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PostPosted: Jun 5th, '21, 23:19 
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Hi I am new to aquaponics and plan on building a system this summer I want to be able to see the fish and have the fish at ground level in a raised bed pond (gold fish) and I am not really able to dig a sump into the ground would something like this work :

Ground level raised bed fish tank pumps up to filter's (that's higher than the fish tank) then flows through bio reactor into NFT and drains back into the fish tank

Few things I've considered:
could the sump also be ground level? if i need one ??
maybe a high up distribution tank ?

Any help would be greatly appreciated


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PostPosted: Jun 7th, '21, 23:55 
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I have a system like this that violates "the rules." My fish pond is 900 gallons and is the lowest part of the system. I do not have a sump (the fish pond IS the sump). The pump draws from the center bottom of the round pond and pumps to an RFF. That drains to the growbeds, which then drain to the pond.

Problems to overcome:

The pump macerates the solids making them harder to separate, but I have a 65 gallon RFF that provides a better dwell time and very slow flow and the solids separate well. I wish it was a cone bottom tank, but oh well.

There is very little difference in height between the bottom of the growbeds and the top of the fish pond, so drainage is a bit tricky but it works.

With no sump, the water level in the pond can vary significantly, and was unacceptable with 10 100 gallon growbeds. So I set up a system of motorized valves that alternate between 3 zones - one every 15 minutes. That really helps minimize the change in water level.

Since the pump draws from the bottom in order to pick up the solids, there is a chance to pump the pond dry if there is a major plumbing issue. I put in a float switch and electric replay to shut off the pump if the water level gets too low.

There are other challenges, but these are the primary issues.

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PostPosted: Jun 8th, '21, 01:39 
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Hi thanks for the reply I don’t plan on having grow beds just NFT so will this help prevent the tank getting low ? Also regarding the solids I plan to use either a swirl or radial then a 2nd filter with sponges to get any finer bits and I was considering a top up tank with a float valve maybe


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PostPosted: Jun 8th, '21, 03:13 
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wolfu5 wrote:
Hi thanks for the reply I don’t plan on having grow beds just NFT so will this help prevent the tank getting low ? Also regarding the solids I plan to use either a swirl or radial then a 2nd filter with sponges to get any finer bits and I was considering a top up tank with a float valve maybe


Remember that when your system is off (like during a power failure) that all the water must be contained somewhere. So if you need to calculate how much water will be in your NFT "tubes" then you will know how much the water level will drop in your tank.

You definitely need a secondary filter for NFT like a MBBR or something - not my area of expertise. I avoid mechanical filters like screens, cloth or sponges because they will clog and the maintenance can be difficult.

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PostPosted: Jun 8th, '21, 13:22 
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As I’ll be pumping from the fish tank which will be the lowest point during a power failure or pump failure surely the water lvl of the fish tank wouldn’t drop as any water in the system will end back in the tank and then stay there as it’s not being pumped? ?


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PostPosted: Jun 9th, '21, 02:50 
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wolfu5 wrote:
As I’ll be pumping from the fish tank which will be the lowest point during a power failure or pump failure surely the water lvl of the fish tank wouldn’t drop as any water in the system will end back in the tank and then stay there as it’s not being pumped? ?


Correct. The water level will drop while your pump is on. How much it will drop depends on the size of your tanks and how many NFT tubes you are feeding.

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PostPosted: Jun 12th, '21, 01:36 
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Since I plan to pump from the fish tank what filter would be best I was thinking a swirl then a sponge filter or maybe even combine the two into a single drum before it goes into a moving bed bio reactor

Also if I was to split the pump too pump maybe to s second nft would that also need it’s own filter system too I’m thinking it probably does


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PostPosted: Jun 12th, '21, 02:57 
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NFT requires water with no solids, so any flow to NFT needs to be taken after the filters. Especially if you are pumping from the FT and the solids are ground up into fine particles by the pump. From the RFF I believe you can go to a MBBR then the NFT system, but MBBR and NFT are not my area of expertise.

I use an RFF with bird netting and a matala filter pad on top. I run NFT type tubes on occasion. When I do I a type of MBBR with a 5 gallon bucket, some k1 media and a filter pad on top. Mechanical filters like sponges or floss clog frequently and need a lot of maintenance. They will cause reduced flow, and overflows depending on the design.

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PostPosted: Jun 26th, '21, 01:58 
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Hi I have a question regarding the net rails/pipes I want to use 4 inch pipes but there so expensive in the uk I’ve found 110mm drainage pipes will these work??there an orange brown colour tho does this matter ?


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PostPosted: Jul 2nd, '21, 07:27 
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Not sure when there was ever a rule saying a sump was part of an AP system, PIFT has been the kiss method since dot.
One of the things is that the mineralisation of the fish waste in the gbs is beneficial to the plant health, creating the bio system that is AP. Remove the fish waste from the water and you need another form of waste mineralisation.
I like to keep it simple, cleaning filters weekly can be fun during the honeymoon period but after a year or so a bore. How do you clean a sponge filter which would also be the biofilter, and keep the water once the sponges are disturbed out of the system?
I’m not saying it can’t be done, obviously DST does this successfully and give it a go by all means but to me in this situation hydroponics would be more suited and proven.

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PostPosted: Jul 3rd, '21, 13:59 
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Reason for the sump is I need a low point for pipes to return drain into and I want my pipes quite low to the ground to allow for grow height also I need somewhere to have the pump I haven’t decided if I’d bother with a second filter yet probably going to just go from a radial flow then into a mbbr

I’m not sure what a PIFT OR DST stands for

If there’s any possible way to have the sump above ground that would be beneficial but I don’t see how I can get pipes that would be lower than the sump to flow int the sump or even a way to totally remove the sump I just don’t see how but what do I know I’m still learning


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PostPosted: Jul 3rd, '21, 16:59 
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In order to get good advice probably the best thing to do is to sketch up your proposed system design and get feedback on it, then people can point to what will or won't work and to potential issues etc.

Sump tanks are only really considered necessary when people are operating flood and drain growbeds, which leads to fluctuating water levels elsewhere in the system. You don't really want the water level in your fish tank to fluctuate much or it will stress the fish, therefore sump tanks are typically included as the lowest part of the system which houses the pump and exxperiences the fluctuating water levels.

If you are only growing your plants in NFT and there is no flood and drain cycle going on, then the water level in all parts of your system wil be constant and there's no real need for a sump.

The problem with pumping from the fish tank is macerating the solids as has already been mentioned... perhaps you could pump from the mbbr up to the nft tubes


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PostPosted: Jul 4th, '21, 15:17 
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The main reason I see a sump tank being needed Simply for a low point for the nft rails to drain into as they will be lower than all other water levels (almost ground level) and I don’t see a way around this

Any suggestions

And regarding drawing up a sketch I couldn’t add it to the post when I tried initially


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PostPosted: Jul 5th, '21, 18:38 
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its true the images needed to be below a certain number of pixels, its a bit confusing and time consuming but it can be done if you edit the image.

I guess if your nft tubes have to be the lowest part of your system then yes, you do need a sump to recieve the water flowing from them.

My question would be if you're able to place a sump at a lower point than the nft tubes, how come you can't put your fish tank there?

I see that you wouldn't need a very big sump as the water level won't fluctuate much, but the smaller it is the greater the risk of it running dry due to evaporation and the more diligently you will need to top the system up.


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PostPosted: Jul 5th, '21, 22:14 
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I could have the fish tank as the lowest point but I don’t really want the fish below ground :s

And yes the sump wouldn’t need to be huge but sizing it right I was going for about a 400 l sump volume hopefully that’s big enough now real way to tell until it’s up and running ?

I think the easiest way is to just do what I didn’t really want to and just dig the sump into the ground I’ve made my peace with it now


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