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Aquaponics

Should You Build Aquaponics with Bell Siphons or Floating Raft Kratky Trays?

Designing Aquaponics - Bell Siphon or Floating Raft Kratky Trays?

 

When it comes to designing aquaponics, you can either build your plant grow trays with a bell siphon flood and drain system or you can use a floating raft or Kratky-type grow bin to suspend the roots of your plants in the aquaponics water, leaving a small gap for air and utilizing the water flow of a pump to help aerate the water.  There are advantages and disadvantages to both systems:

PROS AND CONS OF A FLOOD AND DRAIN BELL SIPHON AQUAPONICS SYSTEM:

Flood and drain beds are filled with grow media which are designed to hold the roots of your plants in water-filled bins, while a bell siphon is used to cycle the water in and out of the grow beds and back into the fish tank. The advantages of the flood and drain bell siphon system is that the cycling of the water in and out of your grow beds ensures that the roots of your plants receive enough air to thrive and your fish tank receives enough biofiltration to develop the nitrites in your grow media needed to sustain the bacteria balance of your fish tanks.  The disadvantages of this system are that they are more difficult to clean and maintain as grow media requires periodic washing to ensure fish sludge doesn't not buildup and toxify your system over time, and they are more costly to setup as the grow media than it is used to fill the grow beds can be more expensive to purchase than a floating raft system tray. Another disadvantage of the bell siphon setup is that it is more prone to failure due to clogging and airlocks which can cause grow beds to overflow, losing essential fish water, or over-siphon resulting in insufficient water-levels in your grow beds.

PROS AND CONS OF A FLOATING RAFT / KRATKY BASED AQUAPONICS SYSTEM:

The alternative to a flood and drain bell siphon aquaponics system is a floating raft or Kratky-type grow tray which allows the roots of your plants to be suspended in the aquaponics water all the time.  Because bell siphon allow for a full drain out of the grow beds, they can be better than floating rafts for certain plants that need more exposure to air than kratky/floating raft tray system will provide. Thus, the disadvantages to a floating raft or Kratky type Aquaponics system is that it is only suitable for small vegetable plants, like lettuce and green beans.

If you are planning to grow small vegetables, a floating raft or Kratky tray built with a small air gap for the roots of your plants may be perfect for your needs. The advantages of a floating raft or Kratky-type grow bed is that it is cheaper to build and maintain.  Simply rinsing your grow trays after each harvest and periodically flushing your fish tank water to ensure nitrates do not build up too heavily in your aquaponics system can help to maintain the balance in your system, even without additional grow media.  In the absence of large grow media beds, you can also add additional sponge filters to your fish tanks to ensure proper biofiltration and aeration for your fish.  This is by far the cheapest route you can go to not only setup your small aquaponics system, but it is the easiest system to maintain.

To learn how to develop the safest aquaponics system for your fish and plants, I suggest that you download a copy of our Quick Start Guide to Aquaponics PDF below and check out our Greenhouse Aquaponics Video Course Lifetime Membership Plan at the links below:

Click here to Download your Quick Start Aquaponics PDF guide.
Purchase our Greenhouse Aquaponics Video Course to Learn how to build Aquaponic Gardens in Your Greenhouse.

 

 

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