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Hi all, I am new to all of this, Aquaponics and blogging, I need HELP, fast, I thought my tank was cycled, I was lucky enough to get a small fish pond, gold fish and all the good bacteria, I bought a larger tank, 180 gal and put the fish, water and filter into it, all looked good, nitrates where there, low ammonia, and nitrites..... I removed the goldfish and added 40 catfish fingerlings 4 -6 inches... thats when it all turned bad...my pump from the tank to the grow bed failed and I was not aware of this for at least 14 hours...I thought that with tthe timer going on 15 min and off 45 I was just missing it...My grow bed is expanded shale... I was already filtering through the bed when I added the fish... but bed was not planted... I got my worms and fish on the same day... nice warm 70 degrees..what a happy day :) but now it look like I might lose it all... :(..my ammonia shot up to 2 ppm, nitrite 2 ppm and nitrate over 160 ppm ...I got the pump fixed...ran the water through the newly planted growbed continuesly for 14 hours to try and clean up the water...did not help... my fish where gulping at the top of the tank, jumping out, and not eating....then to make it all worse .. the temp changed to 45 degrees... I was and am not prepared for such a quick change...had hoped to make it through summer and build a greenhouse by fall... luckly we had a huge rain storm and I was able to collect enough water to change about half my tank...did not use tap water... now more than 36 hours later and my water has dropped to 55, ammonia has lowered to 0.5 ppm but nitrite is still 2 ppm and nitrate has dropped to 80 ppm...fish still show no signs of wanting to eat, are no longer jumping out or gasping for air but seem to just be staying as close to the pump as possible and not moving around much... what do I need to do... I don't want to lose it all and sure don't want my fish to die... also to add more stress to it all my husband was not into this and now I am hearing "I told you so" I have to make this work so I can get in the last I TOLD YOU SO..  lol   ...really HELP

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That is good news!

Fish can go a couple of weeks at least without eating. Usually they wont eat for a while anyways after you bring them home (stressed), so wouldn't worry about feeding them for a good while. Any un-eaten food will just rot and cause your ammonia levels to go up anyways. If there is a bunch in the tank already, try to scoop it out.

the salt will not lower the nitrite levels, bacteria do that, or water changes (dilution).  Lets get Nate to answer for the mg question.  He is much more versed on the plant side. 

Vlad, they can go for months, especially if the temps are low.  But everything you said is spot on.

Vlad Jovanovic said:

That is good news!

Fish can go a couple of weeks at least without eating. Usually they wont eat for a while anyways after you bring them home (stressed), so wouldn't worry about feeding them for a good while. Any un-eaten food will just rot and cause your ammonia levels to go up anyways. If there is a bunch in the tank already, try to scoop it out.

ok so should I keep changing the water until nitrites go down, ammonia is now at 0.25? And if so do I put in more salt? If so how much? The fish seem to be swimming around a little bit more, not just hanging around the pumps. I did see some come to the top and did not look like they where trying to jump out. I have not tried to feed them again. I can't say it enough...ty ty ty all for the help.

Hi guys, I'm on the road so I can't go into much detail- treating with epsom salts to one ppt should do the trick, but I recommend using dolimitic lime if you can for more consisten and slower release.  too much mg shouldn't really be a huge problem.  Do not use anything with Na in it!  Aquaculture uses tons of Na salts and carbonates and they're bad news.  In AP systems (in my experience) Na accumulates and can impact your production at high levels and your flavors at low levels.  I never add Na to my systems and recommend that no-one does.  I'll check back in on this when I get home tomorrow. . . 

In the meantime, Good luck Charlotte!

(I should say, that I treat regularly at a much lower dosage- if mg deficiency shows up, add slowly over the course of a couple weeks, and either test or taste your water regularly to make sure you aren't going overboard.  foliar sprays are also a better option for fast address. . .

Ok... I'll write something up specifically about nitrite poisoning.. and salt treatment later...but

 

@Charlotte.... stop doing any further water changes....

 

Yes they have reduced your anmmonia and nitrite levels... but they're also reducing your nitrates, which your plants like... and probably, and more importantly... messing with your pH...

 

Changing your pH... depending on your pH and water temps... could actually make your ammonia MORE toxic to your fish... even at the lower levels after water changes...

 

Your levels are fine... and normal nitrification will soon deal with any residual ammonia and nitrites.... you're just have a "spike"....

 

Just refrain from feeding, salt to 1ppt....(pure seasalt preferably, or a pool salt)... oxygenate and pump.... and be patient...

 

P.S... Charlotte your levels came down... not because you added the epsom salts... but because you diluted your nitrites by water changes... (and probably some nitrification kicking in)

 

P.P.S... your plants will be fine at salt levels of 1ppt... as will your fish... and with some uptake by the plants, and subsequent water top ups... the period of time any salt will remain in the system.. is inconsequential...

In catfish pond culture they go for the whole winter.  I have also not feed bluegill in a tank for over 3 months without ill effects.

Randall Wimbish said:

According to Dr Lennard, fish can go with out food for a month. They don't need food to maintain body temperature like an animal but only for growth. (I found a video link on this site) So I am having similar issues with a system. I am not going to feed until the nitrites are gone. Period.

Hay sorry I've been gone and couldn't get to all the messages.  I agree with Rupert!!!!!!

There are two different conversations going on here so please try not to get confused.  (one seems to be about the original poster's problem and needing to salt to mitigate nitrite tox for the fish, the other seems to be about Magnesium and Epsom salts.)

When dealing with nitrite you use sodium chloride (regular salt) like solar dehydrated sea water, pool or water softener salt, the cheapest stuff with no additives.  It is actually the chloride that helps protect the fish from the nitrite.  I'm not sure if potassium chloride would work the same way nor how much to use.

Here is a blog post with some numbers for figuring out how much to use

http://www.aquaponiclynx.com/salt-for-fish-health

At 1 ppt the salt doesn't seem to have ill effects on most plants and you are not constantly adding it so build up is not an issue.  Plants will use some sodium so over time it will eventually be too low for even strawberries to mind.  Many people have even salted to 3-6 ppt when dealing with a ick breakout and only certain plants object.

Keep in mind that channel catfish are very fresh water fish and I won't salt mine to more than 3 ppt since more than that seems to irritate their skin and the books I've read say channel catfish and bluegill can only handle up to 5 ppt tops.

If I see signs of fish illness I may salt to between 1-3 ppt but I only do it when there is strong fish health reasons.  I am not growing strawberries currently, they seem to be the most salt sensitive plants I've heard of.

Constant use of something with high sodium is not recommended but occasional use for purposes of saving your fish are generally not going to cause build up in your plant beds.

Epsom salts are not going to help against nitrite, they would only be used for adding sulfur and Magnesium and as Nate said, perhaps some dolomite lime might be more appropriate as an occasional buffer to provide the Mg since sulfur is probably already in good supply in most systems. 

The original problem with suddenly putting a large amount of relatively large fingerlings into a system that was only cycled up to a very small amount of fish and then the subsequent pump failure is what caused the large ammonia and nitrite spikes.  The fish trying to jump out was probably because ammonia burns the sensitive skin of catfish and lack of supplemental aeration would definitely cause them to gulp at the surface.

That kind of stress coupled with extreme temperature fluctuations and your fish have been through a nasty time.

Don't feed until water quality is back to good and the water temp comes up a bit.  I stop feeding my fish completely if the water temp gets below 55 and when the water them is below 65 they are on reduced rations and be sure not to feed them more than they will eat in 5-15 minutes.  If they are not eating, net it out.  Catfish and bluegill can go all winter (months on end) without eating which is a good thing since the bio-filter will be slower at converting ammonia and nitrite during cooler temperatures too.

ty again ...one thing AQ has shown me is that I am not as good at waiting as I thought I was...lol.. sry it took so long to get back to you..long shift at the hospital... tested again this morning....water temp is 62 and should warm up todays high will be 70... PH is a little higher at 7.8...ammonia is still 0.25 but darn nitrite is still 1... I did add the pool salt..should I let sun light in the tank?


 
TCLynx said:

Hay sorry I've been gone and couldn't get to all the messages.  I agree with Rupert!!!!!!

There are two different conversations going on here so please try not to get confused.  (one seems to be about the original poster's problem and needing to salt to mitigate nitrite tox for the fish, the other seems to be about Magnesium and Epsom salts.)

When dealing with nitrite you use sodium chloride (regular salt) like solar dehydrated sea water, pool or water softener salt, the cheapest stuff with no additives.  It is actually the chloride that helps protect the fish from the nitrite.  I'm not sure if potassium chloride would work the same way nor how much to use.

Here is a blog post with some numbers for figuring out how much to use

http://www.aquaponiclynx.com/salt-for-fish-health

At 1 ppt the salt doesn't seem to have ill effects on most plants and you are not constantly adding it so build up is not an issue.  Plants will use some sodium so over time it will eventually be too low for even strawberries to mind.  Many people have even salted to 3-6 ppt when dealing with a ick breakout and only certain plants object.

Keep in mind that channel catfish are very fresh water fish and I won't salt mine to more than 3 ppt since more than that seems to irritate their skin and the books I've read say channel catfish and bluegill can only handle up to 5 ppt tops.

If I see signs of fish illness I may salt to between 1-3 ppt but I only do it when there is strong fish health reasons.  I am not growing strawberries currently, they seem to be the most salt sensitive plants I've heard of.

Constant use of something with high sodium is not recommended but occasional use for purposes of saving your fish are generally not going to cause build up in your plant beds.

Epsom salts are not going to help against nitrite, they would only be used for adding sulfur and Magnesium and as Nate said, perhaps some dolomite lime might be more appropriate as an occasional buffer to provide the Mg since sulfur is probably already in good supply in most systems. 

The original problem with suddenly putting a large amount of relatively large fingerlings into a system that was only cycled up to a very small amount of fish and then the subsequent pump failure is what caused the large ammonia and nitrite spikes.  The fish trying to jump out was probably because ammonia burns the sensitive skin of catfish and lack of supplemental aeration would definitely cause them to gulp at the surface.

That kind of stress coupled with extreme temperature fluctuations and your fish have been through a nasty time.

Don't feed until water quality is back to good and the water temp comes up a bit.  I stop feeding my fish completely if the water temp gets below 55 and when the water them is below 65 they are on reduced rations and be sure not to feed them more than they will eat in 5-15 minutes.  If they are not eating, net it out.  Catfish and bluegill can go all winter (months on end) without eating which is a good thing since the bio-filter will be slower at converting ammonia and nitrite during cooler temperatures too.

I have added the pool salt for the fish...nitrites are still 1.. better that the 2 from the other day...ammonia is .05 .I am not feeding the fish....weather is warming the water.. right now water is 65..nice sunny day, first in a week, should get in the 70's. I have heard both ways about letting sun light in the tank, what do you all think??

I think that sunlight in your tank might not be such a great idea...Because of the subsequent algea...it uses up nutrients, more importantly for you right now algae depletes Oxygen, and when the algae die off...it releases more ammonia...

Hopefully your microbes will kick it into gear now that it's warming up.

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