How Flood and Drain Aquaponics Works: Animation

We had a number of requests to show how a simple Flood and Drain or Ebb and Flow Aquaponics System works. This animation we created is based on our own Aquaponics setup we use here at Eco Films. It’s a terrific design that has consistently performed well and never failed us in constant use now for the last 18 months. In fact it has performed brilliantly.

Press the red button to stop and start the animation:

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Murray Hallam created the kit we use called “The Maximus” because it is designed to maximise the most grow bed space using the super sized fibreglass growbeds that he manufactures. In fact I do believe we bought the first unit from his production line. In any case that’s our kit as featured on his website. We have grown all sorts of vegetables in it and the system just keeps getting better with age. Like fine wine, the reason we believe because over time a rich array of beneficial microbes, colonize the system enabling nature to do her thing.

Balcony Maximus Aquaponics System

The fish tank is just under 1 cubic meter square and supports three grow beds. The two larger ones are each 585 litres capacity. The Flood and Drain cycles occurs every 14 minutes. There is a smaller growbed positioned above the main fish tank of about 200 litres. It could also serve as a nursery tank for juvenile fish but we also use it as a grow bed. It’s flood and drain cycle occurs every 7 minutes. There is nothing special about the cycle times. Other beds with different siphons will differ.

The main disadvantage of Flood and Drain is if you play the animation you will see the water level in the fish tank drops a bit and rises as the grow beds flood and drain. Now imagine if your outlet pipes sprung a leak? All the water in your fish tank would be pumped out resulting in dead fish! It imperative to keep your water level in the fish tank as high as possible by checking your fish tank at least once a week and top up with water, especially in Summer as a lot water can be lost through normal plant transpiration. In Murray’s Maximus system he has introduced a Ball Float that tops up water automatically. In a well built system like ours, Flood and Drain Aquaponics has proven to be durable and robust. A CHOP system for some people may a better solution. See our other post on CHOP for a comparison to this Flood and Drain system.

Murray’s kit systems are recognized around Australia as the Gold Standard in Aquaponics because they are built to last for 30 to 50 years! A year and a half later, the timber cover on the fish tank we have has weathered and lost a bit of it’s shine, but the kit has performed extremely well, day and night, flooding and draining like a great pair of lungs. The fish have matured and grown and we’ve eaten countless vegetables and salads – and fish!