Aquaponic Gardening

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Ok, guys, here's the scenario...started my micro system just to get acquainted with aquaponics Jan 21. 10 gal aquarium with two feeder goldfish that has been neglected for months and about 1 cu ft grow bed. Lost one fish to the pump and almost lost the other a few days ago both from water quality and stress from making changes to system. I isolated him to another tank with fresh water and he seems to be... 

Now, using test strips for the moment beginning readings were: Nitrates 100, Nitrites 2.5, Hardness 300, KH 0 and ph 6.2. When I isolated the poor guy the readings were: Nitrates 200, Nitrites 1.0, hardness 300, KH <40 and ph still about 6.2-6.8. I only have two small basil established in grow bed so not much there to effect the nitrates. Now my question is...should I just continue to cycle the system and try to get more plants in till it stabilizes or start over with fresh water? Also not filtering water in fresh tank where the fish is yet, is only bout a three or four gallon tank,should probably  not wait too long to install filter system, right?

Thanks.

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The presence of Nitrates indicates that your system is already cycled - although for this to happen in a week is unusual. Nitrates don't show up without the bacteria unless your water is contaminated. Did you get  a used aquarium with gravel in it?

Keep your PH around 7 because you have little margin for error in a small system. If your PH goes below 6 the bacteria could die.

Thanks John. Yes, basically what I did was add pump and grow bed to an existing aquarium that's been established (and neglected) for about a year. I have been interested in aquaponics for a couple years and I just retired so I jumped in. A fascinating concept.

I don't have the master water test kit yet and am just using 5 in 1 strips which don't test for ammonia and nitrates are maxed out. I understand the fish tolerate high nitrates better than nitrites. It's just that my one remaining was struggling a couple days ago so I isolated him to a separate tank with fresh water and he seems to be doing fine now. Maybe he was just exhausted from battling all the water flowing into the aquarium. 300gph pump in 10 gal aquarium seems a bit much, but working with what I have. I am considering changing to CHOP system at some point, but that still seems unless I direct the relief flow back into the sump rather than the aquarium, it wouldn't offer any relief from water flow for the poor guy. 

I will continue to study forum and ponder my situation and try to get a handle on what's goin on here. Thanks.



Jonathan Kadish NYC AA Chair said:

The presence of Nitrates indicates that your system is already cycled - although for this to happen in a week is unusual. Nitrates don't show up without the bacteria unless your water is contaminated. Did you get  a used aquarium with gravel in it?

Keep your PH around 7 because you have little margin for error in a small system. If your PH goes below 6 the bacteria could die.

If you have nitrates in your system there is no need to start over. Put in more fish and monitor the ammonia levels. Your pH of 6.2 is low at least for my tastes so you may want to bump that up. Your fish will appreciate the chlorine free water of your existing system. And I personally would put some plants in so they are started when things stabilize.

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