Tuesday, April 12, 2011

More pictures Barrelponics

I moved the barrelponics from against the house to the edge of the patio by the exterior electrical outlet.

This is where it will stay for a while.

I put some vegetables in to start the cycle.  I planted a lot of different seeds with the thought that the ones I stuck in would work on the water till the new ones started.

This is a picture of the drain pipe draining the water in the drain cycle. I pumped the water from the fish pond on the patio, because the goldfish were doing fine in it.  It has a lot of algae growing in it, so I will see if the roots will clean the water.

This is a picture of the bell siphon with the bell part removed. you can see the water level at the bottom of the grow bed. In the top right you can see the water being pumped into the bed.

This shows the water flowing over the top of the drain pipe and the bell lying on the edge.  You can see a notch cut in the bottom end of the bell to allow the water to flow into the bell and up the pipe and into the drain.  This flushing action starts as soon as I place the bell over the drain pipe.  The small 1" piece of 1/2" pipe glued to the top of the bell is just so I can get hold of it when it is in the sleeve. The sleeve is 3" PVC with holes in the side of it for the water to flow through without the clay balls getting in and clogging the bell siphon. I will be interested in seeing how reliable it is.

This blurry picture is of the drain pipe after the flush. You hear it burp when it sucks air back up to the bell and brakes the flow.

The last picture is the water at the top and overflowing into the drain. It shows that at the full level the water is almost to the top of the grow bed.  When it flushes, it draws oxygen into the grow bed as the water is siphoned off. This prevents the plants form developing any rot. It takes about 4 minutes for a complete cycle.


  1. How big do the fish get? How often does it cycle? GOOD JOB!

  2. Frann, The pump is a 20 watt fountain pump. I will leave it on 24/7. I will adjust it to pump the water as slow as possible. It would be best if it took about 10 minutes for a complete cycle from flush to flush. Currently it only takes about 4 minutes for the cycle. As long as the oxygen is drawn into the root zone and the roots do not dry out, it should be fine. Roots must be kept in the dark also, or they will turn green. This would block their ability to draw in water and nutrients. Also, the size of the fish that I put in are about ¼ lb each. I don’t know how big they will get in that confined space of only 20 gallons. The temperature is more important to maintain. I think that tilapia are one of the more flexible. Trout turn upside down and float at 77°. I’m just learning also, but it looks like a great project for west Texas, as it is very water wise. The larger the system the better it would perform. Still JW has shown us that with the proper water catchment system, you can have an ample water supply. I think that this single barrel is the smallest that is possible to get a cycle balanced. I also think it would support 2 more grow beds of this size. Another barrel might be cut in half to give a total of 3 grow beds per tank. We will see how it goes. And finally, after reading what I just wrote, It makes me wonder if I know what I'm even talking about:)

  3. Do you use an air pump in the tank? Do you filter out the solid waste before pumping into the planter?

  4. etod, I don't use an air pump. I think that the water falling back into the tank from about 18" above in the grow bed will pick up enough oxygen. The fish waste is what the plants use to support growth. It is suspose to provide a complete closed loop cycle. Many others do well on much larger systems, but this is an experiment with a small 20 gallon system. I guess we will see, as time passes. Thanks for stopping by.