Loop siphons are an interesting beast, so I'm going to have a look at them.
I am currently using either a plastic cup scrunched into the gap that I made too small for a proper siphon, or a small glass jar as a bell in my strawberry grow bed. The strawberries are suffering a bit and they don't look as healthy as the strawberry plants I put in the dirt.
We cant have that.
One of the problems with the scrunched plastic cup and small glass jar,was that they make the water level too low for the strawberry plants. What I needed was a normal every day siphon.
I suspect that people tend toward either bell siphons or loop siphons based on which one they got to work first. Now, I know bell siphons are better, but I don't know why I think that, so I built a proper loop siphon.
One that works.
A pile of junk is always a good place to start.
I didn't work.
In fact it's kind of difficult to see in this picture, because there really isn't anything that looks like a loop.
The reason I made it like this is because black poly pipe doesn't like to bend.
I suspect I could have made it work by messing about with the flow for a bit longer, but I thought I should make something a bit more conventional because it was, after all, for a blog post.
And it also worked perfectly the first time without any adjustment
Which isn't very loopy.
Anyway, it seems to be quite reliable, and I can see no reason why I wouldn't use another one in some future build.
for some reason it isn't as interesting as a bell siphon. For one thing it doesn't make any interesting noises. That could be a plus.
It takes 13 and a half minutes to complete a full flood and drain cycle.
This is the view looking down the media guard when the grow bed is full.
This is roughly at the 6 and a half minute mark, so half way through the cycle.
One frequent question is "How long should the flood and drain cycle be?", and after lots of reading and personal experiment, I can confidently say it doesn't matter.
But that's not entirely true.
You don't want your media to dry out, because the plants will die. And as far as over watering goes, you don't want plants that don't like to be too wet (I found strawberries and capsicum plants fall into this category).
So as a guide, I'd say anything between ten minutes and an hour and a half should be ok. aim for something in the middle, and don't care if you are a bit off.
As for loop siphons, a few things to remember are...
* don't make your loop too big because the pipe needs to seal with water to become a siphon, and a long gentle curve seems to work better. The longer it is, the less it will trigger in a nice decicive way. It will probably still work, but if your loop siphon is making lots of false starts it might need the loop to be tightened a bit. Mine loop is around 20cm in diameter, which is about as tight as garden hose likes to be bent.
*There is a range of flow at which a siphon will both trigger, and also stop. To make a siphon easy to calibrate, just add a tap to the water going into the grow bed. If it doesn't start, you need more flow. (or reduce the diameter of the loop tube), it it doesn't stop, you need less flow (or increase the size of the loop tube's diameter).
*Remember that if you have more than one grow bed, any adjustment to how much water you direct into one grow bed, will probably effect how much is going to the other.
This is a good idea for any style of siphon if you have more than one grow bed.
The water that goes back to the sum just adds aeration to the water, so it isn't wasted.
Another use for the diverted water might be to feed a constant flood growbed, where the amount of water can vary without concern.
*It seems that the siphon triggers more decisively when the exit end is pointing straight down. The direction or angle of the entry end of the loop didn't seem to make any difference in my experiments.
My 500ml jug took 11.3 second to fill at the hose bringing water to the grow bed, and 5.1 seconds to fill at the pipe draining water out of the grow bed.
My siphon's loop is made from 12mm (internal) garden hose.
I don't think there is a lot of difference between a bell siphon, and a loop siphon. In future, I'll be using whichever one I feel like making at the time.
The only disadvantage I can think of is that if you were making a very large diameter on, the loop might be difficult to make because big pipe tends to be thick pipe, and think pipe doesn't like to bend. You could probably scale the loop up to any size, but the loop might take up a lot of space. A Bell siphon can be scaled up to any size and not take up a lot of space.
Advantages include that with a loop siphon, you can adjust your water depth in a grow bed simply by repositioning your loop a little higher (the top of the loop sets the grow bed water height), and a loop siphon is probably a bit cheaper to make.
120 Things in 20 years changed it's mind about loop siphons in aquaponics.
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