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I just completed my 35 gallon, 1:1 ratio, flood and drain system, and I want to cycle the system with fish, probably gold fish.  Are there any store bought chemicals that help with the cycling and promote bacteria growth?

Also, my grow bed is 3 feet long and 2 foot wide, and thoughts on the most economical(initial cost) light to use.  (going to be growing leafy greens and Basil to start).  How many hours per day should the light be on?

Thanks.

Brandon B.

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Initial costs for that size system? I'd have to say T-8 fluorescents. The work actually work really well if you keep them within a couple of inches from the tops of your plants at all times (which can be a pain when they're not all relatively the same height), and change out the tubes every 6 months.

At the moment I'm testing out PL-L lighting rig that I'm pretty sweet on as being a potentially lower cost/more effective alternative to the High Output T-5's. http://aquaponicscommunity.com/group/artificiallighting/forum/topic...

If you don't have a timer and don't care about the slightly higher bill, 24/7 wont hurt anything, but generally there is no benefit to keeping the lights on beyond 16 to 18 hours a day. (This is of course during vegetative growth phases, which is probably all you would need to concern yourself with with those plants you mentioned. 

Yes, ammonia :) of course you could make your own too (usually called 'humonia')

Starting the bacteria the biggest help is likely to be the water temperature so if you can bring that up then you would get much better bacterial growth.  25-30 degrees is best, and below that bacteria growth slows by about half at around 18 degrees.  

As Vlad said, 'humonia' can work - pee in a bottle... leave it for a week for the ammonia to really develop and then throw it in.  Alternatively if you can get bacteria from an established, disease-free system then that would be a big help - maybe ask for waste gravel, or water from a local aquarium... but you need to be confident that there are no diseases present.

All-told though, water temp might be your best friend.

"Are there any store bought chemicals that help with the cycling and promote bacteria growth?"

 

Yes, and no.... bottled "bacterial" starters... no...

As bacteria principally need an ammonia source to begin cycling... then yes... "pure" ammonia, urea...

 

Or as suggested "humonia"... but I don't think you can buy it in a store...

 

BUT... as you intend to cycle WITH fish.... you DONT need ANY of the above... the fish will do it all for you..

And adding other things could well spike your ammonia.. and kill your fish...

JA is definitely on to something with those temps. I'd have to add... don't fight your pH if it is high while trying to establish your bio-filter (AKA cycling)!!! Higher pH at that point and time is a good thing for your system .(This changes of course once you have a fully established,cycled, plant growing system). Keep your temps up, keep your pumps on 24/7 and I would highly advise you to read this http://theaquaponicsource.com/2010/11/01/starting-your-aquaponics-s...

Unless you are dead set on a cycling with (and don't mind potentially killing a bunch of) fish.

Being confident that there are no diseases present at the local aquarium is a tough one (I'd rather not leave such a thing to luck, again though if you have a friend you know and trust to have such a fish tank (or trust that he thinks he does) than that may be a killer way to speed things up. Still no guarantee. 

Yes, there are other store bought products of the type that you were thinking of but generally people will tell you not to bother with them as they generally don't work. As long as you have a sane amount of ammonia to 'feed' them they will show up themselves. I would urge you to read that link if you haven't already.

sorry... i missed that you were cycling with fish.  

The aquarium help for the bacteria might help a little, but definitely no need for the humonia.... currently sold in France it seems?!  http://www.agronutrition.com/1-27211-Fiche-produit.php?id=2895

",but it does jumpstart your aquarium bacteria: SafeStart by Tetra. It's a bottle of bacteria, basically.".... nope basically it's a bottle of water.. with some dead bacteria in it... and nope.... it wont do diddly squat... any faster than nature will without it...

You can start on the fast-track with some aquarium water, or better yet, a bucket of gravel from a fellow aquapon's growbed. When I'm planning to expand, I add a few 5 gallon buckets of gravel to the flood and drain loop. In a week, add gravel to new system. Presto

Now that's the way to do it....

Vlad,

Thanks for your help.  I have gone through that article as well as a few others.  I'm leaning towards cycling with out fish.  It seems the process is: if you use 100% pure ammonia, is to add ammonia to the tank until you reach a 5pmm ammomnia level, then add that amount daily until Nitrites appear, at that point cut back ammonia does to half, once Nitrates appear you should be ready for fish.  A few questions:

Do you have any rules of thumb on how much Ammonia to initially add daily for a 35G tank?

Once the Nitrates appear, and you add fish, do you completely stop adding ammonia?  It seems you would need to be careful, if the bacteria have been used to a certain quantity of food and that is altered by adding fish vs adding Ammonia they could die off?  Is this correct?

Do you recommend using liquid seawead or maxicrop to the water to provide addtional nutrients for the plants?

Thanks Again,



Vlad Jovanovic said:

JA is definitely on to something with those temps. I'd have to add... don't fight your pH if it is high while trying to establish your bio-filter (AKA cycling)!!! Higher pH at that point and time is a good thing for your system .(This changes of course once you have a fully established,cycled, plant growing system). Keep your temps up, keep your pumps on 24/7 and I would highly advise you to read this http://theaquaponicsource.com/2010/11/01/starting-your-aquaponics-s...

Unless you are dead set on a cycling with (and don't mind potentially killing a bunch of) fish.

Being confident that there are no diseases present at the local aquarium is a tough one (I'd rather not leave such a thing to luck, again though if you have a friend you know and trust to have such a fish tank (or trust that he thinks he does) than that may be a killer way to speed things up. Still no guarantee. 

Yes, there are other store bought products of the type that you were thinking of but generally people will tell you not to bother with them as they generally don't work. As long as you have a sane amount of ammonia to 'feed' them they will show up themselves. I would urge you to read that link if you haven't already.

What fish are you planning to run eventually, Brandon? If it's tilapia, then don't worry about it. They are tougher than we are. Personally I'd skip the goldfish, as they randomly die anyway, often leading to the assumption that something is wrong or diseased. Diseased aquarium water? Sure it's possible, and lightening might strike us on the way to work tomorrow. Seriously, fish diseases are typically directly caused by poor water conditions, both in chemistry and temperature for target fish. If a disease is present and you have a heated and aerated system, the disease will be eked out by beneficial bacteria.

Fishless cycling is a great way to go, I'm not knocking it. But a bucket of local aquarium water or gravel is better, in my opinion and experience. If your system can't fight an introduced disease, as romote as that may be, then you are bound for troubles anyway. Remember, diseases are both air and water borne, and when using ammonia to cycle, you are completely relying on airborne nitrifying bacteria to infiltrate your water and set up camp, just as likely as disease. At least healthy aquarium water already has a dominate population of the good stuff.

I agree with Vlad, t-8 lights cheapest for your initial buck for a tiny grow like yours, and actually more efficient than HO t-5 light. If you're actually expecting some produce from grow, just buy an HID. I personally like vertical CMH bulbs with no reflector, hung as side light for tall plants, or short plants in towers. If light is not hitting leaves, then it is wasted, so surround your bulbs with plants. You can't do this with flouros, because 1/2 is reflected off the back, and of that half, 1/2 again is lost back into the light tube itself.

I get mine here: http://advancedtechlighting.com/cdmed18.htm

$52 per bulb (buy 3, 4th free) and $69 per ballast kit, comes to $120 for 400 watts, or about $.35 per watt. Cheapest home depot t-8 shoplight and bulbs is about $30 for 64 watts, or about $.50 per watt. Hydro store HO t-5 is $400 for a 396 watt, or a buck per watt. In the short run, and the long run, HPS or CMH is cheaper and better in every way

You may not need to add that amount daily (but then you may), just keep the ammonia between say 2 to 6 ppm. Try not to go too much beyond that as you may inhibit the bacteria with high concentrations of ammonia. Keep that up til Nitrates apear, cut dosing amount in half etc...you may or may not notice your nitrite 'spike'...Keep that up until Nitrates appear. Once you can consistently (couple of days in a row) dose your ammonia (to whatever amount your using) and within 24 hours have that drop down to 0.0 ppm and your Nitrites are at (ideally) 0.0 and you of course at this point should already have Nitrate readings getting stronger. Withhold ammonia dosing for 2 or 3 days, then add your fish. 

Take 5 gallons of water add a drop of ammonia and test the reading. Calculate out for 35 gallons from there. (whatever it took to get you in good ppm range multiplied by 7). 

Yes, you completely stop adding ammonia then, actually even earlier... a few days before adding fish (don't take much longer than that as you starve the bacteria off, so to speak).

Yes, I would suggest Maxicrop. Liquid seaweed IDK. Maxi crop like Seasol, and the only similar product I have access to where I live Kelpak are basically full of auxin and cytokinin extracts as well as many good trace elements. All three products have almost no NPK value, and are about the only thing that I would add at that point.

You could also review the many threads on proper cycling by typing that word into the "search" field at the top right-hand side of this (and all) page if you haven't already. Sometimes other than being a good way to research a particular topic on this forum, you may come across other valuable info (even it if is in the form of 'what NOT' to do)

Good point about re-strike, that's why a good reflector is important. Not as ideal as surrounding the light with leaves. But a good reflector design helps alot. I was surprised when running the initial investment as well as cost to run numbers for a larger operation as to how close the T-8 vs HID actually were! And any savings quickly disappear within the second year due to the bulb replacement costs. But again, this was for a specific situation much much different than Brandons. Personally I am using one of those lights that you linked Jon, 250Watt MH, and would definitely feel comfortable recommending  them as well, vertical or otherwise.

Everything else I have (which is only 4 more ballasts, again from Phillips each with their own Son-T-Agro 430Watt bulbs. It's a 'tweaked' HPS bulb with an added 30% more blue light than a standard HPS bulb (as in MH type blue) element for help with veg. One bulb for the entire life cycle of the plant. (That's the idea anyways). Seems pretty solid thus far. Can't wait till they go into full blown production mode.
BTW...people do get hit by lightning from time to time :)
Jon Parr said:

What fish are you planning to run eventually, Brandon? If it's tilapia, then don't worry about it. They are tougher than we are. Personally I'd skip the goldfish, as they randomly die anyway, often leading to the assumption that something is wrong or diseased. Diseased aquarium water? Sure it's possible, and lightening might strike us on the way to work tomorrow. Seriously, fish diseases are typically directly caused by poor water conditions, both in chemistry and temperature for target fish. If a disease is present and you have a heated and aerated system, the disease will be eked out by beneficial bacteria.

Fishless cycling is a great way to go, I'm not knocking it. But a bucket of local aquarium water or gravel is better, in my opinion and experience. If your system can't fight an introduced disease, as romote as that may be, then you are bound for troubles anyway. Remember, diseases are both air and water borne, and when using ammonia to cycle, you are completely relying on airborne nitrifying bacteria to infiltrate your water and set up camp, just as likely as disease. At least healthy aquarium water already has a dominate population of the good stuff.

I agree with Vlad, t-8 lights cheapest for your initial buck for a tiny grow like yours, and actually more efficient than HO t-5 light. If you're actually expecting some produce from grow, just buy an HID. I personally like vertical CMH bulbs with no reflector, hung as side light for tall plants, or short plants in towers. If light is not hitting leaves, then it is wasted, so surround your bulbs with plants. You can't do this with flouros, because 1/2 is reflected off the back, and of that half, 1/2 again is lost back into the light tube itself.

I get mine here: http://advancedtechlighting.com/cdmed18.htm

$52 per bulb (buy 3, 4th free) and $69 per ballast kit, comes to $120 for 400 watts, or about $.35 per watt. Cheapest home depot t-8 shoplight and bulbs is about $30 for 64 watts, or about $.50 per watt. Hydro store HO t-5 is $400 for a 396 watt, or a buck per watt. In the short run, and the long run, HPS or CMH is cheaper and better in every way

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