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OK, so here is my major blunder. I just need some help getting back on track. I cycled my system whiteout fish which took about three weeks. Everything was going great! Even all my fruiting plants as well as my greens were growing like crazy. (Didn't know I wasn't supposed to add fruiting plants for the first year or so). oh, well, I went with it. I added 130 tilapia fry. I was on top of the world. Life was good. No fish loss occurred.  

Then disaster struck. I left my chlorine off gassing tank running all night and injected my system with about 780 gallons of straight chlorinated water from the tap. I figured I would lose all my new fish. Its been two weeks since the disaster and I haven't lost one fish. I've lost a few plants and quit a few plants have turned yellow. I started over by adding microbe two days after event and then adding 2 quarts maxicrop. I'm still getting great growth from plants and the fish have doubled in size. It appears that I really don't have any problems. Except, after two weeks, I have 0ppm on everything. How is this possible? I've been feeding the fish daily (four times a day in fact) and still no ammonia which would make since if I had a reasonable nitrate level. But, my nitrates are at 0ppm also. 0ppm on nitrates and my PH is rising even higher than it was. 

Please take a look at my tracking sheet. Let me know if you see something that I'm missing. 

  • 600 gallon system
  • 130 tilapia, 3 inches
  • consistent temp at around 80 degrees F
  • 208 plants, tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, peppers, squash, kale, strawberries, lettuces, collards, artichokes, herbs, swiss chard, sweet peas, green beans, corn, radishes. 
  • 6 grow beds, 6'x3'x12", 3/4" gravel

Any feed back greatly appreciated. 

Regards,

Dan

My System


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Hi Dan,

You should be getting a reading of Ammonia, unless you test some hours after you feed and your bacteria are actually alive and doing the conversion. You don't necessarily have to see nitrates as all were wiped out of the system and the plants could be sucking them up as soon as they are being produced, but that is assuming the bacteria are indeed present. I don't see defective reagents here, as you had readings before the event.

One thing is puzzling though, on the 04/28 column i see "Water temp 150 degrees" and I know that anything over 120 degrees will wipe out all nitrifying bacteria. BTW, Sorry to hear about your system............

 

You have some nutrient hungry plants in your system that are growing just like you fish. Vine type plants (tomatoes,cuces)have large root systems and take up lots of nutrients compared to leafy green(lettuce,chard) plants. All their demands grow with time. It is possible that your plants demands have out grown the nutrients being supplied by the fish and that is why you have nothing to read on the test strip. If the system and bacteria are working properly then you should not read any ammonia or nitrite after the first few start-up weeks. Your bacteria seems to be established and your plants are probably consuming most all the nitrate in the system.

Try feeding your fish more until they get a little bigger. It may take an extra feeding per day since they can only eat so much at one time. Fish that are fed regular during morning and evening will gladly eat lunch when offered.

Great job on the spread sheet!!

Looking at your spread sheet closer I can see a your ammonia fluctuating until your bacteria got established. You had a nitrite spike starting on day 8 and ending on day 21. You had a nitrate spike starting on day 19 and ending in day 21. The ammonia dropped off on day 16. After your nitrate spike you have no readings. That seems very normal in my experience. I have started up LOTS of systems and yours seems to be on track.

Your raising pH could be a concern. Whats your source water reading?

If my plants are growing well I don't worry too much about the test strips. In fact I have not tested my water for about 6 months! I have spent enough time with my system to know how to read it and make additions as my plants show signs.

first thing first , apparently u didn't destroyed yore bio filtration at all

no NO3 just means it's used ...

thees reading's r grate for fish , but not so grate for plant's normally

the PH reading's and plant growth shown in previous post's don't really make seance to me

can u post up to date pic's of yore plants please ?

i wish i cold duplicate yore success in thees PH and nitrogen reading's ...

A couple things I'm wondering...

1) When exactly did you add the fish (out of curiosity, since it's not noted...only that you had ordered them)? 

2) What exactly is the "Grow More" product that you've regularly been adding?

3) Why did you stop adding ammonia before being 'completely' cycled? Nitrites falling to zero doesn't exactly qualify. When you can dose 1-2ppm ammonia and have both ammonia and nitrites back down to zero 3 TO 5 DAYS IN A ROW consistently, you can consider your system fully cycled...

Until those flowering/fruiting plants...well...flower and fruit, they are little more than glorified 'greens'. You can grow all the tomato, cuke, pepper etc...seedlings you want...in plain tap water...by candlelight, and they'll do just fine...for a while of course. Bringing them to fruition is a 'whole nother matter'...

Yes, that's what I thought too Harold. Doesn't make sense. I should be getting some ammonia readings. 

My solar water heater was producing water at 150 degrees during mid day. which is draining slowly into my sump tank. This has helped my entire 600 gallon system to stay at a constant 80 degrees F. 

Here's a video of my plants. 

http://youtu.be/9uK60aBUv90

Harold Sukhbir said:

Hi Dan,

You should be getting a reading of Ammonia, unless you test some hours after you feed and your bacteria are actually alive and doing the conversion. You don't necessarily have to see nitrates as all were wiped out of the system and the plants could be sucking them up as soon as they are being produced, but that is assuming the bacteria are indeed present. I don't see defective reagents here, as you had readings before the event.

One thing is puzzling though, on the 04/28 column i see "Water temp 150 degrees" and I know that anything over 120 degrees will wipe out all nitrifying bacteria. BTW, Sorry to hear about your system............

 

Thanks Chris. Here's a video of my plants and system. 

http://youtu.be/9uK60aBUv90

Chris Smith said:

You have some nutrient hungry plants in your system that are growing just like you fish. Vine type plants (tomatoes,cuces)have large root systems and take up lots of nutrients compared to leafy green(lettuce,chard) plants. All their demands grow with time. It is possible that your plants demands have out grown the nutrients being supplied by the fish and that is why you have nothing to read on the test strip. If the system and bacteria are working properly then you should not read any ammonia or nitrite after the first few start-up weeks. Your bacteria seems to be established and your plants are probably consuming most all the nitrate in the system.

Try feeding your fish more until they get a little bigger. It may take an extra feeding per day since they can only eat so much at one time. Fish that are fed regular during morning and evening will gladly eat lunch when offered.

Great job on the spread sheet!!

Right, well my plants are doing great! Take a look. 

http://youtu.be/9uK60aBUv90

Chris Smith said:

Looking at your spread sheet closer I can see a your ammonia fluctuating until your bacteria got established. You had a nitrite spike starting on day 8 and ending on day 21. You had a nitrate spike starting on day 19 and ending in day 21. The ammonia dropped off on day 16. After your nitrate spike you have no readings. That seems very normal in my experience. I have started up LOTS of systems and yours seems to be on track.

Your raising pH could be a concern. Whats your source water reading?

If my plants are growing well I don't worry too much about the test strips. In fact I have not tested my water for about 6 months! I have spent enough time with my system to know how to read it and make additions as my plants show signs.

Thanks Nimrod. Here's a video of my plants. 

http://youtu.be/9uK60aBUv90

nimrod bash said:

first thing first , apparently u didn't destroyed yore bio filtration at all

no NO3 just means it's used ...

thees reading's r grate for fish , but not so grate for plant's normally

the PH reading's and plant growth shown in previous post's don't really make seance to me

can u post up to date pic's of yore plants please ?

i wish i cold duplicate yore success in thees PH and nitrogen reading's ...

I added the fish the next day after I ordered them. GrowMore is a seaweed extract liquid much the same as MaxiCrop but better I think. It's definitely made my plants grow more! My system cycled on 4/24/13 so thats why I stopped adding the ammonia plus I put the fish in also. 

http://youtu.be/9uK60aBUv90

Vlad Jovanovic said:

A couple things I'm wondering...

1) When exactly did you add the fish (out of curiosity, since it's not noted...only that you had ordered them)? 

2) What exactly is the "Grow More" product that you've regularly been adding?

3) Why did you stop adding ammonia before being 'completely' cycled? Nitrites falling to zero doesn't exactly qualify. When you can dose 1-2ppm ammonia and have both ammonia and nitrites back down to zero 3 TO 5 DAYS IN A ROW consistently, you can consider your system fully cycled...

Until those flowering/fruiting plants...well...flower and fruit, they are little more than glorified 'greens'. You can grow all the tomato, cuke, pepper etc...seedlings you want...in plain tap water...by candlelight, and they'll do just fine...for a while of course. Bringing them to fruition is a 'whole nother matter'...

Dan,

I also think that some careful dosing with ammonia would be a good idea. I was in a similar situation--arrested at zeroes for nitrogen for a long time. Then disaster struck (ich infestation), and I had to euthanize all my fish (yesterday) and clean out the tank and sump for a re-start. Tank got tap water to dechlorinate, and I'm running only from the sump. But I took advantage of the fishless situation to put a heavy dose of ammonia in yesterday evening, and by this morning I have moderate ammonia and nitrite, and a strong reading on nitrates. I think you could do something similar on a smaller scale. Tilapia are quite tolerant of poor water quality and should be able to weather 2ppm easily.

any chance to c the GrowMore product label ?

if it's 20-20-20 fertilizer that will explain aaaalot ...

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