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Happy Fathers Day all!

My AP IBC tote system has been working great for the past year, however(and these events may not be related), my breaker tripped last week and when I found it in the morning, got everything going again.  The water tested fine, fish seemed ok.  The next day I found these bugs and the day after wow, there were lots more and my tomato plants seemed a little wilted.  I covered the openings to the fish tank, sprayed a mild solution of organicide and saw little change the next day.  Sprayed again but there are still flies.  The tomatoes look fine and are ripening, the plants are turning more and more yellow.

Can anyone help me identify them and give me some advice on how to proceed?

Thanks for your help.

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I can't easily tell from the photo what they are.  Can you take some better pics? I would suspect aphids but you are calling them flies and most aphids can't fly.

Eddie,

Thanks for the response.  The situation has gotten worse.  All 5 of my fish have died and as you can see on the pictures, the flies(they are flying) are multiplying.  The organicide spray may have killed the fish but they certainly havent done any harm to the flies.  The fish were beautiful and very hardy up to this point and it is a tragedy to lose them.  Now I dont know if the tomatoes are edible, if the worms in my grow bed are still usable, if the water will accept additional fish.  The water tests at ph - 6.8, nitrites -0, nitrates - 0, ammonia - .025.  Any advice would be much appreciated and I hope these pix are better.  

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Mike,

Can you provide specific info on what you sprayed? And how much?  I am sure the tomatoes are fine-just make sure to waste them before eating.  Unfortunately, this is a good example of why we can't use most pesticides in our systems.  I am very sorry for the loss of your fish.  The worms are probably okay - they are pretty resistant to most abuse.  Your water numbers look good - I am sure the ammonia is a bit higher due to the fish deaths.

Much better pics this time.  That looks almost definitely like whitefly infestation.  And they also transmit the dreaded tomato yellow leaf curl virus which might be affecting your tomato plants.  Whitefly are a pain in the butt to deal with but your best bet is using biological controls - ladybugs and lacewings are your best bet.   Growing nasturtiums and zinnias apparently work to repel them.  Yellow sticky traps can help keep them under control and used for monitoring (don't use if you are trying to use other insects to control the whiteflys). 

I have had good luck with Safer insecticidal soaps but you have to be careful with over spray and getting under the leaves.  I would also suggest horticultural oil - just be aware that your tomoto plants look like they are already under stress and this can push them over the edge... both of these you need to make sure not to get them into the fish tank (directly or indirectly)

Hope that helps!

Eddie -  I used 2 tsp of 3-in-1 Organicide in a quart of water and covered the openings to the fish tank.  I assume getting the spray on the growbed caused the spray to enter the water.  I found no warning for fish on the label which I DID find on a different organic spray for insects.  

So, it sounds like you think I might save the plants(?),  I do have some ladybugs on order(my local organic nursery does not carry them this time of year) and will try and run the system with just worms for a while.  

Very helpful and I really appreciate your concern and advice.

Mike

I looked up the msds on that product and it appears to be relatively safe around fish.(although oil is usually not good for fish gills) It's main components are sesame oil, fish oil and lecithin. What kind of fish did you have?

Can you provide more info on your system? Number of gals, type of grow areas and size.

2 large goldfish,  4 small tropical catfish.  The goldfish have been in the 250 gallon IBC tote tank for almost 2 years, the catfish for the last 6 months.  The grow bed is 12 inches deep and about 4' x 4' with expanded clay, it is a flood and drain system running 15 minutes every hour.  I have a large airstone running 24/7.  Up to the point I have had water issues, fish issues but never an insect issue and it started the day after my system breaker tripped and shut the system down for a maximum of 12 hours.  The system is in a green house I built, has an oscillating fan in front and an exhaust fan in the back corner.  The tote system is in front of the exhaust fan.  I change about 30% of the water weekly and other than adjust the PH havent had to do much.  Use equal amounts of potassium and calcium hydroxide to raise the PH.  I test the water PH daily and the other tests weekly.  Please let me know if you need any further information and thanks again. 

What's your water source? Have you run the same tests on the source water? Also do you have GH/KH numbers?

I use a combination of tap water and rain water collection and no,  I havent run the tests on those sources and not even sure what GH/KH means but I will look them up do the tests and let you know.  Thanks again for taking the time.

General hardness/Carbonate hardness - you can buy them from API - they look just like from the Master API test kit.  This will show how much buffer you have and what the water hardness is.  I am looking for other causes for the fish deaths.  It seems odd that this little bit of oil would have killed your goldfish.  A temperature swing or pH swing could easily do that however.

Ok Eddie - here goes

I only used tap water on the last water addition, about 30% of the tank.  The GH shows 11 and the KH shows 5 on the tap water.  The tap water Ph is 7.6, the ammonia is between .025 and .050(tested both twice AND then a 3rd time with brand new chemicals, got the same result), nitrates and nitrites are zero.  Not sure what this all means but the tomato plants are basically dead, still have the whiteflies, although appears fewer in number.  Still waiting for the lady bug shipment.  What a mess!!

Mike,

First question - does your tap water have chloramines added to it?  I apologize if I have asked this before - if it does then that is probably what killed your fish.

So I am assuming the GH/KH numbers you gave are in dKH which translates to 196.4 ppm and 89.3 ppm CaCO3 respectively.   Any idea how long before your pH goes from 7.6 to 6.8?  pH is a logarithmic scale so every whole number change is 10x of a change.  For example, from 7->6 is 10x change in pH, 7->5 is 100x change.  So as you can see, if the pH changes quickly it can have a serious effect on life in the system.  But your KH buffer looks decent so I am thinking it probably wasn't caused by pH swing.

Just out of curiosity, why do you change out 30% of your water weekly?  You are pouring a good chunk of your nutrients down the drain by doing that. 

In regards to the whiteflies, I would pull out any plants that are dead/dying - that will reduce their food supply.  High pressure water can be used to help wash the whiteflies off but it won't get rid of them since the adults can fly.

Eddie,

The tap water does have chloramines but I was told they have outgassed by the time we actually use it and I have used this water successfully for the past two years.  I do not change 30% of the water weekly, maybe once a month or when I am trying to correct some thing.  I was told on this forum to change at least 25% of the water weekly but I have never done that.  

I received the lady bugs on Thursday and put them to work.  This morning most of the flies(and lady bugs) appear to be gone.  Some flies still there and most of the tomato plants are brown and droopy.  So my question is, can I just run the grow bed with my red wriggler worms and put new plants in?  Not sure i want to go through the fish thing again, especially since I was not planning on eating the fish.  I would like to grow spinach and other greens since my tomatoes will now come from my raised bed this summer.  

If so, should I leave the plant roots in for the worms or do I need to feed them something specifically?  My water numbers this morning are ph - 6.8 , ammonia - 0, nitrates - 0 and nitrites - 0.  

Thanks again for your help.

Mike

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