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My 800gallon system is now ready for cycling.  However, I'm not clear on how to go about figuring the amount of ammonia to initially add to begin this process.  Any help would be appreciated.

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Let me be a little more clearer.

I have seen a person who does Aquaponics do that.  They as a swirl filter off the bed to a sump.  In the bottom of the filter was a sponge.  He took that sponge to each new grow bed and placed it under the water feed line to the bed so it would "clean off" into the bed.

I have had others offer biofilters to me to get started and I know about cross contamination as we took a filter from one tank on our Salmon and placed it in a starter tank to get the grow bed running ( we grew plants in the bottom of our tanks) and it introduced a pathogen that killed about 1/4 of the tanks Char once we added the fish.

As for a farm I do not own one, I worked at one and if you would like to see pictures please visit the SUNY Cobleskill website.  I currently own a cottage industry hot sauce company.  I left aquaculture back in 2001.


Chip Pilkington said:

Relax big guy. Absolutely nothing I have said was meant to offend you. I do think it's interesting that you are getting so sensitive over the discussion.

First, you are not the only "Aquaculture" guru on the block. Here in Asia, there are fish farms on every corner. Not only have I toured dozens of facilities and commercial operations (some good, many quite bad)and purchased fish from some of these farmers, my in-laws farm both Tilapia (Blah Nin) and eel-tailed catfish (Blah Duk). Let me also say that claiming fish farming and AP are no different is a HUGE exageration. Outside of fish and H2O, there are few similarities in what and how things happen. Water management, waste management, circulation, environmental factors, etc, etc, etc, differ greatly with our fun little hobby. It would be interesting to see pic of your farm....

Back to the original point, exposing a closed AP system to who-knows-what's in the fish farm environment would be a very risky practice, which you wisely chose to avoid. I think we are on the same page here. One of the big selling points of AP is you remove all of those potential organisms and contaminants, right?

Anyway, I'm sorry you took my well intended post personally, I meant no offense.
Hi John,

Sorry, I misunderstood you, thinking the filter material came from a fish farm.

Regardless, your concerns are both valid and proved out by your personal experience.

I was hesitant to discuss the filter sharing concept, though I'm sure most of the experienced folks have either discussed it, practiced it or chose not to.

Good luck with your system and also with your Hot Sauce business - we LOVE spicy food here in Thailand! I spent several years down in the four-corners region where I became quite addicted to both Green Chile and good hot sauce.

I guess I need to explain clearer.  My apologies Chip.I guess even with careful controls, and without a sterile environment  I probably still would be hesitant with my past experience.  I might consider maybe making a media setup area, fish free just for getting bacteria established on the media.  Currently outside of ammonia issues I have now inevertently introduced Potato Aphids to my system and spent a good deal of time last night using a q-tip to clean aphids off of my plants (fed them to the fish) and that was all due to a cutting that had a blossom open that had larvae on it.  I should have clipped it.  Shoulda woulda coulda.

I do have a new question though, has anyone had experience with duckweed to reduce the ammonia levels in a tank?  I have been given about a pound of duckweed to feed the fish and I know they may gobble it all up but I was thinking if I put in filter assembly without the charcoal and fill it with duckweed would that help filter the ammonia?

Currently my ammonia is at 4, pH 7.4 Temp 77.4 Nitrite .25 and Nitrate 2.  The fish are currently on a spinach diet once a day and the occasional

I know in the hatchery tanks we used at work we had plants in the bottom to mimic the natural habitat for some of the fish we raised (like gar and pike) we noted a def. decrease of ammonia once the plant beds were developed, of course these were aquatic plants.  I don't want to bother if this is going to rob the grow bed of it's nutrients.

Deckweed will... by preference... grow directly on ammonia...

If you have fish in your system... and an ammonia reading of 4... then inevitably, and imminently... you'll have a nitrite reading of probably 2...

Salt your system to 1ppt.. to mitigate against nitrite toxicity...

Duckweed can use up quite a lot of ammonia under the right conditions.

However, if you are worried about bio-security, live duckweed is a rather effective way to introduce all sorts of things into a system so you do it at your own risk.

Once you introduce duckweed, it might be difficult to get rid of if it doesn't work well for your situation.  It is a weed, so that means it will tend to grow where you don't want it.  My experience is that duckweed tends to only grow well when you aren't really trying to grow it.  I suppose you would have to call it something else if you really want to cultivate it.

That said, I like diversity in my systems.

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