Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

I admit that I did not properly "cycle" my beds. I had to buy the fish when I did.  I want this to be the example for other starters on the importance of being thorough in setting up your system correctly.

I vinegar tested a handful of rocks from each bucket before I added them to the growbeds. Evidently, that is not enough. I have had my PH go up to as high as 7.4 or 7.6 each day. I had messed with every part of my system and could not figure out why the PH would rise. I was trying to change out water daily to get the PH down. I thought that the PH would work itself out.

Today I retest some of my rocks. Some of the river rock (not all) fizzed. There were 3 or 4 type of rocks in the buckets. Some more or less white ones are the culprits. I have red lava rocks on bottom, the river rock, then some pebbles on top.

So how do I proceed now? Is there a way to avoid having to dig in there to find all the offending rocks? How would I do that without killing the plants? I plan to start digging in the morning. I can't imageine I will ever get them all.

I guess the truth is, "you can pay me now, or pay me later."  I could have taken a little more time up front and saved myself so grief now.

 

Views: 168

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

If you pH is only coming up to 7.6, let the system cycle up and get completely cycled before you panic about removing all your media for replacing.

If it is only a small amount of rocks in the system causing it, and if your pH never goes up over 8 because of them.  You can wait and see how your plants do.  I ran systems for years with a pH of 7.6.

Also, what is your source water like?  If I were to do water changes daily, my system would have a pH over 8!!!!  Now before you simply test you tap water pH right out of the faucet, read this

http://www.aquaponiclynx.com/ph-and-tap-water-2

Friday night my PH was 8.0, so I changed the water out (about 10-15 gallons out of 100).  It had hit 8.0 once before. It appears that is I let it sit for 2 days, it goes to 7.8 -> 8.0.

My well water is around 6.0 ph at the hose. I had it tested a few years ago and they said 6.4. I tested the water directly from the hose a few weeks ago and again this weekend. 6.0. After reading your link, I will do that again tonite, but wait a few hours. 

That 6.0 had been my strategy to keep the PH down in the tank, just change the water and the ph comes down. But, it may not have been as effective if the water is not PH 6.0...

The strawberries in one of my beds had quit producing. Due to a pvc issue, They had gone on 90 degree day without water. Some had died and others were weak looking. I had thought about pulling them and replanting them. So Sunday afternoon, I checked the water again and it was 7.8. I then emptied the rocks and plants from one bed and replanted them in the other bed. I put the red lava rocks back in. This morning the PH was 7.4.

I plan to go get red lava rocks this afternoon. $1 / 5 gal bucket. I have 5 buckets. My wife wants to use them around the flower beds also...

My thinking is this. If 1/3 of the rocks were bad, removing 1/2 the bad will mean 1/6 of my rocks are bad. I will let the system run and get cycled up like that. I have lost 0 fish so far. The ammonia is 0 or .25. I am getting tomatoes and strawberries to grow and produce. The only issue I have is that I am using a lot of water, but that is my fault, not the systems. I don't want to change much. If everything works and the PH is 7.6, I'm not gonna get stressed. This is a test system. I have learned a ton. For all the mistakes, lack of preparedness and planning, it is still producing as much as my raised beds + fish.  

Good advice from your link: "If something seems off, stop double check things and ask for help, there are online forums with plenty of people willing to offer advice and perhaps tip you to an idea or issue you hadn’t thought of."

Yea, if you let the water from the well air out (add a bubbler to do it quicker) and then test again and the pH remains low, then it is some of your rocks in the system causing you issues.  The fish and bacteria won't mind a bit having the elevated pH as long as you don't spike the ammonia.  The strawberries won't be so happy with it though.  You can probably get away with doing the change out of one bed at a time until the system pH stabilizes at a level you are happy with.  Keep in mind that eventually you will probably use up all the calcium carbonate in whatever stones have it and one day the pH will fall so don't quit testing pH since a rapid pH fall can really upset a system.  If your ammonia suddenly spikes for no known reason, be sure to check your pH, if it falls way low way fast, the bacteria can stop working or even die off.

One other note:

When I picked up my fish a few weeks ago, I told my local feed and seed guy what I was doing. He said there are a couple of people in the area doing AP.  

So Sunday, I had the one bed cleaned out and was putting the lava rocks back. I was messing with the water and the the PVC was partly disassenbled. The area was a mess. 

A guy shows up at my house to look at the system. I don't know if the timing was good or bad. I got to show him the inside workings  and explain some things. He seemed pretty impressed. I explained the PH in the rocks mistake. I showed him the Bell syphon (I'm still amazed that those work). He ate a couple of tomatoes. I told him about this forum.

Overall, he seemed pretty excited when he left. He said he was from Winnsboro, Tx and had wanted to raise fish. But the part about getting fresh fruit and veggies as a side benefit seem to have him excited.

I told him I am probably not the best person to ask for startup advice, unless you want the worst-possible-scenario version. 

This sounds basic, but I have looked at several post and books and forums, and I am confused. I am thinking that my goal, once everything is right, I should have PH around 7, no/low Ammonia, no nitrites, no/low nitrates. Is that correct?

TCLynx said:

Yea, if you let the water from the well air out (add a bubbler to do it quicker) and then test again and the pH remains low, then it is some of your rocks in the system causing you issues.  The fish and bacteria won't mind a bit having the elevated pH as long as you don't spike the ammonia.  The strawberries won't be so happy with it though.  You can probably get away with doing the change out of one bed at a time until the system pH stabilizes at a level you are happy with.  Keep in mind that eventually you will probably use up all the calcium carbonate in whatever stones have it and one day the pH will fall so don't quit testing pH since a rapid pH fall can really upset a system.  If your ammonia suddenly spikes for no known reason, be sure to check your pH, if it falls way low way fast, the bacteria can stop working or even die off.

Basically.  as close to 0 on both ammonia and nitrite as possible.  Just Enough nitrate that your plants are happy (there is really a very wide range you can run on the nitrate though.)

pH, There is actually a fairly wide range of pH that systems can operate at but most people hold up 6.8-7.0 as being ideal.  To an extent what is best for your system will depend on what you are trying to grow, what kind of fish loads and bio-filter you are running, your source water, your means of buffering, and your temperament even.  It really depends on a lot.

Some patience in letting the system fully cycle up and settle in can tell you a lot too.

Lance Rose said:

This sounds basic, but I have looked at several post and books and forums, and I am confused. I am thinking that my goal, once everything is right, I should have PH around 7, no/low Ammonia, no nitrites, no/low nitrates. Is that correct?

TCLynx said:

Yea, if you let the water from the well air out (add a bubbler to do it quicker) and then test again and the pH remains low, then it is some of your rocks in the system causing you issues.  The fish and bacteria won't mind a bit having the elevated pH as long as you don't spike the ammonia.  The strawberries won't be so happy with it though.  You can probably get away with doing the change out of one bed at a time until the system pH stabilizes at a level you are happy with.  Keep in mind that eventually you will probably use up all the calcium carbonate in whatever stones have it and one day the pH will fall so don't quit testing pH since a rapid pH fall can really upset a system.  If your ammonia suddenly spikes for no known reason, be sure to check your pH, if it falls way low way fast, the bacteria can stop working or even die off.

Thanks. I'm mostly looking for guidelines since everything is variable based on configuration. 

I dont plan any other big changes for my system. The plumbing and rock problems were built in and had bugged me for a while.

TCLynx said:

Basically.  as close to 0 on both ammonia and nitrite as possible.  Just Enough nitrate that your plants are happy (there is really a very wide range you can run on the nitrate though.)

pH, There is actually a fairly wide range of pH that systems can operate at but most people hold up 6.8-7.0 as being ideal.  To an extent what is best for your system will depend on what you are trying to grow, what kind of fish loads and bio-filter you are running, your source water, your means of buffering, and your temperament even.  It really depends on a lot.

Some patience in letting the system fully cycle up and settle in can tell you a lot too.

Lance Rose said:

This sounds basic, but I have looked at several post and books and forums, and I am confused. I am thinking that my goal, once everything is right, I should have PH around 7, no/low Ammonia, no nitrites, no/low nitrates. Is that correct?

TCLynx said:

Yea, if you let the water from the well air out (add a bubbler to do it quicker) and then test again and the pH remains low, then it is some of your rocks in the system causing you issues.  The fish and bacteria won't mind a bit having the elevated pH as long as you don't spike the ammonia.  The strawberries won't be so happy with it though.  You can probably get away with doing the change out of one bed at a time until the system pH stabilizes at a level you are happy with.  Keep in mind that eventually you will probably use up all the calcium carbonate in whatever stones have it and one day the pH will fall so don't quit testing pH since a rapid pH fall can really upset a system.  If your ammonia suddenly spikes for no known reason, be sure to check your pH, if it falls way low way fast, the bacteria can stop working or even die off.

Actually the plumbing had bugged me for a while, the rocks were this weeks surprise. :)



Lance Rose said:

Thanks. I'm mostly looking for guidelines since everything is variable based on configuration. 

I dont plan any other big changes for my system. The plumbing and rock problems were built in and had bugged me for a while.

TCLynx said:

Basically.  as close to 0 on both ammonia and nitrite as possible.  Just Enough nitrate that your plants are happy (there is really a very wide range you can run on the nitrate though.)

pH, There is actually a fairly wide range of pH that systems can operate at but most people hold up 6.8-7.0 as being ideal.  To an extent what is best for your system will depend on what you are trying to grow, what kind of fish loads and bio-filter you are running, your source water, your means of buffering, and your temperament even.  It really depends on a lot.

Some patience in letting the system fully cycle up and settle in can tell you a lot too.

Lance Rose said:

This sounds basic, but I have looked at several post and books and forums, and I am confused. I am thinking that my goal, once everything is right, I should have PH around 7, no/low Ammonia, no nitrites, no/low nitrates. Is that correct?

TCLynx said:

Yea, if you let the water from the well air out (add a bubbler to do it quicker) and then test again and the pH remains low, then it is some of your rocks in the system causing you issues.  The fish and bacteria won't mind a bit having the elevated pH as long as you don't spike the ammonia.  The strawberries won't be so happy with it though.  You can probably get away with doing the change out of one bed at a time until the system pH stabilizes at a level you are happy with.  Keep in mind that eventually you will probably use up all the calcium carbonate in whatever stones have it and one day the pH will fall so don't quit testing pH since a rapid pH fall can really upset a system.  If your ammonia suddenly spikes for no known reason, be sure to check your pH, if it falls way low way fast, the bacteria can stop working or even die off.

Everything is settling down now. My PH is level at about 7.4. I'm ok with that.  The water from the hose is pretty stable at around 6.2. It comes up a little, but not much. I was losing a lot of water due to faulty, poorly designed plumbing. so now that the plumbing and rocks are done. I will let the PH be a little high. :)   I still don't know why it stays up, but I have made peace with it. I get strawberries, the tomatoes are producing and I have not lost any fish. 

One huge benefit of AP is that you can transplant plants without a lot of stress on them. This allowed me to shuffle them around as I removed the bottom layers of rock from my system one area at a time. 

I really appreciate all the input and support. 

Reply to Discussion

RSS

© 2021   Created by Sylvia Bernstein.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service