If you’re beyond the beginners stage and find yourself bored with the standard pump and drain system, you may be ready to consider advanced aquaponics techniques. Some of the more common involve CHOP and CHIFT PIST designs. But what are those and what are the differences, if any?
CHOP System vs CHIFT PIST Systems
An Australian guru by the name of Murray Hallam has been playing around with techniques for decades. He’s well known in the field for his forward thinking and successful designs. He originated the these systems so often discussed for higher yield needs and for experienced aquaponic gardeners.
CHIFT PIST is just an acronym for “constant height in fish tank, pump in sump tank”. As you can clearly see, that’s quite a mouthful. But the acronym isn’t much better and often seems rude or vulgar when shared with polite company. But what’s the big deal about this design? This is intended for those who need a higher yield from their harvest and intend to use a lot of fish to accomplish that goal. Therefore, the fish tank is created to be larger than the grow bed and either sit over it or simply tower beside it. A second tank of water, but free of fish, sits below the grow bed. A single sump pump sits at the bottom of that tank.
Gravity circulates the water from the fish tank to the grow bed, and back to the empty tank to be re-sent through the sump pump. Then gravity and the pump in the sump work together to send that flow back to the tank to be repeated. Extra siphons help to ensure overflow isn’t an issue in the grow bed. This method is meant to keep water continuously circulating between the tank and grow bed. Why? Because the constant higher water level is better for the fish. It creates less stress and is supposed to maintain oxygen levels better. And, of course, the continual availability of nutrient based water to the grow bed improves the quality of the harvest.
The benefits are simple enough. Housing the sump pump in a separate tank can help keep fish stress minimized and water temperatures stable. Sump pumps tend to heat the water and that can cause issues for the fish supply. It doesn’t always happen but it can, especially if your system is in a location where the grow beds receive direct sunlight. Extra nutrients that can’t be used immediately by the plants are stored in the sump pump for when they’re needed. In all, it’s intended to deliver a much cleaner water delivery system for both ends of your aquaponics garden.
So then, what’s the difference between CHIFT PIST and CHOP? Good luck figuring that one out. I’m sure at one point, a significant difference was intended, but today most aquaponics gardeners claim they have identical meanings. CHOP is simply an acronym for “constant height, one pump”. It’s clearer and less haughty than the original acronym. In the original CHOP designs, however, extra siphons are often omitted, leaving the work to the simple connecting plumbing pipes. So that may be one simple difference.
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