Aquaponic Gardening

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I've just started my system three weeks ago. I've been using a start up cycling kit I ordered on Amazon and I still can't get any nitrites to show up. Also the seaweed powder the kit says should take about a week to dissipate is still making my water dark and murky three weeks later. The temp in Alabama has been random at best for the past few weeks. Drooping to 40s then rising to 80s. Does anybody have any advise?

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Hi Erik.  Since that was our kit I'm happy to jump in and help.  

There are a lot of reasons why your system might be taking a long time to cycle.  I actually wrote a blog post about this a couple months ago titled " The Top 10 Reasons Why Your System isn't Cycling".  You might want to read through that and see if any of them apply to your setup.  Cool water is definitely one that will slow the whole process down, for sure.  If your questions aren't answered please feel free to give me a call at The Aquaponic Source as well and we can go through it interactively.

As for the seaweed not dissipating, that is a new one on me.  Is your system running so that the water is circulating through the grow media?  How much water do you have in your system?  It may just be more concentrated than we usually see.

My system is an ibc tote and I've got roughly 200 gallons in it. Yes it is running all the time. The seaweed has been in it for going on three weeks and the water is still very dark and dingy.

Hi Erik,

Please see this link to make sure all the bases are covered and at the same time find answers for yourself.

Thanks for the link. I see that most of the information I'm receiving says that the growbed needs to flood and drain. I don't have a timer set up so my system stays flooded around the clock. Also my system is under a carport in my yard and only receives 3 to 4 hours of direct sunlight a day. Would this combined with the temperature fluctuations cause my cycling delay and or the delay in seaweed dissipation? I am planning on going fishing this weekend to catch some bluegill and small catfish, would the seaweed harm these fish?

Hi Erik,

Your setup is OK for cycling but Sylvia was right to point out the temperature factor. Cycling requires consistent higher temperatures to coax the bacteria into establishing themselves and expanding their numbers. Cycling is a very delicate process and needs a lot of patience and in your case a little more than normal patience

I guess so. I thought that starting the system heading into may would be warm enough but no sooner did I put the kit to use then I got cold front after cold front. The lows are only down to mid 60s for a while so maybe that will help. Any info for my fish question? Thank you guys so much.

Hi Erik,

No the seaweed will not harm the fish, but i do hope you're not planning on putting fish in your AP as it is not cycled as yet.

I've heard of people using water from creeks and ponds to help speed up cycling so I was going to try that. If I catch any small channel catfish I was going to throw them in there. They can withstand some pretty horrible conditions so they should be ok.

Hi Erik,

Ammonia is introduced at the start of cycling. Given the ideal conditions, bacteria will occupy the AP and multiply. Eventually the ammonia is suddenly converted to Nitrites and they peak before dropping off, this is called a Nitrite spike, shortly after this phase your AP will be fully cycled. That Nitrite spike is very harmful and hurtful to fish and damage their organs sometime beyond repair. The ones that may survive, by all commonsense should be living a painful existence. Its always a choice of the operator, but introducing fish now will not make any difference in the cycling process, it will not hurry things along in any way given your cycling limiting factors.

What would be the difference in adding fish now and starting my cycling process with fish? I know that you basically sacrifice the fish by cycling with them but I have also seen many videos where people have cycled with goldfish and they stayed healthy all the way through. Catfish can handle a lot more than goldfish so I don't see the real danger. However I will take your advice and give it another week or so. On a side note I am noticing something rather odd. I have planted many lettuce sprouts and have had really God growth. The leaves are a little yellow but other Han that there's good growth. Would this be just from the water?

Hi Erik,

Its coming from the excellent minerals of the seaweed extract. To get some clarity can you post some more information of your setup, ammonia, nitrites, nitrates, we go along from here? You can use the search bar in the forums for topics on seaweed or read here

Will do as of today my ammonia level is at 4 ppm. My nitrites and nitrates are non existent and my water temp is staying at around 65 degrees. It should be rising soon because of the warm weather coming. I just received my Ph down today so I brought my Ph down from 8.2 to 6.7 ppm. Its storming pretty bad right now so my fishing trip is not gonna happen for a few days. On the plus side I'm collecting plenty of rain water.

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