As promised, below is a short video which hopefully explains the new clarifier set up.
To summarize, the original clarifier was a swirl filter. It was made out of a 55 gallon barrel mostly buried in the ground. It worked fairly well in terms of trapping heavy particles (i.e., negatively buoyant particles) but I had no way of easily cleaning it. The only way to clean it was by temporarily pumping the water out and then scooping the sludge off the bottom. This was very time consuming, and inefficient.
In order to be able to clean it properly, the barrel should be cone-bottomed with a drain line attached. I have not been able to find any cone-bottomed barrels of a suitable size. There are some for sale that I could attach a drain line to, but they are much too large for my system, and I don't even think they'd easily fit in the space I have available.
This is the smallest available cone-bottomed barrel I could find. It holds 303 gallons and measures 1.16 meters across - much too large!!
I don't even want to think of the sized hole that would have to be dug to incorporate this thing.
Because of all this, and looking for something smaller, I decided to try and use a reconfigured 5 gallon jug, like the kind that go on those water fountains:
Placed upside down and cutting the bottom off, these have a built-in cone and an easy way to plumb a drain line in. I took one of these jugs, cut it in half, and drew the profile out on a piece of rubber (in this case an old dog house):
I then took a second jug, cut the bottom off, and inserted the divider down the middle. It was glued in place using Duretan. I clamped a hose onto the neck and attached a PVC drain line onto that, and then buried the jug from the cone-down into the ground.
The result can be seen in the video below:
This thing works OK so far. Maybe I will like it better with time. I am not 100% convinced right now but it is definitely better than the prior set up with the unclean-able barrel.
As for the plants, they're doing well, especially since the world didn't end on Saturday. Here's an update: