Aquaponic Gardening

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Day one was Saturday the 7th

Washed the hydroton the added it to the grow bed.

Funny how the siphon worked differently without the media in place :)

Also learned that the hydroton I bought has some pretty fine particles in it and can clog things up. and that 100 liters wont fill up a 25 gallon grow bed all the way to the top.

So removed almost all the hydroton to clear some of the clogs and redesign the outer 3 inch strainer pipe.

I also reduced the length of the stand pipe to give me about 1 - 1/2  to 1 - 3/4 dry area above the water height.

The hydroton is still damp on the top, not sure if that is normal or its just hasn't dried out from being washed.

My first test from last night

PH - 7.8 - 8 ppm

Ammonia - .25 - .50

Not sure my original baseline test was correct at 1.0ppm on the ammonia, if so it has dropped some for some reason.

Nitrite - 0 ppm

Nitrate - 5 ppm

So pretty much the same as the baseline test other than the ammonia.

Should I had some ammonia? or just let what is already in the system work.

I have a 40 gallon fish tank so when I do have to add some ammonia how much should I add?

Do I need to test daily or just once a week or so?

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I will be interesting to see if they do drop some.

After I added the 3 - 4 gallons of water on the 27th and nothing in the readings changed I added 15 gallons to get back to a decent water level.

I cant remember what day that was but a few days later, anyway I am looking at the system tonight and I notice that that water level is down some, in fact it appears to be down about an inch and a half from where the water line was.

This seems like quite a big drop in a short period of time.

I wouldn't think the water would be evaporating that fast and I would notice if there were any leaks.

The temp in the basement is in the 60's so that shouldn't be an issue.

Does this sound normal?

34 days from adding ammonia to the system

Added 10 gallons of water last night to get water level back up.

Last night readings before adding the water.
PH still in the 8.2 range.
Ammonia 0 - 0.25
Nitrites 5ppm
Nitrates didn't check them but Saturday they were still in the 40 - 80ppm range.

Hopefully I am getting close to the system cycling.
Although having to add water all the time probably isn't helping the process.

adding water small amounts at a time shouldn't hurt anything as long as the chlroine/chloramine isn't too extreme.  It is water changes that normally messes cycling up.

Good to know that, I have probably added about 30 gallons so far since this process began.
I was starting to think by having to add that much water that I might end up in a never ending cycle :)

Thank you again for your help and the help this sight provides
Today is day 42, so six weeks since I added ammonia to the system.

Last nights reading:
PH 8.2
Ammonia 0.50 (this has moved up a little)
Nitrites 5(or greater)
Nitrates 80 - 160 (closer to 160, so this has moved up also)

Looks like I might lose my radishes, the original leafs on most of the plants had turned yellow and some of the newer leafs which are green have curled.

Lettuce is still green and looks ok except they were to leggy to begin with and are mostly laying down :)

Carrots still look ok, so far.

I originally had one T5 light and had it mounted fairly high to cover the whole area, so I am thinking this is where the legginess comes from.

Will plant some more lettuce and radishes in another area and see what happens with them.

Hoping I only have another week or so before the system will cycle up.

Day 51

PH 8 - 8.2

Ammonia 0

Nitrites 1.0 - 2.0

Nitrates 80 - 160

Looks like Nitrites are starting to fall :)

Maybe they will be at 0 in a day or two

Looks like you will be in the final phases of cycling here in the next couple weeks.  The nitrites will probably continue to fall.  Next is to see if the pH falls also or not and then to see if the ammonia and nitrite will come down quickly after dosing to between 1-2 ppm of ammonia.

Day 52

PH 8 - 8.2

Ammonia 0

Nitrites 0

Nitrates - didn't check but yesterday they were 80 - 160

So Nitrites fell fast once they started down.

Added 2ml of ammonia and that brought it back up to 2 - 4 ppm, will check this morning at the 12 hour mark to see where it is at and again at the 24 hour mark this evening.

When will I know if the PH is going to come down on its own? or should it have fallen already when the Nitrite fell

Well the ammonia finally fell back to zero Sunday morning between 5 am and 11 am

So not 24 hours more like 36 hours or so, I did spike the ammonia a little high since it was close to 4 ppm, water was a little low so I didn't figure that into the scheme of things when adding the ammonia.

This evening I added 1ml of ammonia and the reading is right at 2 ppm, so tomorrow night we will see if it is back down to zero.

Nitrites have not spiked back up after adding the ammonia, not Friday night or tonight.

PH still sitting at 8 - 8.2

Monday evening the ammonia was back to zero and nitrites still at zero.

Added ammonia again Monday evening and by Tuesday evening ammonia was back to zero.

PH still at 8 - 8.2, will wait a little bit to see if they fall on their own before manually adjusting them.
Will probably hold off a little before adding the goldfish, want to get the PH at a lower level first.
I guess I will spike the ammonia every other day or so to keep the cycle going.

Sounds like you are well cycled up and you could add fish now.  However if you are thinking of adjusting your pH in the system, be sure to do it slowly and you probably should do it before getting the fish.

But, here is another option.  Instead of adjusting the pH in the system, adjust the pH of your top up water so you can do it safely outside of the system.  Get a barrel or some large enough container to hold extra water to use to top up.  Get an aerator or something to help with mixing.  Adjust the pH of your top up water and measure how much acid you need to use and the results.  You may wind up needing to add acid a few times till you figure out how much it takes to counteract the calcium carbonate in your tap water so expect some pH bouncing (this is bad in a system since it really disrupts plants, bacteria and fish.)  Then once you figure out how much acid and mixing your tap water requires it will get easier to prep your top up water and you can bring the top up water pH down to between 6-6.5 and use that to top up the system and very gently lower your system pH over time.

Good idea, I needed to add 5 gallons to the system tonight, so I added 1.5ml of PH down to a 5 gallon bucket of water.

That put the PH level at 6.4 - 6.6, will keep doing this weekly and see if I can bring it down.

Will look at getting the goldfish this weekend.

So I should let them sit in the bag for about 15 to 20 minutes floating in the water?

Then should I try and dip them out of the bag to put them on the water? I have heard its not a good idea to put the water from the bag into the system.

Also should I hold off on feeding them for day or so.

I bought some feed from Tractor Supply

Koi Pond Feed for Koi and Fancy Goldfish

This has protein in it and I thought it would be better than flake food from the pet store.

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