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Just started my system cycling my system on November 11th. I am using Clear Ammonia. When I started the system I accidentally added too much ammonia bringing the level to 8 ppm. I have not added any ammonia since then. My last 3 readings have had an odd color to them, a deep aquamarine, blueish tint, not on the master aquarium test sheet for ammonia. All my prior readings were the proper color for 8.0 ppm. I have add seaweed solution just to help the plants in the grow bed. (mostly lettuce.) Anyone have any clue as to this type of result?

These are my readings thus far :

Date Temp pH Ammonia Nitrite Nitrate
11/11/13 75.9 7.6 8.0 0.0 10.0
11/13/13 77.7 6.4 8.0 0.0 20.0
11/15/13 80.7 6.6 8.0 0.0 20.0
11/17/13 81.6 6.6 8.0 0.0 5.0
11/19/13 80.6 6.0 8.0 0.50 10.0
11/21/13 80.7 6.0 8.0 odd color 0.50 20.0
11/23/13 80.7 6.0 8.0 odd color 2.0 20.0
11/25/13 78.9 6.4 8.0 odd color 5.0 5.0

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Aloha George

If your ammonia is over 3 ppm, you won't get any startup, as levels over 3 ppm inhibit your nitrifying bacteria (I assume you inoculated your system?). The seaweed will keep your plants growing, but won't get you through cycling. To fix this situation, dump half your system water and refill, until ammonia goes below 3 ppm. You may need to do this more than once to get the ammonia down that far, but when it goes below 3, your startup should take off all by itself.

After four to six days you will probably have nitrates showing up, and can cut out the seaweed; your plants should grow just fine. Keep an eye on the ammonia, though; if you put fish in the system and say, feed them a lot, then have one or two die, the resulting ammonia may put the brakes on your startup again. There's a good series of articles on startup here: (http://hosted.verticalresponse.com/527375/3884bfab55/1451002247/916...). Aloha, Tim (of the Friendlies)

Aloha Tim,

Thank you very much for the info.

I did not inoculate the system, the nitrites just appeared one day and kept growing, that is so far. I have added about 10 gals of fresh water to the tank this past week( almost 1/2 the tanks size, 30 gal tank), but didn't drain any of it out. I will try what you suggested and remove some water and add fresh. Does the color of the ammonia test mean its above 8 ppm now?  

Thanks again Tim

Any info at this stage is much appreciated.

Sincerely George

Hi George,

Exchanging water is a good idea for sure. As Tim suggested 3ppm ammonia is a good target. However I'm concerned about the last 4 readings(19th to the 25th). If you're using the API master kit, and observing the Ph's for those days. At any rate, you'll need to raise the Ph for the cycling process or you can run the risk of the bacteria "crashing out". If you can get the (Ph) between 7-8ppm is ideal for cycling. You can add Hydrated lime or garden lime to the system to do this. See this link about Nitrifying bacteria to understand more.

http://www.bioconlabs.com/nitribactfacts.html

Hey Harold,

Thanks a bunch, I adjust the pH to 7.6 using pH up.( is that  ok to use?) I plan on exchanging the water tomorrow. Had a long day at work today.

My current readings from the master API kit are as follows: temp. 80.2, pH 7.6, ammonia: 8.0 Odd color, Nitrite: 1.0 down 4.0 pts., Nitrate 10.0. Its got me concerned now that I had such a drop in nitrite. 

The article was very informative. Any other suggestions would be much appreciated. Thanks again. 

Aloha George

We never use any pH up; we have no idea what effect it has on fish. We've always used calcium carbonate for pH adjustment; in our location, that's a handful of coral beach sand. Most places on the mainland, you can get crushed oyster shells at ranch and feed stores; they're a common chicken feed supplement. Crush them down as small as you can with a hammer and put a handful or so in; their main virtue (besides being totally non-toxic) is that you cannot overload your system with them as you can with pH UP (which is simply phosphoric acid, the same stuff they put in Coca Cola), and a system adjusted with calcium carbonate often stays stable for months at a time, sometimes even up to a year and a half.

Don't worry about nitrite, it's supposed to go down (between 0.25 to 1 ppm) after you're through your startup. We've also had periods of zero measurable nitrates for months at a time, with the plants still growing like gangbusters. So don't worry if your numbers are "low", concentrate on how your plants look. Do you have any airstones in your troughs? They will help the nitrifying bacteria get established, because the nitrifiers love oxygen. Aloha, Tim............

Hi George,

Great suggestions from Tim!. Just to remind you that the water exchange has to be chlorine/chloramine free. I've cycled a system with an 8ppm ammonia at high temps like yours but it did take a longer time than the average, So no worries If you can't get source water free of these.

Here's a paper (attached to this reply) we wrote on clean water to fill your aquaponics system with. It covers how to easily get rid of chlorine AND chloramines with safe, easily available chemicals that are organically approved and inexpensive; also how to use well water and "ag water" for your system safely. We've tested it all thoroughly to make certain it works. Aloha, Tim....... "The Friendlies" in Hawaii

Attachments:

I did the same thing with with the ammonia in my system. It's was amazing to me how little ammonia spiked so much water. I'm no expert but as far as I could tell your best option is to dilute with more water or just wait til it comes down. If I had it to do over again I would have just added the fish in the beginning and let them produce the ammonia.

Hi All,

I did a 10 gal water exchange today. I have well water no chlorine in it, its pretty good as water comes these days. I am still getting that high ammonia reading though. 10 gals is a 33% water exchange for my system. After I tested the water from my tap just to see if anything may be somehow in my water supply, but it comes up 0%, so I don't know why I am still getting the high ammonia reading. Should I exchange more water?

BTW thank you Tim for the suggestion, I have some oyster shells in the garage for the chickens. I will add them tonight. Good thing I'm doing a fish less cycle, or I'd have a lot of dead fish right about now. I do have an air stone, plus my system floods and drains around every 15 min or so, which in essence is my whole tank once per hour. My current readings are as follows:

Temp 82, pH: 7.2, Ammonia: 8.0 odd color, nitrite: 5ppm, nitrate 5ppm

Thanks again to everyone its great to have support starting a new venture. 

I'm confused. If your tank is only 30 gallons why don't you just dump it and start over?

George Moreo said:

Hi All,

I did a 10 gal water exchange today. I have well water no chlorine in it, its pretty good as water comes these days. I am still getting that high ammonia reading though. 10 gals is a 33% water exchange for my system. After I tested the water from my tap just to see if anything may be somehow in my water supply, but it comes up 0%, so I don't know why I am still getting the high ammonia reading. Should I exchange more water?

BTW thank you Tim for the suggestion, I have some oyster shells in the garage for the chickens. I will add them tonight. Good thing I'm doing a fish less cycle, or I'd have a lot of dead fish right about now. I do have an air stone, plus my system floods and drains around every 15 min or so, which in essence is my whole tank once per hour. My current readings are as follows:

Temp 82, pH: 7.2, Ammonia: 8.0 odd color, nitrite: 5ppm, nitrate 5ppm

Thanks again to everyone its great to have support starting a new venture. 

Hi George,

From your readings I see you have built a healthy population of bacteria in your system and that the cycling process is well underway. You have two choices. You can leave the system to cycle as it is presently or speed things along a bit more, with a partial water exchange to reduce the ammonia content. I won't do a complete water exchange though as this could reduce the size of the bacterial colony you've already carefully built up, and also, you would still have to add more ammonia to the system as well. All said, at those temps you'll cycle fairly quickly with your present water chemistry.

Guys

There's ONE good reason for high ammonia levels showing up in a system that has just had a huge water exchange such as this; you're putting new ammonia into the system! Well, not eggzackly, here's how it works: many municipalities now use chloramine for chlorinating water with, because it's much cheaper and longer lasting than plain chlorine. But unless you have a "total chlorine" test strip, or a test strip that test for "chlorine AND chloramines", then all you will see is high ammonia levels, because the ammonia strip responds to the "'amine" portion of the chloramine, making it look like you have high ammonia levels in your system. If you read our "Clean Water 11-27-13.docx" that I attached a couple of posts back, it tells you both how to measure for chloramine (I'm almost certain that is what your problem is), AND how to get rid of it. Aloha, Tim..........

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