallon aquarium in the living room before I added the aquaponics component to it.

The whole thing will be completely automated and cost me less then $50 including buying tools and leaves me with lots of spare parts. 3 pieces of 4 foot PVC pipe with only about 6 inches cut off of each, so I have enough of this to make half a dozen more if I wanted.

A bell siphon is a passive autosiphon device that allows a continuous flow of water into a container to periodically be drained completely out of the container. This is good because it allows me to have my Eheim aquarium canister filter output into the grow bed, and the bell siphon will flush the bed regularly, aerating the plant roots.

To start, I assembled a drain out of plumbing PVC parts. This consists of a stand pipe to go inside the aquarium, 2 fittings to work as a bulkhead nipple, and an offset to route the water around the aquarium lid into the drain tube.

Showing where the tub will go.
Showing where the tub will go.

My wife let me buy the parts and take over the 75 gallon aquarium in the living room with my plants. She had it decorated really nicely, but my plant stand was evicted from its spot to make space in the baby room. They needed a place to go, and I used this as an excuse to work on the aquaponics setup.

Katie and Bella Supervising
Katie and Bella Supervising

I started fiddling with the pieces I had bought and realized that I didn’t get all the right pieces I wanted, but I had gotten enough to make it work.

The bottom half of the bulkhead and the 90 degree angle.
The bottom half of the bulkhead and the 90 degree angle. The angle will provide the offset to go around the tank lid.
A bit of glue oozing into the PVC joint.
A bit of glue oozing into the joint. This needs to be cleaned out to provide less water flow resistance.

I used an antique brace with an adjustable size bit to cut the hole in the plastic. Basically, the edge of the bit would score the plastic. It worked great, except for the plastic cracking.  I siliconed it up, but, to my great annoyance, the silicone was old and didn’t set. I had to clean it off and go get a new tube and try again.

Cracked grow bed bottom
Oohps! I cracked the bottom of the grow bed. No worries, a bit of silicone will fix it right up!

After two days of futzing with this thing, I finally got a dried silicone seal around the stand pipe and over the crack. The grow bed will sit on top of my 75 gallon aquarium so I designed the drain to offset around the aquarium lid. No drilling holes in the lid… yet…

The stand pipe drain for the ebb and flow hydroponics grow bed.
The stand pipe drain assembled and ready to seal in place with silicone

I then made the bell siphon which sets over the stand pipe. I again used my brace and a smaller bit to drill holes in the 3″ PVC pipe. This made it much easier to cut with the PVC cutters I had bought. The 3 inch was just to thick for me to cut otherwise.

PVC holes drilled with a brace and bit
Using a brace and bit to drill holes in the PVC where I will cut it to make the bell siphon.
The bottom of the bell siphon
The notches in the bottom of the bell siphon allows water to flow in easily.

A slight design flaw (um, the drain) left me with a grow bed that wouldn’t sit on the aquarium stand lid. A bit of scrounging around, and I found a plastic crate that I am using. The grow bed sits on the crate, which leaves enough room underneath for the drain to fit. It looks a little precarious, and I would like it to be the 4-5 inches lower, but it works for now.

The aquaponics ebb and flow growbed sitting on the aquarium light hood
The grow bed sitting on the aquarium light hood.
Aquarium filter filling the aquaponics ebb and flow growbed on top of the light hood
The canister filter has nearly filled the growbed. The water height is limited by the height of the stand pipe.
The bell siphon sitting on top of the stand pipe
The bell siphon sitting on top of the stand pipe. This is where the magic happens.
The bell siphon sitting on top of the stand pipe
Looking at the whole bell siphon drain.
Threaded drain gives me options in the future.
The threaded bottom allows me to potentially change how I drain this grow bed if I wanted to.

 

The growbed is continuously filled, and intermittently dumps into the aquarium below.

The drain in the aquarium
The water from the grow bed returns back to the aquarium here. The grow bed is still filling in this photo.
Bell Siphon draining into the aquarium
Bell Siphon draining into the aquarium. See all the water flowing out?

I placed my plants around the grow bed and the few items that where required to stay on the tank stand – family photos. I think it looks pretty good in the house! I hope to grow lettuces and herbs such as basil in it. Things that we eat regularly and are best fresh.

Indoor aquaponics setup on top of a fish tank
I only have desk lights with CFL bulbs right now. I think it looks pretty good!
Living Room Aquaponics in an aquarium
The tank looks good with the aquaponics on top!
I am pretty sure I can’t feed everybody in the photos… yet…

 

UPDATE:

You can visit http://mike.creuzer.com/2011/12/i-doubled-the-sump-space-in-my-aquaponics-rig-today.html to see this same siphon and growbed in use on an expanded system..

Upside down Aquarium

You would think, with all the water I have had on the floor in the last week, that I would not want to try something as crazy as an
upside down fish tank
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Uh-huh. Not me.

Yesterday, during lunch break, I slapped together an inverted tank to put into my nanotank.

You see, upside down fish tank is only telling half the story, you need a regular side up tank as well to make them work. Have you ever done dishes, and pulled a glass out of the dishwater upside down? Notice how the glass stayed full right up until you pulled it out of the water? This fish tank works the same way. You put the upside down tank into another container of water, and suck all the air out of it.

Brilliantly simple, really. I saw it on YouTube.

Upside down aquarium
Upside down aquarium

This is what the upside down tank looks like right after I made it. Notice the two open areas on each end. This allows the fish to swim into it.

Inverted Aquarium in my nano-tank
Inverted aquarium in my nano-tank

Looking down the length of my nano-tank (nanotank means VERY small fish tank – mine’s 4 inches by 4 inches by 4 feet) you can see the inverted tank at the far end. It’s just a tad on the wide side, so didn’t want to go in on one side. I guess my home-made aquarium isn’t perfectly square. I cut the end pieces myself.

Upside down Aquarium in a regular Aquarium
See the 2 platys in the lower right?

Here is the inverted aquarium looking at it from how you would normally see it. There are two fish in it here, you can kinda pick them out against the busy backdrop.

My upside down tank in my nano tank on my 75 gallon aquarium
My upside down tank in my nano tank on my 75 gallon aquarium

The whole mess sits on top of my 75 gallon tank, and is actually functionally part of the 75 gallon tank.

You see, Nano-tanks can be VERY difficult to manage do to their extreme small size. They don’t have any thermal mass, the water can go bad in a matter of hours if something starts to decompose in them. Just fussy tanks all the way around. I cheat, I have a 75 gallon ‘buffer’ tank to act as a filter for my nano tank. Yeah, Yeah, I know. I cheat.

The inverted fish tank is just a prototype. I will probably only keep running it for a few weeks until I make the next version of it (read that as Months or Years).

Not quite as impressive as it sounds, is it?

What do you think?
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