Aquaponic Gardening

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Hello all,

 

I'm a newbie, very new to everything.  The idea of aquaponic fascinated me after 6 months of intense research on urban farming.  My plan is to master this, so I can turn it into a business, since I'm tired of working as an attorney, and wants to become a farmer (everyone think I'm nuts, but I dont have any passion practicing real estate law anymore). So over a month now, I finally set up a 275 gallon IBC system to test out Aquaponic.  To my amazement it's not as easy as I thought it would be.

 

I got 12 channel catfishs and about 20 bluegills from going fishing for them. Filled my growbed with 100 liters of generic medium, similar to hydroton. A week later all the fishes died.  Then I just found out, after more research to get a testing kit at Petco to test out the pH level, temps, Nitrates, Nitrites and Ammonia.  Got that yesterday and performed the tests.  pH is at 7.6, temp is always around 76 degrees, nitrates and nitrites and ammonia are in good standing.  Also yesterday I put 20 gold fish in.  Today, after work I test out the water again, everything is still the same but pH rises to 8.0, and 5 of the gold fish died.  I figured probably the reason is because of the pH level is too high.  I really want my pH level to be between 6.5 and 7.  What can I do to accomplish that?  I got some pH Down and Up droplets but for my tank size, I dont think it's practical with the small bottle.  Is there a better way to decrease the pH level, meanwhile it does not harm my fish and my vegetables.

 

Your expertise is greatly appreciated.

 

Thanks

 

 

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I wouldn't dump all that water and start over... you'll get cycled up soon enough.  If you've got a lot of fish left you may need to do partial water changes to keep the ammonia from getting too high and killing more fish - that's the one to keep your eye on at this point.  They make beneficial bacteria starter cultures, too.  The pet store should have it, but also a hydroponic store might have something bigger/cheaper.
Hey, I am too a newbie. I have four separate systems. I lost gold fish in the beginning too, took them back to Petco and they gladly gave me replacements. After a few months of cycling , all fish are well and growing. I have had feeder gold fish for 8 years and they look like Koi, only feeding them oatmeal. I have just started making a vegetable mixture, and they really like it. Petco will even test my water for me. I use Muriatic acid as other poster suggested and it works. Tried lemon juice and vinegar earlier without good results. One thing I have learned is to put the bell siphon on the outside of the grow bed, as roots tend to invade it. I will change over when my current crop dies off. I am still looking for good videos on how to make an external bell siphon if anyone here knows of any.. good luck.

TCLynx said:

water usually clears up with time and water being pumped through the grow beds as much as possible.  Sometimes putting a sock over the water return can help if it is just silt clouding the water.  Once a good layer of bio-slime builds up in the media bed it usually helps to catch the particles and pull them out of the water.  Of course you need to have enough grow bed to handle the load to make this work well.

 

Once the system stabilizes the water should clear up but I wouldn't call most mature ap water crystal clear, it usually looks somewhere between amber or yellow to a nice tea color but still clear, just tinted.

 

The pH of 8.2 may be a little high for ammonia levels getting much higher than that so keep your feeding minimal (if the ammonia goes up any higher, stop feeding till it comes down) if you are striving to keep those fish alive.  Then again, cheap goldfish are sometimes not that hardy to begin with.

I've also seen feeder goldfish survive long term and become big, sometimes it's just luck of the draw and other times it is more to do with the source of the fish.

 

And yes, you should always make your drains and siphons easy to access and clean out.  They can still be in a grow bed but you need a big enough gravel guard to allow you to get your hands down in there and remove invasive roots.  So even if you remove the siphon to an external bucket, you still need to make sure the drain from the grow bed to the siphon bucket is accessible for easy root clean out.  how often such clean out is needed will vary by crop.  I'd gone about a year without needing to clean out any roots from the drains in my 300 gallon system until I was growing corn and all of a sudden I was getting huge root masses clogging the stand pipe drains and I've had to clean them out twice and the corn isn't even ready yet (probably never will get any darn squirrels)

 

 

thanks for the info...

TCLynx said:

I've also seen feeder goldfish survive long term and become big, sometimes it's just luck of the draw and other times it is more to do with the source of the fish.

 

And yes, you should always make your drains and siphons easy to access and clean out.  They can still be in a grow bed but you need a big enough gravel guard to allow you to get your hands down in there and remove invasive roots.  So even if you remove the siphon to an external bucket, you still need to make sure the drain from the grow bed to the siphon bucket is accessible for easy root clean out.  how often such clean out is needed will vary by crop.  I'd gone about a year without needing to clean out any roots from the drains in my 300 gallon system until I was growing corn and all of a sudden I was getting huge root masses clogging the stand pipe drains and I've had to clean them out twice and the corn isn't even ready yet (probably never will get any darn squirrels)

 

 

David,

 

I just got a hold of a Koi supplier in the area and am going to get 12 2-3 inches Koi this weekend.  How tolerable are they to pH change?

 

My readings today are: 

 

pH High: 8.2

pH Low: 7.6

Ammonia: 1.0

Nitrate: 0

Nitrite: 0

 

My ammonia went up. What does that say about my system?  None of the fish die today...

Basically that means you pH is 8.2 since the regular pH test kit only goes up to 7.6.

 

don't feed the fish since a pH that high along with the ammonia is gonna be pretty toxic.  Pump or filter your water as much as possible, if you normally run on a timer, then switch to constant pumping for a while to let the system deal with the ammonia quicker.  If the ammonia goes up much more, you may need to do some water changes.  Make sure you deal with any water treatment chemicals before doing the water changes though as chlorine or chloramine will halt the process.

Hi Kou,

I am also an attorney who quit to follow my passion of nursing (and now aquaponics ~ LOL).  So I don't think you're crazy.  The pay cut is horrible, but the satisfaction of loving my career is well worth it.

I am also a newbie, still doing research and have not even started up a system yet.  Got a bunch of middle school students who may be making a long-term project out of this.  So I am watching your experiences closely and hoping to learn at the same time.  Good luck!

Kou, Koi are some of the most durable fish you will grow. I still recommend only moving ph about .2 tenths every other day  or per day max. Move slow, ph is not your problem right now. Bacteria is your goal. I would really quit worring about ph for a while until you have nitrates  and your system is fully cycled. Then start lowering your ph. Watch your ammonia every day and feed only if it is below.5 . If it raises stop feeding and wait for your system to cycle. TC has it down and I will let you learn off her. I am a plumming guy hehe.

Kou said:

David,

 

I just got a hold of a Koi supplier in the area and am going to get 12 2-3 inches Koi this weekend.  How tolerable are they to pH change?

 

My readings today are: 

 

pH High: 8.2

pH Low: 7.6

Ammonia: 1.0

Nitrate: 0

Nitrite: 0

 

My ammonia went up. What does that say about my system?  None of the fish die today...

Your fish are making ammonia. When your system starts to make beneficial bacteria you should see some nitrites and nitrates. If you register 7.6 on the PH Low test that means your PH is higher than 7.6. You can stop checking PH low because you know your PH is 8.2

Thank you to all of you who lend a hand. I have a very very big dream for this and if it's successful, the credit will be given to all of you.

 

I just added Muriatric acid and 19 baby Koi fish into the tanks over the weekend.  The Koi seems to be doing pretty good. I can finally see the fish now. My vegies ontop appears to do fine.

Here is a few pics of my test

 

Thai Eggplant

[IMG]http://i1186.photobucket.com/albums/z364/solitaryman81/P1010384.jpg[/IMG]

 

Lettuce

[IMG]http://i1186.photobucket.com/albums/z364/solitaryman81/P1010379.jpg[/IMG]

 

Peapod

[IMG]http://i1186.photobucket.com/albums/z364/solitaryman81/P1010379.jpg[/IMG]

 

Beans (Forgot what the name is, holding onto a strawberry plant)

[IMG]http://i1186.photobucket.com/albums/z364/solitaryman81/P1010374.jpg[/IMG]

 

Bell Pepper (Forgot what kind is it0

[IMG]http://i1186.photobucket.com/albums/z364/solitaryman81/P1010370.jpg[/IMG]

 

My prototype

[IMG]http://i1186.photobucket.com/albums/z364/solitaryman81/P1010369.jpg[/IMG]

 

My backyard, I'm planning to establish the system into. 1.5 acres.

[IMG]http://i1186.photobucket.com/albums/z364/solitaryman81/P1010368.jpg[/IMG]

 

Thai Basil in Growbed

[IMG]http://i1186.photobucket.com/albums/z364/solitaryman81/P1010366.jpg[/IMG]

 

Bottom Tank, as you can see the water is not clear at all.

[IMG]http://i1186.photobucket.com/albums/z364/solitaryman81/P1010364.jpg[/IMG]

The surface of your media looks pretty wet.  Did you just have rain before taking the pictures?  It is usually very helpful to your plants to make sure the flood height of your water in the grow bed doesn't flood over the media.  The top of the media staying dry is usually a really good thing for the plants and helps avoid algae.

 

If it is only wet because of a rain shortly before the photos then no worries but if your water level in the bed wets the top of the media you should either add more media or lower the flood height.

I would also limit the amount of light getting to the water on the sides of the tank. It will grow a lot of algae and you might have dissolved oxygen problem. I wrapped my IBC tank in two layers of green screen and it got pretty dark inside. The fish seem to like it. If any algae grows on the inside of the ibc, it did when I was cycling the system, the tilapia eat it.

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