I think I invented something

A laminar flow pipe reducer for a pump housing. At least, a little bit of Google searching hasn't shown me another.

I am trying to find a cheaper way to heat the 75 gallon aquaponics system in the basement. It's really running closer to 125 gallons of water with a LOT of surface area. This bleeds heat quite quickly, so the electric submersion heaters are expensive to run and I simply don't have enough to keep up with the cold basement sucking the heat out of my tanks.

So, I did something stupid. I rigged up a water line to the furnace and water heater flue. This involved running about 25 feet of 1/4 inch tubing because that's all I had on hand that would go the distance. There are issues with copper being toxic to fish, and cooling the flue, causing Carbon Monoxide to fill the house. So this is not something you want to do yourself.

I needed more water flow. A 3/4 inch pond pump forced down to 1/4 hose just doesn't work very well. Too much restriction to get good flow.

I had to make a water tipper to help my grow bed siphon start and stop. This just fills up with water slowly and then dumps the water at once into the bed. The small water pulse surge is often enough to trigger a slow siphon.

This is fine and dandy, but I have a 3d printer. So I spent some time with a Fluid Dynamics textbook and openscad and came up with an adapter for running multiple hoses out of my pump – http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:54029 

I think it's a first. I haven't found anybody else who made a laminar flow reducer for a pond pump. This thing induces laminar water flow through a series of small honeycomb shaped features inside the adapter.

It was very challenging for me to make, as my math skills aren't up to par. I kinda had to trial and error it instead of solving the problem with math.

In the end, it's designed to be printed, with a center support column running up the center to make the upper section easy to print.

The best part is that the goofy thing works!. I get the same water flow out of the heater line as before PLUS I get 2 additional water lines that are providing a significant additional water flow. I'd expect it to work poorly do to all the plastic that's in the water flow, but it seems to be efficient enough to overcome all the extra gunk in the way.

In album

Seriously stupid going on. Aquarium water heater off the furnace flue.

Water tipper mocked up with various bits to induce a water surge to trigger the bell siphon

Honeycomb feature inside the adapter to induce laminar flow.

3 different hoses come out of this one pump adapter.

I broke the first print in half to verify that it printed the way I wanted it to. (It’s my story, let me tell it the way I want to)

The pump running 3 separate hoses.

Aquaponics Solids Lifting Siphon Overflow Box AKA Johnny Jump Box

It all started with a chat on the homepage of aquaponicscommunity.com with Johnny and Paul. Johnny  said he was trying to figure out how to make a solids lifting siphon overflow box. Now, at first I didn’t think it could be done – having built a weir siphon overflow box in the past. But than I got to thinking… Which lead to a drawing…

drawing of a Solids Lifting Siphon Overflow Box
Drawing of a Solids Lifting Siphon Overflow Box

Which lead to a construction project… using only stuff I had laying around.

You see, I had been wanting to add a sump – a smaller tank under a big fish tank that holds water – to my 75 gallon aquaponics system so that the water level in the main tank stays the same level (and to push the water over 100 gallons and the bragging rights that go with it). But to do that, I would need to build an overflow box. This would tank a fair amount of time and work, and more silicone that I have on hand to finish, using the methods I had already tried...

But not my Fountain Soda Solids Lifting Siphon Overflow Box.

Fountain Soda Solids Lifting Siphon Overflow Box
Fountain Soda Solids Lifting Siphon Overflow Box

A solids lifting siphon overflow box will pull water from the bottom of the tank, where all the fish poo settles. This is a big deal for large aquaponics systems. Not so much a big deal for me right now, as there is only 2 fish in this particular aquarium.

The Jack Dempsey
The Jack Dempsey

But, I digress… what happens in a Siphon Overflow Box is that the water level rises in an aquarium to a certain height where the water flows out of the overflow box into the sump.

Plastic tote as a sump
Plastic tote as a sump

What makes mine unique, is that I made it out of a leftover fountain soda cup. It’s what I had for a water holding container. I would have made a plexi box, but I was lazy and don’t have enough silicone on hand to make it. So I drilled a hole in the bottom of a cup that is just a smidgeon too small for the tubing and pushed hard. This gave me nearly a water tight seal, so a dab of silicone finished the job.

Near watertight joint without silicone
Near watertight joint without silicone

The tube that goes through the bottom of the cup (overflow box) is the stand pipe, which sets the height of the water in the aquarium.

The top tube is the stand pipe, the bottom tube the siphon from the aquarium.
The top tube is the stand pipe, the bottom tube the siphon from the aquarium.

Just trim the tube to the right hight, and you can control the water level in the aquarium. I’ve got it set so it’s just above the bottom of the plastic trim on the top of the tank. The water level rises a bit as the grow bed drains into the aquarium, so I wanted it to be as low as I could and still have the aquarium look full.

These nippers made reaching down and trimming the top of the tube easy.
These nippers made reaching down and trimming the top of the tube easy.

So, with the addition of my super-fancy soda cup aquarium siphon, I now have 1 more thing in my Aquaponics system to go wrong and leak water all over the place. Being an expert in making leaks. I have held up the pickup tube for the water pump so it won’t pump all 30 gallons of water onto my basement floor. It should only be about 10 gallons!

Holding the pickup tube up high to minimize flooding when the siphon fails.
Holding the pickup tube up high to minimize flooding when the siphon fails.

I put the siphon out where I can futz with it and it looks tacky as all get out. When I get the bugs all sorted out, it’s going against the wall side of the tank so it’s less visible.

The Aquaponics corner in the laBOREtory
The Aquaponics corner in the laBOREtory

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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..

Homemade Aqaurium Weir Siphon Overflow Box

First off, what is the world is an aquarium weir siphon overflow box?

Well, everyone knows what an aquarium is, and that I like my fish tanks!
Most people are familiar with a siphon – a hose that allows you to drain water out of a container over the side of the container.
A weir is basically a long dam where the water overflows for the full length of the dam.
An overflow box is a type of aquarium filter.

So, basically, I am making a dam, that siphons water out of a fish tank.
The neat thing about doing it this way, is that the siphon won’t ‘break’ when the water level gets too low, as the weir (or dam) will hold the siphon. Quite a clever setup actually. I wish I had thought of it.
I read about this probably well over a year ago. I did a quick search, and found the same site! http://www.melevsreef.com/acrylics/overflow.html

So, with a quick look over their instructions, I completely disregarded them as to measurements, and made up my own. I just wanted the concept.

So, after much scientific analysis, here are my measurements. Yeah, Yeah, I mocked it up in cardboard. I did actually take a measurement! I measured the inside of my 4″x4″x4′ nano tank. The idea is that I will make a ‘stream’ fish tank like nobody else has!


So, from the 1 measurement, I made it square, as an overflow box MUST be BOX shaped, or it’s an overflow rectangle, and, well, we just can’t have that. I started cutting away at my plastic.

This is a high-precision operation I run hear. Silicone my tolerances! I taped the two sides together, and cut them with a coping saw.

After many long, excruciating seconds calculating the flow rate for the whole contraption, I just held the damn thing up to the tank and eyeballed how high I wanted the water to be in the tank and made the weir element that tall.

Here you can see the start of the inside of the siphon element. You can start to see the difficulties assembly will incur, due to the various bits and pieces getting in the way of sealing the seams. It can really only be assembled from the inside out and be able to be sealed. (high tolerances, remember?)

This is what the completed unit would look like. It’s just taped together here, waiting to be cut apart and glued together.

This is what it looks like hanging on the side of the tank. Pretty cool looking, I think. I need to add the outflow pipes yet. But you can get the idea. The water will overflow the weir on the right side, inside the aquarium. The water will be siphoned over to the left side, where it will overflow the second weir into the outflow box.



Remember those high tolerances. Yeah, you know, measure twice, cut once. Don’t let the ruler slide around as you cut. I have a leak. I turned the thing upside down, and filled the siphon area to see if it will hold water. Nope, my work ‘sucks’ air. No worry. 100% Aquarium silicone to seal up the leak. **grin**.

Do It Yourself CO2 Reactor Construction Details

As promised, here are some more details on the construction of my Home Made CO2 Reactor. This CO2 Reactor is made from a couple of aquarium siphons, and an airline tubing splice connector.

I drilled a hole in the top Siphon Cap the same size as the airline tubing splice connector. I chose to drill the hole as close to the edge of the ridged plastic in hopes that I can give the connection some mechanical strength. I left as much room as I could so there would be enough surface area to make a watertight connection.

Here I am drilling a hole through the plastic siphon hose after I had slipped it back onto the end of the siphon cap. This hole is the same size as the inside of the plastic airline splice peice. I wanted the rubbery hose to form a tight seal around the airline splice.

After a lot of cleaning of the burs in the hose and pushing hard, I finally got the splice to fit inside the hole.

I made an improvised clamp system out of 3 nylon zip ties to hold this whole area toghether. This area leaked a little bit, so I ended up wrapping another zip tie around the elbow of the airline tubing and the siphon tube, to press the airline tubing more tightly against the rubbery hose in hopes of creating a better seal. The water leak seems to have stopped.

In looking at how the completed arrangement thing functions, I may move the airline tubing down into the larger part of the siphon tube. With the airline tubing fitting where it currently is in the hose, a lot of water preasure is trying to make the whole thing leak. I think by moving the airline fitting out of the hose, and into the larger tube, where there is mostly gas as opposed to moving water, I can eleminate the chance of this fitting creating a leak. I also think that I would be able be able to change out one of my Yeast & Sugar CO2 bottles without water trying to flow down the airline tubes when the whole thing is mounted higher then the water level on the fish tank. Posted by Picasa.