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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Yes you should float the bag for 15-20 minutes to help equalize the temperature.  And then you can open the bag and pour a little system water into the bag to give them a little time to get used to your system water pH a bit more gradually than just dumping them in.

As to netting them instead of dumping the bag.  This is a recommended practice since the transport water will probably be pretty nasty by the time they get there but sometimes this isn't very easy.  Another option would be to have a bucket handy and you put some system water into the bucket and dump the fish and water from the bag into the bucket and then net them from the bucket.

Another thing that many people do is to subject the fish to a salt water dip before putting them into the system to help protect from bringing some diseases into the system but I don't think this is effective against the most common parasite people seem to get from new fish which is Ick and would require a 3-6 week quarantine depending on temperature.

Picked up 3 Shubunkin goldfish yesterday.

I floated them for about 15 minutes, and was able to net them into the the tank, they were pretty small.

Checked on them 2 - 3 times yesterday and they seemed to be doing pretty good.

I dropped 2 - 3 little pellets of food in the tank, they seem to have some trouble with the size.

Some small pieces they can put in their mouth but then they spit it out and then take it back in again, they do this over and over until they break it down to smaller pieces it seems.

Maybe that just dont like it and are used to the flake food from the pet store.

Trying to not over feed them but making sure they get enough food so they do not die

I wouldn't worry too much about fish starving, they can go weeks without food so don't stress about them not eating enough.

You might crush up the pellets a bit to help the little guys out though since it does sound like they are hungry and smaller food would be easier for them.  Crushed pellets are more likely to sink so be careful not to over feed, a pinch of food will be plenty until they are bigger.


They gulp at the surface some, but not all the time.

I am pretty sure the water has enough oxygen, I have a tee from the pump going back to the tank and it creates quite a few bubbles in the water and the system cycles about every three and half minutes and its a 3/4 inch stream going into the tank so I would think that would be enough.

Maybe they are just playing around, they will even stick their face into the water stream that I am diverting back to the tank from the pump.

if you have constant water flow with bubbles and only a few fish, then plenty of aeration.

Goldfish are bold and greedy guts, they may already be gulping at the surface to try and convince you they are starving and must be fed more.

I watched them for a little while tonight and they are still looking well, so hopefully I got healthy fish.

They do seem to have some personality to them, they sometimes all school together but there are two that stick close together almost all the time  while the third one will be on its own for extended periods.

Ammonia and nitrites remain at zero, while nitrates are still in the 80 - 160 range.

I am still working on the PH level, I have 5 gallon buckets prepped and I am adding a small amount each evening.

Thanks again for all your help and advice through this process.

Enjoy the fish, they can be very fun to watch.

I decided to start another system outside in my screened porch area.
100 gallon fish tank and 2 - 40 gallon grow beds.
I set it up and got it plumped this weekend, I also bought some red lava rock.
I thought I would try the lava rock out, its got some pretty large pieces in it but I will try to keep those in the bottom and smaller stuff up top, I might add some hydroton to finish it off at the top though, haven't made my mind up on that yet.
What is the best way to transfer bacteria from the unit downstairs to the new unit to speed up the process.
I was thinking about putting a sponge under where the water flows into the grow bed for a few days and then put the sponge into the new system?
Does doing something like this speed up the process much?

takes more than a few days.  Perhaps you could steel some of the media from the basement system to put into the middle layers of the grow bed in the new system and that would probably help more.

Would just a few pieces do the trick, or would I need allot?

The more you move, the more bacteria you bring.  Truth is, you can cycle a system without any "jump start" bacteria, provide some ammonia source and the bacteria will colonize to consume it.  The more bacteria you provide into your new system, the faster the cycling will go to a point.

Now for the moved media to be of help, you want to make sure you get some of the stuff that gets wet regularly (if you just grab a hand full of the dry stuff on the surface it probably won't do you any good) and hand full will help a little bit, a quart will help more the whole bed would mean you have a really big jump start.  All depends on how much you would be willing to disturb the established system and how fast you want the new one cycled up.

I might just cycle normally without the jump start.

I am still trying to get the PH in the basement system down.

I am adjusting by treating 5 gallon buckets of top up water, one thing that is strange  is that I thought 1ml of PH down was bringing the 5 gallons of water down to an acceptable range, but I was wrong.

1ml brings it down initially but a few days later its back up high again, It seems that 3ml is what it takes to bring it down, although I will know better once I have left it a couple of weeks and see if it is still down.

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