Aquaponic Gardening

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This is my 3rd attempt to introduce fish into my system.  I thought I killed the first set which were doing well by adding by accident to much chlorinated water.  At that same time  I added a float system using a PVC liner and wasn't sure if the liner was the problem after a second set of fish died.  At that point I removed the liner, washed out my grow media using expanded clay pellets and filled the system using river water that is used to irrigate the orchards.   During all this , the ammonia levels have not been above 0.25ppm and the pH is around 6-9 to 7.1.  Nitrites have been very low to so low I don't detect any.  Nitrates about 40-60ppm.  This last round it appears that some of the bacteria in the grow bed survived the washing and what ever because my added ammonia I added was quickly turned to nitrites and then nitrates with the ammonia disappearing  each several days after adding it.  So I am watching my 3rd set of goldfish slowing dying off one or two per day.  A portion of them feed well and the rest sit on the bottom of the tank not feeling well I guess.  pH is 6.9, temp 70 and no ammonia to speak of.  The temperature during transfer from the pet store to home did change from 70 degrees to 72.5 in the 15min drive in a warm car.  I'm wondering if this caused what I am seeing.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.  Apart from bleach and starting again, I'm not sure what to do.

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Hi len,

So how exactly did you introduce the goldfish to your AP system? Do you know the PH/temps of the system at the pet store? Do you know if the runoff of the source water has any pesticides in it?

the temp change shouldn't have stressed them to the point where they'd be dying off..

what kind of "ammonia" are you adding? does it contain a surfectant, or perfumes?
I introduced them by first floating the bag of fish in my system,comparing temp using my infrared temp instrument. The pet store pH is 7 and I am 6.9 to 7. I flood the bag slowly over 10 to 20 mins with system water and then add the fish to the tank. The ammonia I used is just pure ammonia without any additives. From Silvia's course I was aware of that.

The irrigation water could has something in it, but I used it when I had a certified organic orchard and they test for such things so I think it is safe. This happened when I used tap water after allowing it to circulate for several weeks during cycling my system. I did notice 4 dead fish in the bottom of the pet store tank. I am wondering if I am getting sick fish from them.

Hi len,

I was wondering about the fish health at the store, but as you mention it it makes more sense now. Does Certified Organic mean that no pesticides were used during cultivation? Even trace amounts of pesticides are deadly in a marine environment, in this respect fish are extremely susceptible. And then there is a question of the health of the incoming fish. Even fish with optimal health succumb to transport/new tank shock. Can you get fish from another store, to try? 

I,m going to look for a different supplier. After I know things are doing well I was going to get some tilapia but didn't want to spend the money until I knew the system was finally safe for my fish. Organic orchards are tested and even small amounts of pesticides or other chemicals that are not considered organic that come from wind drift can be a problem. As a rule, even very small traces are not found in the water unless a nonorganic farmer sprayed close to the canal but I never found that to be a problem. One good note, no fish died today . Thanks for your thoughts.

Hi len,

Looks like we're leaning toward the fish source as the problem. So, why not keep an eye on the survivors and see what happens. Keep doing regular water test, while recording the results, and after some time we'll be in a position to better diagnose the problem.

Yes , they were .20 cents a piece and half eat well from the start and half did not. My media did remove ammonia and produce both nitrites and nitrates. I started measuring after I noticed the ammonia levels dropping. I washed my media but I did so with river water not tap water; probably did't kill any bacteria, both good and bad if present. I was more interested in diluting toxins from the old liner. I think you are right in that I have been purchasing feeder fish. My first set were larger, cost more and lasted until I killed them with to much chlorinated tap water. A lesson learned. Thanks

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