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How to Troubleshoot Auto-Siphon

Discussion in 'General Aquaponics discussion - Aquaponics system ' started by Mike Guidry, May 31, 2017.

  1. Mike Guidry

    Mike Guidry New Member

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    Hi there,

    I am building a CHOP Mark 2 system and I made the siphons today. The standing pipe is 7" by 1", the shroud body is 9" by 2" and the bell siphon is 10" by 4" (I hope I'm using the correct terms). When I put all the siphons on my system with the water running to do a quick check, the grow beds emptied their water and the sump overflowed within 5 minutes. I took the siphons off and left only the standing pipe, and everything went back to normal. I put the shroud body on (9" by 2") and the grow bed emptied again.

    Because I don't really understand the functions of each component, I don't know how to troubleshoot it. I tried various modifications, including drilling more holes, and none seem to work. I would love some suggestions from the community on how to diagnose the issue.

    These pics probably aren't the best, but let me know what kind of pics you need to see.

    Thanks!
     

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  2. Mark L

    Mark L New Member

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    Have a look at these videos:




    To troubleshoot, if your siphon wont start properly, and just dribbles, then increase the water flow into your growbed. If the siphon wont stop, then reduce the water flow into your grow bed. Took me a while to get mine working properly, but once set, you can walk away and leave it.

    Lots of good videos on youtube and vimeo if you need them, just search for aquaponics and the component.
     
  3. Mel Redcap

    Mel Redcap Active Member

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    Hi Mike, I'm actually not sure what you need help with - is it the sump overflowing? That usually means the sump is too small, but your pictures look like you're trialing the siphons with no media in the growbed, which means that the volume of water you're shifting around is about three times as much as will be in the growbed once the media is in. Your sump might be big enough as it is.

    If the problem is that the siphons drain the growbed and then don't stop running, so that your growbed stays empty, then (like Mark L says) you need to reduce your water flow.

    If you post a diagram of how exactly your system is set up, with dimensions and volumes, we can help more!
     
  4. Robert123

    Robert123 Active Member

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    Sump needs to hold all the water with all the grow beds empty at the same time. If it doesn't, then it's just a matter of time till the sump overflows. It WILL happen. Simple as that. All the siphons do is a drain / fill operation. Your sump has to be big enough to hold everything when all is drained at once.
     
    pushbroom likes this.
  5. Danscraft

    Danscraft VIP Supporter

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    Mike, All good tips posted above there. When you find the sweet spot in your tuning will honor you celebration because when you get that sweet spot in the tuning it goes for long time. Then if you ever do get a snag, like a stuck flood and drain it may just be a tiny adjustment of the inflow tap to fix it. Long term it may be to clear gunk build up in the tap that just means turning it full off to full on a few times. Then set it back to that sweet spot you get to know.
    I'll say that on my 4 year old system now. Stuck auto syphons was only a problem in the beginning. Rarely an adjustment long term.


    Oh, and don't skimp on the sump tank. Its better to be oversized than undersized.
    My system is a 1000lt IBC tank for the fish tank. - Radial Flow Filter at 200lt.
    600lt IBC sump tank.
    4 X IBC grow beds.
    To top up system to full water volume maximum capacity. (While the system is running)
    Pull out the stand pipes of the grow beds so they are all empty at the same time.
    Then top up the sump tank to full capacity. That's it. Reassemble all your auto syphons.
    So I consider my system is ~ 1800lt -full water capacity. (Beds drained)
    Hope that helps some.
    :cool:
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2017
  6. Mike Guidry

    Mike Guidry New Member

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    1. How long should it take to fill up the grow bed?
    2. How long should it take to empty the grow bed and get the siphon to break?
    3. Do the siphon holes need to be higher?
    4. Also, how tall should my standing pipe be? The IBC tote is cut to roughly 14 inches.
    Alright, all the feedback was very helpful and the videos helped me to get a much better grasp on how siphons work. I still am having some trouble with the siphon and was hoping for some tips from the community. I can get it to siphon, but it either seems to be way too high and the siphon is going really fast, or that the inflow rate has to be so low that it takes about 90 - 120 minutes to fill the grow bed back up. I am wondering if the siphon holes drilled into the bottom are high enough? It seems that if I put the inflow rate much higher that the siphon never breaks. But frankly, I'm still a bit of a loss. Let me know if there are some steps I should be taking to determine where the issues lies. I am included some pics and video, and hope that helps.
     
  7. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    First things first Mike, without gravel media in the GB it's going to take at least 3x as long for the GB to both fill and drain. Once you've filled the GB with gravel you will need far less water flow into the GB to get the siphon working.

    Secondly, I'm not sure if yours is fixed in place or not, but testing the siphon without the entire setup being fixed in place with the bell centrally located over the standpipe, makes it much harder to get working and far less reliable.

    Also, you need more holes/slots in the outer gravel guard, so the water can flow as freely as possible.

    Plus, you don't need all those elbows in the return line after the siphon.

    As far as the videos are concerned, disregard the section in the first video about putting the slots/water inlets at the bottom of the bell, for two reasons: One, it makes the siphon much less reliable when it comes to cutting off at the end of the drain cycle. Two, it means you'll be constantly sucking any fish waste etc from the bottom of the GB and dumping it back into the FT and/or ST.

    See the pic below to get some ideas on good siphon design. I've sold hundreds of these siphon kits, they are extremely simple (The K.I.S.S. principle reigns supreme when it comes to siphon design) and extremely reliable... We are yet to have a customer that hasn't been able to get one running reliably.

    Cheers!

    Hayden.
     

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  8. baseman1703

    baseman1703 Member

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    Hi Mike I'm new to all this as well and took me ages to get sorted with the bell siphon and made about 6 or 7 before I got it right. Looks like you have a fairly large pump but not much flow into the tank. Might be worth having a look. But as the others have said you need the media in as well.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  9. Danscraft

    Danscraft VIP Supporter

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    I noticed your drain pipe (tail pipe) had a 45 angle piece at the end pointing up. That's no good. What I found is, its easier to take a photo for reference (below).
    Its like tuning a car engine it needs a certain amount of backpressure in the tail pipe or it just will never run properly.
    2 Right angles is what I found is the key in a space limited way. Down from the bed then a right angle, horizontal lenghth (4 to 6 inches, variables are forgiving) then a right angle at the end to spill horrizontally. Tilt up or down for fine tuning but horizontal is the sweet spot. In a perfect tune, water can only drain downwards with no upturns or waterlock situations or the syphon wont break.


    These are a few of my auto syphon tailpipes. I hope it makes sense. First is 1 inch tailpipe splashes into a singular tank. The later is next size up pipe (32mm) tailpipes/drain into a stormwater pipe then into a sump tank. There is forgiveness in variations. A few of my autosyphons have significant leans to them but still work like a clock. Like months before a forced adjustment, or maintenance. Its only bio buildup on the pumps or the inflo tap that vary their output, that will cause my syphons to fail.
     

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    Last edited: Jun 7, 2017
  10. Danscraft

    Danscraft VIP Supporter

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    Oh, and over sized your pump is good with workable bonuses . (eg. pressure release tap that sprays and oxygenates the water/excess pressure while easing the stress on your pump).

    Undersized on pump will never work. Close to right size pump will also fail or cause frustrations.
    This is a key point. Just gotta say it from experience. Think for the pump water to flow easy for every part of the system with ample pressure supply.
     
  11. Robert123

    Robert123 Active Member

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    Yep. Just put a valve on the discharge into the grow bed and you can tune the water flow to your needs with no effort :)
     
  12. Mike Guidry

    Mike Guidry New Member

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    Lots of great feedback here! I'm going to remake the siphons today and let you know how it goes. I think I will try using Rob's design, since I really like his modification to the outer shroud.

    Here's something I haven't really heard discussed in detail, even though Murray just briefly touches on it in one of his videos. How important is the difference in height, and/or the difference in diameter from the stand pipe to the bell siphon? Does it matter if the bell siphon is 1 inch (25m) away from the top of the stand pipe? 5 inches (127 mm)? What about the diameter? I am using 1 inch (25mm) stand pipe, but 2 inch (50 mm) bell siphon, will that work okay? If I used 3 inch (75mm) would that be better or worse?

    Thanks!
     
  13. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    What modification is that?
     
  14. hopkinsnoni

    hopkinsnoni New Member

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    Are the sumps necessary?

    Sent from my F103 Pro using Tapatalk
     
  15. Robert123

    Robert123 Active Member

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    Hopefully it's not the slots in the bottom of the bell. That's a design flaw I did myself. Makes for dirty water after some time operating. Best to move the slots up into holes like on your bells. Keeps water cleaner longer. Good design dude. (y)
     
  16. Robert123

    Robert123 Active Member

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    Simple answer... yes.
     
  17. hopkinsnoni

    hopkinsnoni New Member

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    Thank you robert, pls if i understand the the meaning of sumps, what it does is remove excess water?, then secondly how do i knw wen the fishes have excreted to be able to flush out the water from the fish tank, and hw do i pump out water from the fish tank without taking out all the water, is there gonna be another tank filling up the water leaving the fish tank?

    Sent from my F103 Pro using Tapatalk
     
  18. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    ......................................................................................
    :thumbsup2:
    Cheers!
    .
     
  19. Yabbies4me

    Yabbies4me Administrator Staff Member

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    Hi hopkinsnoni.

    The idea of a sump is to allow for fluctuations in the water level as grow beds flood and drain, without affecting the fish tank water level.

    When running a system with auto siphons (bell siphons) the pump runs 24/7, so you don't have to be concerned with when the fish have excreted, they are doing that 24/7 as well.

    There are a number of ways you can do it, but probably the most common direction of flow in a system with a sump tank and siphons, is as follows:

    - Pump in sump tank (ST) pumps water up to the grow bed.
    - The grow bed (GB) drains via the siphon down to the fish tank.
    - The fish tank (FT) water overflows through a Solids-Lifting-Overflow (SLO) back to the sump tank.

    So as follows: ST > GB > FT > SLO > ST
    .
     
  20. Robert123

    Robert123 Active Member

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    Hop,

    Yabbies gave you a pretty good explanation. Basically the sump is where the water drops to from the grow beds. In the case is simple "toteaponics" (single tote designed systems) the sump and the fish tank are one. Problem is the level of the water in the tote goes up and down and some fish don't like that.

    Anyway, hope you understand now the basics of the systems. Have fun.
     

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