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Relatively straightforward question: In an aquaponic system with multiple grow beds, can one bed drain into another (series), or do all beds need to flood/drain independently (parallel)?

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Grow beds can drain parallel or serially but in the latter case a failure anywhere affects the whole system and not just a single bed. So, if for example you were using bell siphons, and one of the siphons stopped working, then water could potentially all dump into one grow bed and never leave.

There's also the issue of solids which accumulate inside the grow beds. You would probably find that the first grow bed in the system would accumulate all the solids if they haven't been prefiltered, and that could affect the drainage.

And finally the plants presumably get less and less nutrient as they pass through the beds so that the bed at the end of the series has the least nutrient present which may not be what you want

  • I am less concerned with the mechanics of it (ex. ensuring drainage) than I am with the nutrient flow. Presumably, not all, or even most, of the nutrients are absorbed by a single bed during a flood period; otherwise, the system would be severely depleted in just a few hours. I am interested to know what is, or isn't, done and why. – Hari Ganti Feb 23 '17 at 5:55
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    Well, there's no guarantee without regular analysis of the water what is present and what is absent. So, you may find that some elements which are not in abundance such as iron and potassium in particular are removed early and lost to those at the end of the run. If you look at those doing vertical hydroponics, often the plants at the bottom grow less well than those at the top. – Graham Chiu Feb 23 '17 at 6:10
  • This is hydroponics, yes Graham? Boy, I think one would have the best chance controlling parallel 'beds'. If you got a disease in one bed it would be transferred to all. One of the biggest draw backs to hydroponics. Fertilizer should not be called nutrients. It is not food. We humans think when we hear 'nutrients' the more the better. Not at all the truth. @GrahamChiu do these systems ALWAYS have fertilizer chemicals in the water? Is there a way to test for excess or too little chemicals in the water? – stormy Feb 23 '17 at 19:21
  • Commercially they test for chemical concentration or just run to waste. Home growers might use a meter to test pH, and EC. – Graham Chiu Feb 23 '17 at 19:34

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