Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

Hi everyone,


I just finished setting up my first aquaponics system! :)))))) It has a 75g fish tank, and 55g of growbed space. I plan on adding more once I get everything cycled and a crop in the clay. Speaking of, I just put in some used hydroton that had been "recently rinsed" (apparently not), and my tank is BROWN! So i start pumping water out of the tank and rinsing the clay balls and swishing them around and cycling the water out. Still dirty. Anyways I can keep cycling water, take out the hydroton and give them a thorough clean, or I just read about the option of leaving it, and letting it settle on the bottom of the tank, and then siphoning it out. I figured I'd ask you guys what you thought. So what do you recommend? :D

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Whenever my balls are dirty I tend to let them soak heehe. No seriously just let it settle out. That sediment wont hurt a thing It will clean up in a few day.
Well, never had a problem with dirty balls personally, but I'm a wash in advance kinda gal...either way works...


In my small system I just let it run until the tank water was clear. The clay just settled to the bottom. I just left it there while I fishless cycled the tank when the cycle was finished. The clay that was settled just ended up back into the grow bed.  Didn’t worry too much about it, of course I didn’t have an overabundance of settling.

There is always some fine sediment with moved media.  I expect it just needs to settle.


(Now if you are putting in new gravel, I do say rinse because some stuff can be really dirty and full of sand or clay which you really don't want settling to the bottom of your grow bed or fish tank but the worst that will happen with unwashed expanded clay might be a temporarily elevated pH from the oxides left by the kilns.

Thanks for the quick reply everyone! I accidentally left my pump on and turned the hose off while I was cycling out water, and emptied my tank....:( A small waste of water, but I took the opportunity to wetvac out the remaining dirt that had settled and filled up the tank again. I can actually see my pump in the tank now, but there is still a bit of residue floating around. I figured it would eventually filter out, and I'm glad you all agree. I'm currently doing a fishless cycle at the moment. My PH is off the charts, which I figure is normal off the bat. I plan on putting some PH down in tomorrow or very soon. I'm also slowly adding ammonia in to get the count up to 5.0 and then will add that amount daily until I start seeing a peak in the nitrites. If anyone has any advice on this, I could definitely use it. Is there an additive that is organic and would spark the bacteria count? I'm not too prone to adding dead fish or dead shrimp, and the rocks in our area are pretty slimy. Thanks again!
Hi Pawnic (is that your real name?).  A few thoughts on your fishless cycling plans. The ammonia level of 5.0 should be an upper end of a range that goes from 2 - just don't need more than that.  As sparking the bacteria count, it is either about finding a commercial  product - which is either generally pretty expensive OR not very effective IMO, and given that you are looking for organic probably not what you want - OR finding a natural source of nitrifying bacteria. Natural sources exist anywhere you have aquatic life, water, and a surface area for the bacteria to populate.  This can be a rock from a river or lake - as you pointed out - but it can also be a filter sponge from an aquarium or media from someone else's aquaponics system (dead fish are a source of ammonia, and a disgusting one at that, not a source of nitrifying bacteria).  Once you have this slimy treasure in your possession the best thing  to do is to bury it in your grow media and run the system.  Hope this helps ;-)
Yea, I never dose that high with ammonia.  And it is not necessary to add any sort of bottled bacteria, if you provide the system and some ammonia they will come naturally.  It is really mostly the same bacteria that exist in healthy soils that convert ammonia and other things into plant usable forms.
Not necessary, BUT inoculating with a source of bacteria will speed up your cycling process pretty useful unless you have a whole lot of patience 
Okay, I'm going to the river now to fish out some rocks. My ammonia is at 4.0 at the moment, and it sounds like I'll stay there and not go any higher. I'll post some pics this afternoon. Thanks for the advice!
Sounds like a plan

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