Aquaponic Gardening

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Hello,

I am new to AP as well as this site. I have my system set up and tested. I have everything except for seeds and fish. I need to "cycle" my tank to get to the correct levels.

I have done some research but have not completely grasped the concept. From what I understand, the system gets cycled for about a month/month and a half before you even add fish. So, just thinking about it, I will need to put seeds in the grow bed, correct? This will add nitrates to the fish tank starting the fish environment on the right track.....right???

I'm using a flood/drain very basic system with a bell siphon in the GB.

FT = 35 gallon tub (probably 25 gallons of water)

GB = 15 gallon (probably 5-8 gallons of medium)

I added the embedded code for the video of my system thus far (if the videos work):

http://youtu.be/n1orw_YTUQA

http://youtu.be/ZyFrYGmPMD8

Thanks,

Mike

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Mike - It is definitely okay to start plants right now as a month down the road hopefully your system will be cycled and you will need them to begin taking the nitrates out of the water. However, I would recommend buying some Maxicrop with Iron and putting about a capfull in once a week to offer your plants some nutrients.  However, don't get confused the plants don't start the cycling process.  You will need to buy ammonia (no dyes or scents) and introduce it to your system to begin encouragement of bacterial growth.  Make sure you have a freshwater API water test kit.  This will allow you to measure the levels of ammonia.  Test your water daily and once your ammonia levels drop to zero add more ammonia to your system.  

I would rather not buy anything that I don't have to (chemicals). Could I just buy the fish instead? What would your order of operations be?

Roger said:

Mike - It is definitely okay to start plants right now as a month down the road hopefully your system will be cycled and you will need them to begin taking the nitrates out of the water. However, I would recommend buying some Maxicrop with Iron and putting about a capfull in once a week to offer your plants some nutrients.  However, don't get confused the plants don't start the cycling process.  You will need to buy ammonia (no dyes or scents) and introduce it to your system to begin encouragement of bacterial growth.  Make sure you have a freshwater API water test kit.  This will allow you to measure the levels of ammonia.  Test your water daily and once your ammonia levels drop to zero add more ammonia to your system.  

You can start with a few fish (make sure you have dechlorinated the water first or they will not survive) like feeder goldfish..OR you can just pee in the water and then wait. The ammonia will have a little delay before it soars and then will start processing as the nitrifying bacteria build up.

Urine takes a week or two to effectively turn to ammonia. You can either pee a little in your tank and wait, or bottle it up and let it sit like a fine wine. If you're going to use pee, I think its better to bottle it up first. When you're adding your source of ammonia to your water, you want to get a reading of 4ppm. If you pee directly in the tank, you won't know how much you've added because it won't show up right away on your tank. (for reference, check out the disscussion "stank farm", a couple of guys and I got into a discussion on this topic) Pure ammonia can be bought at a hardware store. $5 will get you more ammonia than you'll ever need. Make sure you purchase an unscented variety that clearly says pure ammonia or ammonium hydroxide. If your fishless cycling or cycling with fish, now is a great time to start your plants. You want to establish that bio-filter (plants) before that waste builds up. If fishless cycling takes longer than expected, (or in my case, you have to wait 8 weeks to get a permit to keep tilapia) well, you'd be suprised how long your plants can live off of just water. And I highly recommend the API freshwater test kit; you need to be able to keep tabs on the condition of your system, and the test kit is the cheapest and most accurate way to do so.

It's been 5 weeks! annnnnnnnd.......I have no changes at all!!!

Here is my diary copied from an excel document:

Aquaponics Diary

1/10/13 Set up and start cycling
Drain/Fill Times
Test 1 fill: 6:11
emty: 1:02
Test 2 fill: 6:04
emty: :52
Test 3 fill: 6:19
emty: 1:03
Let Cycle
Continuously

1/21/13
Notes: I tried using the normal Ph test (off the charts). Used the high range test (still off the charts). Added one cap of API pH down.
Water testing using API Freshwater Master Kit

Amonia 8 or higher

pH levels 8.8 > 8.8

Nitrite 0 ppm

Nitrate 0 ppm


1/23/13
Notes: pH levels 8.4 approx. pH may have gone down slightly. Amonia is still high and nitrates have not yet begun to form. Added one capful of API pH down.

Amonia 8 or higher

Nitrite 0 ppm

Nitrate 0 ppm


2/15/13
Notes: pH levels 8.4 appox. Had to clean the pump. Slimmy yellow stuff clogged it up. Amonia? Why is my amonia not turning into nitrites?!! It's been 5 weeks!

Amonia 8 or higher

Nitrite 0

Nitrate 0

Your pH and ammonia levels are too high. Bring your pH down to around 7.0-7.5 approx. for cycling. You should shoot for ammonia levels of 4ppm for cycling. You just want to give your bacteria enough food to attract them to your water. A 1/3 water change should help bring your ammonia down.

Thank you soo much for your response. I have added "pH down" to my system about 3 times. It didn't do anything. They say I shouldn't add more than their recommended amount of pH Down. But it's not like I have anything living in my system yet. So why not try 1/2 cup right? I am tempted to add a whole cup. I will also try the 1/3 drain and replace.

thanks!!

P.S. I just went back and read your earlier posting. It was you that introduced me to add my own ammonia to the tank. Somehow I missed the memo to do it in a bottle first, take a reading, then introduce it to the FT. I peed straight into the tank. Live and learn right? I'll take at 1/3 of the water and replace it...........


Alex Veidel said:

Your pH and ammonia levels are too high. Bring your pH down to around 7.0-7.5 approx. for cycling. You should shoot for ammonia levels of 4ppm for cycling. You just want to give your bacteria enough food to attract them to your water. A 1/3 water change should help bring your ammonia down.

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