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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Right Mark,  The initial dose of acid with bring the pH down until the calcium carbonate in your water has some time to buffer it back up and the pH won't stay down until you use up all that buffering capacity. 

And this is also the reason we really don't recommend trying to adjust the pH within your system since it would cause pH bouncing until you use up all the excess buffering and that bouncing is even harder on the fish, plants and bacteria than anything else.  It is also way to easy to get impatient with adjusting pH in a system and to overdo it and wind up crashing the pH with way too much acid which can kill everything.

Keep working patiently with the top up water.

Will do.

I bought some expanded shale at the garden center yesterday to see what it was like for the porch system.

It was the dirtiest stuff I have cleaned yet, water was black on the first rinse and all kinds tiny little twigs or needles or something like that.

I only bought two 40 pound bags and have it in the grow bed that was empty in case I take it back out.

I am not really cycling the porch system yet, just letting the water circulate to filter out what sediment I couldn't get out of the initial washes.

I tried the vinegar test on the shale and saw very little bubbles and this was before it was washed, I will try again since I have let it wash over night in the bed.

If it continues to show bubbles I will probably pull it out and use it in the yard somewhere.

I am starting to think that hydroton although expensive is allot less work and less initial water usage then other things.


    Expanded shale products vary widly from one location to another.  The nature of the stuff mined and the sifting/screening the stuff gets after the kiln process and then the location the stuff was stored in before bagging will all greatly impact the product you get.  Sorry it sounds like you got some really dirty stuff.

I wouldn't worry about the pH once you cycle the system.  So far in my reading and experience the expanded shale will tend to have an initial high pH but it will settle down just fine.  Some of the bubbling you saw was probably air escaping from the nooks and crannies of the media and some of it was probably the dust.

Now I would recommend perhaps checking your system pH before you start cycle up and if it is above 8 you might use some muratic acid to bring it down to between 7.2-7.6 to allow your plants a bit nicer time once you start cycling.  However, once you start the cycling process, I would say don't mess with it and definitely once you add fish, don't use acid directly on the system water, only adjust pH down in a separate container of top up water and let it stabilize before use in the system.

Thanks for the info on the expanded shale.

It also seems to have like a sudsy affect, its like little bubbles on top of the water, that affect seems to be dwindling the more I run the system so maybe it will go away.

My water straight out of the tap runs about 8 - 8.2 :(

I will try and bring the PH down before I start the cycling process, I think that will be my best this time around..

Thanks again for your help!

I expect it should be all better with some time. Perhaps put a sock or a nappy (old cloth diaper) or rag to catch some of the sediment and it will probably help clear the water a bit sooner but almost any media will cloud your water for a few days.

Yea if your tap water pH right out of the tap is above 8, definitely do some pH adjustment before you start adding any ammonia or fish.

As soon as I get all the media in, I will start to try and bring the PH down before doing anything else.
Thanks again.

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