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I have had my system up and running since the end of March. I thought things had finally leveled out and I was seeing Nitrates but then the Nitrites were too high so I thought that was killing them. I have never had any ammonia the PH stays around 6.2. I have lost about 70 feeder goldfish though all together. I am down to 4 fish now and I assume the reason my Nitrates have dropped to nothing is because I don't have enough fish pooping now. I have also noticed my plants beginning to yellow a little. This could have something to do with the aquarium salt I added or just the lack of Nitrates? Any thoughts you have or questions I should answer to get to the bottom of this. I really want to make this successful.

 

Guess I should add a link to my blog so you can see everything. www.aquaponicbasementgarden.blogspot.com

 

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Josh dont beat yourself up on the feeder golds. They are sick from the getgo. Try buying about 6 koi and try them. The water parameters are important ( I learned that the hard way to.) . So track Ammonia initially and then you can bring your ph up a little as well. Try to keep it around 7. Keep going and remember your not a aquapon until you have lost a tank of fish. hehe.

Need more information.

System size/type.

How did you cycle up, with fish/fishless.

Never had any ammonia? Well have you taken a sample to the aquarium shop to have them test it to make sure your test kit is working right?  What type of test kit?

What type of source water and did you need to use anything to neutralize chlorine or chloramine?  Those can sometimes mess with ammonia testing.

 

Nitrite can kill fish, as could ammonia if your test kit was faulty (it sometimes happens.)

 

And finally feeder goldfish are often not very hardy as they are intended to get eaten they are often not likely to live long anyway.

 

So perhaps if we go through step by step, we can figure out if there is something wrong with your system, test kit, or just really cheap fish.

I believe 6.2 may be a bit low for the gold fish, especially feeders.  While much that one reads says gold fish are adaptable to pH, rapid changes aren't so good.  I think pet stores are likely to keep the pH between 7 and 8.  Your plants won't care for 8 but 7 might be a better conpromise between the fish and the plants. 

Tank is 110 gallon but I don't fill to the top it may hold about 90 gallons. I have 2 running grow beds and it also feeds an NFT setup. There are 24 plants in the NFT part and I only have 1 of the grow beds planted because I am waiting for some seedlings to be ready to put in the other. I used tap water but used dechlorinator and some aquarium plant food. I cycled the tank for 1 week without anything in it just running water. I then added fish and just a few test plants. After about 5 weeks I started having Nitrite and Nitrate readings. The Nitrites kept getting worse I started doing water changes with the same tap water with dechlorinator. After a week it seemed to clear up the Nitrites dropped but unfortunately so did the Nitrates. We lost quite a few fish during this time.

These were my readings after 3 days of water changes

Ammonia - 0 
PH - 6.8 to 7
Nitrate - 160 to 180 ppm
Nitrite - between 5 and 10 ppm

 

After 2 weeks it cleared up but then we added more fish because they had all died but 4. We added 30 more feeder gold fish. I have watched the levels every couple days. We have also been using 2 kits. One is the liquid type API Master Aquarium Test Kit and also the API 5 in 1 Aquarium Test Strips.  They have always read pretty close to the same thing.

As of tonight

 

Ammonia - 0

PH - 6.2

Nitrite - 0

Nitrate - 0

I have plants starting to yellow. Not real bad yet but worried it will get bad. A couple plants have what appear to be burned edges but not many and just small spots.

I will try to raise the ph a bit and see what happens. Please let me know what else I should do.

I gave wrong name of the liquid test kit. It is from a company called aquarium pharmaceuticals.  The test strip kit was from API.

You need to read the label on the dechlorinator carefully, some of them render the ammonia tests in kits like the API (API is aquarium pharmaceuticals) rather useless.  There are some dechlorinators that are not good to use in food systems either.

 

Raising the pH a little can be done very slowly with a small amount (few hand fulls) of chicken grit (feed stores have it, like crushed oyster shells or limestone chips) put in  a paint strainer bag and tied to hang in the fish tank or sump tank.  Done this way, if you over do it and the pH goes too high, you can take it back out.  If you simply dump lime in, you can't take it back out.

 

It is also possible to use potassium hydroxide or calcium hydroxide to raise the pH but you have to be very careful with these since they are very caustic and can easily raise the pH too high too fast.

 

You only want to move the pH about 0.2 per day tops.

Well we raised the ph to 6.8 for the last couple days and seems much better now. Fish are active and healthy looking now. We went on your recommendations and picked  up some Koi for the tank and they seem to love it. Platinum and Black Koi
Josh not sure how big your system is but watch the koi for about 10 days if they are thriving you know you are on the right track. After that I would bring your fish up to the load your system can handle . You can try other breeds like perch or tilapia which are much hardier than cats. If your tank is 110 and your growbeds are the same it think your system should handle about 10 to 15 koi. Just keep the plants in front of them as far as controlling your nitrates. Congrats.............D

Josh M said:
Well we raised the ph to 6.8 for the last couple days and seems much better now. Fish are active and healthy looking now. We went on your recommendations and picked  up some Koi for the tank and they seem to love it. Platinum and Black Koi
What's your water temp?

Tank is 110 gallon but only holds about 90 gallons at this time. There are 3 grow beds each 29 gallon but most is of course taken up by lava rocks. There is the pvc tubing for the NFT system which I'm sure holds a few gallons. So far they are still doing great and the few goldfish that were left are doing good too. I can't believe it was just the ph. I really thought they didn't mind the 6.2.

Thanks again everyone for the tips and helping narrow the problem down.

 

Josh

 

David Waite said:

Josh not sure how big your system is but watch the koi for about 10 days if they are thriving you know you are on the right track. After that I would bring your fish up to the load your system can handle . You can try other breeds like perch or tilapia which are much hardier than cats. If your tank is 110 and your growbeds are the same it think your system should handle about 10 to 15 koi. Just keep the plants in front of them as far as controlling your nitrates. Congrats.............D

Josh M said:
Well we raised the ph to 6.8 for the last couple days and seems much better now. Fish are active and healthy looking now. We went on your recommendations and picked  up some Koi for the tank and they seem to love it. Platinum and Black Koi
Stays around 65.

David Rairigh said:
What's your water temp?
Much happier now the fish are doing really well still. I hate I lost all those fish to having low ph. I really thought that 6.2 was well in the range for goldfish. I will say this I love watching the Koi a whole lot more than the little feeder goldfish. LOL

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